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Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style Biblical Virtues

Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style Biblical Virtues

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The Christmas season is here!!!  This Christmas is very special for us.  E will be 3 in January and is old enough for us to explain to him the real reason we celebrate Christmas:  the birth of our Savior.

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was in the magic of Santa.   I remember when we were very little, we were at my grandparents house and my parents told us they were pretty sure that Santa was in the neighborhood.  We ran outside, searching the sky for his sleigh.  Of course, we were convinced we had spotted him!  When we went back inside, Santa was there!!! We were completely oblivious to the fact that my Grandpa was missing… 😉  Such a fun memory!!  When I grew older and learned the truth behind Santa, I remember having fun keeping the secret so that my little brother could enjoy the magic as well.  Even though we know the truth, to this day, we still get gifts from Santa on Christmas day.  The magic of Santa lives on!

My husband and I want our child (and future kiddos) to enjoy the magical part of Christmas that is Santa.  We also want them to understand the true meaning behind Christmas.

This Christmas, we are going to do Elf on the Shelf Jesus style.  We don’t want to do the “naughty or nice” scare tactic.  We want to use the Elf to combine the magic of Santa and the celebration of Jesus birth.

Tomorrow, our elf will be arriving “in the mail” in a box with a letter from Santa.  And here’s what it says:

 As part of our advent activities, we will be using Elf on the Shelf to teach about Jesus.  We have been talking about what our daily lives look like when we have Jesus in our heart.  Each morning, our elf will be found doing something that will teach our little one what it looks like to have Jesus in our heart.  One day, the elf will be reading the bible to some of his stuffed animal friends.  Another morning, he will be found praying.  Another day, he will have a task from Santa to take food to a local food bank.  We have alot of fun activities planned for this advent season and I know E is going to love it.


In addition to Elf on the Shelf, we are going to do Truth in the Tinsel.  This is an awesome resource that uses scripture to teach the Christmas story to toddlers and young children.   Each day, you read a part of the Christmas story and make an ornament to help your little one remember what they learned that day.  It is designed to be a hands on learning experience for tots and we are super excited to incorporate this into our Advent activities.

My hope is that my child (and perhaps yours!) will experience the magic of Santa and learn the true reason we celebrate Christmas.

Click here to download the Letter from Santa and fill in your child(ren)’s name 🙂

 Do you have any advent activities planned this Christmas season?  Are you doing Elf on the Shelf?

Follow #elfontheshelfjesusstyle on pinterestfacebook and twitter to see daily pictures of our elf’s activities and share yours as well!!!

revised letter from Santa

Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style 2014: Teaching biblical virtues!

Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style

Reader Interactions


  1. Oh my gosh I love this so much! I’ll be doing some of these ideas with our little Shepherd this year on his way to find Jesus! I just bought this Christian alternative to the Elf on the Shelf called The Shepherd’s Treasure (I found it here in case you want to check it out: and I was looking for neat ideas to do with our Shepherd this year and found your blog! LOVE it! So great!!! God bless!

    • The Shepherd’s Treasure looks so fantastic!! I wish I had come up with it 😉 I hope you can combine both of them and make some fantastic memories for your family!!

  2. Wow Richard, what an amazing story! Makes you think you never know who will be on the other end of the line. You just made some litlte girls Christmas dream come true.Reminds me of the bell in Polar Express, she will believe forever and will always hear that bell, even as an adult. God bless you Richard for the wonderful memories you gave that family!

  3. What a fun idea. The family I rent from has “kindness elves” that come from Santa in December to remind them about the true meaning of Christmas and give suggestions every day of kind things they can do for others (pick out angel tree kids, write thank you notes to the mailman, bake brownies for a neighbor, etc). Similar to this, in ways. Lots of folks mentioning here that it’s important not to lie to kids…totally valid point. Would just like to say briefly that I was taught that, growing up, and always knew Santa was “a lie” – it confused me because all my friends parents were liars and my friends didn’t know they were being lied to but I was supposed to not tell them. Later, as part of an adopted family, I got my first present from Santa at age 19 and it was so special I cried, tho obviously I knew a fat man didn’t REALLY bring it to me. Santa is a fun silly part of our cultures celebration of Jesus birth, especially for children. I LOVE the way I’ve seen young families at my church do santa, very much a Jesus lover and pointing to the truth. I’m excited for kids of my own someday 🙂

  4. I have been looking for advent calendar activities for my daughter. My mom thinks the elf doll itself is kinda creepy looking, but I love the idea of a little toy friend leading the way to Jesus.
    More importantly I think you have handled comments against this idea with SO MUCH GRACE. I am so impressed by your patience and the kindness in your tone as you respond again and again and again to people who don’t agree with you. You are doing a great job modeling Christ to so many more people than just your little. Thank you for being so gracious while being true to your convictions.

    • Thank you SOOOO much for your kind words!! I have to admit it hurt a little to have fellow believers condemn me for doing something that I felt God laid on my heart. I felt God’s presence as I responded to these comments. It wasn’t me. It was Him! Your kind words are very encouraging to me! Thank you so much!

  5. Thank you for more ideas, last year I introduced our Kindness Elf. Jinx left an act of kindness to do weekly and a bible verse daily. The verses told the Christmas story. Keeping the magic for the Reason!

  6. Elf Magic elves (, has a faith based storyline. “But you’ll share kindness and goodness, and have lots of fun, and you’ll let the children know that God brought love through His Son. Baby Jesus was born on Christmas Day, A gift more precious than any in my sleigh.” Elf Magic, The Story of a Timeless Christmas Tradition. Our family found the Elf Magic elves, a great way to teach our children about the real St. Nick, and what Christmas is truly about. Now, that our children are older, we are using the Elf Magic elves to teach the grandchildren.

    • As I have said in other comments, I was not devastated when I found out the truth about Santa. If done the way I created this, it is a great tool to teach children about the truth of Christmas and combine the magic of Christmas. I do not see the harm in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and all those fun traditions. That is me and that is my parenting style. I don’t see this as “lying.” I understand some take it that way, but I don’t. We are using our imagination and one day, he will find out the truth about Santa and as I did, he will look back and see how much fun mom and dad made these traditions, while also teaching the real “reason for the season.” I really don’t think children are scarred for life by these traditions. 😉

  7. I wanted to give you kuddos for how well you handle all the different opinions that people choose to share. The responses you give are more nonjudgmental, understanding and patient than I could ever be. Well done 🙂

    • Thank you! It was sometimes a challenge to figure out how to respond because I still want to show compassion to even those that are not kind. I think that itself can speak volumes! Thank you for your kind words.

  8. Hi! Love the letter, can you tell me what font you used? I would like to add my girls names to it, but I would like to keep the font the same if possible. Thanks!

    • I have no idea what font I used and I can’t find the editable file on my computer. That’s a little stressful! Just write their name in. That’s what I did 🙂

  9. Stephanie-

    Thanks so much for these great ideas! I think anything regarding Christmas can be used to point to the glory of God, it just takes some prayer, thinking and a little preparation. I’ve had friends grow up in Christian homes without Santa and they weren’t any less sinful than those of us who did grow up with Santa (in fact, they were often times even more cray cray…lol). I believe as long as you continue to talk about Jesus and what Christmas really means, your kids will grow to understand this. And as parents, we lead by example. That’s the most effective way of instilling values in your kids.

    Anyway, thanks for this- it’s great! Can’t wait to use with with my kids and as another way to point to the Living God!

    • I agree! I don’t see anything wrong with combining the magic of Christmas (Santa) with the truth of Jesus, with an emphasis on the Jesus part! We certainly do lead by example. Our kids are always watching and they learn by mimicking our actions. Excited for you to join us this advent season!

  10. OMG. Honestly, i LOVE this. I have been reading comment after comment and blog after blog of Elf on the Shelf haters. And my whole thing has been, why as Christians can we not take something that may not be “good” and turn it into good (as the bible states that God does in ALL things). Your perspective is refreshing and beautiful. I cant wait to do it when i have kids one day!! XOXO

    • Thank you!!!!! Santa and elves appear to be a very controversial topic (which I didn’t realize until this year.) We are loving using this as a tool to teach our kiddo about Jesus and his eyes light up and he gets excited about the activities we do. It’s so much fun!

