The Cringles - our kindness elves
Christmas is about sharing and caring right? Santa is a big part of the celebrations and some people...ok, yes me...may use Christmas and Santa as an incentive for children to be well behaved. When Olivia was young, I found myself considering Elf on the Shelf. I saw hilarious photos of Elves toilet papering a room and passing out drunk in the kitchen. Maybe I’m a miserable git but if Christmas was about sharing and I use it to encourage good behaviour, why would I let two naughty elves in to misbehave? I looked for an alternative and stumbled across this idea - The Kindness Elves from a blog called The Imagination Tree. What an amazing idea, I loved it and fully embraced it.
Meet the Cringles.
They have been visiting us since 2015 when Olivia was 2 years old and Molly was a baby. They live at Lapland and know Santa and his team but Santa sends them out for December the 1st to spread festive cheer and teach families about the true meaning of Christmas. We put out an elf door for them on November 30th and they usually arrive overnight, bringing with them a note and some advent calendars. Sometimes they'll arrive with more, such as Christmas pyjamas (I don't save Christmas PJ's for Christmas eve, we like to wear them all month).
Every day there is a new note with a task, idea, message or gift. They have usually moved and in a different position. We have a family with a mum, dad, two cheeky boys and a baby girl. The boys are usually up to some sort of mischief so we still have the fun aspect, but with lovely sentiments behind it. They get collected by Santa when he delivers presents on Christmas eve.
The girls look forward to their arrival and daily notes. They enjoy the tasks and the gifts they are sometimes left. They feel proud to complete what they are given and really enjoys the simple ones such as wish a Merry Christmas to everyone you meet today. It is such a lovely activity. I won’t lie, their presence does cause some arguments.....but only between Richard and I when we get to bed and we’ve realised we’ve forgotten to set them up for the next day!!
We love this wonderful tradition and the concept of our elf family visiting and spreading cheer. It fits so beautifully with Christmas - wholesome enjoyable fun. We can't wait for the Cringles to visit again this year. We were due to visit Lapland this Christmas but it's been COVID-cancelled so the elves have a little something special planned - we're planning on videoing our daily Elf visits this year so make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our efforts and share the fun (also like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, twitter or Pintrest - links are on the side of the homepage.
My Top Tips
You can buy them on the imagination tree website now and they look lovely (they weren't available back in 2015). They have a book as well which looks great and gives the backstory to the elves and where they are from. I haven’t bought it only because we’ve created our own backstory now for the Cringles and where they normally live, but it is well worth a look.
I bought mine in Tiger as they are small, look the part and are inexpensive. They have lots of accessories as well. You can make the family match yours or make up anything. We have a mum, dad and two cheeky brothers. 2 years ago they appeared with a little girl so are now a family of 5. They bring their pet reindeer as well.
Dedicate a shelf or area to them and their stuff. Use it as a Christmas display and part of your decorations!
Preparation is the key! Make sure it is fun and not a chore:
Plan ahead - look at your calendar and write messages accordingly. Look at what you plan to do and get the elves in on the action
- For example - we’ll have notes mentioning specific things such as the church
nativity show, a Christmas party we plan to attend, a trip away and so on -
see below and at the link at the end.
This year will be a little different due to covid as less is planned and those plans may change. I may make some little masks this year for them, if I get chance, or a note saying they’ve quarantined for 14 days before coming to visit (reassuring them that Santa can still visit this year)
Keep it simple so if the day is tricky, you can manage it. For example if the elves suggest a complicated recipe and it is a busy day, it won’t happen and it will quickly become a chore and source of disappointment, rather than something fun. Forget what you see on facebook and peoples Insta-perfect lives, do what works for your family.
Have a bank of easy tasks
Easy things to do include a food bank donation - time it with the weekly shop (or even raid the cuboards, fill a carrier bag and put to one side ready for the next time you're near a donation point - or donate money online!) . Feeding the birds with a pack of suet balls is a really easy one for a busy day. Sometimes our elves just leave some sweets or a colouring book so make sure you make your life easy - this should be fun not stressful. Make sure a good proportion of your notes are easy. I've written a second blog post with lots of ideas for kindness elves notes - a link for this is at the end of this article.
Some Ideas to get you started are:
Decorations for the elf shelf usually go down well, buy a ‘colour in your own fairy house’ or ‘build a gingerbread house’ type craft activity. This was the inaugural visit from the Cringles in 2015. The house was bought in Tiger when I bought the elves. In one of the photos above, you can see that I make a mini paper chain for the Elf Shelf and left a pack out for the girls to make for their bedroom.
Look for Christmas crafts. I love Baker Ross. You can earn cashback at Baker Ross at Quidco. If you haven’t got a Quidco account, it is well worth it, free cashback for your online shopping - sign up for free here with my referral link (If you sign up and earn cashback, you get an extra £5 and I get a bonus too). My £34 shop as part of my prep has earned me 58p. It all adds up.
If you have an activity planned, e.g. a cinema or pantomime trip or a mini break, include that in the note - some examples of this can be found in the link at the end of this article
- Elves are giving you the cinema/panto tickets as a treat - if they kids don’t
know it’s booked that is!
- Elves leaving a new book to take for the weekend away you have planned
- If they're meeting some friends, given them some Christmas 'tattoos' to
put on and to share with their friends - easy, sharing, cheap! #winner
Change their position daily, ideas include a party with some of your children's toys, build a slide, riding the reindeer, position them on the roof of the house, fighting, playing a game etc. Put them in the play area (we’ve put them in the dolls house for example). If it is a baking activity planned, move them to the kitchen next to the bowl.
Get some card and handwrite the notes or print them on paper, Ive done both in the past. When I printed them a few years ago I soaked the paper after in tea and scrunched it a little to make it look different. Keep the notes, they can be reused the following year
List of past and present notes from the Cringles: https://www.oliviaandmollysworld.com/post/kindness-elves-ideas-over-30-ideas-to-get-you-started
Let us know what you think x