elf on the shelf - Boston Moms Blog

We have come to that time of year when many households see the arrival of a little elf. Lots of parents do a great job with the Elf on the Shelf and make it a fun experience. But I’ve always thought the elf was a bit creepy. So I avoided the elf until my kids began school and started asking why everyone had an elf and we didn’t. 

I succumbed to the peer pressure and got an elf. I scoured Pinterest for elf ideas — elf making snow angels, elf in the hot tub with Barbie, elf pooping Hershey kisses. It was fun at first, but by day four I was exhausted — 26 more days of this?! The elf started to merely move from place to place (or got moved in a mad panic at 1 a.m. when I realized I forgot to move him!). I began to get creative with why he wasn’t moving — the weather was too bad in the North Pole, the elf had a cold, the elf was enjoying his current view.

The elf did help with some behavior issues, but I found it was causing me to focus on the negative. I was always pointing out the bad behaviors and repeatedly telling my kids they needed to shape up or the elf would tell Santa. I started to feel like the elf wasn’t for us, and I understood why some moms never tried it to begin with. We needed a change.

This year we will try something new: The Kindness Elves. I want to bring the focus back to giving, gratefulness, and kindness. When I found these elves online, I loved the story behind them. A former teacher and mom of four created them because she wanted an alternative to the traditional elf — something with a positive message that emphasized kindness and gratitude.

The Kindness Elves arrive in your home, similar to the Elf on a Shelf, around Thanksgiving. Two elves come with a cute little house (designed by an actual architect) with a tiny mailbox. They are on the lookout for kind behavior as opposed to bad. They leave notes for kids to find with suggestions of kind things they can do. You can write your own kindness suggestions or purchase a book that includes pre-written kindness suggestions (no 1 a.m. note-writing frenzies).

Some of the ideas are simple acts, such as smiling at people, saying please and thank you, drawing a picture for someone, cleaning up without being asked, and playing together without fighting (I’m a fan of that one). There are also some suggestions for thanking those in our community who serve us, donating clothes or toys to others, or inviting a lonely child to play. The kindness suggestions can be as simple or as complex as you want, you don’t have to write them every day, the elves don’t need to move, and you can make the experience what you want it to be. I’m excited to give it a try.

You could also take this idea and implement it by making your own elves (if you’re crafty), buying any elves you like (Etsy has some cute ones), or using the traditional Elf on the Shelf in a new way.

I’m hopeful the Kindness Elves will work for us (and I’m hoping I don’t get burned out as I did with the other elf). It’s all about what works for your family and doesn’t add any extra stress. I’m hopeful this change will help my family focus on positivity and giving, and less on the kids’ ever-growing wish lists. A girl can dream!


Ranessa Doucet
Ranessa is a Boston native who grew up in Charlestown and never gets tired of exploring the city. She now lives north of Boston with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous pugs. Ranessa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and licensure in early childhood education. She currently works as an Academic Interventionist and Freelance Writer. Ranessa loves writing about parenting tweens, exploring New England, health, and self-care. When not writing or reading, you can find her watching reality TV, eating chocolate, attending her kids’ sporting events, and dreaming about the beach.