  11. Yesterday my wife came across your blog and read your idea to me. She later read some of the comments left on your blog. The comments motivated me to read your blog post and read the comments in more detail. I have to say that my heart was broken when I read some of the negative comments that people posted. I usually do not take time to comment on blogs, but I feel like I need to this time.

    Stephanie, you addressed some of these issues previously, but I will take some time to address them as well. Someone stated that “It concerns me that you answer people’s articulate and thoughtful concerns with bible verses…” It is interesting that this person made this comment when she then states “Really? You’re equating people not agreeing with your idea about Jesus juking Elf on the Shelf with actual, real persecution?” How is this comment “thoughtful or articulate?” Also, how are comments like “Why teach your kids (if you are Christian) that Santa is real (by sending that horrible letter) and Jesus is real” or “You are doing not only your kids a great disservice, but setting a horrible example that others will attempt to follow,” thoughtful? This only can be perceived as a negative comment that is not edifying. The reason why this is interesting is that this person contradicts themselves in a matter of two sentences.

    Another comment that I found interesting was “where in the bible does it say Jesus goes into anyone’s heart? Hint: it doesn’t. This is a term coined by Christian culture that is nowhere in actual scriptures.” This comment in itself is flawed. Most theological terminology has their origins from theologians, which are human beings. An example of this is the term “trinity.” This term is nowhere to be found in Scripture, but the principle is taught in Scripture. Likewise, the phrase that “Jesus lives in your heart” is not directly stated, but it is true. The Holy Spirit indwells in every believer (John 14:16-18). It is correct that this is a phrase was produced by Christians, but it is still speaking truth.

    With that being said, I would like to take some time to encourage those who posted previous comments and those who will post a comment after mine. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to edify and love other believers, not tear them down. Below are a few of many Scripture references to this spiritual truth. We are called to love one another and to be tenderhearted to one another. The question is how is negative comments loving or tenderhearted? The answer is clear. My challenge would be that if you do not agree with something then come to that person in a loving and tenderhearted attitude rather than a negative attitude. Your belief may be scripturally correct, but you still need to approach it in love and humbleness.

    Ephesians 4:29;31 (29) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear… (32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (ESV).

    I Thessalonians 5:11, (Paul’s directive to the church in Thessalonica) Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (ESV).

    Romans 14:9 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (ESV).

    John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (ESV).”

    Romans 12:10, Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (ESV).
    1 John, 4:11, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (ESV).

    Another thing that I would encourage anyone that does not agree with a point-of-view of another believer is to please provide Scripture to support your argument. Every negative comment that I have read does not provide any scriptural support. If you try to correct someone then Scripture needs to be the ultimate source (2 Timothy 3:16).

    Stephanie, I would like to commend you for your graceful replies to the negative comments. You have shown that you have a humble heart and I appreciate it. Personally, I do not agree with some aspects of your post, but that is okay. These are preferences not convictions. My wife is a teacher and loves using creative aspects to teach spiritual truths to our son. I pray that God keeps using you and your family to reach others with spiritual truth and ultimately to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • Thank you sooo much for your response. You have worded what I have been wanting to say so beautifully. I have been debating writing a post about this exact topic. It was rather disheartening to have other “Christians” saying such harsh things to me. I appreciate even more the fact that although you don’t agree with all aspects of my post, you approached me with kindness and loving words. That means so much to me!

      “As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to edify and love other believers, not tear them down.” Thank you for this. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • I too have been completely flabbergasted by some of the comments made on this post. As long as everyone is going by their OWN convictions, who is ANYONE to condemn them? I adore the idea of Santa Claus, not to take away from Jesus, but to show that humans too can be giving and kind. And if you do not want your kids to believe in Santa and that is YOUR conviction, I as a Christian support you in that. However, it become my problem when a kid who does not believe in Santa then ruins it for everyone else. You need to MAKE SURE to teach your kid not to tell other kids that, as that is not their place of your’s to tell my child that. If people think it is lying, or it is not good for the kids, then by all means, do not do it for your child. You are entitled to how you feel and how to teach your child. But do not let it interfere with the joy of my child. We as Christians have got to stop nit-picking at each other and just agree to disagree and come together for the greater good. Peace, love, and joy to you all! And thank you thank you thank you Stephanie for what I (MYSELF) deem a great and creative way to teach (or NOT to teach) your child.

      • Exactly how I feel! Some of the not nice comments I have received is just another case of mommy judgement which there is way to much of. I don’t let it get to me, but like you, I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion and they need to choose the actions that best suit their families needs. There is no need for the bashing! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement!

  12. Love this idea! I just started Elf on the Shelf with my 2-1/2 year old, and while I love the idea, I was struggling with the concept of making it all about Santa and not focusing on Jesus! Thanks for the great idea:)

  13. Stephanie, you have a lovely family. Your little boy is adorable.
    First let me commend you on your ability to take the high road in answering each comment, even though some were very mean spirited. I am 66 yrs old with no little ones. But I do believe that your Elf Jesus style is a wonderful way to accomplish teaching “the reason for the season.” I intend to share your FB page with my friends. They all have relationships with children even if they aren’t parents. TO ALL WHO HAVE LEFT VERY RUDE AND FAR FROM CHRIST LIKE COMMENTS — I will PRAY for you to understand there are many ways to share and teach the love of God and the true meaning of Christmas.
    THANK YOU, Stephanie for allowing me to offer my opinion.

    • Thank you soooooooo much! That means so much to me!! I just had to keep reminding myself that the internet is an easy place for people to say whatever they want without worries about the other person’s feelings. It doesn’t make it right; it’s just how it is. :/ I didn’t respond to them because it would change their opinion. It won’t. I want people to see that you can respond to the ugliness with grace. It’s not easy and reading those responses can be rather disheartening. But it gives my readers a glimpse into how I think and feel as well. So your kind words really mean alot to me!!!

      Thank you so much for sharing this page and thanks for backing me up !

  14. Wow! I had to stop reading because I was exhausted! I am amazed by your grace with all of these comments. I try to always speak and act in a positive way but some of these comments make me want to scream. How on earth can we tear someone else down in the name of Christ?! It just seems a little counter productive!
    What I really wanted to say is “thanks for this idea!” I was searching for some ideas for our new friend, Ashton. I have 5 young kids that have had a very traumatic year. I am trying to add some new traditions this year to distract from the chaos that has become our lives. They have asked for an elf but I knew I didn’t have the energy to clean up another mess each day…especially one I was making on purpose! I decided that I would work Ashton into the 12 Days of Giving that we are going to do this month instead.
    I adore the excitement of Santa and still believe at 39. More importantly I love Jesus and celebrate him all the other days of the year too. Any time I can make my kids have a different take on the things their friends do and not feel left out, I’m in!
    I can’t wait to have Ashton help us serve others this season and add excitement and fun to our Jesus loving family! I hope that your season is full of wonder and excitement and lots of positive comments!

    • Trust me, for a moment, they did make me want to scream and it was exhausting! I was most disheartened by how judgmental people are. It’s so sad. :/ But for every bad comment I get, there is like 50 positive ones. And this post has been shared at least 60k times, so it’s touching people’s lives and that is what matters!

      I am so glad this is blessing yall. I pray that God will heal and provide peace for your situation. Thank you for your encouragement!

  15. I love this idea of elf Jesus style. My kids are too old but I’m sharing with my preschool families at my daycare. One idea for your adventures….He’s started a batch of cookies to take to the fire department or police station. Your kids can help him finish them.

    • Aww that’s awesome! I hope it blesses those families! I absolutely love the idea of taking cookies to the fire dept or police station. I’m going to ask a friend who is also doing the elf if she and her children want to do this with us. That would be so much fun!! Thanks for the idea!

