It is no secret that I am not a fan of Elf on the Shelf and one of the biggest reasons it grates on my nerves is that it seems to be a symbol of the high expectations our kids now have. So many parents who use the Elf say they do it because, Christmas magic. Do you guys all remember being a kid at Christmas? There were so many simple thrills and kids now still enjoy them. Licking the spoon while they help bake cookies, decorating the tree, helping wrap presents. To me, the holidays are inherently magical for children and don't really need a lot of theatrics and embellishing. There are so many little (and cheap/free) things a parent can do for their kids to make Christmas "magic" without that god-forsaken Elf:
1. Hot Cocoa Parties All Day, Errryday
I don't know why, but my children go ape-shit for hot cocoa. I bought hot cocoa K-cups so it's easy as can be and they think it is basically the bee's knees. Like, The Polar Express convinced them or something.
2. Let The Kids Decorate
Yes, I know- this can be beyond stressful. However, my very best memories of Christmas as a kid most definitely involve helping my parents decorate the tree. If you don't want them touching your ornaments (and I do not blame you) let them make their own or cut a paper chain.
3. Make A $6 Craft Store Gingerbread House
This was a huge win for me as a parent. It was hella cheap, occupied my kids for over an hour, it was super easy and a few days later, I got to eat gingerbread roof coated in frosting and candy. I think I may buy another one this weekend.
4. Let The Kids Help Bake Cookies
This was the pinnacle of the holiday season for me as a kid. I am not too into baking now but I always make at least a batch or two so the kids can help. They love setting out cookies for Santa that they baked themselves so that's about as adorable as it gets.
5. Go For A Stroll To See The Lights
This is obviously free and kids dig it- mine go crazy for Christmas lights. Hell, they even like the neon sign at Subway. Kids are so easy, I cannot emphasize this enough.
6. Read Christmas Books
I store the Christmas books in their collection and only bring them out after Thanksgiving. They love to go through them and remember what ones were their favorites when they were younger.
7. Sprinkle "Reindeer Food" On Christmas Eve
Ever hear of reindeer food? It's oats and glitter. That's pretty much it. Let the kids sprinkle it on the lawn on Christmas Eve so the reindeer can eat it. Have your husband stomp around on it after the kids have gone to sleep in the manner of a reindeer, they will get a kick out of it. No, seriously- tell him to prance.
8. Write Letters To Santa And Have Santa Write Back
If you have paper and markers, this is free and so totally exciting for a little kid. It doesn't need to be Shakespeare, just tell them how good they have been all year (unless they were naughty) and say that you can't wait to visit their house on Christmas Eve. Done dinner.
9. Use The Internet
Elf Yourself, Portable Northpole, and Norad Santa Tracker are but a few examples of cool stuff you can find on the internet to bring Christmas magic to your children. Again, for no money at all.
10. Play In The Snow
I know this can't happen for everyone, but if you are a northern chick like me, suck it up and take your kids out to play in the snow around Christmas. I will hate it come March, but for now, it is kind of beautiful. Last week, I laid in the snow with both of my kids making snow angels and it was pretty amazing. Screw the Elf- I've got the magic in me, kids.
(All GIF's: Giphy)
(Image: Marie C. Fields/Shutterstock)