One tradition that some families with young children enjoy is the Elf on the Shelf tradition. The Elf on the Shelf is Santa's special helper. He keeps an eye on children all over the world and lets Santa know how everyone is doing before Christmas. There are several books you can buy with a big elf to use and a story to go with it, but we have enjoyed making something work with what we had on hand. One year, we used two Lego santas and we hid them each morning for Anna and Taylor to find. Other years, we have used an elf that had been in our great grandmother’s Christmas decorations for years. It's been fun to hide the elf in crazy spots each morning with clues and scavenger hunts on some days or to use some ideas that are all over the web. A few from parenting.com are below here:
Tricky Elf - Use a roll of toilet paper to “TP” your Christmas tree or child’s room and put the empty roll in your elf’s arms.
Snow Angel -Sprinkle flour on the countertop and move your elf’s legs to simulate a snow angel.
Candy OD - Empty a bag of candy (M&Ms work well) around your elf and put the empty bag in his arms.
Fun with Friends - Set a scene with the elf hanging out with your child’s favorite stuffed animals. They can play a board game or have a tea party.
Panty Raid - Hang your child’s underwear on the tree or around the house and pose your elf hanging on her underwear drawer.
Online Elf - For older kids, you can create a Facebook account for your elf so he can “keep an eye” on your child online and send her fun messages. You can also post photos on your elf’s page, showing some of the trouble he got into overnight (raiding the fridge, snuggling in bed, etc).
Dress Up - You can buy clothes for your elf. Imagine the surprise when your little one discovers her elf returned from the North Pole wearing a skirt.
Anyway, as we were putting away our Christmas decorations yesterday, I spotted our little elf that we have used in years past for the Elf on the Shelf tradition. It had sat in the same spot the entire season and we had not hidden it once. Oops!
I just had to laugh at how we let this slip this year and to remember that of course, no one family is able to embrace every tradition. We all must just pick and choose what works best for us.
The key is to stay flexible and to not just put security in tradition for tradition’s sake. It's great to ask the kids what they remember the most and what they want to keep as traditions so that we don’t focus on the things that aren’t the really special things to them. This is a good reminder to have conversations about what went well and what things we would all like to change as we grow in this art of celebration from year to year.