  16. I don’t usually comment on most blogs I read but this has really upset me! I read through the post and felt so inspired and grateful for a way to incorporate Jesus into our Elf. (This is our first year having one!) I was going to go click on the link for the Facebook page but wanted to read through a few comments and see all the praise for such an awesome idea!! Seeing all of the negative posts hurt ME and I didn’t even write this! To all of the people on here who keep posting the negative hurtful comments, didn’t your mothers ever teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say then think harder?!? If this idea isn’t your ‘style’ or doesn’t coincide with your beliefs, then I am sorry you are out the five minutes of your lives that it took to read it. Next time, go enjoy the depressing news that MSNBC always has waiting for you. As a mom of 5 children, 4 of them being boys and one having ADHD, I have to constantly be creative in ways to teach my kids about the Bible. My goal, of course, is to always let them see Jesus in my actions but when it comes to them learning Scriptures or studying God’s word, just sitting down to read the Bible doesn’t go near as far. (Their ages are 7,5,3,1 and 3 months.) I am so thankful for a fun, creative way to incorporate teaching them these things, while still being able to keep the magic of Christmas alive. And when my children realize Santa isn’t real, I am sure it will be a bummer. But it can go in the bag of ‘bummers’ along with ‘Grandpa didn’t really pull that quarter out of my ear’ and all the other things we do to make our kids smile. But those ‘trust issues’ that cause them to not believe in Jesus?? THAT is make believe. I have yet to meet a single soul who distrusts the fact that Jesus is our savior based off the fact that their parents told them that there was a Santa Claus. Putting down someone who is trying to not only teach her child about faith as well as share it for other moms to use also is just plain unnecessary. Please go clip your toenails or alphabetize your soup cans next time you feel the need to be negative to someone else. It is much more productive. Thank you SO much for sharing Stephanie and please don’t let those people deter you from more posts like this one! Merry Christmas! 🙂

    • Thank you sooo much for your kind words and for backing me up!!! I agree that finding out the truth about Santa is a bummer, but I don’t think it scars our children for life. Merry Christmas to you too and thanks again for having my back!

  17. What a creative way to combine imagination and the truth about Jesus! We don’t do Santa in our home (due to the fact that I am one of the children who was scarred when I found out Santa wasn’t real…so much so, my mother told me I said, “If Santa isn’t real, then the Easter Bunny isn’t real. And if the Easter Bunny isn’t real, then Jesus isn’t real than either!”) Because of this experience, my husband I choose to not make Santa an integral part of our celebration. Our 3 year old sees him around, knows songs about him, watches the Christmas movies about him, but knows that Christmas is about Jesus. (BTW, we’ve started Truth in the Tinsel and LOVE it). I know imagination is so important in childhood and so if your family does do celebrate with Santa and the Elves, this is a fantastic way to bring the celebration back and pointed on Jesus!

  18. I saw your post from a sharing on facebook. I shared with some others as well. One of those friends asked what I thought about all the comments. I had to come back to look at them. Crazy. We are either too Christian or not Christian enough. Crazy. If I recall the Jesus did not like the manner in which the Pharisees judged each other. That being said I wanted to say thank you. I love how you have received and handled the most hostile of responses. Please don’t let them discourage you from what you are doing or from writing about it and sharing. We are called to be IN the world but not OF the world. I feel your blending and bringing Christian thoughts into a worldly tradition is beautiful.

  19. This is wonderful!! I will order some activities from oriental trading and do this! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

  20. I love what you are doing and as far as everyone belittling you on here for not being ” Christian like” just don’t get it. These are KIDS.. People please let them be kids..let them have a little fun.. Let their faces light up each day…it goes by so quick and one day they’ll be grown and what groundwork you set for your children at an early age will last a lifetime!!…there is nothing wrong with a little elf and its no different than any other fictional characters that your child may play with every day. What’s the difference in Santa and elves telling stories about Jesus and about being good to one another and watching Mickey Mouse and using different tools to help one another out. Just let kids enjoy being kids i steadying of critiquing every little thing.

  21. Thank you so much for posting this! I found it inspiring, especially being that this is the first year we are getting an elf. I have to say I was hesitant. All year long my husband and I teach our children about Jesus and what he did for us and the love of God. We do Santa too. In a world where our children are exposed to so many different things, good and bad, I think it’s great that you are using it to bring their focus back to Jesus.

  22. Bless your sweet heart. Ignore all the “haters”. They are always there, you obviously love your child and your Savior. You are doing a great work, momma, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise! <3

  23. Well, whether you dig it or not, you need to give the girl some slack! We all have the prerogative to raise our children as we see fit because they are God’s responsibility given to US. I love your creativity, Stephanie! Just wish I had a list of what you were going to do so I could copy! At least I’m a few days behind. HA My daughter’s been begging to do an Elf, and my Mom bought a Christopher Pop-in-Kins last year that is going to help us go Jesus style. The fact that he’s different will probably make that an easier transition for her!

  24. Take a look at a project that myself and 3 friends are doing this Christmas. We are using Christmas Angels in conjunction with our elf, all focused on keeping our Christmas about the birth of Christ and showing Jesus to the world (even if it’s through small tasks in our own communities!) We are spread out, I live in Alabama, my friends live in Virginia, North Carolina and Louisiana. We are posting our daily angel activities on this facebook page: Check it out!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your letter with us. As a working mom, I struggle to find time to pull these little things together that mean so much to my littles. Your letter gave me a base to start on and adapt to our family. My children read it this morning when they woke up and were elated! Blessings, beth

  26. Stephanie,

    I think that this is a wonderful idea! I do not have children yet, but would love to do this for my future kids. Despite the many hurtful things people have written on your blog, I do not feel as if this is “lying” or “deceiving” your children. It is simply creating something on their level that helps them to better understand the love of Jesus Christ. Follow your heart and the path that the lord leads you.

    • Thank you for your encouragement and kind words 🙂 I am choosing to approve (most of) the negative comments so that people can see my replies. If they take time to post on my blog, I will respond. It is challenging and kind of exhausting! I had no idea this post would go viral. Suddenly my blog has exploded! It’s craziness! It’s my first time dealing with negative comments though. Thanks again for your kind words!

  27. I see a lot of negative comments. Ignore them! God’s work is in play and I see it, feel it even! Amen. I like this idea and going to try and pig-back your idea in our home. Merry Christmas AND God Bless!!! <3

    • There are and I am approving (most of) them, in the hopes that my comments can demonstrate that we can respect others opinions and respond tactfully. I am not going to fight back. I will respond, but in a tactful (sometimes bold) way. I am not taking any of the negative comments to heart. I do find it amazing how people can read so deeply into things (like take what I say out of context), and I’m not surprised by some peoples harsh words. The internet is a faceless place where people can say harsh words without worry of the other persons feelings. It’s like people forget that there is a human on the other side of the screen; that’s just the internet for you. That’s why I don’t take it to heart. I am not going to change peoples opinions. That’s not my goal. This is simply a tool for those families that WANT to use it. For every negative comment, there is over 50,000 people that have shared it so that says something 😉 Thanks for your encouragement! God bless you!

  28. Hi Stephanie, from looking at the comment numbers on your other posts, it looks like this went viral. You think it may be because you’re pretty far off with what you’re doing here? A letter from Santa *telling* your child that he has Jesus in his heart (he does? At this age? And where in the bible does it say Jesus goes into anyone’s heart? Hint: it doesn’t. This is a term coined by Christian culture that is nowhere in actual scriptures).

    It concerns me that you say that God ‘told’ you to do this. Because in saying that, you’re basically saying that you have the high ground and a mandate from God to do this, and therefore any dissenters are, well, wrong.

    It concerns me that you answer people’s articulate and thoughtful concerns with bible verses saying that we shouldn’t judge, and also that you are being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. (really? You’re equating people not agreeing with your idea about Jesus juking Elf on the Shelf with actual, real persecution?)

    It concerns me that you intertwine the imaginary, benevolent Santa Clause with a very real, benevolent Jesus. I think it’s fine for people to do Santa with their kids (I personally don’t because I straight up don’t have the time, or energy, plus I don’t want him getting all the credit for the things I did and money I spent! Plus, giving gifts is about building relationship, for me, and letting ‘Santa’ give the gift causes me to miss out on an opportunity to share a special bonding with my kid. They get to bond with a mythical figure instead.) Like I said, Santa’s fine if people choose to do it – I get the draw, I really do. But to have an actual letter delivered to your child FROM Santa about Jesus … that is muddying the water big time. Hopefully your son isn’t a concrete thinker like my middle on is, and can’t distinguish between the fact that Santa is fake, but the Jesus he wrote about in a letter is actually real, once he figures out the truth. You even have ‘Santa’ telling your son that “God loves you so much!” and, “you will learn about *our* awesome Savior … God sent His only Son to live with us and in us”. Girl, this is so close to the line that I think you’ve stepped over it. God sent his only Son to live with and in Santa? And Jesus is Santa’s Savior?

