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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Elf on the Shelf Alternative Christmas Traditions

Each year in December, homes and families around the world welcome the mischievous antics of the Elf on the Shelf. Like many others, we're huge fans of the Elf on the Shelf, however, if you're wanting to start a Christmas tradition for your kids but the elf just isn't your cup of tea don't worry, there are plenty of alternatives. 

I've put together a list of 18 kind hearted, helpful, humorous, and faith-inspired Elf on the Shelf alternatives that promise to bring joy and reflection to your holiday season. Whether you're aiming to have some fun, inspire acts of kindness, or instil spiritual values, there's something for every family to consider.

christmas alternatives to the elf on the shelf

Kindness Christmas Dolls

Instead of hiding around the house, playing funny pranks, or reporting back to Santa, these special Christmas visitors help children spread kindness each day during December. If you want your children to spread the Christmas spirit and give back to family, friends and the community this December, these kindness dolls are the perfect choice.

Kindness Elves

the kindness elves christmas dolls

The kindness elves come to visit children during December to encourage them to spread kindness, share with each other and experience gratitude through daily acts of kindness. Each day the elves will leave a note with an activity children can do to spread kindness and once they've done the task the elves will leave a thankyou note.

You can write your own notes, or get the bundle pack with the story book, 2 elves and the accessories pack which includes acts of kindness cards, postcards, stickers, little book of big kindness and magic sprinkles. The kindness elves are currently shipping to the UK, USA and selected European countries.

Joyful Elves

little do-gooders joyful elf christmas dolls

Spread a little JOY each day in the month of December with these adorable Joyful Elves. If you're looking for a fun holiday tradition to do with your kids, grandkids, spouse, co-workers, roommate, or siblings... these precious elves will help you do it. 

One single act of kindness can seem small to us, but can mean so much to others. Make a big difference by doing good deeds all month long. The joyful elves can be purchased individually or in sets including joy cards + 60 ideas to spread joy. The joyful elves ship worldwide from the US.

Kindness Angel

kindness angel waldorf fairy doll for christmas

In the month of December, the Kindness Angel likes to spread her wings and visit your home. She invites happiness to those around her by encouraging small acts of kindness for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The Kindness Angel is based off Waldorf principles of expression and creativity and therefore has little face expression. The absence of distinguished facial features allows a child to assign different roles and feelings to their doll whilst exploring in play.

The Kindness Angel is an exclusive collaboration between Growing Kind and Tara Treasures. They come with 25 kindness postcards and 5 blank postcards. Kindness Angels ship from Australia.

Santa's Helper Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf

If you prefer not to adopt an elf, but still want your children to experience special visits from one of Santa's friends during December, consider one of these alternatives. Every one of Santa's helpers has a unique story to tell and a special way to brighten your December mornings.

North Pole Ninjas

north pole ninjas

The North Pole Ninjas are Santa's secret elves that help by doing good deeds without being seen. The book is your child's invitation to join Santa's secret service and complete stealthy missions to spread Christmas cheer.

Santa's Sensei will come to stay with your child during December to give them daily missions. Once they join the North Pole Ninjas they get to be a ninja and help Santa spread cheer every year. Get the North Pole Ninjas from Amazon or Amazon AU.

The North Pole Gnome

the north pole gnome book and plush set

The North Pole Gnome is Santa's helper who comes to your home in December to report back to Santa each night whether your kids have been naughty or nice. He can be touched, hugged and played with, he just needs to go to sleep in your stocking each night so he can get back to Santa.

The North Pole Gnome doesn't have to do anything except hang out with and watch over your children. The book explains what North Pole Gnomes are and there's also a bonus app which allows children to explore the world of The North..

Santa's Lazy Gnome

santa's lazy gnome

Santa's gnome may be lazy, but even though he doesn't move, he can see everything that's happening around him, even when he's not with you! The lazy gnome doesn't play hide and seek or silly games, he simply sits and watches and reports back to Santa if your children have been naughty or nice.

Get a lazy gnome with the story book from Etsy, Amazon or Amazon AU.

Dory & Randy - Santa's lost elf & reindeer

your christmas adventure santa's lost reindeer and elf

In Your Christmas Adventure, Dory, one of Santa's favourite elves, goes missing in a snow storm and her brave, yet mischievous, friend Randy the reindeer goes looking for her. Randy finds Dory and the northern lights transport them to your home.

Your children can look after, and play with, Dory and Randy until Christmas Eve when Santa comes to deliver the presents and collects them to go back to the North Pole. Once Santa finds them he decides they can come back to visit your children every year. There's also spaces in the book for you to add your kids name/s to the story.

Christopher Pop-In-Kins

christopher pop in kins Christmas elf

In late November, Santa sends Christopher Pop-In-Kins to visit boys and girls and share in the excitement of the holiday season. Each night, while the children are asleep, Christopher pops to a new location in the house. Each morning children can have fun looking for him in his new hiding place. On Christmas Eve, Christopher pops back to the North Pole to tell Santa about his new friends and the adventures he had in their house.

Christopher Pop-In-Kins has been around since 1984, visiting children's homes for nearly 40 years. Christopher also has wired arms and legs so is easily posable. Just like the Elf on the Shelf, Christopher can't be touched or he'll need to have his magic restored by Santa. Get Christopher from Amazon or Amazon AU.

If Your Best Friend is an Elf

if your best friend is an elf book and doll

If Your Best Friend is an Elf is a beautiful story book that takes children on an adventure with their elf best friend. They can choose a special name for their elf and then go on a magical visit to the elf village and the North Pole. At the end of the book their elf friend turns into a doll that they get to keep.

