Seek and Find Jesus – An alternative to Elf on the Shelf

*** Let me start this post by making it clear that I am in NO way dissing the Elf. I think that, like every other Christmas-themed festivity, with some Spirit-inspired creativity, little Elfie on the Shelfie can be used in such a way that points children to Jesus.

In fact, I bought our family an Elf on the Shelf several years ago. Never mind that my kids were already in their teen years… (sigh). It just looked like so much fun on Pinterest, and that Elf got into so many messes that I thought we could create one more “childhood tradition” in our home. It didn’t work. (Boo hoo!) My sweet husband MADE our kids participate in looking for the elf, etc… and everyone joined in only because they loved me. That was sweet, but the next year, I gave the Elf away.

I don’t, however, like to promote the story book that goes along with the elf, so hopefully our little Elfie is getting ready to appear in someone else’s home with their {much younger} children… causing chaos and also teaching some valuable truths about life and living it in Jesus.

Last year (after I gave Elfie away), my little two year old friend Samantha spent some time in my house. Finally I had a child… and now had no elf. But I did have a Baby Jesus laying in a manger. This figurine was child-friendly – part of a nativity set given to us for our children play with, and had been the center character of many a Barbie-Star Wars-Toy Story-Christmas manger scene back in the day.

So, I made up a new game for Samantha to play: “Seek and Find Jesus.” I would hide the Baby Jesus somewhere (obvious, since she was just a toddler) in the house, then she would look until she found him. We would talk about how Jesus loves us and is what Christmas is all about.  After she would leave our house, I’d hide Jesus again so that the next time she came over, we could seek and find Jesus again.

I’ve been thinking about that game all year. Isn’t this what Christmas is really about? The Seeking and Finding of Jesus Christ?  It’s what the shepherds and the Wise Men did. It’s what any of us do who hunger for The Way, The Truth, and The Life… We seek and we find Jesus.

We are promised in Jeremiah 29:13 that, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (NLT)

Seek & Find Jesus ~ An alternative to Elf on the Shelf.

Maybe this year a new Christmas game/tradition could be instituted in your home. I’m still pondering all that can be done with it.  Maybe one of these days it will be a full downloadable packet that will make it super easy for every household to participate.  But so far, this is how “Seek and Find Jesus” could work:

“Seek and Find Jesus”

Materials needed:

*Baby Jesus figurine (preferably attached to a manger, since that’s how the shepherds found Jesus and since it will be a larger object than a lone baby figurine.)


*Treasure Cards (Scripture Verses that teach, or encourage, or instructions that speak to your household’s stage of life & need.)  Treasure Card ideas and instructions are below.


*Optional: A few treats to tuck away with baby Jesus – just occasionally if desired, since Jesus IS the Giver of all gifts, and easily obtained supplies for object lessons and extra activities.


Wrap up the baby Jesus figurine as a gift, and attach a note similar to the one below.  Present the gift on Thanksgiving night or Dec. 1, or on the day you put up your Christmas tree… or whenever your schedule allows.  Just be prepared to hide Jesus and a Treasure Card somewhere different every day/night from that point on through Christmas Day.

Read the note attached to the gift (see below).

Explain to the family that when the Wise Men heard about the birth of Jesus Christ, they traveled a great distance to seek and find Him, and that like the Wise Men, you are going to look for Jesus and the Treasure of His Word every day from now until Christmas.

You can make this game as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. The main thing about it is that you use it as a tool to:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.”  

Isaiah 55:6, NIV




Dear _____________

In this package is a special gift that represents the greatest gift ever given to the world: Jesus Christ. When the Wise Men heard about the birth of Jesus, they packed up their things and began a long journey to find Him. Jesus wasn’t hiding from them, they just didn’t know where He was, so they had to look for Him before finding Him. They were wise not only because that was their title, but because they did what the Bible tells all of us to do, to seek Jesus.

“Search for the Lord and for his strength;  continually seek him.”
1 Chron. 16:11, NLT

And, the Bible promises us in Jeremiah 29:13 that if we seek Jesus, we will find Him when we search for Him with all of our hearts.

Seeking Jesus means to look for His presence in everything around us… in all we have, in whatever we do, and in all things that happens to us. Jesus loves us very much and is active in our lives, even when we don’t realize it.

So will you play this game of “Seek and Find Jesus” with your family?

