18 Family Fun Christmas Ideas that don’t involve an Elf on a Shelf


I used to love EVERYTHING about the Christmas season.  And then one year I saw this “Elf on a Shelf”.   What is that I asked?  I was told it was a tradition that had been around for years.  Ummm…ok…I never had an elf.  So it couldn’t have been that old of a tradition. Flash forward 6 or 7 years and now during December I have to avoid Facebook late at night or early in the morning because every other post is elf antics.

I dislike Elf on a Shelf.   First off, he’s creepy looking.  Second, what’s the point of an elf coming to your house, making a mess your kids have to clean up and then reporting back to Santa?  Personally, I think the Christmas season has enough.  I don’t need elves running amok in my house.   I could list a dozen reasons why I don’t like it but that’s not what this post is about.

I’m so glad Bug has no idea that these elves exist.  Here are the NON Elf on a Shelf ideas we fill up out Christmas season with!

    1. Make a list of every Christmas movie you like or want to see.  Watch a new one every night!  Check out this 12 Nights of Christmas movies idea!
    2. Make Countdown to Christmas chain
    3. Make Cookies – here are some cookie ideas:
      German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
      Reindeer Cookies
      Chocolate Crinkles
      Turtle Cookie Balls
      Cookies Around the World for Christmas
    4. Make Christmas ornaments – here are some ideas:
      Paper Candle
      Thumbprint Ornaments
      Snowmen Handprint Ornament
      Snowman Lightbulb Ornament
      Candy Cane Ornament
      Twine Candy Cane Ornaments
      Handmade ornaments make great gifts too!
    5. Go caroling.  Door-to-Door, Nursing Homes, or just in your own living room with each other!
    6. Make Reindeer Foodleave it outside for the reindeer on Christmas eve.  It’s also an inexpensive class gift too!  The kids will love making it and sharing with their friends so they can feed the reindeer too!
    7. Make a Handprint Wreath
    8. Drive around and find the best Christmas lights!  Don’t forget your Christmas Lights Bingo Cards!
    9. Go to a Christmas parade (or two or three!)
    10. Go as a family to pick out an Angel Tree or Toys for Toys donation and drop it off.
    11. Browse the Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog and choose a donation (it’s all online!)
    12. Research Christmas traditions in a country you like/want to visit/randomly pick.  Try to incorporate one new tradition and special food or treat from that country in your Christmas celebrations.  (Check out Cookies Around the World )
    13. Read a different Christmas book every night!  The Polar Express, The Gingerbread PiratesMerry Christmas, Curious GeorgeIf You Take a Mouse to the Movies A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas, Hurry, Hurry, Have you Heard, The Animals Christmas Eve, God Gave Us Christmas, The Stable that Bob Built, and Grumpy Badger’s Christmas are all favorites in our house!
    14. Camp out in front of the Christmas tree one night.  Roll out the sleeping bags, have a story, a special treat and sleep by the light of the Christmas tree!
    15. Have a Polar Express Night.  Wear your pajamas, watch the movie and make hot chocolate!
    16. Find a volunteer opportunity to do as a family.
    17. Take baked goods to the fire station.  (We do this often!)
    18. Check the Reindeer Cam for feeding times and watch for Santa.  Plus, don’t forget to track him on Christmas Eve on the NORAD site!


Check out this Roundup of Kid’s Christmas Crafts for more ideas!

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