Inside: Elf on the Shelf has become a popular cultural sensation in many homes in the U.S. We know several people who enjoy having fun with the little elf. However, we also know people who are looking for alternatives to Elf on the Shelf. If that is you, we hope this post will help guide you in your decision to choose an elf alternative this year!
Wait! Before you report my behavior to your elf and put me on the naughty list, we don’t think there is anything wrong with Elf on the Shelf. It’s just a fun little activity that many parents and kids enjoy around Christmas.
We have many family members and friends who move their elf around the house and create different comical scenarios for the elf. The elf finds himself hiding and creating messes, being stuck in precarious situations, or creating fun activities for the kids.
Elf on the Shelf started back in 2005, when a children’s picture book about the elf was published. It told the story of how Santa uses the elf to report on the naughty or nice behavior of the children.
So, a decade and a half since its creation, Elf on the Shelf is a household name in pretty much any home with kids.
For many, the elf plays hide and seek with the kids and sometimes wreaks havoc around the house. Other parents use the elf to bring notes or acts of kindness for the children to perform.
In our home, we have chosen not to participate in Elf on the Shelf. This is not because we think there is anything wrong with it, but, mainly, we didn’t want to do it for the purpose of behavior monitoring or have to come up with things to do each night. Plus, we have four kids who make enough messes on their own. We don’t need an Elf making more messes. 😂
Instead, we opted for another fun activity called Star from Afar as an alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In our research, we’ve found some other alternatives to Elf on the Shelf that might interest you as well.
5 Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf
1. Star from Afar
Our kids love Star from Afar! This is our favorite alternative to Elf on the Shelf. Basically, there is a little wooden nativity that comes with several characters, including the three wisemen and a star. Each day, the star moves around the house, and the kids try to find it. Once they do, the wisemen are moved to that place, and it repeats. Star from Afar also comes with a book and scripture cards to read with your children.
2. Shepherd on the Search
Shepherd on the Search hides the shepherd each day, and the kids find him. They will read the story of the shepherd’s journey in the interactive children’s book that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas.
Related: Non-Junk Stocking Stuffers for Kids
3. Kindness Elves
The Kindness Elves make a great little alternative to Elf on the Shelf since they are still elves. They don’t really come as a bundle and require a little more creativity on the part of the parents. The idea is to hide the two elves around the house, and, when they are found by the kids, they deliver an act of kindness to be performed during the day or week.
The parents direct the children in completing the assigned act of kindness together. This can be as simple as delivering some canned goods to a food pantry, donating an extra coat to a coat closet, or putting together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
While this idea is more time consuming, if I could go back in time, I think I would prefer this idea to Star from Afar because it fosters an attitude of service. I think the tricky part about this option is that it does require a lot more upfront planning on the part of the parents.
4. Melk, the Christmas Monkey
Melk is a monkey that teachers children about God’s character through fun lessons and activities during the Advent season. In addition, he also has 11 letters that he will deliver throughout the year. Melk the Christmas Monkey can also be used with bigger groups of kids as well.
5. Advent Blocks
A few years ago, we discovered Advent Blocks and added them to our Christmas! Each set includes 27 wooden blocks, along with a family devotional guide.
First, you line up the blocks. Each day, you read the story and rotate that day’s block. This allows the image on the block to be revealed. You move the star block one space to the right, resting on top of that day’s image—and one step closer to Christmas Day.
Bonus: The Shepherd’s Treasure
The Shepherd’s Treasure is the tale of one shepherd who went on a journey to find the true treasure and meaning of Christmas. It comes with a book and a set of cards that lead the shepherd to a new verse to read each day. It offers clues on the shepherd’s journey and lets the nativity come alive.
If you’re looking for an Elf on the Shelf alternative, we hope one of these options will be a good fit for your family!
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Do you have any more activities or traditions that you follow through the Advent season?
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