Jay and I discussed it and thought that maybe we should just get the elf anyway to show the kids that it's silly fun and they would ultimately still get gifts under the tree. Teach them that we don't give gifts based on behavior, but because of grace. Well, when I told Jay how much the elf cost, he pooped a brick. No way are we going to spend that much money to scare our kids and add another thing to remember to do at night! Jay's alternative idea included a stuffed animal that left poop all over the house. There really wasn't a link to Christmas, we just thought it would be funny. The idea didn't pan out, though.
All that to say!!! Here's what we ended up putting together. The kids got a letter in the mail from Stewart. Stewart works for Santa but is so shy he doesn't want to be seen. He's not here to check on behavior, but rather make sure the kids know why we really celebrate Christmas and to take a gift list back to Santa. Everyday, the kids have to find Stewart's box. In the box is a scripture verse, the kids have to look up the verse, read and discuss it. Once they're done, they each write down something that they want for Christmas and put them in the box.
The scripture verses will be random, chosen by.....ummmm, me. We already have an Advent calendar that tells the story of Jesus' birth and a Jesse Tree that tells the story of the Bible beginning to end (ish). I thought it was a good way to get the kids reading and asking questions. Plus, I'll have a very precise list of what they want for Christmas. Stewart told them they could write the same thing down more than one time to show that they really wanted that item.
Bella is convinced that Stewart is an elf, but we will never know...I have been forbidden from trying to sneak a picture of Stewart.