thumb prints made into Christmas lights. Easy craft to do with the kids. To enhance this, I might extend the strand each year, so by the time they are older, you have a long string of thumb print lights.
Make a tribe of cute crafted pine cone elves to decorate far more than the elf on the shelf could ever manage. Pine cones, felt, brown pipe cleaners, a wooden bead and a bit of paint plus needle and thread are all you need to make your own pine cone elf