Sometimes in the hustle and the bustle of Christmas it can be challenging to focus on and teach the reason for the season. Between the gift buying, gift receiving, parties, events, and gatherings its easy to get caught up in life and forget those little details of why we celebrate. What’s even harder is remembering to talk to your kids about the meaning of Christmas and why we make it such a big deal. This year, instead of having an Elf on the Shelf visit your house (or maybe in addition to), invite the Shepard on the Search. Its a fun way to incorporate the message of Jesus’ birth into each day as we approach Christmas.
I Quit the Elf on the Shelf
When the Elf on the Shelf first appeared on the market I thought it was so cute and fun. So I bought one. At the time I only had two kids and they were very young. I don’t even think they really got it entirely, but I taught them how to search for our Elf, Sammy, each morning and they began to understand the concept.
The following year the Elf on the Shelf exploded in popularity. It was everywhere and more Elf products started popping up. Pictures on social media (Facebook at the time was still a new thing) started to circulate of everyone’s Elf. Since then, Google and Pinterest have become full of creative ways to “stage” your Elf.
I began to feel like it was all too much, and all too commercialized. I wanted to simplify our Christmas and bring it back to Faith. So, I quit the Elf. I know, how could I do such a thing right? Well, like I said my boys were young so it didn’t really phase them, and I didn’t even replace it with anything. Until, a few years and two more babies later a friend told me about the Shepard on the Search.
Finding the Shepard on the Search
I’m not going to lie, when my friend sent me a text about the Shepard on the Search, I was hesitant. I thought the concept was a great way to incorporate the teaching of Jesus’ birth. But, dang, it takes a lot of effort to remember to move that little guy to a different spot every single night.
After thinking about it I decided I could probably handle the extra responsibility, you know, for baby Jesus. So I ordered one and started our tradition of the Shepard on the Search.
How the Shepard on the Search Works
It’s pretty much just like the Elf on the Shelf, except the lesson isn’t about your child’s behavior, but about the story of baby Jesus.
On the 1st of December the Shepard appears. It comes with a book to sit down and read with your children that tells about a young Shepard’s journey to find baby Jesus. You get to chose a name for your Shepard with your kids, we named ours Sheppy. Super original, huh? 😉
Each night after your kids go to bed, you must move the Shepard to a new spot, representing his search for the Baby. I actually enlist my bigger kids to help with this and they enjoy being involved. You can be as creative as you want, there are plenty of Elf on the Shelf ideas you can “borrow” for your Shepard.
Each morning your kids will wake up and go on their own journey to find the Shepard. They will love it just as much as the Elf and you will feel good about the lesson you are teaching.
Here’s an idea. We have a cute Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set that comes out every Christmas. It’s another toy that keeps the topic of Jesus present that the kids enjoy. Our Shepard always finds his way there on one of the nights, and it gives us the opportunity to talk about baby Jesus in the manger.
The Shepard comes with a box that turns into a manger scene. On the 2nd to the last night, so Christmas Eve Eve, I place the Shepard near it. Then on Christmas Eve the Shepard returns to his box. Or, as far as the kids understand, Bethlehem, because on Christmas morning he is gone after finding baby Jesus.
What if you already have an Elf on the Shelf?
If you already have an Elf on the Shelf then have your Elf send a note to your kids letting them know that he is sending his “cousin”, the Shepard, this year to teach them about Christmas.
Another option would be to have them both in action. Your Shepard can teach your Elf about Jesus and together they can journey to find the Baby in the manger.
Creative Ideas for Your Faith-Focused Shepard
Like I said before there are hundreds of creative and fun ideas for hiding your Shepard that you can use to make it extra fun while you instill the meaning of Christmas in your children.
Get the printable for this one! Just click the picture below.
One more idea from the printable…
You can find many more fun ideas for your Shepard from Happy Home Fairy.
A New Christmas Tradition with the Shepard on the Search
Whatever your Christmas traditions are as a family, I totally encourage adding the Shepard in. My younger ones love waking up to search for him, and my older kids truly enjoy helping me hide him every night. It is a great Faith-focused part of our holiday season that they all look forward to. As a parent I find joy in the fact that it teaches my children a little bit about what Christmas stands for and who baby Jesus was and is.
18 thoughts on “Faith-Focused Alternative to the Elf on the Shelf”
This is such a cute idea, but I wonder if my kids are to old for this. My youngest are 8 and 9.
My 8 year is still into it and still believes in Santa. But yes your years of the kids believing are numbered. As far as faith teaching they are never too old but I’m sure there is a good age appropriate option for older ones 🙂
I will have to look into an age appropriate option. Thanks for responding!
Aw I love this idea!! We don’t do the Elf either but this is so cute! Pinning it!!
Thanks Erin. It’s been a great tradition for our family 🥰
Love this idea!
This is such an incredible idea! I like this! We are soooo doing this. We try to override the worlds mainstream influence on our kids by showing them the truth around the season! Thanks for sharing
Same! I didn’t want to get trapped in the commercialization of Christmas but still wanted to make it fun!
I had no idea this was a thing! We don’t use elf on the shelf as my girls are still a little young to understand, but I think we’re going to go this route instead when they are a little older!
It a great way to have fun and teach them life long lessons ❤️
Such a great idea! What a fun way for them to learn!
It’s been a great Christmas tradition for our family 🙂
I love this idea! I have never seen The Shepherd on the Search, but I am definitely going to check into it for this year. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, it’s a great tradition!
What a cute idea and something that is faith based. I have refused to buy an Elf on the Shelf because I really didn’t want to have to think of another place to put him each night. This is great!!
I know, it’s a little bit of a chore. I put reminders in my phone so I don’t forget. But the lesson is worth the trouble!
I love this idea we have an elf already but I think I will have to switch over to this, thanks for sharing.
It’s a great tradition!