When I read the idea of the kindness elves (http://theimaginationtree.com/2013/11/alternative-elf-on-shelf-tradition-kindness-elf.html), I was smitten. We still get to enjoy the magic of Christmas without worrying about the elf telling Santa if we are naughty or nice! Yeah, I don't like that part of the Elf on the shelf either. What I didn't expect was how wonderful it would be to start the day, every day, in December in such a positive thinking-of-others way. After enjoying the kindness elves for just a couple days, my 5 year old made his AND HIS BROTHERS beds without being asked! That. is. HUGE! My boys have been constantly giving each other their toys and wanting to make cards for others since the elves have been giving us encouragement. Here are some of the ideas we have done:
The elves greeted the boys on day 1, and the boys named them "Snowflake" and "Frosty"
(these are Oriental Trading Co elves)
The next day we were going to a Christmas party where there were other kids that did not speak English very well, so the elves met Dusty the squirrel. It says "He doesn't even speak our language, but we can still smile and play with toys together...". This worked wonders. My shy 5 year old was all about meeting new kids by the time we were ready to go the party.
They didn't help with the laundry like I hoped, but this was the day Tobin made his and his brother's bed without being asked:
My wonderful friend Jess gave me the idea of "The Warm Fuzzy Jar" awhile back. Whenever the boys do something kind and unexpected (they can't ask for this), I put a "warm fuzzy" (aka cotton ball ) in the jar. When they fill it, we will go to Chuck E Cheese! The elf was putting one in for Tobin being so kind and helpful the day before.
Singing with the choir before the Children's Christmas program sunday morning! This one is my favorite.
My 5 year old gets stage fright, but this encouraged him to sing "Go tell him on the mountain" and give his best for Jesus.
I didn't share all the ideas, but you can find lots of ideas on their facebook page where I got the idea https://www.facebook.com/thekindnesselves
I love starting the day thinking about how we can be kind to others. We also end the day reading The Jesus Storybook Bible, which points to Jesus at the end of each Bible story. If you read a chapter a day in December, the story of Jesus' birth is on Dec. 24th. Here is a list of the advent reading schedule: http://homewiththeboys.net/jesus-storybook-bible-advent-curriculum-collectors-edition-and-more/
I believe that starting and ending our day this way has made the Christmas spirit in our home both joyful and loving instead of selfish and ungrateful. I do believe we have some new traditions to continue each year.