The More the Merrier [Celebrating Christmas with Santa, the Elf, and Jesus]

The Christmas season is finally upon us! The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, and the online forums debating pro-Santa vs. anti-Santa are raging. Wait, what?

Nothing gets my coals burning more than the age-old debate of Papa Noel. But it’s not for the reason you may think. I believe this debate can be the quickest way to distract us from the true significance of this season and diminish the Christmas spirit. Why do you have to choose?

Can’t they all get along?

When I think of Santa and the little Elf on the shelf, I don’t treat them like they are taking away the meaning of Christmas or something else I have to remember to do. I use them as powerful tools to get on a kid’s level and talk to them about Jesus in a memorable way. Here are some ways we use all three during the Christmas season.

1. Santa brings three gifts

RSMB has already covered this in what proved to be a great post that many of you love, so I won’t repeat how or why we do this. But as a family with two boys, I can say that we have done this from the beginning, and now our oldest is 5 and able to begin connecting some dots when we talk about giving, receiving, and the significance of three gifts.

2. The Elf is our advent calendar

I know the Elf was created to cause mischief and report back to Santa if you were a good boy or girl, but we use it as a way to teach the boys about Jesus, advent, and that Christmas isn’t just when Jesus was born, but it’s a reminder that he came to the world and he is coming again. Some mornings, our Elf points to scripture to read together, encourages us to clean out toys to donate, or even gets all the fixings to make cookies for our neighbors. He doesn’t do something meaningful every morning, but we use him to teach some of the same lessons we always teach in a new, exciting way without feeling forced.

3. Jesus was born

Sometimes I think we can get so wrapped up in if we are doing Christmas well. “Am I forgetting any traditions?” “Will my kids like the presents we got them?” I wonder if you were to ask people what they really loved about Christmas. Would it be family time, cozy weather, and giving gifts? Or would it be the fact that our Savior came to Earth and made all things new? THIS IS HUGE. And I don’t want to wait until our kids are older to begin teaching this. Do our conversations revolve around this concept with our kids even before Christmas? Do we talk about how we can pray for the people in the houses while driving around looking at Christmas lights, or do we get more excited about picking out matching PJs and making hot chocolate for the car ride?

I don’t think Santa or the Elf distract us from the meaning of Christmas. I think sometimes we distract ourselves from the meaning of Christmas.

So whether you celebrate with any or all of these things, just remember that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas as long as whatever you do points back to Jesus. That’s what it all boils down to, and anything that causes strife or arguments around that is an easy way to lose focus.

So let’s all get along this Christmas season – that includes you, Santa!

Jenny lives with her husband, Joel, and their sons, Judah and Jonas, in Zachary, a suburb north of Baton Rouge. She works part-time as an editor and her favorite part of the week is when she gets to exchange her pencil skirt for yoga pants and pretend to be a SAHM for a few days. When she’s not toting her sons around town or saving her toddler's life one head dive off the couch at a time, she is designing invitations, stationery, and logos for local moms, brides, and professionals. Jenny’s been married since 2007, and she and Joel welcomed Judah into their lives in April 2012 and Jonas in March 2015. She loves to squeeze in as many date nights as possible and spends her free time chronicling her family’s adventures and recent designs on her personal blog, the Gilberts.


  1. Oh thank you so much for sharing about Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style and thank you for using it in your home! That makes my heart so happy! I love reading things like this and seeing Christ be taught in a super fun way to our future generations! Have a very merry Christmas!


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