Create a Little Christmas Magic Just For Kids!

In this guest post, my lovely friend Marieka shares her family’s alternative to the Elf on the Shelf tradition and I love that you can adapt this idea to suit any set of figurines that your children already love.

A magical elf on the shelf alternative using your child's own toys

We love Christmas in our house. Christmas carols can be heard playing in our house all through the month of December. We love to build (and eat of course!) gingerbread houses, bake shortbread cookies and homemade rocky road chocolate. I love to see the look on my children’s faces as they unwrap their gifts from under the tree, squealing with delight and eager to play with their new treasures. We go to church on Christmas morning to celebrate the wonderful miracle of Jesus’ birth and then we eat and celebrate for the rest of the day, and seeing as Christmas is in the summer time in Australia we usually always end up down the beach swimming in the afternoon or early evening.

Whilst preparing for last Christmas I was searching the internet for fun new traditions (at the time my little boy was 5 and my little girl 8 months old) and the little Christmas Elf on the Shelf was everywhere! If you don’t know it, Elf on the Shelf involves purchasing an Elf that arrives at your house under the premise that he has been sent from the North Pole on behalf of Santa as a little spy, to make sure your children have been well behaved. To add to the excitement parents have a lot of fun with the Elf – setting up all sorts of mischievous adventures at night while the children are sleeping, and then when the children wake up in the morning they are so delighted to see what their elf has been doing.

I just loved this idea and I knew my children would get a real kick out of it. I wasn’t too keen on having an elf though or of the story of reporting back to Santa; so instead of using an elf I enlisted my little boy’s favorite toys, Woody and the Toy Story Gang, to help me out (although this could easily be any collection of your child’s favourite toys).

Elf on the Shelf Alternative Idea for Kids

Each night when the children were fast asleep, I took the toys and arranged them so they appeared to be having all sorts of Christmas related adventures!

Here is a list of the things that Woody and the gang got up to:

  • The first night they were in the fridge eating the chocolates and then the next they were in the Christmas tree looking for candy canes!

Elf on the Shelf Alternative Idea for Kids

  • Zurg had captured Buzz by wrapping him up in toilet paper. The next night the gang came to Buzz’s rescue and sought revenge on Zurg by using masking tape to tape him to the wall. But then the gang made nice with Zurg and he was able to join in with the fun, this time with piggyback races in the kitchen.

Elf on the Shelf Alternative Idea

  • Buzz managed to run the water in the bath for the gang to enjoy a dip and a spin around the bath in a boat.
  • The toys kicked back with the iPad and had a movie night complete with a popcorn snack.
  • One morning they were caught driving the car. Now we are not sure if we caught them leaving or returning home!
  • They wrapped themselves up in Christmas paper.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Alternatives

  • They played hide and seek in the living room.
  • They had the Toy Story scrabble game out and were playing it on the kitchen table.
  • They were digging in the dirt in the backyard using the dump trucks and spades.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Alternatives

  • They played with Mr Potato head. We had a good chuckle at Rex dressed up like Mrs Potato Head.
  • The gang was helping their buddy Buzz to reach his dream of flying by hoisting him up on the Jolly Jumper.
  • Cheeky Woody found the white board marker and drew funny faces on the mirror for his friends. The next night the gang pinned Woody down and drew a funny face on him.

Christmas Elf on the Shelf Alternative Ideas

  • The gang  came down with a cold so they spent the night sick in bed. Tissues and cough lollies surrounded them, but they were not down and out for very long as the next night their antics were back on!
  • They were caught sitting around the ‘camp fire’ (a candle) roasting marshmallows on pop sticks.

Magical Christmas fun for families

  • One night they were having a mini concert, playing Jingle Bells I believe, using our children’s musical instruments
  • We caught them pinching the lollies from the advent calendar!

Elf on the Shelf Alternative Ideas for Christmas

  • One night our toy dinosaurs captured Woody, but his friends came to his rescue and the next night iIt was an all out war! A snowball war to be exact. The toys were hiding behind walls built of Duplo and were throwing cotton balls at each other.

Magical Christmas fun for kids with Elf on the Shelf Alternative Ideas

  • The gang fulfilled their need for speed by racing on top of toy cars down our toy car ramp.
  • They posed for a group Christmas photo in front of the camera, there were even some funny photos snapped on the camera.
  • They had sack races, or rather sock races in the living room.

Elf on the Shelf Alternative

  • Naughty Zurg was caught cooking up some ‘bacon’. Poor Hamm was in the frying pan but don’t worry the gang came to Hamm’s rescue. The next night they were educating Zurg about what are the best foods to eat, ‘Eat your fruit and veg not your friends,’ with the iPad out with pictures of fruit and vegetables.
  • My little boy decided to test the gang out. He tied Woody up and took him to bed with him at night. But the gang launched a rescue mission to try and rescue Woody from beneath the sheets. They had the toy crane out and were lowering Jesse into the bed to rescue Woody.
  • They toilet papered the Christmas tree.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas and Alternatives

  • They headed outside for a wagon ride around the yard and the next night they got a little more adventurous and took a bike ride around the back yard.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas and Alternatives

My children absolutely loved every moment of this little tradition, and I must admit my husband and I had a great time with it too. My little boy would get up each morning and go looking through the house for the gang to see what they had been up to. Woody and the gang got up to something silly every night in the month of December leading up to Christmas morning where they were gathered under the tree wrapped in fairy lights with a sign wishing us a Merry Christmas. The next morning they returned to their usual spot on the shelf in my son’s room. My little boy still talks about the silly adventures they had and often wonders if they will be back to do it again!

mariekaMy name is Marieka but since I was a little girl my loved ones have always called me Meek. I am the mum of two children. Once an early childhood teacher I now travel the world with my family and home-school my children. I love to write. I love to capture life in photographs, mainly of my two beautiful children. I love to travel, seeing the world and experiencing the fullness of life. I love God and I just listen and go where He leads. You can read more of my adventures at


  1. I love this idea so much! Thanks 🙂

  2. Nicola Moir says:

    What a great idea! Can I ask which figured these are? We have the large toy story characters but would love some smaller ones! x

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