My absolute favorite holiday tradition growing up was when our family would play “Christmas Elves” to another unsuspecting family during the 12 Days of Christmas. The whole family would get in on “choosing” which family we wanted to play Elves to – location and logistics were always taken into consideration, as we wanted to ensure we could remain secret Elves for as long as possible, if not to the very end. Sometimes we chose neighbors, sometimes fellow church members, sometimes a family we thought could use a little extra Christmas cheer. Each night of the 12 Days of Christmas, we’d drop off a little note and an inexpensive gift that my mom had prepared. As soon as we got home from school, all 4 of us kids were looking forward to our nightly delivery. We tried to always keep our identity a secret, even after the final delivery – some years we were successful, some not. While I can’t remember every family we chose each year… I remember all the FUN we had together as a family trying to pull off our sneaky little surprises!
If this is a tradition you’re interested in beginning with your family, I’ve made it super-duper simple for you with a freebie printable package…
First, you’ll need to choose a special family/person to whom you want to send some holiday cheer. Each night for the 12 Days of Christmas, plan to drop off an inexpensive gift with a fun little note to their doorstep in secret.
The “secret” part is probably the key to the fun… maybe you want to choose a family in a location that could give you easy “getaway” access either by foot or car, or a family where you can hide nearby to see their reaction each night. You could leave the nightly gift for them to find when they get home for the evening or even ding-dong-ditch it. Back in the ‘80s, when my family was pulling this off year after year, we were able to make “prank” calls telling them to check their doorstep – these days, Caller ID makes that method a little more difficult!
Second, to pull off this fun Christmas cheer stunt, you’ll need Hello & Goodbye Messages and the 12 Daily Notes to attach to each nightly gift. To compile the inexpensive gifts you’ll need, I’ve created an easy shopping list for you to work from. I guesstimate that when all is said and done, this activity should only cost about $25 (or less!) in total. That’s 12 nights of excitement, service, and mystery for your family and the family you choose for not very much money – it’s a lot of
It’s up to you how you want to present each gift… could be as simple as taping the note to the gift item, or maybe you’ll want to slip them into gift bags, add ribbon, etc. Have fun with it!
Third, for those 12 nights prior to Christmas, your family will have a blast leaving these gifts in secret… you’ll plot, you’ll plan, and you’ll hope you don’t get caught! It’s probably more fun for the giving family, than the receiving family… but can you imagine how surprised and touched your own family would be to be the recipients of the nightly surprises? I promise this activity will add all kinds of family fun and excitement to your holiday season!
Finally, at the end of the 12 Days, on Christmas Eve, you’ll leave behind a yummy treat, and you can choose whether you want to reveal yourselves (that is, if you haven’t been caught yet!), or keep your Christmas Elves identity a secret forever. :)
My mom stumbled across this idea decades ago, and over the years she modified it a bit (added the Hello & Goodbye Messages, etc.). I’ve taken it a step further… I modernized the language and have packaged it all together into a colorful printables package just for you! Be warned, the notes are “punny”, and all in line with the classic “12 Days of Christmas” carol. I promise, it’s a lot of fun! :)
The freebie printable package, with everything you’ll need, looks a little like this:
TWO OPTIONS FOR PRINTING THE MESSAGES & DAILY NOTES:
For easy printing by a photo printing service (this is my low-cost recommendation, at about $1 total, or even FREE if you find an online coupon code), simply upload these 15 images and print as 4x6 photos. Shopping list, Hello/Goodbye Messages, and Daily Notes are all included. Your images will be printed on heavier photo paper, and with a single cut or less they’ll be ready for gifting (trim guides stated for each image). Click on the example image, on the right, to see what I mean. :)
For easy printing on a color printer, 8.5x11” pages, choose the PDF version. Shopping list, Hello/Goodbye Messages, and Daily Notes are all included. You may want to print on cardstock or mount each print on heavier paper before gifting (trim guides stated for each image).
To download the 12 Days of Christmas :: Christmas Elves Holiday Tradition package for printing, simply click on either version button above, and a new window will open to the download locations in minus. Save the file(s) to your computer, and they’re yours!
The 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 13th!
If you would like to blog about this free printable package, please accompany any images from my site with a credit and link back to this post. As a courtesy, please do not link directly to a downloadable file but rather to this page. Thank you!
I always love to see the creative ways you put my freebies to use. Please be sure to send me links or pictures! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with them.
This time around, I especially want to hear how your families enjoyed this fun little tradition – were you successful at not getting caught all 12 days, did you reveal yourselves at the end or keep ‘em guessing?? I can’t wait to hear! :)
P.S. I’ve placed a handy-dandy “Pin It” button on the bottom left for your pinning pleasure!