Every year it happens.
As soon as we wrap up those Thanksgiving leftovers, he appears. Our Facebook feed is immediately flooded with images of the Elf on the Shelf.
Some families seem genuinely happy to be reunited with their stuffed friend, while others begrudgingly unearth him. Meanwhile, those who did not yet have an Elf on the Shelf grapple with whether or not to join in on the fun, especially those with children who feel left out.
When Christmas finally arrives, it seems that everyone is relieved. Parents race to tuck the little rascal away.
3 Fantastic Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf to Inspire Kindness
Many years ago, we tried the Elf on the Shelf. It was a desperate parenting move; I had a newborn, a toddler, and a brazen 3-year-old. In our case, the Elf on the Shelf backfired. That scoundrel caused far more trouble than he was worth.
Three wonderful alternatives to Elf on the Shelf
If you are in a similar boat, or if you are just in need of an alternative, I have three fantastic options for you. These options are low on stress and high on kindness–and that’s a win in my book!
The Kindness Elves
I love The Kindness Elves… and so do my kiddos. These adorable little elves are the brainchild of Anna, a former primary school teacher, mom to four, and owner of the popular website The Imagination Tree.
Anna started the tradition years ago with her children as an alternative to the naughty elf tradition. These little elves inspire kindness in children and spread a little magic, too! In our home, we use The Kindness Elves in conjunction with some of our most favorite books for spreading joy and kindness, including Humble and Kind and Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
The Doll Kind
The Doll Kind was inspired by a real-life parenting moment that eventually landed the creator’s family on morning television. You can read the full story here (trust me, you won’t regret it!). These beautiful dolls empower children to spread joy and kindness in their corner of this earth. Each doll comes with kindness tokens, which children dole out as they perform random acts of kindness.
Best part? For every doll sold, The Doll Kind donates a doll to a child in need. How is that for spreading the love?
North Pole Ninjas
My youngest adores The North Pole Ninjas Mission Christmas by Tyler Knott Gregson. Anyone who receives this book and package been called upon to help carry out Santa’s top secret North Pole missions… and these missions involve spreading joy and kindness! You can see my little guy below, hugging his adorable sensei.
With a little creativity and help from the above, you can change the focus from naughty behavior to kind acts.
Each of the above would make for a wonderful family holiday tradition. And, while we are on the subject of the holidays, I’d like to share some of our favorite new-this-year holiday books:
- A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs (Parragon Books)
- The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster
- The Great Spruce by John Duvall
- The Nutcracker: From the Story by E. T. A. Hoffman (Parragon Books)
- The Snow Queen: From the Story of Hans Christian Andersen (Parragon Books)
These books would make perfect stocking stuffers for the little ones in your life!
Are you looking for holiday gift ideas?
I have oodles of [educational] gift ideas for you!
- 50+ Educational Stocking Stuffers Your Kids Will Love
- Gift Guides 2017
- How to Select the Best Educational Gifts for Your Children
- 10 of the Best Language Arts Gifts
- 50+ Gifts for the Book Lover in Your Life
- 10 of the Best Nature Gifts for Kids
- 10 of the Best Math Gifts
- The Best Subscriptions for Your Homeschool
- 10 of the Best STEM Gifts
- 10 of the Best History and Geography Gifts
- The Best Gifts to Inspire Art, Creativity, Play, and Imagination
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? Why or why not? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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