Are you looking for a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf? If you are looking for ways to turn your child’s heart to the true meaning of Christmas this year, our Heart of Christmas may provide some inspiration.
I love Christmas! The gift giving, baking, decorating, family, friends, finding a big fresh tree- all of it! I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting caught up in the Holiday. I do feel the need to ground myself a bit and keep from getting caught up in the hoopla so much that the focus of what it is about just…disappears. I created this as a way to intentionally turn my child towards Jesus’s birth, and his message- kindness, service, charity, and of course ultimately salvation. I want my children to experience the joy of doing for others just for the sake of bringing a light to their day.
Some of the activities involve digging into God’s word to learn more about him, others will require you to act as he did – selflessly and with love. The activities can and should range from simple ones that take no preparation to more elaborate plans that might require a little money or sacrifice and more time. Service will stretch from those closest to us outwards to complete strangers.
The idea is that your children wake up each day searching for Jesus and his instructions for the day. This is a fun reminder and a symbol of what we should be doing everyday anyway. The preparation for this Advent activity has been very convicting for me as well.
It doesn’t take very much time or money to put together the components for this nearly month-long celebration of Christ.
Heart of Christmas: A Christian Alternative to Elf on the Shelf
- A cardboard box for all your supplies
- a sharpie
- red card stock or construction paper
- Baby Jesus from your nativity
- a calendar
Cut out 24 red hearts from construction paper or card stock.
Write each of the activities that you chose on a paper heart.
Check your calendar as you decide activities, things that are more time intensive should be saved for when the kids are not in school and you are not entertaining the whole family at your home. Schedule something for each day from December 1st-24th.
Gather supplies whether it be arts and crafts items, stationary, change, your hearts, and baby Jesus and keep them in the box. If you have everything organized and on hand it will be much easier to carry out your plans and you won’t be scrambling gathering everything you need at the last minute- set yourself up for success!
We are using the baby Jesus from our Little People Nativity Set since I have a 3-year-old I am not quite ready to sacrifice my porcelain version for the project.
Here are some ideas for your hearts:
- Hang up an Advent Calendar (Here are some Advent Calendars you can make.)
- Write letters to soldiers
- Do something kind for each person in your house today.
- Load up gently used toy’s to donate.
- Put together toiletry bags for a homeless shelter.
- Read the Christmas Story together.
- Bake cookies and deliver to fire/police station.
- Make a winter treat to feed the birds and squirrels.
- Gather all the change in the house, take it to your closest Salvation Army bell ringer.
- Set up Nativity Scene. (Here are DIY Nativity Scenes you can make.)
- Leave bags of quarters on the washers at a laundry mat.
- Make a Cross ornament to hang in the tree.
- Go to Dollar Tree and pass out 10- $1.00 bills to random children (with parents permission first)
- Read a book about Jesus’ Birth.
- Make breakfast with mom.
- Choose an angel from the angel tree.
- Visit a nursing home, pass out carnations and “Merry Christmas” greetings.
- Feed a meter for someone.
- Hold the door for everyone you see.
- Visit a living Nativity.
- Make a list of Jesus’s names.
- Make a homemade ornament for a neighbor.
- Rake or shovel a neighbors driveway.
- Attend a candlelight Christmas service.
- Put together cocoa packets to pass out.
- Volunteer somewhere.
Would you like to do an elf, but without the naughtiness? Check out The Kindness Elves for 12 days of kindness!
Shannon P says
I thought the elf on the shelf sounded like a cute “idea” until I read up on the tradition and discovered his naughtiness. Not a character quality I want to encourage in my children. I also think he looks a bit creepy and was disappointed that it wasn’t something more wholesome.
I ABSOLUTELY love this idea…especially the idea that each morning my children will be looking for JESUS to see what kind of blessing they can be each day. Definite character building qualities in this activity. Thank you so much for sharing it!! I am excited to start preparing so we can begin this new holiday tradition.
May the Lord bless you and I thank you for encouraging others to keep the focus of Christmas on the namesake of the holiday…Christ. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Love your ideas. Just one question, how is this ” elf on the shelf” different than an advent calender? I’m from The Netherlands and christmas is not celebrated as big here as in the USA. So just wondering how it it different from an advent calender..
Thank you 😉
Alea Milham says
Hi Esmee, “Elf on a Shelf” is a fairly new tradition in the USA. Each day in December leading up to Christmas parents hide an elf in a new spot for the kids to find. Often the elf has done something mess or naughty. While it can be fun, many Christian parents prefer finding activities that are more Christ-focused or focused on positive, Christian activities, rather than on “naughty” activities. Best, Alea
One thing we do along this idea is to place baby Jesus under the tree. The wise men, Mary and Joseph and the animals “travel” to the tree a little bit everyday after a story or activity. On Christmas Eve, all join baby Jesus under the tree and we read the Christmas story or bible verse.
I love this idea. Instead of doing projects though (I am in no way creative) I would have behavior challenges. Something like: Jesus wants you to always be honest today, or Jesus wants you to be nice to your siblings today. And keep them accountable all month, with asking them at the end of the day if they kept up their ‘challenge’ and discussing it and thinking of things we can do for others all year around not just at Christmas time.
Melissa Perez says
i absolutely LOVE this idea!!! I’ve never been fond of the Elf on a Shelf, & I agree…. He’s creepy! I’ve been wanting something to do for my family for Christmas like this….. I’m gonna definitely try this out….
What great ideas, Jody! Thank you so much for sharing this. May God bless you!
What an adorable and thoughtful tradition to bring to the family. Thanks for sharing this great idea. I love that it is frugal too since you don’t have to buy a special little elf and his books (that elf creeps me out big time BTW). Instead you use what you have (the baby Jesus from your Nativity scene) and construction paper. And of course the message to keep your heart on Jesus is wonderful. And a good reminder to not get caught up in the consumerist of the holiday. I had to pin this on Pinterest to share…too good not too!
Alea Milham says
Thanks for your kind words and for sharing this on Pinterest!
This is a fantastic way to keep your eyes and heart on Jesus. We do something similar with our Random Acts of Kindness envelopes but I have much older children. Merry Christmas!