I kind of don't get it... Elf on the Shelf... sure, it's kind of cute, I guess... for a few days... but the number of comments I've either heard or read that said something along the lines of, "How am I supposed to come up with 24 creative ideas to do with the Elf?" or "I hope I don't forget to move the Elf before going to bed!", kind of puts me off. Oh, and then there's the cost factor. I've Googled, "How much does it cost to do Elf on the Shelf?," and it actually didn't come up with the answer I was looking for. Perhaps I'm wrong having never participated in Elf of the Shelf, but some friends' posts on Facebook look elaborate... and costly. Hey, if they choose to spend their money that way... that's fine, it's just not the way I choose to spend our money. That doesn't mean, however, that we don't do fun things in the run-up to Christmas.
On Saturday, we had "Christmassy Day" - a day filled with fun, yet inexpensive activities to kickoff the Christmas season.
Christmassy Day started with Santa Pancakes - simple American-style pancakes as the face (I cut my kids' pancakes for them, but it looks better when the pancakes are whole), sliced strawberries for the hat, squirty cream for the hat and beard (I ran out of cream, so Santa didn't get a mustache this time) and a couple of chocolate chips for the eyes. Simples. I bought these super cute Mickey and Minnie plates from Tesco for £1 each.
The girls wrote letters to Santa - okay, okay - before anyone says anything, I do like to keep the "wonder" of Christmas alive with the belief in Santa, but we also talk a lot about Christmas being about Jesus' birthday. The girls were given letters with envelopes and stickers by a good friend, so this only cost us a price of a few stamps. If your child would like to send letter to Santa, do so by Friday, 7th December to the address on the Post Office's website.
Christmas music played most of the day on YouTube for free! Ok, there was the odd advert, but I love getting music for FREE! We do have a speaker docking station, but if you don't, perhaps you could use YouTube on your telly, a portable Bluetooth speaker or a speaker on your laptop or computer.
For lunch, we had cute Christmas tree sandwiches, cut with a cookie cutter, and Christmas tree pretzels. These pretzels are soooo good! And they're from Aldi. Find them. Buy them. Yummy.
On Christmassy Day afternoon we baked gingerbread cookies. Admittedly, the girls didn't end up loving these due to the somewhat strong black treacle taste, but Jeff and I like them, and they had fun making them with me.
No Christmassy Day would be complete without putting up the Christmas tree. The girls really enjoyed helping to put up the tree and put on the ornaments/baubles. I haven't even had to move many of the ornaments! They did really well.
We also watched a Christmas movie on Netflix. There are so many Christmas movies on telly this month, or perhaps you could borrow a DVD from the library or friend.
Ellen requested to have a mini Christmas dinner on Christmassy Day, so we did minus dessert since we had the gingerbread cookies and Christmas crackers.
There may not be an Elf on our Shelf, but our children are having fun opening their advent calendars - they have 3! - each morning and wearing their very cute Cath Kidston Christmas pjs for the 3rd Christmas (that I bought on sale). Other free or cheap and fun activities we're doing before Christmas are attending the girls' school Christmas Fair, making felt stockings with kits I must have bought very cheaply after Christmas last year (I'm not entirely sure where they came from), baking more cookies, visiting our local National Trust property to visit the mansion that has been beautifully decorated for Christmas and an organised lantern walk around our neighbourhood that finishes off with carols. I don't believe that the lead up to Christmas has to be fancy or expensive, just memorable to create family traditions. I look forward to learning what you're doing with your family in the run-up to Christmas, so please comment below or on the FTP Facebook page. Take care.