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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

The Case for The Kindness Elves: An Elf on The Shelf Alternative

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Here comes the barrage of social media posts about that darn Elf on The Shelf and countless posts of parents cursing themselves for not moving said elf. I have nothing against the dude…really, I don’t. However, our family has chosen a different kind of Elf to visit us every day for the month of December and they are called The Kindness Elves.

The Kindness Elves originated in the U.K, created by a mother and former teacher who wanted to give her kids and children everywhere an alternative to Elf on The Shelf. The idea was to encourage kindness, good deeds and a spirit of gratitude in our children in a season where they are often surrounded by anything but thankfulness.


For our family personally, we try to stick to positive reinforcements as much as possible. So, we knew we weren’t going to have Elves “watching” our children and “reporting” back to Santa! We want them to make good choices because it’s the right thing to do. We want them to be good…for goodness sake (Don’t laugh!) We want their thoughts and focus to be on giving rather than getting and most importantly, we want to show them that a little kindness goes a long way during the holiday season and throughout the year.


Hence, The Kindness Elves. They are super cute and fun and you can order them with a book that explains where they come from and it basically goes something like this- The Elves notice a kid at school who has no friends, an elderly woman who has no one to visit with her and is lonely and a new family who moved in to the neighborhood and doesn’t know anyone yet. They want to do good deeds and spread kindness and rectify these situations themselves, but they need help. They visit two young kids and give them the missions each day “Bake cookies for your new neighbors” or “Play a board game with Mrs. So, and So.”

When I first read about them, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my three kids! The first year, I typed out letters each night, giving my children a good deed to do for the day. Google is awesome because they have readily accessible lists to use as a “cheat sheet.” We were very specific and creative in our ideas each day. It was amazing to watch my kids get so excited and sneak around to surprise their sibling or another family member or for us all to bake cookies together to deliver to the fire station or collect food to bring to the food bank.


Some of our bigger ideas were to adopt a family for Christmas and buy all their gifts or pick a certain teacher to buy an extra special present for just because, but some are as small as “Give your parents a hug today” or “Mail a letter to a far away relative” and even “Find a kid who is sitting alone at lunch or recess and befriend them.”

My kids are generally big-hearted and sweet for the most part, but from December 1st till Christmas, my heart is warmed to see a rise in their loving and thoughtful behavior and to see their focus shift from what they are going to get for Christmas or the latest, greatest toy to them competing to see who can collect the most cans for our local food bank. I love it and honestly, it teaches them that being kind is its own reward. I don’t want to bribe them to be good humans and through the Kindness Elves, I get to see them understand how amazing it feels and how important it is to just show a little kindness each day and couldn’t we all use a little more of that?


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