Elf on the Shelf: We know. It started as a fun tradition, but having an Elf on the Shelf has now become a weight that hangs over our head every night after the kids go to bed. Scouring Pinterest and the internet for new (easy) ideas has gotten old and the kids’ expectations have increased.
So what do we do???
Transition your Elf on the Shelf to a new purpose
What if your Elf on the Shelf could be working FOR YOU instead of against you? What if he could inspire your kids to get rid of some of their toys? What if each day they were placing a special bow on an old toy that your Elf on the Shelf could take back to the North Pole with him? Wouldn’t that be magical???
How this new Elf on the Shelf tradition works:
This is a really simple (aka EASY for parents) plan:
- Your Elf on the Shelf arrives with this FREE ARRIVAL LETTER and a bag of bows (these are from the Dollar Store).
- The letter instructs your kids that there is a shortage of toys so Santa is asking if each night they will place a bow on one of their old toys so that Elf can bring it back to the North Pole with him where it will be refurbished for another child to receive on Christmas.
- This is Elf’s (and your child’s) new mission for this year, so there isn’t time for mischief or other shenanigans.
- Use the FREE PRINTABLE NOTE CARDS to encourage and reward your child throughout the Christmas season.
You might think your kids will resist, but I couldn’t believe how receptive our kids were! It seems that they had grown a little tired of our current Elf on the Shelf tradition as well.
Quick Video Overview:
Tips for Success
I think it is most important that as parents or guardians, we’re sold out on this new Elf on the Shelf tradition. I intentionally positioned it that they are helpers for Santa now, and their contributions will be received by other kids around the world. So here are a few pointers:
- Celebrate EVERY size toy that they decide to give away. At first they may pick tiny toys, like a happy meal toy, but use the note cards to encourage them towards other toys that are bigger that they never play with.
- Use the FREE PRINTABLE WISH LISTS. Have your kids fill out wish lists that your Elf on the Shelf can bring back to Santa. Encourage them that they will be getting new toys on Christmas so that it’s easier to get rid of the old ones.
- Use the note cards to suggest specific toys. If you have toys in mind that you KNOW the kids have outgrown or don’t play with anymore, use the FREE PRINTABLE NOTE CARDS to write a description or draw a picture of the toy (it doesn’t have to be a fancy drawing!). This was really fun for our kids to try and find the toy Elf was hinting at!
- What if they pick an EXPENSIVE toy to donate? If they don’t play with it, in the words of Frozen, “Let it go, let it go!” Most of us have spent quite a bit of money on toys (or our friends and family have) but if the kids aren’t playing with them, this is the perfect opportunity to part ways.
- Designate a special spot for the toys. Maybe it’s under the Christmas tree or next to the door, have a spot where your kids put the toys they’re giving away each night.
- You’ll need your own spot to hide the toys. As the adults in the house, we have to have a way to hide the toys until we donate them. It may be in your trunk or in a designated box or tote, just make sure the kids won’t happen across them. I made a trip to the donation center twice during the Christmas season last year to donate the toys they were giving away.
- Go big. If you’re like us, we had play kitchens, car ramps and doll houses that NEVER got played with. You’re not alone if these things go unused at your house. Don’t be afraid to use the NOTE CARDS to suggest getting rid of the big things, too. You’ll be glad to have the extra space back!
- Mix in a few other ideas. If you still want to mix in a few traditional shenanigans, use this index for Elf on the Shelf ideas, it has every idea out there all in one place!
And don’t be afraid to make up your own rules or guidelines as you go! You’re the adult after all!
The Free Elf on the Shelf Arrival Letter
The arrival letter sets the scene for this new Elf on the Shelf tradition. Here is what it says:
And I have a very important request from Santa. You see, Christmas is quickly approaching and there have been SO many GOOD kids this year, there appears to be a TOY SHORTAGE! So he sent me with this special bag of bows and a new mission for us both.
Each night, he is asking that you place a bow on a toy that you no longer play with and then I will take it back to the North Pole with me. The elves there will quickly refurbish it and it will be used for other boys and girls.
And, this will help make room for the new toys that you will be receiving this Christmas (I’ve heard how good you’ve been while I was gone!)
THANK YOU for your help with this very special mission!”
Use the link below to print it!
But will my kids be ok with it???
We know, at first, you might think: “No way my kids will get on board with this!!”
But you wouldn’t believe the positive reports we’ve heard from parents! I think kids are naturally generous and want to help other kids, sometimes we just have to help uncover it! SO many parents have said that some of their kids were hesitant at first, but by the end they were giving away MORE toys than required!
Give your kids a chance, we think you will be pleasantly surprised!!
Free Elf on the Shelf Printables for this new Tradition
Here are all of the free printables designed to go along with this new Elf on the Shelf tradition:
- Arrival Letter: “I’m Back! And I have a very important request from Santa!…”
- Christmas Wish Lists: There are two different versions of the Christmas wish list. One with blank lines and the other guided with things that your child wants, needs, will read and wear:
- Elf on the Shelf Notecards: Use these notecards to encourage your kids, celebrate how much they’ve given, reward them and suggest toys for them to give away next:We used the “Today Let’s…” cards to say things like bake Christmas treats, build gingerbread houses or go Christmas shopping. This was a fun way to reward the kids for how much they had parted with.
- Departure Letter: When it is time for your Elf on the Shelf to take off for the year, you can use this letter to say goodbye and thank them for their generosity:
And like I said before, you may be surprised how receptive your kids are to this new tradition! There was some grumbling along the way once in awhile, but mostly the kids seemed to LOVE the idea of helping Santa AND helping other kids to have a great Christmas…and after all, that is what Christmas is all about!!!
I hope this works for your family, too! And if any links stop working, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Happy Elf on the Shelf-ing!
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