I guess I expected too much from Elf on the Shelf. I think it happens to everyone. I hoped that a fun, creative way of having an elf around would encourage my kids to behave a bit better and would save me some lectures.
Of course that was the easy way out, trusting a doll to take care of my parenting responsibilities. I was already debating before Thanksgiving whether we should have our Elf on the Shelf return again this year. It just felt like the return was not worth the time I put in it. But, my youngest son loved the creative and fun idea of having an elf around. I needed a creative and fun way to teach my kids to try a bit harder to think of others during the Advent instead of the usual lectures.
Enter the Kindness Elves. I happened upon the idea right before Thanksgiving and while I would have loved to order a set, it was already sold out. Of course I had the brilliant (yes, I am being sarcastic) idea to make my own the week before December 1. Because I have so much free time on my hands. And I can just whip things out in a flash and they turn out perfect for the first try.
Just to be clear, I am not expecting miraculous results, I simply hope that a more creative way to package daily
So, here is my take on the Kindness Elves.
First, our Elf on the Shelf did come the day after Thanksgiving to bring a letter to my kids. In the letter he explained that Santa has been concerned about the lack of kindness in our family and to help us learn more about the magic of kindness, he is sending his experts, the Kindness Elves to teach us. The Kindness Elves would arrive from their home, the Black Forest in Germany (geography lesson!) and since they are wood elves and not North Pole elves, they cannot fly, therefore an Elf Portal will be provided for us to help the Kindness Elves to travel quickly from our home to the North Pole and their home in the Black Forest. The Kindness Elves have hundreds of years of practice in kindness, they help lost or hurt hikers, travelers or even plants and animals in the forest. They are also small and hard to notice and would assign tasks for us to do help us learn about being kind and the kids are to write short notes back all through Elf Mail to Santa.
The DIY Elf Portal (Because somehow I got the idea that Kindness Elves don't fly. A simple homemade mailbox couldn't do. Obviously, I like to complicate my own life.)
I used a this wooden birdhouse from Joann's, picked up a thin 3 in by 3 in wood square in the same aisle and asked a very kind and talented friend (thanks again, Wendy) to make a doorway in the front of the birdhouse.
I used 3 Popsicle sticks and the wood square to make the mailbox.
Painted everything then when the paint was dry, glued the mailbox to the side of the birdhouse. Use wood glue and clamp for best result.
Elf Portal done!
I chose to make Waldorf style bendy dolls. Here is a great tutorial that I based my elves on. But let me warn you that wrapping these guys is not as easy as it looks. My first elf looked like he had an Egyptian mummy ancestor. It was pretty sad. I decided to practice my wrapping first a bit and delay the Kindness Elves' arrival. They sent a note to my kids to let them know that they were stuck in a snowstorm, could not get to the nearest portal and will be a few days late. But, they did send a book to the kids to read about kindness and their first task was to find kindness around them! They were instructed to pay attention and notice when someone was kind to them and write about it on the North Pole Notes I made, and put it in the Elf Mail box. You can download the blank North Pole Notes HERE.
Almost moved on and forgot to go into a bit more detail about the book the elves got! I ordered The Golden Rule and we all loved it! Well, maybe I loved it the most, but the kids did like it too. The book explains in such a wonderful way what kindness is and how we should treat others. My kids enjoyed reading about what other religions say about treating each other as well. I am surprised I did not come across this book earlier, it is a keeper!
Since I had a few extra days to make the elves, I had time to procrastinate until last minute again and changed the original design. The changes I made follow:
1. used yarn instead of embroidery thread
2. doubled the pipe cleaners
My elves are a bit thicker but I feel they are sturdier. I started wrapping with embroidery thread but I didn't like it. Yarn was quicker and I felt I had better control.
Then I added details, cut hair etc. And made clothes. I was going to make a pattern but realized each of my elves were a tad different. I made Mossyoak much taller and slimmer than Tinleaf. But I did make a basic tunic and hat design I could alter as needed. For the boys elves I cut the sides of the tunic straight down and were of course shorter. By the way, don't forget to add seam allowance! I sewed the elf clothing just like I would a regular tunic, inside out. Just be gentle when you turn it right side out as to not pop any seams.
Tip: trim hair after you place the hat on, and secure hat with some glue before you put it on.
Naming the elves.
Did you know there is an elf name generator? Yup! Crazy stuff you find online!
Only generated one name, Darunia and came up with Tinleaf and Mossyoak on my own. Since they are wood elves, I wanted their names to reflect their woodsy heritage.
I chose some activities from the brand new Kindness Elves site and came up with a few of my own.
Here is my list:
Lesson 1: Be kind by encouraging someone
Lesson 2. Be kind by serving someone
Lesson 3: Be kind by being patient (allow someone else to go first, etc)
Lesson 4: Be kind by being cheerful and smiling at others (kids got toothbrushes)
Lesson 5: Candy Cane bomb cars on our street
Lesson 6: Find kindness (Kindness Elves do service all day for the kids and the kids have to find what, like doing some of their chores, etc.)
Lesson 7: Be kind by sharing (donate toys)
Lesson 8: Be kind by complementing someone and saying "thank you" more often
Lesson 9: Being kind is sometimes NOT doing something we really want to (no complaining, whining, name calling)
Lesson 10: Be kind by caring for others (taking flowers to someone and a meal)
Lesson 11: Bake some cookies and share them
Lesson 12: Be kind by being more thankful (write thank you notes for each other)
Lesson 13: Be kind to animals (make a bird feeder)
Lesson 14: Be kind by thinking of those who are hungry (donate food to the local food bank)
Lesson 15: Be kind by taking care of our earth (pick up trash at the park)
Lesson 16: Be kind by giving hugs!
Lesson 17: Be kind by being helpful (help each other with chores)
Lesson 19: This will fall on Christmas Eve and the elves will bring a new nativity set for the kids (our old one is broken and missing pieces), read about the birth of Christ from the Bible and find kindness in the scriptures or examples of kindness
Obviously we have not done all of them yet. We started out good and hope that we will carry on with a good attitude. Today was an already great day, my 6 year old comforted his sad little sister when her balloon flew away and gave her his own! I will update this post in the new year about how it went.
And one last thing, being kind can achieve miracles. The following article is worth to read:
What happened when I was nice to everyone and I mean everyone?