Week 4: Jesus is Coming!

(Look busy.) I’m kidding. Well, who am I kidding? You don’t have to look busy, you ARE busy. Try this, moms and dads: remember who you are. Which is, a child of God. Listen, the birth of Jesus is not going to be affected by whether we create a perfect Christmas experience for our families. Unless we make it stressful.

My daughter, Clara, who is three, recently started giving me a perfect side-eye when I start to get stressed and saying emphatically, “Mommy, that’s not very nice. You better stop, or you’ll make the baby Jesus cry.” Amen, girlfriend. The mouths of babes, y’all.

So, breathe.

And maybe do these things. Or not, if they’re stressing you out. So, here are some ideas for the home stretch.

Sunday, December 20

d71739f08ae7386bc876994e95652757It’s movie night! Snuggle up with some popcorn and hot chocolate and watch a Christmas favorite. Common Sense Media has a great list of suggestions if you need one, and you can even filter by age! This is a great resource for all year when evaluating movies, music, video games, apps, etc.

For your own growth ⇑: The most adorable Christmas pageant ever. It is sure to make you smile.

Monday, December 21

The animals arrive! Instead of a scripture, the elf has brought a song for your child to sing.

Tuesday, December 22

9781633831872_p0_v1_s192x300Color together! You can buy this book or one like it or check out these printable pages for kids and adults.

For your own spiritual growth ⇑: Did you know that adult coloring actually reduces stress? So, even if your kids aren’t into it, pick up those crayons yourself and get busy.


Wednesday, December 23

Time to notice kindness again!

Thursday, December 24

Pce28dc125f79dab6cd4d0cb6671ee9dfajamas! Also, you could add a special book that you’d like to add to your Christmas collection. Storypath has a wonderful collection of ideas for all ages. In our household, this classic is a favorite, and I plan to add this one to our collection this Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 25th!

Alas, our elf has flown back to the North Pole, but s/he has left baby Jesus in the manger with a note promising to come back next year.

Wednesday, January 6

Bonus! I hope you didn’t take down your nativity set because your wise men are arriving today. We keep all our Christmas stuff up until January 6th and generally have given Clara a gift that is just for faith growth. If your child doesn’t have a Bible, now would be a great time to give him or her one.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings, Rebecca



Week 3

This elf thing is starting to get old, right? Never fear! I have some more ideas for you.

Sunday, December 13: Donate a Toy

Your elf asks your child to donate some toys that he or she no longer uses. I love this idea! I originally got it here, but I made a printable for you to use since that one is written to be the first letter from the elf. Here it is: give away a toy.

Monday, December 14: Family Game Night

14326cb38a6eaa49ecd3543f6433cd75I know, I know. It’s a Monday. But how better to capture your child’s heart than with a really unexpected way to spend time with you? If your schedule is really busy, you can even set the timer on game night. I love the setup pictured of the Elf playing a mini game. So cute!


Tuesday, December 15: The Angels

mzxf3hvu37jfj6i8f27y9pqThe Angel(s) appears! Here’s some info to read, think, and pray: The Angels

For your own spiritual growth ⇑: Waiting for the Wonder invites us to consider ourselves as lesser angels.


Wednesday, December 16: Kindness

Oh, this one might feel like it’s getting old, BUT for kids, repetition is key for learning, so your elf is going to notice kindness again today.

kindness note

Thursday, December 17: The Shepherd(s)


It’s time for the shepherds to arrive. We’re getting really close to Christmas. Here’s some stuff to read, think and pray: The Shepherds



Friday, December 18: Be Nice to Someone Different From You

Today your elf has another task for your child. Here’s a printable inviting him or her to be kind to someone different: Be nice to someone who is different from you.

For your own spiritual growth ⇑: Immigrant Hearts, an article over on BuidFaith, invites us to think of ourselves as immigrants.

Saturday, December 19: Christmas Lights!

christmas_lights_by_ssandiiee-d4hjoxfThis is a great family tradition that you probably already have. Go see some Christmas lights together. Perhaps your elf will bring a note or wake up tangled in some lights.


For your parent heart ♥: Hold It up to the Light. This is so beautiful, so just go read it.



P.S. Sarah Bessey is just amazing, and I love her writing, so I’m inviting you to read this second part of her Advent Series on Peace. It spoke to my soul today, so maybe it will speak to yours too.

Week Two

Week Two

Sunday, December 6

SAMSUNGThis is a great day at SMPC! The Alternative Gift Market is this Sunday. Have your elf leave out some money for your child to spend with a note or a copy of the catalog.

For your own spiritual growth ⇑: consider how God might be calling you to give at our alternative gift market.

Monday, December 7

Your elf provides a mission for your child today: call a relative (in town or far away) and sing a Christmas song. I got this idea from Connected Families, which has some wonderful Elf on the Shelf suggestions here.

