Looking for an Alternative to Elf on the Shelf? Look no further! Here are some of the best elf alternatives that your kids will love. From fun and festive ideas to Christian-based ideas, there’s something for everyone looking for an alternative to the elf. So get ready to have some fun and spread some holiday cheer!
Elf on the Shelf has taken the world by storm over the past few years.
I LOVE seeing all the creative ideas my friends come up with – it is such a fun Christmas tradition for many families.
However, it’s not for everyone.
Some people don’t like the idea of “encouraging” naughty behavior (since that’s what the elf does each night!)
Others just think the idea is creepy.
And others just don’t feel like doing it.
Whatever your reason is for looking for elf-on-the-shelf alternatives, I have some really fun ideas below that are great Christmas traditions for kids.
- Fun Elf on the Shelf Alternatives
- Kindness Elves
- Santa’s Lazy Gnome
- Jingle Bell Search
- North Pole Ninjas
- Hide and Hug Olaf
- Reindeer in Here
- Christmas Mouse
- Rascally Reindeer
- Christian Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf
- 25 Days of Christ
- Little Lamb from Bethlehem
- Shepherd on the Search
- Shepherd’s Treasure
- Wandering Wise Men
- Nativity Assembly
- What is Elf on the Shelf?
- What is the point of Elf on a Shelf?
- Is Elf on a Shelf Bad?
- Is Elf on the Shelf worth it?
Fun Elf on the Shelf Alternatives
If you are looking for fun or funny alternatives to elf on the shelf, here are some of our favorites!
I learned about the Kindness Elves last year, and I LOVE the idea. You can use your own little elves, or if you want to buy this adorable set, I think it would be a good investment.
These elves leave ideas for acts of kindness the children can do throughout the holiday season. I love this because it puts the focus on serving and loving others, which is such an important thing to emphasize during Christmas when it can be easy to only focus on what one wants. It encourages kids to participate in random acts of
Holly’s Magical Mistletoe
I just adore the idea. I love that it incorporates the tradition of the mistletoe in a new and memorable way. Here is a description of how this works:
“Holly’s Magical Mistletoe is an exciting new Christmas Kissing Tradition for couples and families alike! This fun twist on the classic tradition allows people to find their inner child and bond over something truly magical: Christmas kisses. A Christmas book, mistletoe sprig and fun activity, all in one!
Each night during the holidays, someone plays the role of Holly the elf, and hangs her magical sprig where it can be found the next day and kissed beneath. More often than not, Holly’s mistletoe is discovered in the most bizarre and unexpected places, leading to a lot of fun, laughter and exciting kissing adventures!”
This one made me laugh – great for those lazy parents out there (myself included). It has a darling book, and he just hangs out in your house throughout the Christmas season. Unlike the elf, there is no need to hide – he just likes to stay in the same place!
This is a great one for those of who can’t really remember to do something every day (guilty!). This mom created this when her kids came home asking about “Elf on the Shelf”, but she wanted to come up with something more low key.
The day after Thanksgiving, she hides jingle bells all throughout their house and backyard. The kids have to search to find them. You can check out her post for some fun hiding spots!
I don’t know about you, but my kids love ninjas! This tradition has a book and a little ninja, and you are encouraged to help accomplish certain tasks.
If you want to do something like “Elf on the Shelf”, but you don’t love the elf…Olaf is a great alternative. What kid doesn’t like this guy?!
This was created by a father who was looking for a positive Christmas tradition. The child gets the reindeer (and a book, if you choose) as their first gift of the season. They are encouraged to name the Reindeer and take it everywhere with them so it can get to know them better and report back to Santa! No hiding is required!
This was a fun idea that doesn’t focus on Santa or elves at all, but it’s similar to Elf on the Shelf. The mom who created it doesn’t have Santa Claus come to their home, so this was a fun tradition for her children.
This is super cute and fun! These are just cute, homemade reindeer that this mom hides around the house during the month.
Christian Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf
If you’re looking for Christian alternatives, there are plenty of those as well! I love anything that helps remind and teach my children about why we celebrate Christmas!
This is a really fantastic way to teach your children about Christ’s birth in a fun and memorable way. The 25 Days of Christ ornament kits come from ornaments for the first 25 days of December with an accompanying story/devotional to go along with it. You can simply lay them out, or you can hide them to make them more interactive.
There is an unfinished and painted set. You can get 20% off with the code CC20.
This is a fun storybook that comes with a plush lamb that “tells the story of Jesus’s miraculous birth from the perspective of one of the lambs in the stable on that sacred night.”
