It seems each year I hear more and more about the Elf on a Shelf. Since our family has never followed the Elf on a Shelf tradition I was curious to discover the appeal. Now I get it… The Elf is kind of like another character (in addition to Santa) to help the kids stay in line leading up to Christmas. He’s cute and sometimes does mischievous things. Some Christians are adamantly against the Elf (just like some are adamantly against Santa.) If the Elf on a Shelf moves around your home this time of year and you are looking for additional creative ideas you may enjoy this Top 50 Elf on a Shelf ideas from Jamielyn at I Heart Naptime.
For some families Elf on a Shelf alternatives are the way to go. I love many of these ideas presented in the blog Truth in the Tinsel. I am a particular fan of The Christmas Angel which encourages children to give.
The Elf on the Shelf has become increasingly popular in about the last half dozen years. Before the Elf had even appeared at toy and bookstores across the nation my husband Andrew came up with this unique idea which includes the Wisemen from my preschool daughter’s fabric nativity set. (She always called them the “Wiseguys” so we call them that to this day.) The tradition includes looking for the hidden Wismen and a historical fiction account of what the Wisemen’s traveling experience may have been.
The week prior to Christmas my husband begins hiding the Wisemen. The person who finds the Wiseguys first gets to hide them the following night. As we search for the Wisemen as a family we sing, “We Three Kings.” Each night the Wisemen are hidden a little bit closer to the nativity scene than the previous evening. On Christmas Day the Wisemen arrive with the rest of the group at the fabric manger scene.
Over the course of seven days Malchoir, Balthasar and Gaspar have wild adventures purchasing supplies, being robbed by bandits, traveling over rough terrain, and running out of water. My son’s favorite part usually involves a camel’s sagging hump or a wildly spitting camel. Since it is possible the Wisemen came from different locations (Persia, India, Arabia) we also use this as a geography lesson. There is also an opportunity to learn about unique flora and fauna of the region and even astronomy of the unique star and sky at that time.
For more ideas on the historical Wisemen read This . For more about desert animals to include in Wisemen storytelling read This. For more about about distance and terrain check out Google Maps. (It’s especially fun with satellite view!) Fun Fact: It would take 1, 101 hours to walk from Mumbai, India to Bethlehem!
What is your family’s unique Christmas tradition? I’d love to know. Please add a comment below.