A Less Creepy Alternative to the Elf

Our Christmas angel is a tradition I started last year. Inspired by Elf on the Shelf, the kids wake to find a short note from her each morning. Unlike Elf on the Shelf, though, she is not super creepy and she only notices the kids’ good behavior.

She talks about love and kindness, how God showed His love by sending us His son and so at Christmas we should make extra efforts to show our love to each other. She encourages them to do good things and praises them for making good decisions on their own, like sharing their coveted marshmallows or apologizing when they waterboard each other in the tub. She often suggests they do things like make and share Christmas cookies, pick out a toy for our church’s giving tree, and throw coins in a donation pot instead of the mall fountain they like to dip into now and then. She looks a lot like the little statue from our Nativity set, but she essentially teaches them the un-commercialized story of Christmas, and her ever-watchful eye always notices their goodness from a distance.

I wanted to create some tangible magic for the season without focusing on this widely understood threat of losing favor (or gifts) for getting caught being “naughty.” The Christmas elves from my childhood always happened to sprint past when I was misbehaving, and my family announced their presence as if they were wielding machetes. “Cath, better stop climbing on the — OHMIGOD LOOKOUT IT’S AN ELF!” To this day, even the Claymation elves make me shudder. Plus, an old lady at the grocery store this week told Evie, “Santa doesn’t like little girls who cry,” so I am always eager to infuse some, ehr, positive reinforcement into our lives.

The angel will also often suggest some kind of quasi-related craft or activity to do each day. Today, she suggested they draw a picture of the people they love. “How about you draw the people we mention in our prayers at night? Grandma? Uncle Brian?” my husband offered.


“Why don’t you draw each other since you LOVE EACH OTHER SOOOO MUCH?” I suggested.


Noah drew the Cat in the Hat:


And “Evie drew Evie”:


Get it?

We may not all share America’s affinity for elf culture, but the Christmas spirit — and our family-wide appreciation for puns (and ourselves) — is alive and well here today. ❤

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