    I think, from perusing your blog, that you really do have a heart for God, and want to do the right thing. I just hope that you will recognize that this really isn’t the right thing, and you’ve stepped over into territory that really is harmful to the Gospel.

    • A few things:

      1) Does my child have Jesus in his heart? I believe Jesus loves the little children and when they are to young to make the choice, He speaks for them. Has my son made the decision himself yet? No, but I pray someday he will. That is the phrase we use in our household and it helps him understand why we do things the way we do it (help others, be kind, pray, etc) Why bother even praying with him, if he is to young to “have Jesus in his heart?” It’s to model christian behavior to him and that is phrase we use. And I do believe Jesus lives in our heart and by heart, I mean my soul/my being (it’s not just a phrase to me).

      2) Yes, I felt called to do this. Am I saying I am a saint and God is audibly telling me what to do next for my elf’s activities? No. I felt called to it, that’s it.

      3) Am I being judged? Yes. Am I being burned at the stake? No, although sometimes it feels like it with some peoples harsh words. The internet is a faceless place where people can say what they want without worrying about the person behind the screen’s feelings. So do I take the harsh comments to heart? No. Do I respond to them? Yes, you take the time to write on my blog, I will respond.

      4) Like I have said, I respect your view on it. But it doesn’t change my opinion.

      5) And yes, Santa tells my son that God loves him so much and Jesus was sent for us, it doesn’t matter who says it. It’s the truth.

      6) I do have a heart for God and I love Jesus my Savior. I’ll be a bit bold here, but if you don’t like what you read here, then you don’t have to read it. You are choosing to read it, and I don’t mind your comment (I chose to approve your comment), but you are saying that I have a “holier than thou” thing, going on here and girl, I don’t feel holier than anyone. I’m a sinner just like everyone else. I feel in my heart that this whole Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style is a good thing. Did I know that my small following would blow up and become this huge following? No. I didn’t see this coming, but God did.

      I know you will probably disagree with everything I have said. That’s okay. You took the time to write a comment, so there’s my response.

  29. I think your idea is wonderful! Good job! I’m going to start this with my family. I think if you’re teaching your children about Jesus in any manner then you’re on the right track.

  30. I just have to say I love your ideas! And we have to remember, it is us, Christians who need to change society, not segregate ourselves, or not participate within our present society, but it is our job as Christians to go out and be “fishers of men.” What a great way to spread the news of Jesus! Because most likely, our children will go out and tell their school friends what their elf did. This is a perfect way to spread the good word! What a privilege it is to be able to do this! Will definitely try to incorporate some ideas for our Elf Joey! God Bless!

  31. Jesus didn’t mean for us all to be such sticks in the mud. These ideas are great! My kids believe in Santa, we are doing elf on the shelf, and guess what??? They still know Christmas is about Jesus!! Goodness, I don’t see anything wrong with any of this.

  32. If we are going to get all technical about this… Christmas actually began as a pagan holiday. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness. Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”. Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

    So if you are completely appalled that someone would implement a “pagan” tradition into your Christmas season, then you may want to altogether boycott Christmas. However, I am going to do the best I can and trust that God knows the motives of my and others hearts. I love Jesus and yes we have an Elf.

  33. What does the Bible say about lukewarm Christianity? Spew you out? That is exactly what this is. As a Chriatian parent we are called to raise up out children in the ways of Christ. As a fellow Christian it is our duty to point out to each other when we are in the wrong or sinning. Myth, magic, witchcraft are no no’s. You are using a mythical elf to teach a child about Jesus. This is so wrong. Yes… I am judging your post and actions… Not your heart. I am sure it is in the right place, but severely misguided. Sad that you are leading others along this path. I hope your true Christian readers are spiritually mature enough to see the error in this elf The Jesus way.

    • Let’s not cast a stone here, my sister Mary. She is not teaching her child witchcraft. A little myth or magic? That’s kinda stretching it, if I may offer my humble opinion on your humble-ish opinion. Remember, Jesus used parables sometimes to teach us the way to a righteous life. And some of these parables did not ever happen; [that wasn’t the point, now was it?] he used them as a teaching tool. And that is what this mommy is doing with this little Elf–along with teaching her son to use creativity and imagination as a gift from God*. Let’s not start spewing just yet, there has been no sad error of lukewarm Christianity here. Carry on, little mama, and remember, love wins.

      *Author’s exact words, which I fully respect. I have not had the gift of children, sister Stephanie, but when I do, I hope to remember to teach them to always keep that sparkle of imagination alive. It is the childlike love that Jesus expects of us all the years of our lives.

      • I was talking to my mom about the negative comments, and she is a very strong christian woman. She referred to the parables too when we were discussing doing the elf this way. Thanks for backing me up and for your kind words of encouragement!

    • Please do not judge others.. It is not your place. Only God can judge. Just be happy she is teaching her children to follow Jesus..

    • Hey, Debbie Downer – If you don’t like it, don’t do it. I think anything that gets kids excited about Jesus and the season is a great way to protect our faith.
      To Stephanie – Thanks for sharing! What a great idea! As a public school teacher I look for anything I am allowed to put in my classroom that encourages a remembrance that this is a Christian holiday without actually breaking the rules and posting it. I can’t use this letter in my classroom, but I can at home – and I can put the Elf in our classroom. It’s a touch of CHRISTmas I’m allowed to use. A tool that this Christian teacher can use to keep a hint of the reason for the season alive. I’m glad you shared! ~Susie

  34. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea Stephanie!!!! Just BRILLIANT! Oh how I wish I thought of it! I may indeed ‘change our elf’s mission’ after reading this. The funny thing is that my kids are so in love with our little guy that they don’t even really think about the gifts and behaving and all that jazz. They seriously consider “Little Chris” a part of our family and tell him EVERYTHING under the sun! They count him as their brother…It is precious. But after reading this, I will definitely find a way to implement your wonderful idea soon!!

    I also love that you have ongoing FB posts about it and the document of the letter too!! I will probably write my own to cater to my older kids that are still young and innocent enough to believe, but old enough to grow in more ways.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Devotional Diary: BreatheMy Profile

  35. In getting a letter about Jesus from Santa regarding an Elf on the Shelf, what messages are you teaching your children that are true vs. fairy tale? I’m not trying to convince you that you are wrong and that I am right or any such message – but asking you to consider if you think the lesson is one that truly tells the story of Christmas. For my 5, 3 and 1 year old children, we do not have Santa at our home, and we do not have Elf on a Shelf. Mommy and Daddy bring gifts, and they are brought no matter how good or how bad our children are – they are the result of grace, not works. Santa is a story and game that some families play about St. Nicolas, who gave to the needy. Jesus is our savior who gave us the greatest gift. And our children? They have a magical Christmas every year without all the nonsense. Blessings to you and yours for a blessed Christ-mas.

    • Gifts are brought to my child no matter his behavior as well. That is why I am not going the traditional Elf on the Shelf. I didn’t want to encourage good behavior because “Santa is watching.” I want to encourage good behavior because we have a Savior that loves for us and died for us, hence Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style. I am teaching my child imagination is a gift from God. He’s to young to get that yet. But someday he will. 🙂

  36. With 7 children starting 31 years ago, Elf had not been thought of. By the time our last was 11, Elf was out and all the rage. One day she asked me if she could have one…for just pretend. She was already a young Christian knowing all about Christmas and Jesus’ birth. I could tell she just wanted something special. And so “Bubbles the Monkey” arrived…I found a cute Christmas Monkey with a pouch in his hands. Bubbles began to move around our house and left typed messages each day. He would tell her of all the nice things he observed going on…especially to commend her for Godliness. He often encouraged her to grow with God. He sometimes told her stories about character traits he thought were important for her life. He came for several years and she wondered where the letters came from and who moved him daily. Know she knows everything and he is a treasured pal. Be blessed in this season as we point our children to Jesus!

