If you’re not big on the Elf on the Shelf concept, but enjoy making the December countdown fun for your kids, you’ll love these kind and friendly Elf on the Shelf alternatives.
We don’t do Elf on the Shelf here because my boys were teenagers before I ever learned about him. I don’t have a real problem with the whole elf thing, but I know some folks aren’t crazy about him.
I do love a creative way to count down the days to Christmas though, and that’s where these awesome alternatives to Elf on the Shelf can be a lot of fun.
You may also like these awesome advent calendars and these kid-friendly nativity sets.
#7 on the list below is the fun and creative way I used to get my boys through those final days before Christmas when their excitement and anticipation was off the charts. The other 6 suggestions are fun and friendly ways to do elf on the shelf that don’t involve an actual elf.
What is Elf on the Shelf?
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In case you’re not familiar with how “Elf on the Shelf” works, let me explain. Elf on the shelf is a Christmas tradition that many families have fun with in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The traditional way of doing Elf on the Shelf is that an elf comes to live with you for the month of December. It can be an elf you pick up at the dollar store, or one you make yourself, or you can get authentic, store-bought “Elf on the Shelf” kits that come with an elf as well as a book of suggested pranks for your elf to perform while your children sleep.
During the day, your elf sits high-up on a shelf (hence the name Elf on the SHELF) so he can watch your children and report their behaviour back to the North Pole.
Then, while the family sleeps, the elf frolics about the house, getting into all kinds of mischief, making messes and pulling pranks for the kids to find in the morning. It’s all fun and innocent, but some people find the whole concept a little creepy and unsettling.
Ok, so what if you want to get in on some of the holiday countdown fun, but you’re not a fan of the elf himself?
Is there a way to do “Elf on the Shelf” without that cheeky little elf and his naughtiness?
You bet there is! And I’ve rounded up 7 cute and creative EOS alternatives to get your wheels turning!
7 Cute and Creative Elf on the Shelf Alternatives:
Some of these ideas are thoughtful and meaningful, some focus on the nativity and the birth of Christ, and some are just for fun. Hopefully you’ll find one that inspires you to start an annual Christmas tradition that’s perfect for your family.
Meet our Rascally Reindeer . They love to play hide ‘n seek, and they keep the hooligans on their toes all throughout the month of December. This is a fun toddler-friendly alternative to Elf on the Shelf that’s great for a daycare setting.
Finding Jingle Bells
Drop by “Edventures with Kids” to see how they have fun finding jingle bells in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This easy Elf on the shelf alternative doesn’t require a daily commitment, and it you can even take it outdoors.
Pop over to Mama Hall, to see what Mary, the Advent Angel delivers to the kids each morning. This is a lovely Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf.
The Christmas Mouse
Each morning the adorable Christmas Mouse over at “Little Page Turners” assigns the kids a daily mission. To make things easy for you, Christianne has generously provided a list of 25 creative suggestions to use with your Christmas Mouse. The Christmas Mouse is a lovely, kid-friendly alternative to Elf on the Shelf, and I especially love how this family keeps tabs on what their Christmas mouse is up to during the off-season.
The Kindness Elves are one of my favourite alternatives to Elf on the Shelf. Pay a visit to “The Imagination Tree” to see how these Kindness Elves inspire Anna’s daughters to do something for others every day during the month of December.
You can order a set of Anna’s Kindness Elves which come complete with the following accessories:
- User’s Guide for Parents
- 50 Acts of Kindness Cards
- Little Book of Big Kindnesses
- Mini Postcards for the Kindness Elves to write to the children
- 8 Sheets of Stickers
- Bottle of Magic Sprinkles
What a wonderful way for your family to focus on love, gratitude and positivity during the holiday season.
You may also like:
- This kind elf idea from Amy at The Idea Room.
- These printable kindness notes for your Elf on the Shelf by Skip to My Lou
Travelling Mary and Joseph
This Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf by “Walking in Grace and Beauty” focuses on the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Christ. When they were young, each day, the children helped a travelling Mary and Joseph get a little closer to the birth place of Baby Jesus.
And now, number #7.
My favourite Elf on the Shelf Alternative is:
I haven’t a blog post or photo to share with this Christmas Elf idea because it’s something we did years ago when our boys (now in their 20’s) were little.
On the 20th of December, when my boys couldn’t stand the Christmas anticipation any longer, “The Christmas Elves” would pay a visit while we were sleeping.
Let me explain:
For each of my boys, I would buy a set of 4 matching toys – maybe a set of 4 matchbox cars or 4 plastic dinosaurs or Little People figures. Safari Toob sets are great for this too!
