OK, parents… raise of hands… does your Elf on the Shelf’s crazy antics drive you crazy?!
While my kids count down the days that Zippy returns to our house, I have come to dread it. Cleaning up after that elf is just one more thing to add to my never-ending holiday to-do list. And heaven knows Zippy gets into some elaborate mischief. In previous years Zippy has taken a bubble bath in marshmallows, drank syrup in the kitchen pantry, zip lined across the living room, and toilet papered the Christmas tree… just to name a few.
Last year though, that crazy elf actually decided to try something different.
My daughter had a loose tooth that she refused to pull. It was ready to come out, but she just wouldn’t pull it. Zippy gave her a little encouragement to pull the tooth in order to hand it over to his friend, the Tooth Fairy. And my son was struggling with potty training. Zippy gave him some tips on all things #2 — think chocolate chips and a doll house potty.
And while Zippy made some typical arrivals each day, like doodling on our framed pictures with a marker, he also taught my kids about kindness and the spirit of giving.
One night Zippy left a giant cardboard box in the middle of our living room with a note to fill it with old toys that my kids didn’t use anymore. He said once the box was full, he would take it to kids that didn’t have fun toys to play with. I figured this request would be met with sadness over giving away not often used, but seemingly prized possessions or arguments over who had to give away more.
But I was shocked. Both kids loved the idea. Avery, my then 6-year-old daughter, couldn’t wait to fill up the box and wanted to start sorting through toys immediately. Reed, then 2, was a little more hesitant, but saw the excitement from his big sis and quickly jumped on board. He even learned a new word from the process: donate.
The kids enjoyed the lesson so much that they filled not one box, not two, not even three… EIGHT boxes sat in my living room, heaping with toys, clothes, shoes, coats and more that were all donated to Oasis Women’s Shelter.
So this season, I encourage you to have a private talk with your elf about possibly changing his or her routine. Yes, the Facebook posts and Pinterest pins of elves doing funny things are great. I’m not saying for your elf to take away the fun spirit the tradition. But I do think you could take this opportunity to talk to your elf about implementing a few lessons on kindness and how important it is to have a giving heart.
Here are some suggestions to offer your Elf on the Shelf:
- Your elf can leave out fun new stationary and markers for your kids to make notes for family members that live out of town.
- We’ve all seen the elf making a snow angel out of flour or powdered sugar. You can do this, but also set out all ingredients to make cookies, brownies or other yummy treats. Package them up and deliver to neighbors.
- The elf can have a jar filled with pieces of paper that say things about your child that makes them special. Leave instructions for your child to do the same thing and give to someone they love.
- The elf can spill a bag of pet food, but include a gift card to a pet store. Encourage your child to use the gift card to purchase food for the animal shelter or humane society.
- Your elf can read a book and leave all the material to for your kids to design their own bookmarks. Then take the bookmarks to the library and hide them inside of books on the shelf for the next reader to find and keep.