  37. Santa believes in Jesus. I have a Santa kneeling at the creche. I love it. I know that Jesus loves Santa and the “elves”. Thank you and can’t wait to see more.

  38. I love the Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style idea. Would you be willing to share with some of us that are a little challenged in the creative ideas department a list of ideas for our elves? Thanks a lot and keep spreading the love of Jesus!!!

  39. Santa is not real. Elves are not real. The true ‘magic’ of Christmas is Jesus. If you need Santa and and elf to get kids excited about Christmas and it’s real meaning, then you are doing it all wrong.

    It appears you have bought into the whole into the whole wishy washy Christian thing and are attempting to balance secular and Christian.

    Sure.. we watch Santa cartoons and love Rankin Bass classics over here.
    We watch them with the same mindset as one watches Dora or Phineas and Ferb.
    It is Make Believe. Period.

    Why teach your kids (if you are Christian) that Santa is real (by sending that horrible letter) and Jesus is real. What happens when they find out you were lying about Santa and of course Santa is telling the kids about Jesus in their hearts?
    Any smart kid will start to think .. hmm…. I guess this Jesus stuff is bogus too.

    You live IN this world.. not OF this world.
    You are doing not only your kids a great disservice, but setting a horrible example that others will attempt to follow.

    Tsk.. Tsk..

    • I have respect for your opinion (however, I do think you could have stated it nicer!). Despite your choice of words, I don’t take any offense to your words and wish you a Merry Christmas!

      James 4:11-12 ESV

      Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

      • People need to stop stating their Christian opinions in un-Christian ways. I think this is very creative. I’ve never even hear of the Elf on the Shelf thing. What is that?

        • The original story is an Elf that is sent by Santa to watch over the children. The elf reports back to Santa if the child is naughty or nice. But as you can see, I have put a different spin on it. Thanks for your encouragement!

    • Have you by chance sat down to watch Phineas and Ferb with your children? I’m personally appalled that fellow Christian parents allow their kids to watch that mess. Might as well turn on SpongeBob!

  40. Saint Nichols was a great guy. To tell your children about him is one thing, but to lie about him is another. Praying about this is great! But If you have peace about something that goes against scripture, it’s NOT from our Savior! It’s from the deceiver. Lies & deception are wrong. Period.

    • I respect that you view it this way, but that is not how I view it. I agree lies are wrong, but we are using our imagination and teaching about our Savior. I know I can’t convince you to see it my way and that is okay. That is why I respect your opinion because you are entitled to it. I am entitled to mine as well. I don’t believe this is from the deceiver at all. I am not a perfect Christian by any means, but I have been through deep struggles and know what it feels like to have Satan lie to me (I struggled deeply with negative body image.). This is not like that. So in my eyes, this is God driven and a blessing to both my family and hopefully others. Like I said, I respect your opinion. Merry Christmas!
      Stephanie recently posted…{Book Review} Guilt Free Quiet Times by Emily Ryan My Profile

  41. Hi there! Ijust stumbled upon this post from a friend’s FB… this is wonderful. Our daughter just turned three and I was finding myself scrambling for ways to teach her the true meaning of Christmas. We’ve had The Elf on the Shelf for a couple of years, but this is the first year I think she will actually *get it*. I want to start it out right! Thanks for doing all the “hard work” for me 😉 hehe It’s such a blessing!

  42. I soooooo love this! We have done “elf on the shelf” for a few years now with our 6 children, and much like you, want to make Jesus the center of it! One of my friends had shared this blog post on facebook and I was thrilled when I saw it. I must say, I am very much looking forward to seeing what activites and acts of kindness will be shared! The magic of elves and Santa is so much fun but the fact that we can enjoy the fun as well as plant truths, celebrate the birth of our resurrected Savior, and share and show love and compassion the way Christ does, makes it even more special! Thank you!

  43. I am soooo excited to see this! My husband and I were just talking about HOW we wanted to make our “Elfie” not so mischievous, but to help bring the message to my daughter as well. I cannot wait to see what you come up with as I know I will be racking my brain to figure some things out on our own. I commend you for standing your ground on the imaginative part as well as the spiritual aspect, I know it’s not for everyone, but I agree believing in make believe didn’t make me grow up to be less ambitious or have a ‘dreamer’ outlook on life. In fact it was probably one of the best memories of my childhood 🙂

    Blessings to you and your family, I will definitely be watching 🙂

    Shannon Engelke

    • I am so glad you came across this post and I pray that it will bless your family! Thank you too for the encouragement! You are right that it isn’t for everyone, but this is how we choose to celebrate and I totally respect what others choose to do. 🙂

  44. “You can help others because you have Jesus in your heart.”

    Sooo… people who don’t have Jesus in their hearts can’t help others? What a horrible way of teaching your child about their world. Way to set them up for a life of exclusion and judgement.

    • I never said that people who don’t have Jesus in their hearts can’t help others. They certainly do and can. It is simply our MOTIVE of why we help others. And yes, being a christian does include a life of judgement:

      Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

      If my children choose to have Jesus in their heart (and I pray they do), I will teach them how to deal with persecution and judgement.

      Joshua 1:9
      Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    • Sarah
      I could not help but reply to your comment. If you feel a need to reach out and help others that is Jesus in your heart. So i guess the answer to your question is no you cant help others if Jesus is not in your heart! Who do you think is responsible for putting that feeling there? I don’t think the devil is in any hurry to help out anyone. Why would you respond negative to someone who is trying to instill morals and being kind to others to her child? I am so tired of all this political correct stuff and everyone trying not to offend another person! It’s time this crazy, mean world in which we are living start putting JESUS in our hearts and I commend this mother for trying!

  45. I just found your website and I love the idea of Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style and I am so excited to use this. Our daughter Trinity who is 6 years old loves her scout elf Noodles. I just purchased Truth in the Tinsel and I am 3 days behind but I will catch up. This morning she woke up finding Noodles reading Luke 2, 9-14 to all her stuffed animals/dolls gathered around on her bed.
    Thank you for this site and thank God for a friend sharing it on Facebook.

  46. I love this idea. I have not elf on the shelf as I didn’t like the part of him or her doing things that were naughty. My daughter will be 9 and is at the age were she is questioning about Santa. We have always taught her the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate. She has a great imagination, this will be a great way to pass on a tradition for her to pass on to her children. I went and bought a Elf today when I saw your post. I have been wanting to find a fun way to teach the importance of giving to others with actually doing some of those things along with our daughter. Thanks for getting my mind thinking of many fun ways we can give back to our community this Holiday Season with the focus of passing on the True meaning of Christmas.

    • I didn’t like the idea of doing naughty vs. nice either so that is why I came up with this! I’ve seen other christian bloggers have thier elves do naughty things to teach thier children about grace and forgiveness. But I don’t have the time to make my elf do naughty stuff! I am not taking time to wrap the toilet in wrapping paper or tp the Christmas tree! Kudos to those moms that take the time to do that but I am not one of them lol!

      Have a blessed Christmas!

  47. I agree that God gives us imagination–it’s why I’m okay with fairytales and other such works being read by my children. We’ve never done any of the traditions of Santa, and won’t, and my kids are just fine with that. Christmas is still ‘magical’, because that aspect is more about the excitement of new ‘stuff’ and fun games and food than it is about one specific character. This year I am actually pondering the importance of ‘magic’ at Christmas at all. Why do we insist upon it? What is missing from our understanding of God and our faith life that we seek out the excitement? Why do we need cute cartoon characters to help us teach the message of salvation? Sin is heavy. That’s the reality. Glossing it over does not benefit us, and we are seeing that played out in society as a whole. If we as Christians don’t take it seriously, why should anyone else? The need for a Savior was not based on magic and make believe. Making Jesus ‘cute’ with an elf is certainly imaginative, but is it really drawing us to Him? I hope so. I hope it draws your entire family closer to Him. Maybe it will be a way for you to witness to others who have been caught up in the completely secular side of Christmas in America. Whatever it does, I’m glad you are questioning the tradition and making decisions on it, instead of blindly doing it ‘because it didn’t cause me any harm.’

