If you've been through a Christmas season with kids in the past few years, you've probably seen a very popular concept called the Elf on the Shelf. The idea is that parents "adopt" a special elf from the North Pole to help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists. The parents will basically moved the Elf around every day to "watch" the children and encourage them to behave throughout the Christmas season so that they will be added to the nice list come Christmas. It has become wildly popular among kids and adults alike.
Several years ago, a teacher in the UK came up with an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf called the Kindness Elves. The gist of this alternative to the original Elf is that the Kindness Elves don't focus on hijinks and reporting behavior back to Santa. Instead, the Kindness Elves purpose is to encourage kids to remember the spirit of the season by spreading kindness and love.
As soon as I read about the Kindness Elves I loved them. I'd really like to help my kids focus more on the spirit of Christmas rather than Santa and getting all kinds of presents. If I were a normal person, I would just order a pair from the maker herself, but I'm cheap and I'm crafty, so I decided to make my own version of the them. Here's how I did it:
I found these cute plush ornaments at Target. I really wanted a boy and a girl elf but all I could find were girls so I grabbed three different ones. I also really wanted my elves to be "bendy" so I decided to do some minor surgery.
Using floral stem wire, I first cut a piece of wire the length of the elf's "wingspan." Then I used the wire and I just punched through one of the felt gloves and threaded the wire through the arm, chest, and out the other glove.
Using needle nose pliers, I made a small, partially open loop in each end of the wire so that it wouldn't poke back out. Then I manipulated the felt gloves back over the loop and managed to get all the wire inside the doll.
For the legs, I cut a length of wire and made a u-shape. I then poked the ends through the felt butt of the elf, threaded through each leg, and poked each end out the bottom of each foot.
I made my little loops with the pliers and again manipulated the wire back into the doll.
When the ends of the wire are hidden in the feet, you should end up with the "u" part of the wire sticking out of the doll's butt. This is good; it will help her to sit without falling over.
And that was it! I now have three "bendy" Kindness Elves. They immediately started practicing gymnastics with their new flexible limbs. This one is a trouble maker.
Our Kindness Elves got right to work and climbed up into the wreath in the upstairs hallway. They were excited for Aislin and Hawkins to meet them. Their first note to the kids was a basic introduction and a request for the kids to name them.
The next day, Aislin was happy to oblige. She named our Elves Punky, Tooter and Joy. She especially liked the name Tooter, but I insisted that only one could be dubbed as such. I'm such a killjoy.
One of the hardest parts of adding the Kindness Elves to our Christmas traditions is coming up with 25 toddler-friendly activities that didn't require me to shuttle a four-year-old and two-year-old all over Christendom doing random acts of kindness. I searched Pinterest for ideas and really liked some that I found on various blogs. Using what I found as inspiration, I decided to do a mix of kind acts (like donating books, clothes and toys) and things that would foster family togetherness and fun. Here's my list of the activities the Elves asked the kids to do:
We started this tradition last year when my daughter was three and it was a GIANT hit. She woke up every morning so excited to search for the Kindness Elves and see what message they brought that day. I am looking forward to bringing the Elves back out this year and I hope my son, who is old enough now to be excited about Christmas, loves them just as much as my daughter.
Do you use the Elf on the Shelf or an alternative like the Kindness Elves?