After reading the story, you can use the little lamb to learn more about the Savior and serving others. What you do is really open-ended, but it has a bunch of different ideas (daily or weekly). Some of them include:
- Once a week leading up to Christmas, invite a new friend to dinner with your family, and share Little Lamb’s story of the Savior with them.
- Include the lamb in the nativity scene you act out with your family.
- Create a photo album with the Little Lamb as you take it to do service at a nursing home.
- Read Luke 2:13-14.
- Give the Little Lamb a note every day expressing love for a family member, and leave hi for that family member to find.
- Each Sunday during December, give the Little Lamb a favorite scripture to hold during the day and then read it with your family that night.
- Read John 13:15 and talk about the ways to be the kind of person Jesus would be.
- Hang a stocking for Jesus and fill it with notes for Him.
From the website:
“Embark on a family journey and find Christ in Christmas! During the Advent season, begin reading the story of your shepherd’s timeless journey in a beautifully illustrated interactive children’s book, and let the fun begin every day as you hide your shepherd and your children find him in a new place along the search! The shepherd’s journey begins anew every Christmas season and ends on Christmas day as your shepherd finds his way to the manger.
Make meaningful Christmas memories as year after year your family delights in helping your cuddly shepherd retell the timeless story that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas. Include with The Shepherd on the Search Children’s Christmas Music & Reading CD for an inspiring combination of fun, praise, and meaningful activity—a wonderful way to keep Christ in Christmas.”
This set comes with a book and plush Shepherd and Baby Jesus along with a fun story, advent cards, and an activity calendar with different things to do. It is very simple and fun, and it gives you some great ideas for the entire Christmas season that boys and girls will love. The book tells a sweet story about a shepherd trying to find Jesus, and it can help your family find Him as well!
This is a fun idea from “Look to Him and Be Radiant”. There are different activities for each day with your wise men! You can tell the story of the journey of the wise men to find the Christ child.
Depending on how many pieces you have in your set start that many days before Christmas. Each day, hide one piece of the Nativity. When it is found, the piece can be placed in a designated nativity spot.
On Christmas Eve, the last piece that will be found is of the baby Jesus. You can end by reading the Nativity. The Christmas Star from Afar is a great item you can buy to go along with this!
What is Elf on the Shelf?
Just in case you aren’t sure what Elf on the Shelf is – here is a little overview.
It’s a little Elf that visits from the North Pole to check in on your kids and report back to Santa. He is often found around the house doing naughty things, and many times, he’s found in very compromising or funny positions.
It’s very popular, and if you have kids in school, chances are, they’ll come home asking where their elf is! My son did his very first year of school (and his teachers always have had an Elf in the classroom too!).
It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but a lot of parents feel a lot of pressure to do it or make really creative hiding spots. We have done it in the past, but I simply just hid it around the house.
However, many parents are resistant to letting this little elf in the house, especially because they feel it encourages bad behavior and mischief. The storybook that often accompanies the elf also says the elf reprots back to Santa bad behavior, and many parents just don’t like the idea of that!
With that said, many have adapted traditions to be like the elf in ways that have become meaningful and special. There is no one right decision!
If you like the idea of a fun tradition like this but would like something that focuses more on serving, kindness, or the reason behind the season rather than that plush little guy, that is totally understandable! And above, you’ll find lots of cute alternatives.
What is the point of Elf on a Shelf?
Honestly, this just depends on the family. I think for most, it just adds another fun and magical element to Christmas. While the original idea stems from “reporting bad behavior” back to Santa while doing mischievous things around the house, for many, it’s simply a fun tradition.
Is Elf on a Shelf Bad?
I am sure there are many opinions on this. But I don’t think it’s bad – nor are any of the alternatives above. It all comes down to just doing what works for your family and not feeling pressure to do something if you don’t want to!
Is Elf on the Shelf worth it?
Honestly, I think it is. I am sure for some people it becomes overwhelming and difficult, but in my experience, it’s something my kids truly love and look forward to each year. I know many other families feel this way, too! Your kids are only young for a short time! Even if Elf on the Shelf isn’t your cup of tea, I think any of the options on this page can be a lot of fun and memorable.
Elf on the Shelf is a beloved holiday tradition for many families, but it’s not the only game in town. If you’re looking for something different this year, why not try one of these alternate options? There are plenty of ways to make Christmas magical without resorting to spying and tattling. So what will you choose? Let us know in the comments below!
Other Christmas Posts You May Enjoy:
- 30+ Christmas Traditions for Families
- The Best Christmas Eve Traditions for Families
- 12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas and FREE Printable
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.