Each day baby Jesus will be hidden somewhere, and with Him will be a Treasure (a word of wisdom or some instruction for the day, or sometimes a treat). Whoever seeks and finds Jesus leads the others to Him, just as we are to do in our lives.

This is a fun way to remember that “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” John 3:16 (CEV) Because “God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn’t far from any of us…”  Acts 17:27 (CEV)

So let’s get ready to “Seek and Find Jesus” this Christmas season!

 Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;

    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.

Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;

    set your heart on a life of Understanding.

That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,

    and won’t take no for an answer,

Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,

    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,

Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;

    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (MSG)


SAMPLE  TREASURE CARDs AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE (The Treasure cards are made of God’s Word, which we are to treasure in our hearts.  Anything else you do with them can be as easy or as detailed as you desire.  These are a few of the 30 days of Treasure Card ideas I’m putting together.)

Day 1.  Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Treasure Card: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Optional treat: “It’s time for a favorite family snack!” Have a favorite snack and drink, or milk & cookies, or popcorn & hot chocolate ready to enjoy together.

Needed: A favorite snack; For Extra Activity: canned goods, notecards

Object lesson: While munching, talk about the necessity of food in order for our bodies to live and grow.  Then discuss what Jesus meant in saying that He is the bread, etc.  Help your children apply the truth that just like we need physical bread to physically survive, we need Jesus to thrive and grow so that we can live both here and eternally in Heaven.

Prayer time: Close this time with prayer, thanking God for His provision of both physical and spiritual food and drink.

Extra activity: Gather some canned goods and deliver them to a shelter or food pantry. Include John 6:35 on the note. Be sure to pray for those who are hungry, both physically and physically, asking Jesus to fill them in every way.


Day 18.  The Christmas Tree and it’s meaning.

Treasure Card: “But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” 1 John 1:9

Optional Treat: A new dry erase marker set or chalkboard set, or a new eraser or pencil. Draw or put a sticker of a Christmas tree on the treat.

Needed: A dry erase board, markers, eraser; or chalk board, chalk, eraser; or paper and pencil with eraser.

Object Lesson: The Christmas tree reminds us of the tree used to make the cross where Jesus died. It reminds us of just how much Jesus loves each one of us and of the forgiveness we have when we are sorry for our sins.

When we sin (do things we know we shouldn’t do), it leaves a mark. [Mark on a dry erase board or chalk board or piece of paper.] But Jesus promises that if we confess (admit) that we have done wrong and ask Him to forgive us, He will. In fact, once He has forgiven us, He erases the mark we have made. [Completely erase what you earlier wrote.] Just like when we erased the mark and it can’t be seen anymore, when we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, Jesus doesn’t see that sin anymore. He sees us as clean and forgiven.

Prayer Time: Thank Jesus for His gift of forgiveness! Ask Him to use the Christmas tree to help you remember His love and the clean slates we can have when Jesus forgives us.

Extra Activity: Decorate or create a small chalkboard or dry erase board and use it as a reminder of favorite Scriptures or truths of Jesus’ love



And, just because I still think that the whole Elf on the Shelf idea (tweaked a bit… since I don’t like the story that goes with it) can be used to honor Jesus, I’m collecting ideas on my Pinterest board, “The ‘Elf’ who loves Jesus.”  … just in case we ever get another Elf in the house and some household members willing to play along. 😉  I’ll be posting more ideas about that soon.  🙂

In the mean time, if you would like to know other ways to keep Jesus Christ AS the focus of tHIS CHRISTmas season, I invite you to check out my e-book, Keeping Christ AS Christmas ~ Preparing Hearts, Households, and Homes for Peace this Christmas Season.

written by Jennifer Crawford Walker

Looking for PEACE this Christmas season? Get your copy of Keeping Christ AS Christmas today. $4.99. For all e-readers.

E-book Keeping Christ AS Christmas: Preparing hearts, households, and homes for PEACE this Christmas season. Click here for more details, and “like”the Keeping Christ AS Christmas facebook page to share YOUR ideas on keeping Jesus as the Center of the Christmas season.

Whether you play “Seek and Find Jesus” or “The Elf who loves Jesus,” or whatever else that you do this holiday season, keep this truth as your motto and Jesus will be glorified in every festivity:

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:17


About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at


  1. Such a super cute idea. We always keep Jesus out of the manger scene until Christmas morning so the kids are always looking to see if he’s in the mange yet during December. I like this added game then on Christmas morning they’ll know right where to find him.

  2. I love this! Thank you 🙂