My Christian Version of the Elf on the Shelf

It’s Friday! Whew! What a busy week and to be honest the next few weeks look pretty busy too. I keep reminding myself to take a deep breath and enjoy the season because it goes by so fast! It’s much easier said than done isn’t it?

Today, I want to share with you something I did with my children when they were small to help remind them of Jesus’ birth. It’s my Christian version of the Elf on the shelf (we didn’t have the Elf when they were growing up). I think that Elf is adorable but I liked our traveling Mary and Joseph better.

My Christian version of Elf On The Shelf
Here’s what we did~~on December 1st we would read the Christmas story. I had a Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus that I had bought. It wasn’t expensive because Courtney and Cory would be touching it. 🙂

Baby Jesus was put under our Christmas tree and we pretended that that was Bethlehem.

Over the next 25 days Mary and Joseph traveled all over our house. Courtney and Cory took turns each night before bedtime moving Mary and Joseph. They couldn’t wait to move them and they ended up everywhere, even in the bathroom!

Each day Mary and Joseph would get closer to baby Jesus and then on Christmas morning they would arrive and Jesus was born!

We had so much fun and it was a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

In a world that’s trying to stop us from even saying Merry Christmas, it’s more important than ever to share the true meaning of Christmas with our children and grandchildren.

I have a feeling I’ll be bringing this tradition back in our home in the next couple of years. Colt Allen will have to move Mary and Joseph every time he comes to Cici and Pops house! Have I told you how much I love this child? He’s scrumptious!

Have a wonderful weekend friends and Merry CHRISTmas!

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  1. I just wanted to say I have always loved this idea. I am 34 years old and do not have any children of my own but this is something that my mother did with me and my sisters when we were young. My favorite tradition by far, my mom would use the same nativity every year, it had a light inside of it, she would put the empty stable under the tree and would keep baby Jesus hidden away, each day we would take turns walking Mary and Joseph to the stable and then on Christmas morning we would come out to see the stable lit under the tree with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus along with the Shepherds, Wisemen, and animals. She would then read the story to us. My favorite present just a few years ago was when my mom wrapped up the Nativity she used and gave it to me to carry on the tradition to my children one day. I can’t wait to pass down the tradition but until then i have the Nativity set up under my tree. : )

  2. I know you posted this a long time ago- but I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your perspective. I am a Christian and I do say Merry Christmas… but we should appreciate the well wishing from another person even if they are not Christians.

    That is a new thought for me and I like it!


    1. I agree, Nikki. We shouldn’t act like there’s a war on Christmas and just love and respect everyone, despite their beliefs.

  3. Thank you so much for this idea! I have been hearing about all the fun coworkers have with elf on the shelf and want to join the fun but I really don’t want to teach my son to believe in Santa. This will become a tradition in our home!

  4. I love this! I’m not a huge Elf on the Shelf fan, because I’d rather focus on the birth of Christ than Santa (even though he still comes to our house!). Thanks for this idea, I think my daughter will love doing it next year 🙂

  5. That is a sweet tradition. I like that it is based on biblical truth and doesn’t involve any magic or mystery…..but, it does involve active participation from the children. I think we would leave the manger empty in “Bethlehem” until Mary and Joseph got there (just a technicality). =)
    Here are my thoughts on the world’s version:
    7 Questions Christian Parents Should Ask Before Putting an Elf on the Shelf:

  6. Ohhhhh, I see….the children are finding Joseph and Mary every morning. I was confused on this for a moment thinking that Joseph and Mary were in search for Jesus, but how can that be when Mary is carrying Him in her womb ready to deliver Him. I get it now. Thanks Mom on a Mission. 🙂

  7. I wouldn’t be offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, or Kwanza. I would simply appreciate the fact that they took the time to wish me well. I feel the same about saying “Merry Christmas” to others.

    However, I don’t think that saying “Happy Holidays” is in any way inhibiting the freedom of religion. If anything, it is being more inclusive of all other religions. It’s a way to say, “Hey, whatever you’re celebrating during this time, I hope it’s great.” I think it’s important to remember that freedom of religion applies to all religions, not just yours.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your Christian version on Elf on the Shelf! I LOVE this idea! I’ve wanted to do Elf on the shelf so bad b/c of all the cute things you can do BUT I firmly believe it takes away from the reason for the season… JESUS! So, this is perfect and thank you for sharing. I will make sure to share this with everyone I know!

  9. Public schools in the U.S. do not allow a “Christmas” celebration, but may allow a holiday Party. It starts at the elementary level, and YES this world is trying to stop everything about “CHRIST”MAS!
    > It is our Christian responsibility to keep Christ in Christmas and every other aspect of our children’s lives. If we expect them to enjoy freedom of religion in the future, then we need to be actively fighting for our rights today!

  10. We do something similar. We put the manger out. Baby Jesus does not appear until Christmas morning. We put all the Baby Jesus’ in a wrapped box. We open the gift of Jesus first!
    We have the 3 wise men and the star travel through the house and arrive at the manger Christmas morning. The star is ahead of the wise men. The wise men move to where the star is and then move the star. You really get the feeling that they are following the star.

