When my girls were little, we picked up an Elf on the Shelf thinking it would be a fun new tradition for the holidays. And it was, for a time. While I never really got into the extreme elfing antics that you'll find on Pinterest, I enjoyed surprising my girls by posing their elf, Carol, in silly places and poses each morning. But then it happened: the moment that made me wish I'd never brought that elf into our home.

Carol had spent the day playfully digging into a small mound of M&M candies in my oldest daughter's room. That night, hours after both girls had gone to bed, I snuck into my daughter's room, put the candy in my pocket and picked Carol up to take her to her next hiding spot. About 30 minutes later, I went upstairs to investigate a strange mewing noise coming from my daughter's room. There, I found my oldest, weeping quietly into her pillow. When she saw me, she said, "I thought it was all real."

I cannot even begin to express how devastating it is to know that I'm the person who ruined the magic of childhood for my daughter. Because, of course, she put two and two together pretty quickly. If Carol isn't real, then Santa isn't real either. Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy? They all fell quickly after that.

Sure, I know there are worse ways to learn the truth about Santa, but it's hard as a mom to know that you destroyed one of your kid's fantasies. I should say that I have nothing against Carol. Her elfing brought us lots of giggles and happy moments. But I hated the fact that the pressure was all on me and my husband to create the memories. Because in the end, I cracked under all of that pressure.

The reindeer has arrived

So I was pleased to see that there's a new Christmas tradition taking hold, and it's one that solves the worst dilemmas created by the Elf and the Shelf. It's called "Reindeer in Here," and it was created by dad Adam Reed who took one look at that elf in the bookstore and decided that there had to be a better way to start a holiday tradition with his daughter, Peyton.

"She was the real impetus for this creation, because I couldn’t find any good Christmas tradition to start with her, and I certainly wasn’t going to introduce that creepy little elf into her life," Reed told me via email.

Unlike "that creepy little elf," the Reindeer in Here is a toy that visits children during the holidays not to report bad behavior to Santa, but to make sure that Santa has everything he needs to pick out the perfect gifts for the child. Children get to name their reindeer and all season long they are encouraged to hold it and interact with it, bringing it with them wherever they go. Most importantly, there's no stress on parents to come up with new and creative ways to post the reindeer each day. Heck, kids can take their soft, cuddly reindeer with them as they go about their day.

"They love to eat breakfast together, color together, watch her practice at dance class, and even go to the beach together," Reed said of Peyton and her reindeer, Fuzzy. "It’s been awesome to see them bond."

Another interesting feature of the Reindeer in Here is that one of the reindeer's antlers is smaller than the other. "I did that to make sure he was unique and different, and I can’t tell you how many parents have written to me to tell me about their own children who are unique and special in their own ways and how they plan to use the reindeer to show them that being different and unique is okay," noted Reed. "The responses have really touched my heart."

So for parents who are looking to #ShelftheElf this year — or anyone who wants to take a new holiday tradition for a spin — you'll be glad to know that there is a new (softer, cuddlier, less-stressful) alternative.