Our Twist on Elf on the Shelf

Every year, people ask me why we have an Elf on the Shelf if we are trying to focus on Christ in Christmas rather than Santa. Well, first of all, it was gifted to me many years ago. Second of all, why not? Just tie in the values you’re wanting to focus on and use it to emphasize your goals for the season. (My original thoughts on this subject are here, and they’re basically the same today.)

Our elf, Teddy, comes to share joy and generosity as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. He reminds us to focus on things we might otherwise overlook in the busy-ness of the season–while being cute and fun in the process.

When I was working from home and the boy was only in school two days a week, we had many more assignments than we do now that he is in school everyday and I am at work as well. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Make it work for your family. Last year, my husband locked the elf up in a bird cage with a Ninjago ninja, and that’s how he stayed until he returned safely to the North Pole Christmas Eve.

Each year, Teddy leads with the Christmas Story (via the Bible app, an open Bible, or, if my sweet husband happens to be helping out, a YouTube clip of “the boy who was going to shoot his eye out”) and follows up with pajamas, lists for children in need, teacher gift ideas, donation ideas, and more. I usually create a list in my phone that plans out the month so I know I have enough of what I need when we get to it. Obviously, it’s not set in stone, but it does help to have it planned out a little.

Teddy comes with a note each year:

Hi, my name is Teddy;
You might not remember.
I’m here to help you spread
Christ’s love all through December.

Each day I will come
And share something new
To spread holiday cheer
So Christ’s love shines through you!

God loves you so much
He sent Jesus our way,
And that’s what we celebrate
On Christmas day!

Teddy sometimes shows up in the morning; other times, he arrives out of no where during the afternoon or evening. Don’t let the details be what distracts you if you’re wanting to try it.

Some of our favorite Teddy activities:

  • Read the Christmas Story together (Teddy has the iPad app or Bible open)
  • Write or make cards for friends and family (Teddy brings cards, markers, etc.)
  • Send a video sharing Christmas cheer to someone you love (Teddy has the iPad ready)
  • Make (or purchase) teacher gifts to take to school (Teddy brings supplies)
  • Share treats with friends (Teddy brings supplies) 
  • Shop for a child in need (Teddy brings the list) 
  • Make treats for postal workers, other community helpers (Teddy brings supplies) 
  • Treat someone to coffee (Teddy brings mug, gift card, etc.)
  • Share glow sticks with friends for light parade (Teddy brings glow sticks and toys)
  • On Christmas Eve, Teddy drops off pajamas, the plate for Santa’s cookies, and a note that he has gone back to the North Pole until next year.

You can find a full thread of Teddy’s activities (they change a little every year) on Instagram or around the site on the Teddy thread.

Does your family have an elf? What are your traditions?

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