Alyssa loves celebrating holidays and making fun crafts. She is a wife and mom who drinks a lot of coffee!
Elf on a Shelf is a Christmas tradition that became popular a few years ago. It brings the magic of Christmas alive for children and parents alike. The Elf is one of Santa’s helpers sent to keep an eye on the girls and boys and report back to the North Pole each night.
Every year on December 1, my Facebook feed gets full of pictures of my friends’ Elf dolls doing crazy things and getting into mischief. It looked like a fun, new tradition, and two years ago, I decided that I wanted to purchase one for my son. I spent a few hours online reading reviews and looking at prices. In 2014, the price for an Elf on a Shelf kit was $39.99. Included was an Elf doll of your choice and a book. The reviews were mixed. Many people complained that the Elf doll was flimsy and broke easily. Others didn’t care for the rules that went along with the Elf. All in all, I decided that while I loved the idea, I wasn’t going to purchase the kit.
Instead, I thought I could adopt my own tradition, incorporating many of the Elf on a Shelf ideas for much less. My original plan was to simply purchase an Elf toy or ornament from the store. Then I would type up my own letter from Santa and include it in a wrapped box that looked like it came from the North Pole. From there, the idea was pretty much the same, the elf toy would get into mischief and remind my son to be good in order to achieve nice list status.
While at the store, I couldn’t find an elf toy or ornament that I liked. My husband and I decided to purchase a Bumble ornament and for the low price of $7, my family’s “Bumble’s Adventures” Christmas tradition was born.
The First Year
The first year, I typed up a letter from Santa on an “Official Santa Letterhead” template I found online. Using pillow stuffing and glitter hair spray, I created North Pole snow. I put the snow and Bumble in a box with Santa’s letter and wrapped it in brown packaging paper. I addressed the box to my son, from the North Pole, and on December 1, placed it on our dining room table for him to find.
My son loved it!
Bumble’s Adventures is similar to Elf on a Shelf. Bumble is one of Santa’s helpers, keeping an eye on things and reporting back to the North Pole each night. He returns each morning and often gets into mischief. Sometimes he makes things for my son, sometimes he leaves notes. Each year the week or two before Christmas, Bumble goes away for a few days and returns with a small gift from Santa’s workshop. We have a battery operated dinosaur named Max that likes to join in on the fun, too.
Bumble has become a treasured Christmas tradition for my family. We all look forward to December 1 and the 24 days of Bumble’s Adventures.
Today there is a whole market designed around this fun idea. Now Elf on a Shelf kits start at $29.99 and there are many accessories you can purchase to go along with it. There are also knock off EoS kits that try to make the tradition more budget friendly.
But you don’t have to spend a ton of money to start a new Christmas tradition with your family. A little creativity goes a long way.
Create Your Own Tradition
If your family loves the 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, consider creating your own Bumble Adventure tradition. You could use Hermey or Rudolph instead. It's up to you!
I also think it would be great to use different characters from other movies your family loves. A Minion ornament or small figure would be fun. You could also use Olaf the snowman from Frozen or a troll character from the movie Trolls; there are no rules!
Type or write out a letter to your children from Santa. Explain that the toy or ornament is one of Santa's helpers and has been chosen to stay with your family for the month. The toy or ornament will be keeping an eye on things to make sure that the children are behaving and will be reporting back to Santa. One of the best things about Bumble is that my son is able to play with him during the day. My son loves including Bumble in his Lego creations! He also is responsible for Bumble. He cleans up any messes that Bumble makes and puts away anything Bumble has gotten into overnight. In our first letter, Santa explained that Bumble likes getting into mischief and my son could help remind Bumble to be good by modeling good behavior. It's a great way to reinforce the concept of responsibility and allow your children to be the teacher. There is a direct correlation with Bumble's Adventures and my son's behavior - when my son has gotten into a little mischief, he finds that the next day, Bumble has also gotten into mischief.
You may want to box up your toy or ornament, and your letter from Santa, and turn it into a special package from the North Pole, addressed to your children. You can set it out whenever you are ready to start your new Christmas time tradition. We start December 1.
Then have fun all month creating adventures for your toy or ornament! Get creative! Maybe include some of your children's other toys into the fun. When you get stuck and don't know what to do, browse Pinterest for Elf on a Shelf ideas. There are many adventures you can create!
Christmas Eve is the day Bumble says goodbye. I like to write out a small note from Bumble to my son, thanking him for allowing Bumble to stay with us. Bumble reminds him to be good, to enjoy his Christmas, and to look for a special gift that Bumble will leave him. That gift is usually something small that we include in my son's stocking.
That's all there is to it!
Petar Zecevic from Belgrade on November 22, 2016: