I just can’t with the Elf on the Shelf. I literally CAN NOT. I am not that mom. Sorry kids. And I’ve made it four Christmases so far without even having to give it a thought. Seriously, someone gifted an elf to us a few years ago and it is still sitting in a box, unopened, in our basement. I encountered it today when I was rummaging through our Christmas stuff looking for our Nativity and our Advent wreath. But I just WILL NOT touch the elf, or open its box, or even look at it. Like I said, I just can’t.
Instead, meet, our Advent Angel!
Honestly, this year I was nervous that I might have to maneuver the elf around the house doing delightful things every single night.
You see, both of my boys are now in school full time and kids talk. What if the other kids talk about their elves? Will my kids feel left out and sad that no mischievous elf pees green dye into their toilet? Will they ask for an elf, too? What will I say if they do?
Believe me, I thought about it. Like, way before Christmas. Before Thanksgiving, even. To be fair, I probably thought more about it than anyone ever should. But I came to the same conclusion every time. I can’t do the elf thing; I’m just not that mom.
I decided to be proactive. The weekend the elves started coming out all over my Instagram feed, I prepped my boys. I told them that they don’t have an elf; they have an Advent Angel. I told them if anyone asked about their elf or if they have an elf, they could say that they have an Advent Angel and it’s coming on Sunday, December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent. Because starting the day after Thanksgiving is inhumane. Can’t we decompress from one holiday before starting another?!?
Then I got to work.
Step one was shopping for our Advent Angel, and here is what I bought:
- Decorative Tags with twine (enough for each day of Advent).
- Hershey Kisses– (enough for each of my kids to have one a day).
- A new pack of Advent candles.
- Pink and purple fine point markers.
Then I went shopping in my basement (we’re not decorated for Christmas yet… give me a break, please) and grabbed:
The Advent wreath, candles, and colors pink and purple are meaningful in the Catholic tradition.
My next step was to write out the tags. I made one tag for each day of Advent. For each of the four Sundays of Advent, I wrote a very simple Bible verse pertaining to the focus for that week.
On each Sunday of Advent, we will light the candle and I will read the verse. I used all Psalms this year, because that’s what my kids can handle (but you’re definitely welcome to use longer or more in-depth verses or passages).
Here are the verses I used:
- First Sunday in Advent- Psalm 122:8
- Second Sunday in Advent- Psalm 72:3
- Third Sunday in Advent- Psalm 146:6
- Fourth Sunday in Advent- Psalm 24:10
ON each tag, I wrote an act of kindness that could be performed the six days between the Sundays. My acts of kindness were very simple and can be done at home. To make it easier, I decided that I would repeat the same six acts. You can totally do more and challenge your kids with service projects galore, really driving home the message and blessing of giving during Advent.
These are the six acts of kindness I had my boys work on:
- Today I will use my manners.
- Today I will smile at someone who needs it.
- Today I will share with my brother.
- Today I will keep my toys neat.
- Today I will say something sweet to someone.
- Today I will help my parents with chores.
Next, it was time to assemble the project.
- I set up our Nativity scene in our front window sill and put the angel on top.
- Then I set up our Advent wreath in the dining room.
- I put the four candles in the wreath and put the tag for each Sunday around each corresponding candle.
- Around the wreath, between the candles, I put the tags for the corresponding dates.
- Then, I put the mason jar with the 46 Hershey kisses in the middle.
The final step was explaining the Advent Angel to the kiddos.
Well, that and making sure I had covered all of the bases to be able to create a meaningful family activity. So, here’s how it would work.
Each night, I would put the angel on top of the Nativity.
In the morning, when the boys wake up, they would find the Angel and bring it to the Advent wreath.
Once they bring the angel to the Advent wreath, we will pull off the tag for that day and read their daily act of kindness, then I will give them a “kindness kiss” (aka, a Hershey’s Kiss) to remind them to be kind throughout the day.
Once they complete their act of kindness, they can eat their kiss (I do realize that they may eat it right away, but that’s okay… it’s really just a reminder to be sweet).
I also let them name their angel, just for fun. They chose Owen. So, we have Owen the Advent Angel.
I know, this Advent Angel thing sounds like a lot.
And, I do realize that all of this may sound like more work than just moving a stinking elf each night after the kids go to bed… but our Advent Angel is about more than entertainment.
First of all, I combined two things into one- the fun of hiding and finding the elf with the checking of the Advent calendar each morning (and most importantly, getting chocolate!)
And, as an aside, I was pretty bummed when I realized most Advent calendars don’t actually start on the first day of Advent, they instead start on December 1st. I get it. But my way allows me to teach my kids about the meaning of Advent.
Second, and more importantly, I’m not teaching my kids to be good just so that some creepy annoying elf won’t rat them out; I’m teaching my kids about kindness and the true meaning of the season.
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