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The Christmas season is here. Are you looking for a Christ centered alternative to Elf on the Shelf? Ways to make Christmas more meaningful for your family? I have compiled a (short) list of some of the great alternatives out there, and in this post I am sharing them.
Faith at home is something that is very important to us. Living out Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Some people start celebrating the day after Thanksgiving, others December 1st. I am more of a year round kind of girl. I can watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music year round.
One thing that we try to do is make the season about Christ, and not Santa or gifts. We are still working on our traditions.
We do not hold being naughty or nice over the children’s heads. God’s gift of grace is completely undeserved, and we should strive to live holy lives not because we might not get a treat if we are naughty, but because we love Jesus. Santa is not the all-seeing, all-knowing being that many make him out to be. Only God is. An Elf sent to spy on the kids does not quite fit with our goals for the Christmas season.
A lot of families do Elf on the Shelf, but I’ve been looking for more Christ centered Christmas/Advent activities. I found one that I really like, I think we will try to start it next year, but here are some ideas for you. Some are very much like Elf, others are printables, or other activities.
The Heart of Christmas
Since the kids are little, I think we are going to do The Heart of Christmas Ideas from Premeditated Leftovers. It is simple enough and I can tailor it to fit my kid’s age levels.
I love this idea. Basically you take a baby Jesus (I will be using a Little People Nativity one), and hide Him around the house with special instructions for the day for various acts of kindness and ways to focus on Christ. The idea being that each morning, you seek Jesus and His instructions for the day.
The Giving Manger
The Shepherd’s Search
The Shepherd’s Search is very much like the Elf on the Shelf, only he is on the search for baby Jesus.
Truth in the Tinsel
A great way to refocus on Jesus this Christmas season. Each day of advent, Truth in the Tinsel will lead you through a passage of Scripture, a corresponding ornament craft, and talking points for you and your children.
What God Wants for Christmas
What God Wants for Christmas is an interactive learning experience. Seven gift boxes to open will bring your child on a journey to Bethlehem, learning from the Biblical characters the true meaning of Christmas. The only down side to this is that is only a week’s worth of activities, but especially if your kids are little, you can do it for a couple of weeks before Christmas. Children learn best through repetition.
Star From Afar
Star From Afar is another Elf alternative. You set up your nativity and every night you hide the star. The next day the children seek out the star and move the wise men to its location and read the corresponding Scripture. Repeat each day until Christmas eve when you place it over the stable so that the wise men find Jesus on Christmas morning. I will quibble with the fact that the wise men are the ones finding Jesus on Christmas morning, as Scripture says that Jesus was a toddler, mostly likely between 1 and 2 by the time that they came, but it is a fun activity and you could easily explain that to children.
The Good Deeds Manger
The Good Deeds Manger is a Christian activity for the holidays highlighting the importance of doing a good deed daily and treating others with kindness. This family activity centers on an empty manger during the weeks before Christmas. If you do a good deed, you earn realistic looking pieces of hay to put inside the manger.
Since it’s not likely that the hay will stay put with small children in the house, this is probably better suited for older children.
The Shepherd’s Treasure
This is the one I want to get for next year. The Shepherd’s Treasure is very similar to the Elf, only your shepherd is searching for treasure. Your Shepherd shows up next to the book that he comes with. You read it as a family, name your shepherd, then the search is on. Each day your shepherd has adventures looking for the treasure. On Christmas Day, he finds Jesus, the ultimate Treasure. There website has a bunch of ideas for your shepherd’s search. If you watch their Facebook page closely, they do run some great Black Friday Specials, but they sell out quickly, so check early. Right now, all of the shepherds are of European descent, but they plan to add more next year.
The Twelve Names of Christmas
The Twelve Names of Christmas is a 12 day ornament base advent activity pack. There is an ornament and two page story for each day. You can hang all of the ornaments at once when you decorate the tree and then have kids find them, or hang one each day as you tell the story. The ornaments are pretty and brightly colored. A good alternative for any age.
A Jesse Tree
This is another one that I would love to incorporate in our home. Based on Isaiah 11:1, the Jesse Tree is an advent tradition the uses 25 ornaments to tell Bible stories leading up to the birth of Jesus. There are many, many vendors that sell ornaments (I personally love these), but one of the great things about this tradition is that you can also make your own, either to start with or each year. The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas is a great resource, as are Pinterest and Google.
I reached out to some fellow bloggers for their advent and Christ centered Christmas ideas, here is what they shared with me:
Lora over at Crafty Designs shared her beautiful DIY Advent Calendar with Scriptures, as well as her DIY Advent Wreath.
Kristen at Joyfully Thriving share her Reverse Advent Calendar.
Jessica at Cutesy Crafts shared her adorable felt Nativity Advent Calendar.
There is this awesome Random Acts of Christmas Kindness for Kids over at Wonder Mom Wanna Be.
Uncommon Designs has a whole collection of great Advent Ideas.
Angie over at the Country Chic Cottage has her some great Advent Ideas as well.
Randi over at Dukes and Duchesses has a lovely DIY Chalk Board Advent Calendar , a cute Daily Advent Reading for Children, and 24 Acts of Service Advent Calendar.
Sustain My Craft Habit’s Jane and Sonja share their Ribbon and Burlap Advent Calendar.
Katelyn at What’s Up Fagans has some great coloring pages for kids, as well as her take on the three gift tradition, and great nativity set ideas for children.