Tuesday, December 8

41jhwzgwnyl-_sx300_Joseph arrives! Here’s some scripture, questions, and a prayer to use with him: Joseph.

For your own spiritual growth ⇑: Todd Agnew’s This is All I Have to Give is a powerful song from the perspective of Joseph. Check out this video and consider what it meant for Joseph to obey God.

Wednesday, December 9

Your elf notices an act of kindness again. Here’s the printable in case you want to use it again:

kindness note

Thursday, December 10

Today, your elf will have a can of food or other non-perishable item from your pantry. Your child is invited to choose another one to contribute to a canned food drive, or you can check out a list of dropoff sites for Loaves and Fishes here.

Friday, December 11

2012-12-3417-snowflakesSnowflakes! Your elf leaves out paper and scissors to make snowflakes together to hang for decoration in your child’s windows. If you have an older child, here are some fun patterns you could print and use, and for a younger child, some coloring sheets.


Saturday, December 12

christmas_tree_biscuitsToday, your elf is hanging out on your mixing bowl with some supplies to make Christmas cookies together (after, of course you come to rehearsal for Come to Bethlehem at 10:30 am in the sanctuary!). Perhaps you will bring them to the cookie exchange on December 17th, or maybe you will deliver them to a fire station. Or keep them to eat together. The idea is to create with each other.

For your parent heart ♥: The Importance of Making Memories with Our Children, by Bruce Reyes-Chow, former moderator of the PC(USA) and all around awesome dude.

Another week down… check back next week for Week 3!

Blessings, Rebecca

Week One!

Sunday, November 29

Your elf arrives! Make sure to put the book (print here) out to explain the elf.

advent devotional


For your own growth: Download or pick up a copy of the 2015 SMPC Advent Devotional. 


Monday, November 30

The elf brings some Advent prayers to use. Morning, meals, bedtime, whatever works. You can make an advent wreath to use with them, or not. Pdf version is here: Advent Prayers.

Advent Prayers

Tuesday, December 1

The stable arrives! We will put the nativity set out piece by piece until Jesus arrives. Here is a Bible reading, thought, and prayer to go with The Stable. We’re using Clara’s Fisher Price nativity set, because it’s what we have.


Wednesday, December 2

Notice something kind that your child has done in the past few days, and write him/her a note from the elf expressing some pride! Any paper will do, but if you want to make it more fun, print the image below and write it in the middle.

kindness note

For your parent heart ♥: Raising Caring Kids, an article from the “Making Caring Common” project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.



Thursday, December 3

Mary arrives. Read the story of Mary and the Angel from your children’s Bible or use this one: Mary.


Friday, December 4

Dance Party! Set your elf up with a CD, musical instrument, or ipod with a note explaining that tonight is a dance party. Here’s a spotify playlist you can use.

For your own growth ⇑: Here’s some grown-up, more introspective music that helps me frame Advent. I keep it on in the background while I’m working, but I also use it while I’m doing dishes or folding laundry.

Saturday, December 5

The end of the week! For today, your elf will have set out supplies to make Christmas ornaments together. Happy Hooligans is one of my FAVORITE websites both as an educator and a mom. There are great options for all ages. Choose one that doesn’t require you to have to buy much.


See you next week!

Blessings, Rebecca


Hi SMPC Parents,

We’ve been spending the last little while getting settled into our new house, and I had a couple of thoughts last week.

  1. Christmas in our new home. This is so exciting!
  2. I wonder where our Christmas decorations are.
  3. Ugh, it’s almost Elf on the Shelf time.

Mine and my husband’s parents have been helping us with childcare during the transition, so my mom was conveniently stationed on the couch in the living room. What followed was a vent-turned-epiphany, as we thought about how to use the Elf on the Shelf to reinforce the understanding of Christmas that we’d like to impart to our daughter instead of feeding into the commercial, achievement-based secular Christmas that is so prevalent in our culture.

And then I thought, hey, I should invite the parents in my congregation to do this with me, but they are really busy, so I’ll give them some stuff to use to make it easy. Please feel free to take this and make it your own, or just use it word for word. Whatever works for you! If you don’t have an elf, DON’T BUY ONE, just use something you have. Easy is the name of the game.

So, here’s what I’m going to give you:

  1. A book (print here or pick up at the church*) for your elf to bring on the first day explaining this version of the elf on the shelf.
  2. Ideas for one week at a time, including printables if applicable.
  3. Some things just for you! If we’re talking about a specific Bible character or fruit of the spirit, I’ll include a few links for your parents’ heart, something that will be quick and can be used to deepen your own faith.

Stay tuned. The Elf arrives November 29th (not December 1st), so I’ll have week one posted in the next few days!



*Coloring books are available in the reception area of the church office in a box wrapped in striped paper and labeled “Parent Supplies.” It’s up high so little eyes don’t see it…