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Elf On The Shelf Alternatives [For The Overwhelmed Mom Who Doesn’t Want To Participate]


It’s that time again, the time when the most clever, crafty moms and dads dust off their favorite Pinterest boards and create Elf magic!


On one hand, I think it’s a great tradition that brings a lot of holiday spirit to your home – and if that aligns with your family's core values, that’s amazing!


If your kids love it AND you love it, I’m all for it.


However, if it’s just not your thing, I want you to know it really is okay to let go of the mom guilt, opt out of the overwhelm, and just say no to this trend!


I promise that it will be fine – MORE than fine!


But what do you tell your kids when they see all of their friends talking about their elf and the crazy thing it did last night and you simply don’t want to participate?


This can be tricky because kids are kids, and they of course, want to fit in.


But helping your kids fit in doesn’t mean sacrificing your family values or doing things just for the heck of it.


To help ease some of this tension in our house, I make it a priority to help my kids understand that all families have different traditions.


Some families do Elf on a Shelf, others put up their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving, while some wait for December, and some do not celebrate Christmas.



For our family, we have many wonderful family traditions, and YOU have the opportunity to create your own, too!


Our Family’s Version of Elf On The Shelf


In our house, we don’t follow the traditional Elf on the Shelf Rules, and our kids understand this.


During December, we are accompanied by a sweet elf who spreads joy, togetherness, and simplicity through love, kindness, happiness, and generosity.



Our little elf isn't naughty and doesn’t spy on us, but he DOES help us with some fun activities for several days leading up to Christmas. This is something I created as a way to celebrate the season and infuse fun into our home while also staying true to who we are and who we want to be as a family unit.


Not only does it allow our family to create unforgettable memories together through all the fun activities, but it also serves as a teaching moment where we get to remind our kids what characteristics and traits matter most.


In addition to teaching our family values, we use this as a chance to prioritize the days leading up to Christmas, which includes all kinds of fun family favorites that, again, are aligned with what we love to do as a family.


The activities that we do as a family might look different from our neighbors – and that’s okay!


For us, these activities look like:


  • Christmas light adventures (walking around the neighborhood or driving to a light show)

  • Helping others who need a little extra love around the holidays


  • Coloring while enjoying the lights of our Christmas tree

  • Baking cookies (or warming up a few that were purchased! ) and sipping hot cocoa

  • Building or decorating gingerbread houses

  • Enjoying a snack around the Christmas tree


  • As a family, we enjoy watching Christmas movies (or the new Santa Clause TV series). We have complied a list of holiday movies to suit any mood!

  • Reading a new Christmas book



  • Making handmade cards or ornaments and giving them to friends/family

  • Listening to holiday music while making dinner

  • Donating old toys to make room for the new


Our family LOVES the holidays and everything that makes up the holiday season – the lights, the smells, the time with family, doing [non] + traditional activities, creating new traditions, the songs, and the gift giving!


But for our family, the naughty version of the elf isn’t welcome in our home.


And that is perfectly ok!


Just remember, YOUR elf [or lack of an elf in your home] and the traditions around it can be whatever YOU want it to be for YOUR family. They DO NOT have to be nearly as complex as your social media friends make it out to be.



Elf On The Shelf Alternatives


We decided this year to source wooden holiday activity tokens to help other families not only guide the fun of the season but also keep things simple! Make sure you don’t miss out on traditions and keep the magic alive by choosing a token. Let the kids be in charge and select randomly, or plan out events ahead of time; the beauty of this activity is that you can use it in any way you want! Take a little pressure off yourself this Christmas season by letting this activity jar help create magic for your family.


Each set comes with 13 activity tokens, a December Calendar PDF (printed), and 13 mini envelopes.


Overall, the holiday season is supposed to be what YOU want it to be!


It can be easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, but trying to keep up with the influencers and Pinterest moms can steal your joy so fast, which is the exact opposite of what you want. 


I’d love to know your take on Elf on the Shelf? Do you have any other holiday traditions I should know about?


Connect with me here and let me know! I always love to hear and see how people navigate the magical season. ✨


P.S. Looking for fresh ideas for your holiday movies this year? Click to check out a few of our favorites here.


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