The Best Christian Alternatives To Elf On The Shelf

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Start a new family tradition that points to the real meaning of Christmas, with these four christian alternatives to elf on the shelf.

As much as I love the festive fun of Elf on the Shelf, I’ve been on the lookout for Christian alternatives that weave spirituality into the seasonal magic. Don’t get me wrong, those mischievous elves are adorable, but why not infuse our homes with Jesus-centered joy? Join me as I explore heartwarming and faith-filled alternatives to Elf on the Shelf, because let’s face it, there’s nothing better than combining the whimsy of the season with the true reason for the celebration. Let’s dive into a world where the magic of Christmas meets the message of Jesus Christ.

Our Family’s Elf on the Shelf Tradition

elf on the shelf hiding in a christmas tree

First of all, let me start out by saying we have an elf on the shelf. My sister in law gifted it to us when my older boys were 3 and 1 years old. Our family has truly enjoyed having Flint the elf visit us every December.

We decided from the beginning, Flint was not going to be a “naughty” elf. Instead he was going to help us celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Flint The Christian Elf On The Shelf

Every December morning when Flint comes, the boys find him in a new place around the house. He has a note for them to read that includes an activity for the day, and the verses in The Bible we will read for our family devotion that night. 

Sometimes he sends us on a church activity or service project. We have filled shoe boxes for samaritans purse, put together mana bags for the homeless, delivered gift baskets to families who are in need in our community, or delivered food to the local food pantry.

Sometimes Flint will send them on a scavenger hunt, where at the end they will find a gift. 

One year it was a family board game, another it was pj’s, and another year a Christmas movie with popcorn. Most of the time however, it’s something simple like, singing Christmas hymns together, breakfast for dinner, or enjoying a cup of hot cocoa.

We really tried to never put emphasis on how the elf on the shelf is marketed – As something for kids to be “good” for, so they can be on Santa’s nice list and get lots of presents under the tree Christmas morning. 

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Looking For Christian Alternatives To Elf On The Shelf

christian alternatives to elf on the shelf.

Now that my older boys are teenagers and we have a one year old, I feel it’s time to start a new tradition. One that points more directly to Jesus’ birth. 

Flint the elf will still come out every year and find his seat as an ornament on our Christmas tree. A reminder of all the memories from Christmas past.

In my search for christian alternatives to elf on the shelf this is what I’ve found….

1. Advent Ornament Books

Jesus is born ornament book
Jesus is Born

The ‘Jesus is Born’ nativity ornament book is a fun, way to get your littlest kids involved with Christmas decorating while learning about our Savior. This advent activity includes 7 short devotions – each including a Scripture verse, conversation starters, and a coordinating, removable ornament to help you and your child share the greatest story ever told!

Names of Jesus ornament book
Names Of Jesus

Names of Jesus advent ornament book.  Each ornament features a different name of Jesus alongside advent devotions and scriptures that tell the Christmas story, while explaining the deeper meaning in His names. It’s an excellent way to help the little people in your life understand the real meaning of Christmas while creating a lasting family tradition.

Emmanuel, God with us book
Emmanuel God With Us

Emmanuel, God with us advent ornament book. To go with each Christmas ornament, there is a short advent devotion, a promise from scripture and a short prayer. It’s the perfect way for the whole family to share the greatest story ever told this Christmas!

heaven and nature sing book
Heaven and Nature Sing

Heaven and Nature Sing ornament book. Make a joyful noise as you gather to decorate the tree and sing carols from this Christmas carol book. Features 7 pop out ornaments with scripture about the theme and the story behind each beloved hymn.

Simply pop out the ornaments, then add ribbon and hang them on your Christmas tree. At the end of the Christmas season, simply place the ornaments back into the book and pack away. These advent activity book ornaments can be reused year after year.

2. The Shepherd On The Search

The Shepherd on the search tradition is probably one of the closest christian alternatives to elf on the shelf.

It comes with a plush shepherd and a hardcover story book.

The book tells of When the angels visited the shepherds to tell them the good news, your shepherd set’s off on a journey to find the newborn baby. The journey ends on Christmas Day, with your shepherd finding his way to the manger to worship the baby Jesus. 

Just like with the elf on the shelf, your kids can wake up to find their shepherd in a different spot around the house every morning, as he searches for baby Jesus. It was always a fun game for my boys to see who would find him first!

the Shepherd on the Search is a fun Christmas tradition that can very easily take the place of the popular elf on the shelf. 

Talk about your shepherd’s journey in a way that brings the nativity story to life. You know, that magical tale we all hold dear. So, here’s the scoop: the shepherd is like the unsung hero in our nativity scenes, and we turn it into a fun hide-and-seek game for the little ones. As they search for the shepherd, it’s a great time to talk about the birth of Christ and make the nativity scene come alive in our living room. I’m sure it will become a favorite among your family members, and will be such a joy seeing the excitement in the eyes of your kids as they discover the little shepherd’s hiding spot each day. Give it a go – it’s a heartwarming tradition that adds a special touch to the holiday season!

3. The Little Lamb From Bethlehem

plush toy lamb and illustrated book

The little lamb from Bethlehem comes with a plush lamb and a story book.

I think this one is geared more for toddlers and younger kids. Also included in the set are ideas for family fun and Christmas service, including bible verses.

The Little Lamb Christmas Toy tells the story of Christ’s birth from the unique perspective of a lamb at Jesus’ birth. This special retelling brings the story to life for little ones.

This would make a cute gift for baby’s first Christmas or even their first birthday.

4. Kindness Elves

The Kindness Elves are friends who love nothing more than to spread kindness and joy wherever they go! 

This is such a lovely idea. It helps children to think less about their own wants and focus instead on serving and loving others.

From the website:

“Experience for yourself the amazing impact the Kindness Elves have in the home by encouraging kids to carry out daily Acts of Kindness for their siblings, friends and neighbours.

This bundles all the magic of the Kindness Elves into one discounted bundle, including the Elves, the Accessories, the illustrated Storybook, and the 12 Days of Christmas Kindness ePack.”

I think you could make this tradition your own very easy without having to purchase anything if you didn’t want to!

My Favorite Christian Alternative To Elf On The Shelf

If I didn’t have to worry about the budget, I think I would purchase all the advent ornament books and the shepherd on the search.

BUT since I do have a Christmas budget to stick to, I will start with the shepherd on the search and the heaven and nature sing ornament book. Maybe in the next few years we can add the rest of the books to our collection.

​Our family will give our little shepherd a name and we will incorporate reading God’s word every day as we follow his search for baby Jesus. 

​I kind of think it would be a fun idea to add the three wise men journey as well! I don’t know, what do you think?

Advent Season Family Traditions

Let’s chat about the magic of family traditions, especially during Christmas time. You know those quirky, little things we do that make our families unique? They’re like the glue that holds us all together.

Whether it’s baking cookies, setting up a crazy Christmas light display, doing kind acts with the entire family or even just cozying up for a holiday movie marathon, these traditions create a sense of warmth and togetherness that lasts a lifetime. In the midst of the holiday chaos, these rituals ground us and remind our teens and young children that family is where the heart is.

It’s not about the perfect decorations or the fanciest feast; it’s about the joy in the shared moments, the laughter, and the stories we create together. So, here’s to embracing the chaos, savoring the small moments, and making memories that will have our kids saying, “Remember when…” for years to come. Cheers to family traditions, all year round! 🎄💕

I would love to hear if you already practice one of these traditions in your home, or tell me about your unique advent activities during the month of December.

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