If you’ve got kids of a certain age and are a family that celebrates Christmas, your home has likely played host to Elf on the Shelf. The recent-ish tradition started out as a fun way for parents to bribe their kids into being good (for a few weeks every year, anyway), but as time went by, many have reported that the idea has lost its sheen. Parents have to remember to move their elf every night, for one thing, and for many, bribing your kids to be good in order to get presents seems at odds with the true spirit of the season.
A few years ago, the alternative “Kindness Elf” started to appear around the internet. No one really knows where it began (some say as early as 2013), but the idea began gaining steam after Anna at The Imagination Tree blogged about her many ideas for how to incorporate the Kindness Elf into your December traditions.
Where your Elf on the Shelf pulls pranks and makes messes, a Kindness Elf suggests acts of kindness, instead, and ones that you can do together as a family. The benefits are touted to be twofold – it can help teach children the true meaning of Christmas, and it’s still fun.
While Kindness Elf isn’t mass marketed like Elf on the Shelf – most people are DIY-ing theirs, though Anna will be selling some starting in 2018 – it does seem as though it has the potential to catch on.
If you like the idea but aren’t not quite sure where or how to start, check out some of the suggestions below!
First, write a note introducing your Elf and explaining how it wants to interact with your family for the holidays.
Here’s one example:
And one more:
And then, give your Elf a name. Be as creative as you want, and let your children pick!
Now for some ideas of acts of kindness for your Elf to suggest in the coming days and weeks:
Bake something for a friend or neighbor.
Be helpful about taking family pictures.
Donate to charity.
Give a thoughtful gift.
Encourage new friendships.
You get the idea, so run with it! My personal suggestion is to create your own schedule that works for you and your family to relieve some of the holiday stress – maybe your Kindness Elf shares families and can only visit your house twice a week, etc, to minimize the burden of coming up with ideas.
Teaching small children how to do nice things for others, how to pay it forward, and how to lead by example are lessons that are valuable to teach any time of the year. The Kindness Elf is a great way to drive that home during the holidays while having some fun and getting into the spirit of things at the same time.
Let me know how it goes!