    • We aren’t doing Santa and the elf as a way to replace the excitement of our faith. It is simply an innocent tool to teach. I know you say ‘why do we need that?’ I don’t think we absolutely need it, but it is a fun way to learn, and it is a fun tradition that we will use for years to come. I agree that our need for Jesus is not based on make believe. It is very, very real. And my child and I talk about that. We are using Truth in the Tinsel to really dive into the bible and learn about Jesus from scripture. The elf is a tool to reinforce it. I want this post to inspire others that choose to use secular Christmas traditions (Santa/elves) to perhaps consider bringing Jesus into their Christmas traditions as well. If anything, perhaps it will plant a seed about Jesus into their hearts.

  48. Hey Stephanie! I am so excited about following you! Any chance you might be able to share your daily activities as well? THANKS!

  49. Do you have a template for me to print out the letter from Santa. I don’t have a word document file to paste it to in order to print. Thank you. I love the idea and this is our first year getting into it.

  50. I love all of your ideas. My kids have all outgrown Charlie (our elf). 🙁
    We always mixed it up and did some fun/silly things with Charlie as well as making sure we used Charlie to respect and honor The Reason For The Season. My most favorite Charlie memory is on Christmas Eve every year we would put Charlie in the Nativity and have him on his knees praying next to Baby Jesus. I love your food bank idea too. I am thinking that I need to pull him (Charlie) out of his box and have my senior, sophomore and 5th grader keep on giving back and keeping their focus using Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style. 😉

  51. I saw something similar last week, but instead of the elf, this family used a child’s set of the 3 wise men and the we’re on their way to find Jesus! I am glad to see the elf being used in a great way!

  52. As an “antique Mom” to 20 somethings, I get so excited to see and hear all that parents are doing to purposefully teach their children about the gift of Jesus and designate time to celebrate with fun activities daily. I love that you are sharing your ideas and have such ready access to do so. . . .To share an advent activity we participated in: When our boys were small, we began each December by putting an empty wooden manager (a roughly decorated clementine crate) and a bag of straw by the fire place. Each time someone in our family found something nice done for them, whether routine or out of the ordinary, by a known or unknown someone, the receiver of the act of kindness put a piece of straw in the manager. We talked about how Baby Jesus’ bed was growing around the supper table at night and what caused straw to be added each day (most of the time the bedding increased after supper time rehashing). On Christmas morning, the boys would find Baby Jesus lying on the manager and we would read the Christmas Story from His word. . . reminding us that we have a responsibility to do unto the least of these just as we would do for Him who loved us first. . .

  53. So glad I googled how to incorporate Jesus into Elf on the Shelf. I just made the mistake of reading the book to my child without pre-reading it, and I was cringing at the thought of kids being told the can tell the elf their wishes and he would tell Santa and Santa would decide if they get those things or not. I don’t want my child to grow up thinking Christmas is about him. I know that sounds harsh, but I want him to know we give gifts out of love and because we are celebrating our saviors birth. Not because we want them and bam there they are. I want him to believe in Christmas Magic but I want him to know what it’s really about. Thank you so much for your post and sharing your letter. I will definitely be going the Jesus route!

    • Yay! I am so glad that this post found its way to you!! I agree with you. I want my child to know we give gifts out of love and that it is better to give than to receive.

  54. Please don’t hear me yelling when I say this because I say this with love. Deception & lies are involved here. We are instructed not to conform to the world, yet here it’s ok because it’s “fun”? I don’t get it. This sounds cute for those who are unaware of what Christ did for us, but to twist things & make it alright because it mentions Christ? Seriously, I don’t get it. It’s totally against what Christ teaches. Why do people believe it’s boring to be honest. Just tell the truth. No need for anything more. (Actually, Jesus calls that evil) You can still make it fun without the lies & deception. And, honestly, just because you turned out ok don’t make it right. Not by my authority, but His. I pray that you reconsider.

    • Lisa, I appreciate your concern and respect your thoughts on it. But as I have said in other replies, I prayed about this and felt led to do it. For those that find this blogpost, it may plant a seed of Jesus into others who don’t want to give up the secular idea of Santa. I certainly don’t want to give up Santa because it was a great family tradition and memory when I was younger that I want to pass on to my kids. I really don’t believe that doing Santa is going to destroy the future faith of my children.

      • No, but a lie is a lie. My kids know who Santa is and they know that he is pretend. I tell my children that I don’t tell them that Santa is real because lies are never, ever okay and their daddy and I don’t want to say that something is real when it isn’t. They all seem to appreciate that. Lies aren’t justified just because someone thinks it’s for a special cause or because it was fun to believe in when they were little. A lie is the intent to deceive; if we try to convince our children that Santa is alive and real when he isn’t, that is deception.

        Our family does Elf on the shelf because it’s hilarious and my kids get a kick out of it, but they also know that their dad and I are the ones that move our Elf Roselyn around each night for the following day. It takes none of the “magic” of Christmas out of it for them. They love it just the same either way.

        • I’m glad you found something that works for you and you got to do what you feel is best for your family. This is what we chose to do and we enjoy it. Our kids enjoy it and I believe that it isn’t going to harm my child. I also don’t believe that the ‘pretend of Santa’ is going to make him suddenly believe it is okay to lie when he finds out about Santa. We have built a firm foundation of honesty in him. Pretending for the sake of memories is different in my opinion. Santa is a family tradition. When he knows the truth of Santa, he will enjoy being in on the secret for his sister. I know my kid and that it won’t devastate him or make him believe that lying is okay. We all just have to do what we feel is the right fit for our family. Have a very blessed Christmas and enjoy your silly elf!

  55. We did not have the “Elf on the Shelf” when my children were itty bitties but I absolutely adore the message that you are sending to your child! Santa is fun but Jesus is Life! I will keep this idea in mind when we have grandbabies some day…down the road.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Keep Jesus in your heart!

  56. Check out The Sparkle Box to teach the majority of the things you just listed! I am a Christian and I don’t look at Elf on the Shelf the same. You can use it to encourage good behavior without threatening. It does tend to help children behave better and as the mother of a 6 yr old and a 10 yr old I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging good behavior!

    • lol! Good behavior is always nice! I an not using the scare tactic either. The elf is simply doing something kind or has an activity planned each morning to teach about Jesus.

  57. THANK YOU for sharing this. I wanted to start this with my foster kids this year…but was feeling torn. I really am trying to build Jesus into their lives and although we ‘do Santa’ here…I wasn’t so sure about fueling their imagination more. (They are FASD kids with very concrete -black or white – thinking….. THIS was perfect! I even bought my elf and have a letter ready for the morning. Thanks again. I do want to check back. I am also going to link to your post….as I did use your letter with a minor tweek. God Bless
    Kate recently posted…Dinner & A MovieMy Profile

  58. Thank you! I really enjoyed your post & letter. We started Elf last year and on Christmas Eve (the last time she arrived) she was found kneeling at the manger in our nativity this year and every year to come she will be found at the manger. I will also be incorporating some of your ideas this year!

  59. Hey!
    So glad to see a positive post … it always bothered me that the Elf was supposed to watch and make sure the kids are nice, but he was acting naughty! That’s more confusing than having to lie about Santa. Kids need to focus on the main reason, but keeping the magic is fun too. My only constructive criticism is a little more theologically based. As a Children’s Minister, my suggestion is that when you tell your little one about Jesus, you explain that one day he/she will have the choice to ask Jesus into his/her heart. Jesus isn’t just automatically in everyone’s heart … then we wouldn’t have needed Him to sacrifice His life on the cross and rise on the 3rd day. Everyone must make a decision, at some point in their life, to follow Him or not. He came as a God’s plan to redeem humanity after Adam and Eve first sinned … from that point on people were separated from God, and punishment needed to happen. Since Jesus took our punishment through His death, no we can be reunited with God! Praise Him for his giving nature! So teaching little ones that He’s in your heart from the start isn’t exactly true … He loves them, no matter what and is absolutely waiting for them to ask Him to be Lord of their life, but they have to choose that. Have fun this year with your elf while you focus on serving like Jesus instead!

