If you're looking to bring a seasonal helper into your home who isn't Scout Elf, we've got you covered. From friendly characters from Frozen to totally rad ninjas from the North Pole, here are our favorite Elf on the Shelf alternatives.

By Maressa Brown
November 12, 2019
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Ever since children's book The Elf on the Shelf was released in 2005, it has become a beloved holiday festivity in many homes, echoing similar traditions like Flora Johnson's Christopher Pop-In-Kins. The story introduced families to scout elves who serve as Santa's day-to-day reporters and who play an ongoing game of hide and seek by "hiding" in a new spot every morning. (In other words, parents are responsible for arranging their Scout Elf in an entertaining way every morning.)

While many families will want to incorporate the fun of having a scout elf in their home during the holiday season, others seek out alternatives that are just as enjoyable and perhaps tailored to a child's interests and background. Here are a few alternatives to the Elf on the Shelf we personally love.

Credit: Amazon

Reindeer in Here

Created by a dad who wasn't into the idea of Scout Elf spying on kids, the Reindeer is meant to be an early first present from Santa that will stay with each child and go on daily adventures with them throughout the month of December. The backstory, according to the website:

"The Reindeer have been sent by Santa to learn about each child’s true Christmas wishes by celebrating their uniqueness and that being different is normal. Each child names their Reindeer. Then, on Christmas eve, the child puts the Reindeer underneath the Christmas tree so Santa can deliver each child’s true Christmas wishes and then pick up the Reindeer for their long journey back to the North Pole where it lives the rest of the year with Santa."

The Reindeer in Here plush and book set is $29.90 on Amazon.

Credit: Amazon

Mench on the Bench

The Mensch on a Bench was created by a Jewish father who wanted to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday while adding new traditions to the family. Moshe the Mensch (which means a person of integrity and honor in Yiddish) and his family are on a mission to inspire others to be honorable mensches. Mosche has mishpucha (family) you can bring into your home, as well: Ask Bubbe, Hannah the Hanukkah Hero, Dreidel Dog, Ask Papa, and Mitzvah Moose.

The Mench on the Bench book and toy set is $28.70 on Amazon.

Credit: Amazon

North Pole Ninjas

The North Pole Ninjas are Santa's special elves, selected for their ability to help carry out top-secret missions that are all about helping, giving, caring, and listening. They come alongside a picture book that recalls their ancient legend, and then, readers are given Ninja missions: 50 special tasks that encourage the spreading of holiday spirit and sharing of kindness and love.

The book and huggable, plush "sensei" is $18.79 on Amazon.

Credit: Amazon

Hide-n-Hug Olaf

The beloved character from Frozen is the star of this picture book. The gist: You hide Olaf around your home (no special poses required), and when kids find him, he gets a hug. This alternative could be especially perfect this holiday season, given that kids are sure to be thoroughly obsessed with Frozen 2, which hits theaters on November 22.

The book, which comes with a plush Olaf, is $6.74 on Amazon.

Maccabee on the Mantel

The Maccabee Hanukkah Gift set is another Elf on the Shelf alternative for Jewish families. The gift set complete with a plush Maccabee, a wooden dreidel, and his book is $29.95 at Barnes & Noble.

Credit: Amazon

Santa's Lazy Gnome

The lazy gnome is most busy parents' dream come true, because he reports back to Santa, but just hangs out on your mantle all season long.

The Santa's Lazy Gnome set is $29.90 on Amazon.


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