I’m all about family traditions. I LOVE them…for any holiday! They pull our family together and help us feel more connected. Whether it’s eating green food on St. Patrick’s Day, getting socks for Valentine’s Day, eating a special dessert on Easter, or feverishly searching a Christmas tree for a pickle ornament, I love traditions!
Traditions are one of my favorite things to come up with as a mom too. Since our kids are still young, we’re testing out some traditions for our family. Some have been fun, some not so much. Last year, we tried Elf on the Shelf. Whoa! Don’t click away just yet. This is not a post about why we do Elf on the Shelf and why you should too or something like that. In fact, I ranted about the Elf wars last year, because seriously? Who cares if you are or aren’t? The tradition we started was Kindness Cards, which get delivered by our Elf.
As a parent, this time of year can be hard. Stores are sending out catalogs filled with every toy imaginable (because seriously–what the heck are Shopkins?!), and are opening their “Toylands” before it’s even Halloween, much less Thanksgiving! While I am a big fan of spreading the holiday cheer and may or may not play carols before Thanksgiving, I’m not a fan of listening to my kids tell me, “I want this. I want that. Can we buy this?” Because reality check kid, you live such a privileged life, not just in the US, but in the WORLD!
Of course I want to spoil my kids rotten, watching their eyes grow big as they tear open the gift wrap and listening as they gasp when they see their heart’s desire satiated. But now more than ever, it’s so important to be teaching our kids empathy, to think about how someone else is feeling. While we should be practicing empathy all year round, I feel like the holiday season needs an extra dose to help counteract all those catalogs and the dreaded “I wants.” At least in our house we do!
So last year when I saw this Kindness Card idea floating around the internet and Elf on the Shelf at Costco, I thought I would marry the two together and create a new Christmas tradition for our family. Our Elf arrives every year to help remind our kids of the meaning of Christmas. For us, that means he brings an advent card with a story to read from our Jesus Storybook Bible every night until Christmas morning–obviously that’s not for everyone. But our Elf also brings a Kindness Card each day too. The Kindness Card has a simple way to spread the joy of the season by thinking about others and finding simple ways to show them kindness. Doing the kind act each day helps give our Elf the “magic” to move every night, but it also helps teach our kids to think of others and that even the smallest gestures can make an impact everyday, not just around the holidays. And that is something anyone can do!
You can certainly ditch the Elf, too, and put the cards in a jar and draw one everyday. Or if you want to do the Elf on the Shelf, here’s my two cents–It’s harder than it seems! The majority of the time we were quickly putting the Elf somewhere in the 30 seconds before our kids came down in the morning. This year, I intend to have a game plan so it’s not so stressful, and I’m going to help you out too!
Here’s a bonus printable–an Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet with little-to-no prep work. No making tiny suitcases here! The most prep is probably sprinkling some chocolate chips into the toilet so the Elf looks like it’s pooping. Click on the image below to download the two-page PDF. The second page contains a list of the supplies needed for each day (which is hardly anything, and probably stuff you already have). Because I got you, busy mama!