We had no sooner wrapped up the leftovers and swept the floor when it happened:
Our Facebook feed was suddenly flooded with images of the Elf on the Shelf. Some families seemed genuinely happy to be reunited with their stuffed friend, while others unearthed him begrudgingly. Meanwhile, those who did not yet have an Elf on the Shelf grappled with whether or not to join in on the fun, especially those with children who felt left out.
Many years ago, we tried the Elf on the Shelf. It was a desperate parenting move; I had a newborn, a toddler, and a brazen 3-year-old. In our case, the Elf on the Shelf backfired. That scoundrel caused far more trouble than he was worth.
If you are in a similar boat, or if you are just in need of an alternative, I have three fantastic options for you.
3 Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf to Inspire Kindness:
These options are low on stress and high on kindness–and that’s a win in my book!
The Kindness Elves
I love The Kindness Elves… and so do my kiddos. These adorable little elves are the brainchild of Anna, a former primary school teacher, mom to four, and owner of the popular website The Imagination Tree. Anna started the tradition years ago with her children as an alternative to the naughty elf tradition. These little elves inspire kindness in children and spread a little magic, too!
In our home, we use The Kindness Elves in conjunction with some of our most favorite books for spreading joy and kindness, including Humble and Kind and Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
The Doll Kind
The Doll Kind was inspired by a real-life parenting moment that eventually landed the creator’s family on morning television. You can read the full story here (trust me, you won’t regret it!). These beautiful dolls empower children to spread joy and kindness in their corner of this earth. Each doll comes with kindness tokens, which children dole out as they perform random acts of kindness.
Best part? For every doll sold, The Doll Kind donates a doll to a child in need. How is that for spreading the love?
North Pole Ninjas
My youngest adores The North Pole Ninjas Mission Christmas by Tyler Knott Gregson. Anyone who receives this book and package been called upon to help carry out Santa’s top secret North Pole missions… and these missions involve spreading joy and kindness! You can see my little guy below, hugging his adorable sensei.
With a little creativity and help from the above, you can change the focus from naughty behavior to kind acts.
Each of the above would make for a wonderful family holiday tradition. And, while we are on the subject of the holidays, I’d like to share some of our favorite new-this-year holiday books:
- A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs (Parragon Books)
- The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster
- The Great Spruce by John Duvall
- The Nutcracker: From the Story by E. T. A. Hoffman (Parragon Books)
- The Snow Queen: From the Story of Hans Christian Andersen (Parragon Books)
These books would make perfect stocking stuffers for the little ones in your life!