My feed

John Lewis Advent Calendar 2023, Day 4: Ditch the Elf with this tradition

Do you “hate the stupid Elf doll's stupid little face” like HangTheJib? Never fear, we have an alternative that’s a bit more traditional and a lot less effort. 

By Rebecca Roberts | Last updated Dec 13, 2023

John Lewis Advent Calendar 2023, Day 4: Ditch the Elf with this tradition

Created by

In the realm of Christmas traditions, Elf on the Shelf has stirred mixed reactions on our Talk boards over recent years. Mumsnet users either tolerate him, or absolutely despise the “abomination” (CwmYoy’s words, not ours). 

So, for 2023, we’re recommending a tradition that’s a bit more, er, charming than the Elf. 

Inspired by Mumsnet user Oddboots, placing robins around your home can be a heartwarming, more traditional alternative for families who aren’t keen on the Elf’s mischievous antics. 

From the 10th of December, model robins start appearing around the house, one [a] day until the 12th arrives on Christmas eve.

They hang around until [the] 12th night when they all go and leave a gift for the children to say thank you for hosting them.

My children are adults now, we have done this since they were tiny, before Elf on the Shelf was a thing people had heard of.

Well, Oddboots, we’re sure there are certainly families out there who would much prefer the presence of a robin or two throughout the holiday season instead of the elf. So, this is a great idea and more charming alternative in our opinion! 

But why a robin? Well, these feathered friends are synonymous with winter and evoke a sense of cosiness and serenity. Plus, unlike the Elf’s elaborate escapades that most parents forget to set up and only remember once they’re already in bed, placing robins around the home is effortless yet equally enchanting for kids of all ages. 

Add this cute robin mug to your home instead

Emma Bridgewater Robin Half Pint Mug, £25

Our verdict

Boot the Elf off the shelf and add this adorable mug to your home instead. Whether it's sitting on your mug tree, is perched on your kitchen shelves, or is placed on your coffee table filled with delicious hot chocolate, it's just the thing to add some festive yet classy cheer this December.

Embrace more feathered friends throughout your home with the addition of these:

The Just Slate Company Robin Napkins

"Christmas napkins with a robin on for each guest."


The Just Slate Company Robin Napkins, £30

The Just Slate Company

Buy now

What is the John Lewis Advent calendar 2023?

For the first 12 days of December, we’re serving up Christmas inspiration, gift ideas and thoughtfully curated products that carry the seal of approval from our very own Mumsnet users. Make sure you check back daily!

About John Lewis

Known for much more than just those tear-jerking Christmas adverts, John Lewis is a department store that will accommodate all your needs. From home, garden, electricals, beauty, and fashion it's the perfect place to find a special gift for someone, or for yourself.

About the author

Rebecca Roberts is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet, she brings parents content designed to make life easier. As a mum-of-two, she knows all too well how difficult it can be organising Christmas. So, she's fully invested in finding the best Christmas gift ideas, offers and promotions for families this year. 

Beyond her role as an editor here at Mumsnet, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers and when she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at a local playgroup, in a nearby coffee shop, or walking the dog.