Rosie Johnson Illustrates
Freelance illustrator

Notes from the studio (it’s a shed)

Christmas kindness suggestions- Something Yule actually stick to this holiday season

I have always loved Christmas and really valued the traditions of my youth. My parents and grandparents used to wait until we'd gone to bed on Christmas Eve and decorate the house with incredibly detailed and imaginative winter scenes which we would come down to on Christmas Morning. Much as I'd love to do that, I'm always too frantically wrapping presents and drinking Santa's tipple to guarantee I'd have the time or energy. Or sobriety. And yes, before you ask, I did grow up in a children's book.

Despite not being as spectacular as my forebears, I did want to start a few manageable traditions in our house as our children are at the perfect age to con...I mean enchant.

elf on the shelf.jpg

I was familiar with the concept of Random Acts of Kindness. Doing nice things because it's nice to be nice. RAoK are things I'd like to do throughout the year though, rather than limit them to Christmas and I like them to be a bit more spontaneous than imposed.

I was also aware of the American tradition of the Elf on a Shelf- a frankly terrifying looking 1950s rag doll elf who does something new and 'hilarious' every evening of December for the kids to wake up to in the morning. That felt like a major Yuletide commitment. I can picture me being seriously resentful of that creepy little dude by about the 4th evening.

Then my friend introduced me to Kindness Elves. Instead of (or as well as) chocolate each day of Advent, the children get a little note from the kindness elves - you can have toy elves too or just a note from them. The tasks are simple and resource-light. Things like 'Hold the door open for someone today' or 'Write a card for a neighbour.' These appealed to me, such a sweet idea without too much preparation. I could totally nail these and make them an achievable tradition.

So last year, on the 30th of November, I sat down to channel the intentions of the elves by writing 24 little notes with Christmassy icons in the corner. After 3 hours, a paracetamol or two and some suspicious looking flavoured vodka from a house party... I'd written 4. Those suckers took forever.

I was determined to be more prepared this year and I smugly prepared them in October. Over several days I hand painted the backgrounds and considered each task with care. I think I might have even hummed Little Donkey as I painted.

And I haven't stopped there.  To save you the bother of doing the same I have added them to my shop as a downloadable file. For just 99p you can do the RAoK of supporting a small business whilst simultaneously preparing for a December infusing thoughtfulness into the souls of the small people in your life.

Win win.

Let me know if you have other cheap, effective traditions that I won't be cursing one week in.

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