Children can keep their elf best friend all year round and there's no rules, they simply get to love him. You can get If Your Best Friend is an Elf from Amazon or Amazon AU.

Alternative Elves

If you love elves, but just don't love the elf  these guys may be the right elves for you. While they aren't your traditional Elf on the Shelf, these playful elf companions are packed with personality and ready to bring a world of fun to your holiday season. Whether they're causing good-natured havoc or simply bringing smiles to faces, every morning there'll be something fun to discover.

Elves Behavin' Badly

elves behaving badly lighting fart on fire

As the name suggests, these elves like behaving badly. They're very similar to the Elf on the Shelf, however they love being naughty and getting up to lots of mischief! If your kids love funny pranks and playing tricks then these elves will be loads of fun during December.

You can get elves behavin' badly from Amazon, Amazon AU and most dollar shops and department stores in the lead up to Christmas. They also have their own range of accessories to help them out with their pranks.

Buddy the elf

buddy the elf doll

If your kids loved the movie Elf then they'll love it when Buddy comes to visit their house in December. Plus Buddy can actually talk and says lots of sayings from the movie like "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all the hear". You can use him to recreate scenes from the movie throughout December like his famous spaghetti breakfast.

Get Buddy from Amazon or Amazon AU. There's also plenty of other Buddy themed props that can be used to create Elf scenes during December. I've seen lots of people use this life size Buddy cut-out for Christmas eve to recreate the OMG Santa's coming moment.

The Grinch

the grinch elf doll

The Grinch is everyone's favourite anti-hero when it comes to Christmas time, after all he did try to steal Christmas. You can use the Grinch to recreate scenes from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or you could use him alongside another elf for some fun good vs evil escapades.

You can get a Grinch elf from Amazon, Amazon AU and Etsy.

Uncle Si the Napping Elf

uncle si the napping elf

In this book Uncle Si is an elf who helps Santa save a little boys Christmas by making him the perfect gift. Uncle Si is an American veteran famous from Duck Dynasty and he uses this book to spread the true meaning of Christmas and of course his message of work hard, nap hard.

The book comes with your very own Uncle Si napping elf who can take naps in different spots all over your house during December. Uncle Si is fun for kids and adults. You can get Uncle Si from Amazon or Amazon AU, but hurry he sells out fast.

Snoop on a Stoop

snoop on a stoop elf doll
Image: @LogoDIY

In 2021 snoop on the stoop dolls made to resemble rapper Snoop Dogg became increasingly popular and sold out in stores. Now obviously this one is definitely for adults only, but he could get up to some fun scenarios if you want to carry the tradition into adulthood.

Snoop Dogg did admit he was not associated with the Snoop on a Stoop doll and it was an unauthorised product and he would be taking legal action against those who manufacture and sell the doll. However, there are still listings available on Etsy and Amazon, but my advice is purchase at your own risk because some have been discovered as scams.

Religious Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf

If your family is Christian or Jewish, these faith-based companions resonate with the true essence of the season and also guide children towards a deeper understanding and connection with their beliefs. Every day will be a beautiful journey of reflection, teaching young hearts to focus on faith, love, and the spiritual wonders of the holiday season.

Himself on a Shelf

himself on a shelf, Jesus christmas doll

At Christmas time, or during other religious celebrations. bring your Himself on the Shelf doll out for your family. Remind them what Jesus taught and how He wants us to serve others. Choose one family member to start with the doll. They get to choose an act of service or kindness to do for another family member. He's then passed on so everyone in the family gets to do an act of service or kindness. 

The “Himself on the shelf” doll will travel around your house during the entire holiday season while family members learn the happiness that comes from serving others.

The Shepard On The Search

the shepherd on the search book and doll set
Image: The Shepherd On The Search

The Shepherd On The Search is the story of a shepherd's journey to Bethlehem to find the messiah. At Christmas the shepherd visits and sets off on a journey hiding in your home. On Christmas day the shepherd is placed by the manger with the king who came for him.

Get your own shepherd from Amazon or Amazon AU.

Mensch on a Bench

mensch on a bench set
Celebrate Hanukkah with Moshe the mensch. Read the story The Mensch on a Bench to learn how Moshe helped Judah and the Maccabees watch over the temple at night during the 8 days of Hanukkah. Moshe can come to your house during Hannukah to watch over your menorah.

The book comes with a plush mensch, cardboard bench and the 8 important mensch rules. You can get one from Amazon or Amazon AU.

The Story of Funukkah

the story of funukkah

Celebrate 8 days of magic during Hanukkah. Take a family adventure with a Funakkah kid. Read the story of Funukkah, make delicious Latke treats and learn what makes Hanukkah special! There are some rules for Funukkah kids:

  • Be nice and respectful to your family and friends – I really like the message this sends!
  • Say “please” and “thank you” because manners are key. Everyone in Funukkah town agrees.
  • Clean your room at least once a day, especially before you go out to play.
  • Say your prayers like every good girl and boy, for all of life’s blessings that bring you joy.
  • And then, while you sleep so snug in your bed, the Funukkah magic will begin to spread.
  • Please love me and hug me and say good night, then I’ll magically hide until daylight
  • I’m sneaky and might play a trick, look inside my backpack for a candlestick.
  • For eight days the Shamash candle will provide the light, to make your Menorah burn clear and bright


alternative christmas traditions that arent elf on the shelf

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