    • I agree with you that someday my children will have to choose. I cannot make that choice for him (and future them). He is only 2 (nearly 3) and I believe my role as a parent is to demonstrate what it looks like to have Jesus in our heart, and that’s the purpose of “elf on the shelf Jesus style.” It’s just one more tool to do that. And the purpose of why we live the way we do (with Christ as the center of all things.) We have just started discussing sin and what it is, and that we are all sinners. Last night we talked about Jesus being the light of the world, because people had darkness in their hearts; Jesus had to come for us to bring light into our hearts and to forgive us of our sins. You could tell he was really trying to process it. As he gets a little older, we will talk about all that you have stated here. Right now, I am keeping it innocent and teaching him about our Lord and Savior. Thanks for your comment!

    • PS: I want to thank you for your comment. My little one and I read about Isaiah tonight and why God sent Jesus, to help get rid of that darkness in our hearts, and that someday, he can choose to have Jesus live in his heart. Just want to thank you for helping me with one more way to teach my kiddo about it 🙂
      Stephanie recently posted…Menu Monday- December Week 1My Profile

      • That’s awesome! It’s great to see Christ-centered families seeking Him in all that they do. Don’t know where you were reading (the Bible … duh … but I meant which version, ha!) If you haven’t heard of it, I’d suggest the Jesus Storybook Bible! It’s GREAT at pointing Old Testament (like Isaiah) toward Jesus! God Bless yall! Have a very Merry Christmas!


  61. Jesus is the Reason for this Season! Great idea to share with my grand children..
    Thanks for sharing.. Very creative ways to have teachable moments for our
    Grandchildren and help them to learn and remember it is all about Jesus and
    Passing this legacy on to others!

  62. I love this idea of “Jesus Style”. We introduced Elf on the Shelf to my 3 year old yesterday and he’s so excited to have him visit us each day. I didn’t have a gameplan on what the elf would do but now I do. Please post your ideas so I can copy them as clearly you are far more creative than me! : ) Thanks!

  63. I love this idea, especially since Santa Claus, as we know him, “descended” from Saint Nichlaus… He was a man who passionately believed in Jesus and shared God’s love by sharing gifts with those who were less fortunate.

  64. I love this! I have been wondering when and how to include things for the kids! My twins will be 3 on Valentines and this just has made my day! I am so glad I found this thanks to a post on facebook!!! We have done a Cake for Jesus’ birthday before but they so did not understand and I really did not know when to do an advent kind of calendar or really when to start elf on the shelf if i was going to! but now! I am PSYCHED to do it!

  65. Thank you for the idea! 🙂 I think with my personal convictions, I am going to do something similar to you except my 6, 4 and 2 yr old children will play with it more like a game, where they understand Santa and elves are pretend. I do like the idea of using the elf as a teaching tool for Christ. But for me, personally, I feel like telling my children Santa and elves are magic and real is lying to them. I understand God is leading you in this path and admire you for standing up for your convictions and don’t think you are harming them in any way. But I think I am going to go a slightly different route.

    But I agree with what you said in the comments above – your love for Christ in your life is what counts. You are a wonderful mama! Merry Christmas Stephanie!
    Annie recently posted…I followed “To Train Up A Child” & then stoppedMy Profile

    • Thank you! And I really appreciate that, although you have a different opinion, you are respectful and non-judgmental about my choice! That means alot to me! I think they are to many “mommy wars” going on about so many topics. Rather than judge each other, we should do exactly what you are doing here. Make a choice that fits best for your family and respect others who are doing something different. Thank you so much for your comment! I really do appreciate it!

  66. Just for future use, when our older children started questioning Santa being real I explained that like God & Jesus their spirit lives in each of us. Santa may never have been “real” but his true meaning & the spirit of Christmas are real & always will be.

  67. I have 12 year old children (twins) and we are past the point of Santa and elves so I’ve been throught this phase already. I would caution against mixing fictional characters such as Santa and elves with a VERY REAL GOD. When children are young, they have difficulty with make believe and real. It gives the impression that both are fictional when you mix them together. We don’t mix God with princesses from Disney so why mix him with Santa and elves? There is more than enough excitement about a very real HOLY GOD coming into this sin drenched world to save us!! We don’t need elves to create joy and excitement! If we, as parents, feel this joy then it will be passed onto our children. We need to be very aware of the hearts of our children and that the root of good and bad behavior is there. It is tempting to use elves and Santa to get good behavior out of our children but changed hearts by the gospel is the only way that behavior will be changed.

    • That is why I am not doing the elf on the shelf the traditional way. I believe God gave us the gift of imagination and it’s okay to use it to bring joy to our children. I respect your opinion and I do agree that a real Holy God is way more exciting than Santa ever could be. I really do not feel like I am going to scar my children for life by doing this. I prayed about doing this and felt led to do it. I don’t take parenting lightly. It is my job to share Christ with my child and pray that he chooses salvation. I think that doing the elf this way is an exciting memory that my children will enjoy and look back on and go “wow, mom and dad really worked hard to make something so fun for us.” I really don’t believe that they will disregard their faith because they find out that Santa isn’t real.

      I do 100% agree with you though that changed hearts only come from the gospel!

    • I agree….I still remember the feeling of being deceived as a child. I felt like I’d been played the fool as we really got into Santa and reindeer. Then the question was……Is Jesus real? Waiting for that to not be true also….we did the santa thing for our kids but they knew we were the ones behind it..NEVER did I lie to them about a santa. Just think you are sending a message that in certain circumstances you can lie and then we tell out kids not too……my take…..

      • I’m sorry that was your experience and I respect your thoughts on it, but this is what we have chosen to do 🙂 My child will know the difference between lies and using imagination. God has led me to do this, and I feel convicted to do it.

  68. This is an awesome Idea!!! I will be doing this with my kiddo in a couple of years. He is only 9.5 mo right now so it would be pointless right now but what I great way to get them involved in the true meaning behind Christmas. Thank you so much for sharing!

  69. I have to agree with April & Shan…mixing Truth and Fiction is hazardous. Children are constantly weighing what is real and what is make believe. My son’s K class were shocked disappointed and brokenhearted when he exposed the truth about Santa. (he wasn’t mean-spirited) I received calls from parents and the teacher. My only response was, its not cute, funny or insignificant when you deliberately lie to your child. My son was able to celebrate Santa, Elf, Frosty etc because he knew from the start THEY WEREN’T REAL.

    • For us that takes away from the magical experience. And as I have said in other replies, I believe God gave us the gift of imagination and we are using it!

    • I agree with Mary. I did not teach my children that Santa was real, but pretend. I told them that the true meaning of Christmas is JESUS. In my opinion, can’t have it both ways. Can’t tell them that Jesus and Santa are both real, but then they learn Santa is actually pretend BUT Jesus is still real. How confusing is that for a young child? You can still make a “magical” experience for children without focusing on Santa. I know many people disagree with me and feel that you can have it both ways. However, can you really??

    • Mary, I have to say as a Mother of a 5 year old in Kindergarten it is very disappointing to hear that your son told his whole class that there is no Santa. Pretty sad for the other kids and parents who enjoy the “magic” of Santa. Just because you believe you should tell your children Santa isn’t real from the beginning.. doesn’t mean all parents feel the same. My favorite memoires as a child was Santa, my parents went out of their way to make “Santa” fun. Makes me realize how much I was blessed to have the parents I did when I was little. Praise God for making us all different but I just hope everyone is respectful of other’s ways and teachings!

        • I think Little J is very suspicious of how all this Elf and Santa busniess works, but he doesn’t have enough proof to chance not believing. He’s tried setting up his spy camera and setting a few other “traps” but so far I’ve been able to maneuver around them. I have to be super careful though.

    • Mary,
      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve taught my 7 year old from day one that Santa is a man in a dress up costume and she was not afraid of him. She never cried when she “chose” to take her picture with him. Christmas is about the birth of our Holy Savior and nothing else. When we express our happiness and thankfulness in God for giving us Jesus to provide a way for our sins to be forgiven, our family does so by giving fruit baskets to our neighbors and spending time with our families as we have a birthday party for Jesus. To me, I think it’s wrong to tell children that Santa has Jesus abilities, such as seeing everything they do, as if Santa is all knowing and omipresent. Jesus alone has that ability and that authority. I don’t believe in lying to children either just like you. I have told her Santa, and other fictional characters are pretend and she is fine with that. Jesus is the sole purpose of our celebration. She also knows that Santa does not give her gifts, her family and friends who love her give her gifts. I have taught her the history of Saint Nicholous but explained he was a man who did good deeds and is not to be idolized or made into some great spirit that still inhabits the earth. Only Jesus through His Holy Spirit does that. Mary, God bless you and your family as we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior this season. I pray that all people will remember the the true reason we celebrate and not taint it with false teachings.

