Dear Crabby, Are There Any Alternatives to Elf on a Shelf?

Dear Crabby,

My kids are getting to the age when a lot of their friends are doing Elf on a Shelf. Personally, I’m not a fan, but I’d love to still do something fun. Do you have any suggestions for alternative ideas?

Elfie Noëlle

Dear Elfie Noëlle,

I looked over my vast vault of posts, thinking I’d already answered this question. But it turns out, another reader wanted to know what I thought of the little devil, I mean, Elf. Can you tell I think it’s a whole lotta hype for nothing? Mostly, I’m grateful that this Elf wasn’t around when my kids are little, but I get that some have the stamina for this sort of thing. So, here are some alternatives if you absolutely do not want an Elf on your shelf.

Hug and Hide Olaf: For all you Frozen fanatics out there, Disney to the rescue! Any parent who has been subjected to this movie knows about Olaf the snowman and how he likes warm hugs. Read the story, hide Olaf. Find Olaf and give him a hug and hide him again.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Mensch on a Bench: I know, I know. Hanukkah is over. But I’m trying to be more inclusive, so keep this one on your radar for next year. Moshe, The Mensch comes with a storybook that tells the story of his heroic adventure inside of the temple when Judah and the Maccabees won the war against the Greeks. The Mensch comes to the home for Hanukkah and helps light the candles on the Menorah. While he waits to light a candle, he keeps a watchful eye over the children. If they don’t behave, the Mensch won’t light the candle and no gifts will be given.

North Pole Ninjas: What kid hasn’t fantasized about being a ninja? After reading the book recounting the ancient legend the North Pole Ninjas use for new recruits, kids are given their own Ninja missions to carry out: 50 special tasks packed in a special envelope. Each mission encourages recruits to spread the holiday spirit—and share kindness and love.

Santa’s Lazy Gnome: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but gnomes are everywhere these days. The idea is simple – set the Gnome up in your house, read the book, and you’re done! If I had littles still at home, this is the one I’d pick.

I’m sure you can ask Mr. Google or use that Pinterest thingy to find even more ideas. If you’re a parent running out of insane ideas for your Elf on a Shelf – here’s one that may be a bit controversial. I read about a mother who told her kids their Elf caught COVID and had to be quarantined for 14 days. Now, I’m not trying to make light of this pandemic, but you know that mom just bought herself two weeks of peace during an already hectic time of the year. I call that crack parenting.

Good Luck!

Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Star from Afar!

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