{Elf on the Shelf // How we do it + Planning}

Let me preface this by saying that Mason is still a believer. I'm holding on as long as I can and will do everything in my power to be a magic maker for him! With that being said, I've shared on the blog before about how we do the Elf on the Shelf around here. Our elves are used to encourage good behavior, help bring extra magic to the season, teach random acts of kindness, etc.,  all while pointing Mason back to Jesus and the reason for the season.  Sure, our elves may get a little silly at times but they are not here to make messes and bring mischief. They are used as a tool to spread light and love throughout the Christmas season. 

When I am planning out the month for our elves, I first look at our calendar and then incorporate those events into the elf planning. Then I fill in days with other things like birthdays, our holiday traditions, scripture cards, random things to do, etc. I also scope out the Target dollar spot weeks in advance and then throughout the season to see if there's anything I can use as props, treats, or ideas for the elves. They move each night and they always leave a note for Mason. They even have wardrobe changes throughout the season. Here's a general look at our Elf calendar for this December and some information about each day.

Dec 1st - Elves come back with a letter and Lego advent
Dec 2nd - Elves leave a note that says "we'll see you in Palestine". We were camping that weekend for our annual Grinch & Polar Express weekend. Our elves are magically in the camper when we get there! 
Dec 3rd - Elves leave a couple of fun Grinch goodies and tell Mason to have a good time visiting the Grinch. This year it was "Grinch Pills" (tic tacs) and a Grinch Bobblehead. 
Dec 4th - Elves leave a little goodie back for the road trip and a note that says "see you at home"
Dec 5th - Elves leave a note to have a good day and one was holding a random quote from the movie "Elf"
Dec 6th - Elves left some cookies and a note to remind Mason to call his Nana for her birthday
Dec 7th - Elves leave a note for Mason to text his uncle Jo and tell him Happy Birthday
Dec 8th - One of the elves sent Mason on a candy cane scavenger hunt. The candy canes were fun soda flavored ones
Dec 9th - Elves leave a note that suggests visiting Bethlehem Revisited & leaves a nativity ornament. This one is a tradition! Bethlehem takes you back to the streets of Bethlehem where you will encounter innkeepers, merchants, craftsmen, etc. as well as a live nativity. It's a truly moving experience. 
Dec 10th - Elves leave a note telling Mason to do something kind for someone today
Dec 11th - Elves leave a note telling Mason to enjoy church with his family
Dec 12th - Elves leave paper snowflakes hanging in the house along with material to make our own
Dec 13th - Elves leave a note telling Mason to have a good day with his mom and pets
Dec 14th - Elves leave materials to build a gingerbread house (another tradition)
Dec 15th - Elves leave a note reminding Mason only 10 days until Christmas and a random treat/gift from the Target Dollar spot
Dec 16th - Elves leave a note telling Mason that his parents have a special day planned for him. We are taking him to the Gaylord for the Ice exhibit on this day. 
Dec 17th - Elves leave a note telling Mason to do something with his family this day. They will leave a game I found in the Target Dollar Spot
Dec 18th - Elves leave donuts for Mason for a before church treat and will have Dunkin' Donut props/shirt
Dec 19th - Elves leave a note reminding Mason that there's 6 days until Christmas
Dec 20th - Taco Tuesday night! The elves leave a note saying "Happy Taco Tuesday" and I found a Taco truck printable HERE to go with the theme. 
Dec 21st - Elves leave a note saying FOUR days until Christmas and a little treat or game from the Target Dollar spot
Dec 22nd - This is our Christmas tree campout night. The Elves will get into their pajamas + sleeping bags and leave Mason a few treats for the movie night (popcorn, candy, etc)
Dec 23rd - Elves will leave materials to bake cookies for Santa
Dec 24th - Christmas Eve and our annual Christmas Eve candlelight service. The elves will leave a scripture card and will be holding battery-operated candles
Dec 25th - Elves will leave a Christmas message for Mason

Once I have my calendar sorted and days planned, I print out my calendar. Then I will type up a letter for each day that goes with the theme for that day. Then I print, cut, and stuff bags by number (1 for Dec 1st)  with everything needed for that day.  Then I file them in a bin so that I can just pull out the materials for that day. This method works so much better for me so that I am not scrambling to find something to do or type up a letter before Mason wakes up. I'd rather spend a few hours a day for a couple of days in November getting everything ready instead of stressing every single day about what to do. It also makes it more enjoyable for me.

How do you do it? I'd love to hear if you have a method or if you just go with the flow?

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