      • I respect your choice and I don’t judge you for your choices! That is what you have chosen to do so kuddos to you for making the best choice for your family. I will do the same for mine 🙂

  70. Love…Love…Love! I always incorporate Jesus is the reason for the season in my Elf arrival letter and in my letter from Santa to my children. But I love the activity ideas!! Thank you for sharing!

  71. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing this. My son is 3 & I have had mixed feelings about Santa. I loved the excitement of Santa coming every year & have no memories of being traumatized over finding out the truth. I really want Jesus to be the focus of Christmas & not Santa. So this idea allows me to enjoy the excitement of imagination & the real meaning of Christmas … The birth of our Savior. Thank you!

  72. We have a big birthday party every year for Jesus.We do cake, ice cream, and balloons. We go around and each family member tells how/if/ and when Jesus came into their hearts and what he has done for them. One of the older kids read the story of Christmas from the Bible and then another will read the candy cane story. It’s very heart warming and the kids love it. My mom started this when I was a child. The grand kids range in age from 19-8 and the adults are just as involved. We look forward to it every year!!

    • That is an AWESOME idea! On Christmas Eve, we are going to do a birthday cake for Jesus too. I love the idea of sharing how Jesus came into their hearts when they get a bit older! Awesome!!

  73. I understand many celebrate both aspects of Christmas, and this isn’t meant to bash at all…But I have to wonder if this is such a good idea. Will it make them doubt the truth of God’s Word when they find out Santa and his elf aren’t real? I think that if we use a lie to present the Truth we are opening the doors for problems and doubt later on.

    • I believe God gives us different tools to teach about Jesus. I prayed about doing Elf on the Shelf and this is what God led me to do. I really enjoyed Santa as a child and I wasn’t scarred for life when I found out the truth about him. I think that if you teach your children about Jesus and what it looks like to have Him in your heart in your daily life, that will trump a little Christmas elf. I appreciate your comment though and respect your choice to not do Santa 🙂

  74. Why not just enjoy having fun with the Elf? Seventy to eighty-five percent of Christian children are leaving the faith. They have a hard time believing in the miracle of Christ. I can’t imagine why, when their Elf taught them the real meaning of Christmas.

    • The elf is just a fun tool to teach about Jesus. Living our daily life with Jesus in our heart and teaching/modeling that for our children is going to totally trump an elf that visits for 25 days. That is what makes faith stick!!!

  75. This is wonderful. I have an 11 month old and this us exactly what I am hoping to do when he gets older. Thank you for sharing your creativity and passion for God. Hugs!

  76. Loved your plan. My kids are grown, but I have grands. My daughters may be interested in incorporating this into their Christmas routines. I just wanted to share with you, something you may be interested in. At Hobby Lobby, I found a beautiful 8×10 plaque-like decoration, that is a picture of Santa holding a Baby Jesus figurine, saying, “I do believe”. I bought it for my secret sister at church, who has a young son. I just thought it is something else that helps put Christmas in the right perspective. You might not be interested in it, or Hobby Lobby could be out, but just wanted to share that with you.

  77. I love your idea! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I will have to use your idea! This year I wanted to introduce the true meaning as well. I am going to let Santa bring 3 gifts to each child because Jesus received 3 gifts. Also I am going to ask each child to gather 3 old toys to donate to a child who needs them more! Good luck!

  78. Elf could have christian coloring sheets
    songs books with his stuffed animals with praise music playing in background
    little book marks to leave at nursing homes, pre-schools, homeless shelters
    money from Israel to show how different and where Jesus was born on a map.
    giving toys to shelter not played with anymore
    giving clothes good clothes away to shelter
    help give cookies or homemade treats to neighbors

  79. We are also trying to keep the magic but make sure Jesus is what shines this season. I heard an interview with Phil Vischer the creator of “what’s in the bible” and they have a christmas DVD that talks about the origin of christmas, santa, and how it all meshed together. He also talks about how to separate the two (santa and jesus) but not eliminate either! It is great! Love this idea with the elf on the shelf. I debated doing it with my kids but this is a great direction for him!

  80. Love this! Thank you for sharing. Do you remember what your parents told you when you figured out Santa wasn’t real? I am having this complex about my 9 year old finding out and being disappointed or like we duped her. Any recommendations would be great!

    • I don’t remember exactly how my parents told me, but I do remember being so impressed at how my parents worked so hard to make it so magical! My plan for when my children start asking questions about Santa: We will talk about the story of St Nick and that God gave us an amazing gift of imagination. which is why we celebrated using Santa, but also focusing on Christ. To this day, Santa still gives us gifts and we will do the same with our children 🙂

  81. What a great idea! We love doing Elf on the Shelf and incorporating him into our Christmas traditions that revolve around our faith. Looking forward to seeing your ideas!

  82. I would love to know of the activities you do. My daughter is wanting to do Elf on the Shelf this year and I just ordered him and I would love to incorporate it this way as well. I am more about the meaning of Christmas than being wrapped up in the all the commercialism of it. Any ideas you can share would be great!

  83. Just wondering how you reconcile the “Do not lie” commands in the bible such as Colossians 3:9 :”Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” with the practice (historically rather new) of creating an entire mythological story surrounding the celebration of Christ birth. For me the unvarnished truth has so much wonder and delight that my children and I need nothing more. We have traditions of fun, surprise gifts, charitable work and countdown or advent calendars but minus any time where I lead them to believe something that is fiction as nonfiction.

    • I believe God gave us the gift of imagination and that it’s okay to use it as long as it is used innocently. I respect your view on it. This is how we choose to celebrate 🙂

    • Kellie,

      I am wondering how you went about NOT doing Santa. My husband and I have discussed this–we have a huge problem with the Easter Bunny and Santa but don’t want to ruin things for other children/their parents. How did you make sure your kids didn’t share? We’ve talked about doing Santa anyway but putting a different twist on it or something. But, like Stephanie, my parents did these things and I haven’t been deeply emotionally scarred or anything. It’s a hard thing…

      • Kellie, we just ignored the whole “Santa thing” until our daughter heard about it from a friend. When she asked us about it, we told her about the real guy dubbed “Saint Nicholas,” who lived in a place that is now in Turkey, and said that in honor of him, lots of people play a pretend game and then explained our culture’s traditions. We told her that not all children know that it’s just pretend and we asked her to let their parents handle it and not to correct them or tell them Santa isn’t real. She has obeyed so far. Not every child would be so compliant, but by the grace of God, ours is!

      • Kellie, I did not do Santa or the Easter Bunny with my children. My girls just did not make a big deal about Santa and did not talk about not believing. However, my son sees things as black and white. So, he could not “play along” while his friends talked about Santa. “No, santa is not real, he is pretend” he told his friends. Luckily, they still believed and I did not get phone calls from mad parents. I was actually proud of his conviction that Santa was pretend. Hopefully he will have this same conviction with his faith.

      • We just tell our kids that ‘Santa is a game some parents play with their kids. They like to pretend he’s real. So let them play that pretending game with their parents’

  84. I am so glad I found this! I am looking forward to following along with our little one this year. Thank you so much for sharing! I needed the inspiration!

  85. I absolutely love this idea!! I would love to know the projects you will be compling… I am truly interested in trying to help my 5 year old understand even more of why we celebrate Christmas.. He know that it is all about Jesus’ birth but I want to drive it home..

    Thanks in advance

  86. I tried to find your Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style on Facebook and cannot locate it. Help!!! I’d like to find your daily ideas. I’m so not creative!!!!! Thanks!!!!


  1. […] And if you are looking for a way to have your elf help teach your kids about Christ, check out Crayon Marks and Tiger Stripes!  She has a great Pinterest board you can follow too! I hope these help you with your EOAS […]

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