For several years now, around the holiday season my Facebook and Pinterest accounts have absolutely exploded with Elf on the Shelf ideas. These range from the absolutely adorable (which would make me long for an Elf on our Shelf) to the crude and inappropriate (which would make me cringe away from all things Elf on the Shelf). While I would never condemn anyone who chose to use Elf on the Shelf for their family, there were several aspects of it that made me a little uncomfortable. This, in turn, would make me sad because I felt that my kiddos were missing out on something that could really be a fun holiday tradition for our family. That is when I stumbled upon a blog (not my idea!) with a brilliant suggestion: Kindness Elves!
In our home the discovery of Kindness Elves has been a tremendous blessing! It has allowed us to embrace the fun and silliness of the Elf on the Shelf concept, while at the same time using that fun and silliness to teach kindness and consideration; it’s the best of both worlds! Especially during a time of year when it’s so easy to focus on “me” and what “I” want, I’m thrilled to have found a fun way to encourage my little ones to always be mindful of others.
So what exactly is a Kindness Elf? Certainly each family can make it their own, but I will share a little with you about what our family has chosen to do with our Kindness Elf. First of all, oftentimes adorable elves can be found at the DollarTree. As is typical in my life, I saw them there several times until I was actually looking for one, at which point there was not an elf cheaper than $13 to be found! I am a bit of a cheapskate (although I prefer the term “frugal”) so I searched Amazon until I finally found a super cute elf for only $6.99 with free shipping. Then in a similar fashion to Elf on the Shelf, our Kindness Elf “Flakey” arrived in a wrapped package in early December. The kiddos eagerly tore into the package, & found our elf along with a poem I wrote explaining the purpose of our Kindness Elf. From there we got busy!
Ideally (although I am the first to admit I don’t always accomplish the ideal) every morning Flakey is placed somewhere new in the house. Sometimes he is simply placed, sometimes he is in cute and funny predicaments. Where/how he is found is a clue for my little ones regarding an act of kindness/service they are to perform that day. I am not very creative so this is a bit of a stretch for me, but as my dear friend Jeanne says although I’m not creative, I am resourceful! I have used google, sisters in Christ, my family, and of course Pinterest to help come up with ideas.
Some days we tackle larger projects such as baking goodies for all of our neighbors or the cops and firemen in town, and some days it’s something much simpler, yet important, such as not fixing a single plate for themselves that day, but rather serving their siblings through fixing their plates for them. We have also sent cards to the sick, shut-in, military and missionaries, sent cards to our elders and ministers, taken it upon ourselves to do a sibling’s chore for them, gone caroling at nursing homes and hospitals, done a chore around the house without being asked, taken care packages to the homeless, and donated our clothes and toys to the less fortunate to give you a few ideas.
Scripture plainly teaches that Jesus Christ expects us to be a people of service (Matthew 20:28, Luke 10:29-37, Matthew 25:36). Yet I fear that unintentionally, we teach our children that it is acceptable to be selfish during the holiday season. Having a Kindness Elf in our homes is a great way to re-focus on the blessings we have in Christ, and the joy that can be found in sharing those blessings with others. As someone who is resourceful rather than creative, I would love for you to share your Kindness Elf ideas with us in the comments! I leave you with the words of Peter, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” I Peter 4:10.