Suffering from Elf on the Shelf anxiety this year? Yup, it's a thing. Are you overwhelmed by the tiny red man with great big demands? Did you run out of time to hatch a magically Pinterest-worthy Elf plan this holiday season? Or you completely forget to move the elf for days at a time?
Mama, we hear you and totally understand.
Elf on the Shelf—though awesome in so many ways—isn't for everyone. And if it's feeling more like a chore than a charming Christmas tradition this season, we've got four ideas that are just as fun but a lot less work. So don't let that Elf get you down, mama! Remember, even the smallest things can spark holiday magic in the eyes of our little ones. Don't stress, have fun, and enjoy the season.
Christmas Is Coming! An advent-style podcast from Pinna
All you need to do for this one is download and hit play—it doesn't get much easier than that!
Pinna, a new screen-free and ad-free storytelling app for kids, features award-winning series, interactive game shows, audiobooks, and children's podcasts. Its show—Christmas Is Coming!—is an advent-style podcast with a new episode released daily from December 1st through Christmas Eve.
Each day, kids can tune into the North Pole's radio station, WXMAS, and listen to breaking Christmas news.
We got the chance to preview some of the episodes, and our kiddos were hooked! We love the creativity of the storyline, the screen-free entertainment, and the ease of just pressing play.
Christmas Countdown Surprise Box
A Christmas Countdown Surprise Box, originally posted on the Teach Me Mommy blog, is just that: a box filled with bags for each day of December that each hold a small surprise. All you'll need is a cardboard box (or any type of box, really), 25 envelopes or brown bags and some blank stickers. And of course some small surprises for inside of the envelopes.
We love this idea because you can do as much—or as little—as you'd like, and you can customize the bags' content depending on the age of your kiddos. If you want to get creative, you can decorate the outside of the box and the envelopes, but you definitely don't have to.
The best part will be watching your little ones' faces light up as they open a new surprise each day. Download the free template and find most of the item needed in your home.
Random acts of kindness Christmas calendar
We love anything that builds our children's sense of social consciousness. The Random Acts of Kindness Christmas Calendar, is a simple way to show kids that they can have a powerful impact on others.
All you'll need for this one is a blank calendar so you can fill in your own acts of kindness. Each day can be customized based on your children's ages and what sorts of activities you think you and your family are up for.
It's not only easy, but the payoff is huge—you're teaching your kiddos about helping others, and that's a lesson that will last longer than any holiday gift ever could.
Christmas book countdown
Have a little bookworm on your hands? We love this idea both as a holiday activity and a way to build your family's holiday book collection year over year.
Countdown to Christmas with a different holiday book each day! Or, to make it easier on yourself, open a book "package" every few days, or even sub a few books with your family's favorite holiday movies.
You can use a mix of new books and books you already own—trust me, your kids will most likely have forgotten about them since last year! (Same goes for the movies—use the ones you already have, or include a little note instead that gives kids a few movie downloads.)
All you'll need is wrapping paper for each book or movie, and a cute way to display them. It's easy and adorable!
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