Christmas is my favorite holiday. One of the most exciting parts of being a mom is watching my children experience and learn to love Christmas! It is truly a joy! I have loved following the traditions with my boys that my mom did with us- decorating the tree, baking cookies, singing Christmas songs, reading The Night Before Christmas, and eating pumpkin pie for breakfast Christmas morning.
One of the newer "traditions" is the Elf on the Shelf." Before I even had kids there were things about it that sort of bothered me. First off, he's really creepy looking! I remember we had a similar elf that was my great grandmother's and my sister was terrified of it! I also don't like how he is supposed to spy on kids and report back. And I don't have time to make messes that I then have to clean up. I also don't think it lines up with our beliefs about Christmas- that Jesus was a gift given to all who would accept him; not because we earned it with our perfect behavior but because God loved us (imperfections and all). Add in the commercialization and ridiculous cost and I knew we would opt out.
That's why I love the idea of Kindness Elves. I discovered the idea on Pinterest. The Kindness Elves are the brainchild of Anna at The Imagination Tree. The idea is simple: cute little elves that leave ideas of kind things to do leading up to Christmas. I love that the Kindness Elves' focus is doing things for others rather than on "earning" presents with good behavior. They reinforce the values I'm trying to teach my little ones better.
Our Kindness Elves are two little vintage Elf ornaments that belonged to my mother. Yours could be any cute elves or you can purchase ones from https://thekindnesselves.com/ I know that Target usually has cute little elf ornaments that are inexpensive. I also found this cute set on Amazon.
I write the Elf notes on cute decorative post it notes. This year I happened to have little star shaped ones.
Here is my list of ideas. Some do require a little bit of spending but many are free or nearly free. Again, the focus should be on spreading kindness and joy- not on consumption and buying. I hope you all enjoy!
- Bake cookies for the neighbors
- Donate a toy to Toys for Tots
- Visit the Salvation Army Bell Ringers and drop a coin in the bucket. If it's cold you could also bring the ringer a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
- Make Blessing bags for the homeless
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
- Donate food to a local food drive
- Bring coloring books and crayons to the Children's Hospital
- Go Christmas Caroling at a Nursing Home
- Call grandparents or great grandparents. Better yet- visit if they are close!
- Make homemade ornaments for friends
- Make a card for a recovering veteran and take it to the VA Hospital. Donations accepted at our local VA include magazines no more than 2 months old, phone cards, and gas cards. Note that you can no longer mail a card to an unknown soldier as they won't be accepted post-September 11th
- Go through your toys and donate some to the Salvation Army or other charity
- "Adopt" an Angel from an Angel Tree or other similar program
- Sort through your books and bring ones you no longer read to the doctor office waiting room
- Feed the birds- you could make a bird feeder if you don't already have one
- Make gift tags for the presents you will be giving this year
- Make Thank you notes for Christmas gifts you will receive- December 26 the elves can instruct the children to fill them out
- Make a freezer meal for a new mom or soon to be expecting friend
- Donate outgrown clothes to the Salvation Army
- Leave coupons on products at the grocery store
- pick up trash around the neighborhood or a park
- Bring a gift basket to the local police or fire department
- Make a card for the mailman
- go to the park and invite other kids to play
- Leave a note and some stickers for the next reader in a library book you loved
- Say hello to every person you see that day and give them a smile
- Bring school supplies to your teacher
- Make cards for your friends telling them what you love about them
- Send a care package to a friend serving in the military overseas
- Do a chore for your sibling