  11. i just found this post via pinterest. i’m so glad i did, i have two young girls and am always looking for ways to make christmas less about santa and more about jesus and have fun doing it. i love love love this idea and can’t wait for dec to roll around to start! thank you!

  12. Yes, we are still allowed to say Merry Christmas, but it is considered “politically incorrect” because we might offe nd those who practice other religions. And no, we aren’t being persecuted yet, but when a company as large as Tyson Foods takes away their employees’ Labor Day holiday so the employees can celebrate a Muslim holiday, it’s clear that we are headed in that direction, as Cindi said, unless someone of strong character intervenes. I am not offended by other religions who celebrate their holy days, so why are they?? I know this blog is not a political soapbox, so I say to all “Merry Christmas and God bless you each and every one!!”

  13. God bless you, Cindi, for keeping your family on the right path – for helping them learn the true meaning of Christmas and what the birth of Jesus means to us 2000+ years later!

  14. Cyndi,
    Thank you so much for this idea! I have been looking for something like this to start with my kids but absolutely hated the idea of teaching them that the elf is always watching and reporting back to Santa. I cringe everytime i hear someone tell a child to be careful because santa’s watching. We don’t do Santa because its already so easy to forget the true meaning of CHRISTmas and frankly, I don’t want to lie to my kids! God is everywhere, all the time and He is all knowing…nobody else! Again, thank you!

  15. What a wonderful idea! I came across your blog through Pintrest and am looking forward to reading more wonderful ideas!

  16. Dear anonymous,
    I appreciate your thoughts. I would never compare myself to christians in other countries that are being persecuted for their faith although I do believe that the US will experience persecution if it continues in the same direction. While it is true I can say Merry Christmas, I have friends who are employed at places that ask them not to say Merry Christmas so yes some people are telling people not to say Merry Christmas. I don’t think you have to be a christian to say Merry Christmas.
    Thanks again for your thoughts,

  17. “In a world that’s trying to stop us from even saying Merry Christmas…” I fully support your idea about celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, and I think it’s a very sweet idea for teaching children about the birth of Jesus, but this line really soured the post for me. It’s a shame that some US Christians insist on claiming that their ability to practice their faith is being violated when people actually die for their faith in other countries. No one is telling you that you can’t say Merry Christmas. Say it all you like, no one can stop you. Just because someone doesn’t say it back (remember, not everyone is Christian nor do all people celebrate Christmas!) doesn’t hurt your freedom of speech in the slightest, nor is it impeding on your right to practice your faith.

  18. Thanks so much for this!! I googled a christian version of “Elf on the Shelf” and this popped up. Can’t wait to do this!

  19. Hi Naomi!! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you liked my Christmas Version of Elf on the Shelf. We had so much fun with that when my children were small.
    Merry Christmas!

  20. Thank you so much for this idea. I am new to Christmas, I did not celebrate it growing up, but my husband insists on celebrating it and he has agreed to compromise with me on a few things. One of the main things I have been concerned with is making sure our little guy knows and understands the true meaning of Christmas. I will not be teaching him that Santa is real and was really wanting an alternative to the cute elf on a shelf activity everyone is doing now. He will be the perfect age to do this next year… Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!! -Naomi

  21. I like this idea – we have a little one who isn’t quite old enough to really participate in Christmas traditions yet, but I’m very interested in finding ways to emphasize Jesus. Elf on the Shelf is so cute, but we aren’t “santa” people. I like this alternative….may have to try this next year. Thanks!

  22. What a wonderful idea to move Joseph & Mary closer to Baby Jesus every day! I think we’ll do that starting tonight in our home! Our son is 5 1/2 so he will love doing this. (thanks for sharing your tradition) One new tradition we have in our home this year is my son’s Advent Christmas House. My parents got it for him this year and filled every hidden “cubby” hole with a special treat (Day 1 was a beautiful blown glass angel ornament; Day 2 was a blue glass bulb ornament). The back side of the Advent House has a beautiful sticker on it that explains Advent and the coming of the Christ Child. And there’s an area filled in with my son’s name by his grandparents, a special note from them and the date. This will be a wonderful tradition to get out this beautiful Advent Christmas House. I do know some of the other “surprises” in there are Nativity set animals, Joseph, Mary and the final door he’ll open is Baby Jesus. I love to see the excitement in our son’s eyes as he anticipates and enjoys the Christmas season…he asked me to bake Jesus a birthday cake so we can celebrate His birthday Christmas morning. So sweet!

    I hope you have a wonderful December filled with love, memories, family and celebrate His birthday, too! Merry Christmas, Cyndi!

  23. What a wonderful tradition… pass on. I LOVE that idea.

    There’s something so special about children…and them realzing just how important the birth of our Savior is!!

    Have a wonderful weekend…….


  24. Recently found your blog and I’m enjoying reading your perspective. When our daughters were little, we also had Mary and Joseph prominently placed in our home (without baby Jesus) during Advent. I agree that it’s just crazy that our world is discouraging the phrase “Merry Christmas!” I refuse to say happy holidays. It’s a celebration of Christmas—-the birth of baby Jesus. We need to acknowledge and honor that! Merry Christmas, Cyndi!