I love seeing my friends’ Elf On The Shelf pictures pepper my facebook feed throughout December.

Part of me wishes I would join in.

But I just can’t.


I know myself.  I’d get all excited about it for a day or two, and then it would just turn into a chore.  A chore I’d feel compelled to continue, because if I failed it would tear a giant hole in that Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy fantasyland I’ve built up in my kids’ heads.  Not only would I have to continue it for an entire month, but I’d be forced to recreate this every December FOR YEARS ON END.  (Again, going back to the fantasyland I’ve encouraged these children to grow.)

I would quickly hate that elf.

So we do something different.

Alternative Elf-on-the-Shelf

CWBN November

We slowly start setting up our Nativity scene when Advent starts.  Mary comes out the first week, then Joseph joins her.  The shepherds are seen caring for their sheep a few days later.  And the angels are always watching over us (whether they’re announcing Jesus’s birth or not).  While we’re setting that up, the Wise Men are wandering.

In our house, they wander all over the living room.

When my kids were preschoolers, I’d explain the story by encouraging them to move the Wise Men around the house in their search for baby Jesus.  This gave the kids a great (authorized) excuse to play with the nativity scene.  I was happy that they were immersing themselves in the story through play.

Wise Men

It also gave them something to do with the nativity scene.  Nativity scenes draw people in, and for kids, it must be so frustrating not to be able to play with them or touch them.  This Search of the Wise Men alleviates some of that frustration!  (And may help to keep their hands off the other figurines.)


The Search of the Wise Men gives me two advantages over Elf On The Shelf:

  1. The kids are in charge of it.  Sure, that takes some of the “magic” out of the season.  But really, I think that kids like to have more opportunities to direct traditions, decorations, etc.  And–let’s face it–it takes ALL the stress off of me!

2. It’s Biblically-based.  Sure, Elf On The Shelf is cute.  I’ve got no beef with him.  But  an effort to put more emphasis on the “Jesus’s birth Christmas” over the “Santa Claus Christmas,” we’ll keep moving our Wise Men all over the house.

So, keep posting those Elf On The Shelf pictures!  They may encourage our family to get the Wise Men in (and out) of some sticky situations.

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3 Replies to “Alternative Elf On the Shelf”

  1. What a great idea! My mom had (still has) a Nativity set that went in piece by piece too, but I love the idea of adding the Wise Men’s search to that tradition!

  2. Thanks, Hilary! Nativity scenes are a HUGE deal in Mexico (I think it’s a national contest to see who can have the most elaborate). And they do sell most pieces individually. My original plan was that every year we’d buy a new figurine for the Nativity scene. But then I had kids and they both wanted to get sheep and ducks and chickens every year. So much for that idea! 😉

    But yes, I love encouraging them to move the Wise Men around, as they’re always trying to play with the set all the time, anyway.

  3. I have friends who do traveling wise men and I love seeing the pictures! It seems so much simpler than the odd need to make creative messes with a weird elf.