Feeling the true spirit of Christmas has been lost, one Littlehampton family has decided spending time together is more important to them than presents.
Dave and Krystal Matthews and their five children, Lacey, 12, Tia, 11, Joey, nine, Ty, eight, and Tobias, three, are joining in the growing Elf on a Shelf tradition and using it to spread a message of sharing and caring.
Instead of going around the house being naughty, as is expected of the Elf on a Shelf, the elves are leaving money for the children to donate to charity.
Dave and Krystal explained: “We as a family feel the true spirit of Christmas has been lost, so we have decided not to exchange gifts this year but instead to simply spend time together and to give money to people who need it more than we do.
“We have used the ever-growing elf trend to our advantage and we are donating £10 per day for 22 days of Advent to give to charity.
“The children are doing all of the deciding and we are documenting where the money is going.
“By using the elves, it’s keeping the magic of Christmas alive for the children and we are hoping it will encourage more people to give a little something to those in need.”
The family have shared a letter on Facebook explaining their plans and it has had a great response.
Lynne Healy, a friend of the family, said: “This has touched my heart deeply - a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.”
The letter is addressed to the five children and signed off Elfis, Elfina and Bubba Elf.
In it, the elves explain they have had a special meeting with Santa Claus, where they heard about the ‘lovely idea this Christmas to give up your presents and to give to charity instead’.
The letter says: “This is the nicest thing you could all do at Christmas time because the message of Christmas is to give instead of receive.”
The elves say they are not going to be naughty and instead they will help the children by bringing £10 on each day of Advent and leaving the money in different places in the house.
“Your job is to find it and to work together as a team and decide which charity you want to give it to and take it in turns to tell us why you have chosen this charity,” the letter reads.
The children can allocate the money as they choose and are encouraged to take the elves on any other good deeds, as they ‘love to see all the nice things you do’.
The elves have promised the children a special surprise when they go to Butlin’s for their holiday, as long as they give away all the money and leave letters explaining why.