If you don't give in to the idea of an elf looming over your kiddos threatening to tell Santa all of their misdeeds, then this idea is for you!
I held off on elf on the shelf for many years because I wasn't too fond of the concept. I loved the idea of an elf showing up and getting into a bit of mischief, sparking some good ol' holiday fun leading up to Christmas. But I didn't love the backstory behind why the elf on the shelf arrives. So we kept the magic and holiday fun and crafted a different story for our elf Girard.
For Year 1, Girard was a hardworking lad with a strong work ethic and desire to make every Christmas the best Christmas. He loved helping Santa and was always looking for new ways to grow. Santa was so proud of all of Girard's hard work that he gave him a vacation two weeks before Christmas. Girard came to our house to decompress and binge-watch Sugar Rush in Harper's Barbie dream house. The kids loved it, and it was a positive experience.
By year 2, Girard was promoted to toy supervisor (solid work ethic, Girard! Way to go!), which unfortunately meant he couldn't get away for a vacation so close to Christmas.
In truth, I'd lost him.
By this point, I started to question why I started this in the first place. Isn't parenting hard enough without trying to keep track of an elf that you intentionally hide so the kids don't stumble upon it and ruin the magic? So, I crafted a way to have a whole year of grace to search. I had Girard send some newbie replacement elves that the kids could play with instead, promising he'd make it next year. I refused to buy another one, they are so darn expensive, and I knew I'd find him eventually.
And huzzah! Deep in the heat of summer and a decluttering spree, Girard was found high up on a dusty shelf in my closet that I never touch. So Girard will be able to make an appearance this year, rather than having to come up with another job promotion that he was now CEO or something and work was his life, and he would never again visit us at Christmas!!!
But I've realized, one week is about all I can handle, and then the magic of setting up that elf every evening wears thin. Girard will get into a bit of mischief while he's here, but mainly he'll do all the self-care "vacationy" things that will encourage some magic and laughter without the pressure of intense setups.
Here's what I'm thinking-
Netflix and Chill (maybe an itty bitty bowl of popcorn?)
Self-care spa day (a tiny towel on his head, and he can be by the sink relaxing. I might have a little toy tub lying around that I can use.)
Mischief Maker- He'll try his hand at baking and make a mess in the kitchen. I have small oven gloves from Harper's Calico Critter toys that I can use.
Winter Wonderland- Girard will be missing the North Pole by then, so I'll have him sliding outside on a snow mound.
Party time! With his vacation ending, he throws one big party with all of the kid's favourite toys.
Christmas craft- to make some memories with the kids.
Photo Op! No, he won't lose his magic- I make the rules, and I say Girard deserves some human contact. The kids can use their creativity and get in some photos with him before he returns home.
If elf on the shelf is not for you, please don't feel guilty. Kids will always prefer your quality of time and attention vs. the number of gifts or activities you provide. But if you're interested in giving it a go, I recommend starting with less time and keeping the setups simple.
What do you think? Would you try it this way?