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Elf on the Shelf-ing with Purpose

Anyone who follows my social media pages or knows me in person would assume that I would absolutely rock the Elf on the Shelf thing. Based on every-single-thing about me, I should love designing little bits of mischief for our elf to get into each morning. The truth is.... I AM THE WORST Elf on the Shelfer. You probably don't believe me... you're probably rolling your eyes and assuming that my version of being bad at this is probably still a solid B compared to yours. Well, let me ask you this: Have you ever accidentally lit your Elf on the Shelf on fire? My husband and I did! Picture charred Elf legs complete with little fried wires hanging out every which way. Like I said... THE WORST.

Luckily we avoided family therapy and threw George 1.0 out in the snow before three pairs of eyes witnessed our unintentional arson.

Thanks to Target, George 2.0 was unboxed and on a flame free shelf before any young Popes were aware he was "gone" (RIP G1). We got better at not lighting him on fire, but that's as far as our progress would go. You haven't felt true shame until you've been awakened by a curly haired, doe-eyed boy wanting to know why George was still in the same place as yesterday. THE WORST. Or when you wake up and hear the children downstairs, scurrying about to find where their sneaky elf has gone. You can feel the wave of disappointment surge up the stairs as the foot steps stop suddenly and you know they just discovered that George was still on the damn chandelier.

Why is this so hard?! Why can't I come up with 24 unique places in my house to leave this stupid elf?! They have blogs dedicated to this... Pinterest boards with neat printer friendly Elf schedules. There is no good reason for me not to throw George in a pile of flour on the kitchen counter and move his skinny little arms and legs around to make a snow-flour-angel. The only reason I have is I DON'T WANT TO.

I don't want to! There... I said it! I love my children, I adore them and I would do anything for them.... please just not this! The thing creeps me out. It's literally an invited spy. I saw the Elf as yet another distraction from Christmas and another way to turn their focus away from the true meaning of the holiday and gave even more attention to earning presents. Christmas morning 2017, (the morning George was supposed to have returned to the North Pole) my husband shot up in bed, gasped and shouted "The (expletive) ELF!" He raced through the house like Marty McFly late for school, grabbed the elf and stuffed him in his sock drawer just as the boys were bursting through our door. And that is where George remains to this day. Just an Elf among socks. We never found a good opportunity to stash him in a more respectful vessel.

My hope for Christmas 2018 was that the boys would have elf amnesia. Maybe they would just forget about George, outgrow him or finally realize how creepy his little face is. Much to my chagrin this was not the case. The boys eagerly asked us when George would be back.

It was then that I decided I needed to change my attitude. I wanted to find a way to not only tolerate the process, but to actually get excited about it. What if the Elf's little visits had some meaning to them? I started to think of ways the Elf could bring our family closer to each other and our community this season (isn't that the dream?!). That's when I came up with an idea that would take up more of my time, but also serve a purpose.

I'm watching you

As always, our Elf will be relocated to silly places in our house for our kids to find. Instead of just sitting there, however, George will be delivering letters for the kids to read. Each letter will give them a daily activity, challenge or job ranging from reading a Christmas story to shopping for nonperishable goods for a local food pantry. During a time of year where it's easy to become overwhelmed by the craziness of the season, my hope is that these little moments will force us to pause and just be together.

Here's where you come in. Whether you're an Elf on the Shelf Rock Star or total Deadbeat like me, this activity is for you and your family! We could all use a little more time to stop and smell the candy canes this time of year. You can follow along with our schedule or make it your own. Click the Shop tab on my website to download all 24 Elf notes...(I must have been feeling Dr. Seussey because they all rhyme!) as well as the companion sheets for the Scavenger Hunt, our Elf Calendar and an amazing coloring book inspired by some of my Christmas cookies, illustrated by local artist (and my aunt!) Jude Jorge (Her work can be found HERE)

Example of one of the coloring book pages

Use this step by step guide to help you get organized:

Step 1: Print out all *FREE* materials from THIS TAB on my website labeled "Downloads" (Coloring book will be available later this week)

Step 2: Cut out all Elf notes and figure out which activities fit best in your schedule on which day (or follow my calendar)

Step 3: Order or gather all materials you need for the month from my Amazon Shop Here or just use what you have on hand. If you're a Prime member, everything should be eligible for free 2 day shipping!

Envelopes (sized to fit elf notes) and stickers can be purchased in my Amazon shop

Step 4: Once you have your materials, number the envelopes with the Advent Stickers (or just write them on yourself!) The numbers on the envelopes will correspond with the date in December, making it easy for you to figure out which note you're on. Each night when the kids are asleep, simply grab the next day's card and set your elf out with his note. I included ideas for staging the elf to go with each activity on the printable calendar. Feel free to ignore them completely or use your amazing creativity to jazz them up!

Step 5: Check out the "More Helpful Links" tabs at the end of this post for helpful recipes and instructions to help you with each activity.

Add candy canes, chocolate dipped spoons and mini marshmallows to your hot chocolate night scene!

If your kids are like mine, the Elf hunt is on first thing in the morning before they're off to school. Reading these notes in the morning gives them something fun to look forward to when they get home each day.

George 2.0 patiently waits to make dog treats to donate to our local shelter

I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to spending this time with my husband, my kids and I'll admit, even George this year. The activities I selected are meant to encourage us to think of all creatures, great and small and to be givers in a season of wish lists and letters to Santa. Okay, and also to have some holiday fun and eat lots of junk as well!

I hope you take part in this activity with us! Just don't judge my poems too harshly or "clap" the number of syllables per line because I can tell you right now they don't follow the laws of Iambic Pentameter!

May your holidays be Merry and may your Elf be flame retardant.


*I apologize for this post being 2 days late. I ended up with a nasty case of strep which delayed the post. You can easily still participate! The first few days on the schedule don't require any fancy materials :)

More Helpful Links:

Learn more about the Salvation Army

Christmas themed meal inspiration

Dog Treat Recipe

Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Snowman Bath Bomb Project

Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Set

Learn About Christmas Around the World

Loads of Hand Made Teacher Gift Ideas

Make Perfect Snowflakes!

My Amazon Shop

Free Printables that go along with this post


©2018 by The Painted Pastry