there’s no elf on our shelf.

December has arrived, and for the next three weeks many moms will be sneaking around the house while their children sleep, moving those tiny little elf toys to various places and putting together wonderfully creative scenarios for their children to enjoy and wonder about.  I am not one of those moms.  I’d love to be one of those moms, but I’m not.  Last year when Amanda posted about the Elf on the Shelf craze, I was so excited to go out and get one of those little red elves and stash it away until December 1st, when I would pull it out and think of the most amazing things to do with it and stories to tell my little ones.  But, as often happens, life got busy (and busier) and I never purchased an elf.  And now, here we are in December again and my news feed is filling up with these adorable elf pictures and all of the wonderful creativity that I am not displaying in my home (yet again).  Ah, the mommy guilt.  We know it so well, don’t we?

Perhaps I will get around to buying an elf next year, and maybe I will sit down and pin some great ideas (like this or this or this), but chances are I will be in this same old spot 365 days from now, and the truth is I want to be OK with that.  I am learning (it’s a process) to be OK with the fact that I’m not living in a Pinterest-perfect house and I’m not giving my children every single tradition that they could possibly be given (although some of them are so great!).  I am, however, busy being their mom.  Their mom.  The one who bakes them cookies, and dances with them in the kitchen, and chases them around the living room with our super-hero capes on.  Maybe we don’t have an elf on our shelf this year, and maybe we didn’t take a family trip to a beautiful, snow-laden Christmas tree farm for the perfect photo op.  But here are a few things we are doing this year:


The Twelve Days of Christmas  This is something new for us this year.  My mom decided she was going to spread out the gifts for the grandkids and do one little gift every day for the twelve days.  I love this idea, because when you have such a big family, the actual holiday can be so overwhelming and the kids are literally covered in gifts from everyone.  This way, they will get to savor their little gifts every day and enjoy them!  (And what my mom doesn’t know is that the kids will be giving her a little gift every day in return; so if she’s reading this post, surprise Mom!) This will be such a fun thing for my littles and their grandma; I hope it turns into a tradition for them.

Lights, Camera, Decorations!  The kids love being a part of the decorating.  When I get the boxes out of the basement, their little eyes light up.  And speaking of lights, this year the boys stayed home with me to decorate while their little sister went with Daddy to pick out the lights at the store.  It was so cute!  When she got home, she traded for the indoor stuff while the boys went out to “help” Daddy on the ladder.  It’s so fun to include the kiddos in the process of getting the house ready for the holidays.

Pajama Party  I know a lot of families give new pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve; I love that idea.  However, I’ve never done it.  Instead, a few weeks before Christmas I scrounge through the totes of clothes (mostly garage sale items or hand me downs) and find some Christmas jammies, then take their picture by the tree.  I love these photos so much, and I’ve even used them for Christmas cards!

Must-Watch Movies  We started the Christmas movies early this year, and Elf was our first.  We’ve also watched Rudolph (the kids love that one).  Some more favorites are Frosty, the Grinch, and Charlie Brown’s Christmas.  Some of my favorites to watch without the kiddos are Love Actually, Christmas Vacation and The Family Stone.  And, as someone who grew up watching AMC and super old movies with my mom and dad, I also have a special place in my heart for the classics, like White Christmas  and Holiday Inn.   

Advent Calendars (to the max)  We are crazy about advent calendars in this house; I start craving the chocolate around November 1st! There’s just something about that little yummy piece of candy waiting for you every day behind the little door. Yes, I’ll admit, I think I love these more than the kids.  In addition to the candy calendars, we also have a magnetic tree for the fridge, and a new addition this year: a little felt tree with tiny little ornaments that I found at Michael’s for $2 (seriously, you need to check out their Christmas stuff!).


I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for traditions.  I hope that no matter how big or small the family traditions in our household, our children will grow up knowing that their daddy and I did our best to make them feel special, loved, and an irreplaceable part of this family.  And don’t forget, the holidays aren’t the only time for traditions!  Birthdays, vacations, or a random Tuesday afternoon can be the perfect start to a new family tradition.  You never know where it might end up!

How about you?  Any traditions in your families at the holidays (or year round)?  Any new ones this year?  Favorite movies to watch? And most importantly…does YOUR shelf have an elf on it??

About Sara

Sara has been married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, for 5 years. They have two boys, Sam (4) and Cooper (2), and just welcomed their first girl, Nora Jean, on August 4th. Sara is a part-time Spanish instructor at Muscatine Community College, and she enjoys spending the rest of the time at home with her little ones. Sara and her aunt make personalized baby blankies in their spare time. She also loves blogging on the Quad City Moms Blog, as well as her own personal blog.

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4 Responses to there’s no elf on our shelf.

  1. Heather Stocking December 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM #

    Love all of these traditions!!!
    Another thing we do every year is a personalized ornament. We get each kid one with their name and the year on it and a family one. It is so fun to pull out the ornaments from the years and remember why we got them and how fast the years have gone.

    • Jessie Singer-Crawford December 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM #

      We do the Elf on the Shelf- my kids love it!!! The other day our elf, Sparkle, was teaching a lesson to the My Little Ponies on how to make the “nice list” and today she is hanging from the ceiling fan with a little surprise! We also do decorations together as a family. Each week I plan 2-3 activities to do with the kids- so far we’ve made a “Christmas Countdown Chain”, we made a list on poster board a “act of kindness” we wanted to accomplish this month and tonight we are baking cookies and having a Christmas movie marathon- then tomorrow we will deliver cookies to a elderly home! We also do the “Light Em Up” program- which was started by a mother who wanted her children to learn that we should give back- and be thankful! So we ill start that next week! The kids are excited- they will do things like make cards for our service people (mail carrier, garbage etc) saying thank you for all your hard work- and they will get a little goodie bag as well with candy canes and hot coco!!
      I just love this time of year!

  2. Kim@NewlyWoodwards December 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM #

    What fun ideas! I love the idea of 12 days of Christmas! Such a fun idea to spread the gifting out. I’m a bit of a tradition crazy person, too.

  3. Emily December 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM #

    Great ideas, Sara! It’s a magical time of year with kids… :)

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