On those last few mornings before Christmas, the boys would awake to find one toy on the foot of their bed. If it was a car, they knew they could look forward to another car the next morning as well. Similarly if it was an action figure, they knew they had 3 more action figures coming their way. It was such a small thing, but SO exciting, and it was just enough to get them through those last few days before Christmas finally arrived.
I don’t know how I thought up idea. No-one had heard of elf on the shelf back then, and it’s not something my parents did for us kid, although my mom has often said she wished she HAD thought to do it for us.
I just came up with it as a way to help my boys get through those last few days of waiting. I’m so glad we DID do it though because my boy still say those elf visits were one of their favourite things about Christmas-time.
See, it really isn’t all about the gifts under the tree. It’s about the traditions you create with your family and the memories you make together that mean the most.
You may also like: 32 Classic Christmas Movies to Watch as a Family this Holiday Season.
Share your tradition with us!
Have you and your family put your own spin on the Elf and the Shelf? I’d love to hear what family traditions you’ve created at your house to help countdown the days until Christmas.
Now, if you ARE doing Elf on the Shelf, check out these fun Elf on the Shelf Ideas from Spaceships and Laser Beams! There are even letter templates you can print off that your elf can leave for your kids!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
I love your idea for the last few days before Christmas! Thanks for sharing it.
I’m so glad you liked that idea, Jeneta! That one is especially near and dear to my heart. 🙂
Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com
I love the kindness elf idea!
Oh yes! Those were so popular when Anna blogged about them last year. Isn’t it just the sweetest idea?
I was just reading the kindness elf post and brainstorming how to make my own when this popped up on my news feed. The Christmas Mouse and Traveling Mary and Joseph stand out as well. Lots of neat ideas here!
We use a Danish stuffed elf that hangs on the wall. It’s also an advent calendar and we call it Christmas Elf. He stays in one place all of December, arriving December 1. Way less creepy than a traveling elf and he gives Advent presents each morning. I like it because it is a way for me to pass on my Scandinavian heritage while borrowing the elf on the shelf idea.
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!
Great ideas! I actually like the Elf on the Shelf (including the idea of him doing all kinds of funny pranks), EXCEPT the concept of him *watching* the children and reporting back to Santa. THAT is the creepy part to me. I guess we could do the Elf but just not say that part… hmm….
Great post! Another alternative to add to the list 🙂 ….my book! I’m a stay at home mom who just released The Journey of the Wise Men. Take a look at http://www.seekersonthesill.com. Thanks!
Theres Just One Mommy
Such great alternatives!
We have an elf because my sister sent it to us. I find the idea of a toy that moves on its own creepy…and so did the kids when I first introduced it. So I let them know I’m the one that moves it — made them feel much better! And they have lots of fun finding it each day.
I think this year we are going to give it a kindness twist!
I Love all of these ideas. This year for each day leading up to Christmas, I bought and wrapped 24 small books for my 2-yr. old granddaughter to open one each day. My daughter-in-law sent me a picture after she opened the first on. She was sitting on the floor with only her panties on reading the book she had opened.
We so the christmas books, though this year I didn’t wrap them. We started our own version of an elf on the shelf last year. She’s a tinkerbell friend reinvented and much less creepy looking than EOTS. She does some of the things the kindness elves do too…ie deliver foods to the food pantry, etc. I usually give a couple of gifts earlier in the month….christmas shirts and/or pajamas.
Thank you for the lovely ideas! The Rascally Reindeer are cute a d the Kindness Elves are such a sweet idea! In a world where we ask our children to believe in something short-term (Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny) in the name of fun, I wonder if we set them up for disappointment or even a lack of trust in the harshness of life. To enjoy Santa, etc., knowing it’s all in fun is fine. But many children are so crushed when they learn the truth. I hope to give my kids a solid foundation in faith so they don’t have to look to the world.
Thanks again for the fun alternatives!
I remember reading and loving this blog last year so I wanted to share something with you! I found a GREAT Christian alternative to the elf on the Shelf! It’s called, The Shepherd’s Treasure! http://www.Theshepherdstreasure.com. I thought I’d share with you because it just came in the mail and I love it! It’s a little Shepherd doll that goes on a hunt to find Jesus! So adorable! anyway… thanks so much for always doing such great blogs… LOVE your stuff!
I love all these, especially the Christmas Angel. You should add Melk the Christmas Monkey to your list. My kiddos enjoy it!
I’ve heard of The Spirit Post. Children would write a note when they spread Christmas spirit/kindness and the owl would take the note to the north pole for Santa when the children were asleep, then come back the next morning and his bag would be empty. I can’t seem to find the book and owl to purchase anywhere, so I might try to make it myself for my kiddos and find a stuffed owl from amazon. I like that the owl isn’t watching them and that they can touch the owl without hurting him.