No Elf Here — We Have Snow Globes Instead

Elf on the Shelf snow globes - Boston Moms
My oldest was just 3 months old his first Christmas. I thought it might be a great time to practice elfing, so my husband and I purchased an Elf on the Shelf, gave him a name, and started the very short-lived tradition.

It didn’t take long for us to realize this was not going to work out.

I was most definitely not interested in the accountability and incredible risk that came with this particular tradition. Sure, I saw the potential for delight and joy. But I also recognized my own limitations that came with the responsibility of ensuring this childhood magic. I did not trust myself to remain calm, not take it too seriously, remember to move the elf, or enjoy it. We determined this wasn’t for us when the neighbor boy called us out, wondering why our elf hadn’t moved since his last visit. Then and there I decided we would have to find another tradition!

For a few years our children were too young to know we didn’t have an elf, so we carried on. But as each Christmas passed I knew the time would come when someone would ask about an elf in the presence of our elfless children, and I would have to be prepared. When my son was 3 and my daughter was 1, our path forward finally revealed itself. We were watching the classic 1970 Christmas movie Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, a movie my kids adore and rely on as the ultimate source of information for the story of Santa Claus. One scene in the movie explains how Claus is able to know if the children are being naughty or nice. The Winter Warlock gifts him a magical crystal snowball and shows him how it can be his eyes to the children. It’s really quite clever.

I immediately recognized my opportunity, and our first snow globe appeared that Christmas. It’s been a part of our family holiday tradition ever since.

This year, we have about four snow globes strategically placed throughout the house as a reminder to our children of the magic of Christmas and of the all-knowing Santa. I personally love snow globes for the simple delight and imagination they invoke when gazed upon and shaken. Their ability to work Christmas behavior management over my children and the fact that I don’t have to remember to move them or come up with cute ways to present them is an added bonus! If you’re looking for an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf, I highly recommend this low-maintenance, imagination-sparking, and magical snow globe route.

Last year, someone asked my son about his elf. She was curious if our elf had arrived, because hers had. My son was confused and turned to ask me if we had one. I explained matter of factly that Santa left us with snow globes instead. My son accepted it and started telling the friend about our snow globes. It ended up being a no-big-deal conversation!

I love the Elf on the Shelf. It was certainly a brilliant idea. However, I’m all about avoiding it in my life if I can help it. I stress easily, and I prefer to reduce/avoid the stress-inducing traditions of the holidays when possible. If you have an Elf and love getting creative, I think it’s awesome! Please post your pics! It brings me joy to see what you are doing. There is no FOMO here.

However, if you want out, I got you. Here’s a simple way to make the switch from elf to snow globe:

Have your elf explain that he’s been reassigned to a family with babies and toddlers. Once kids are a certain age (the age of your child), the elves move on and leave magical snow globes in their place so Santa can still keep a watchful eye. The littles of the world need elves more than big kids. If a friend’s elf is still around, it’s simply because he has yet to be reassigned. Super easy!

Christmas has such magic and innocence to it. Family traditions are essential to making it all it can be. We should celebrate in ways that fill our homes with joy, fun, and faith. The elf has become a widespread and favorite tradition for many families. However, it isn’t for us all — so hopefully for some, I’ve shown you another possible way!


Rachel was born and raised in central Pennsylvania. She moved to the Boston area twice. The second time she stayed for good setting up residence in Scituate. For ten years, she taught middle schoolers the fascinating history of the ancient and medieval worlds. She has an MA in Special Education and is a certified Reading Specialist as well as licensed History and ESL teacher. Even though she loved teaching she finally let go of the working mom life after having baby number four. She and her husband currently have five young children ages 8, 5, 4, 2, & 8 months. She is a homeschooling mom and freelance content writer at @rachelrichcontentwriter and