This cutie is all about celebrating differences instead of catching kids acting naughty.

If a certain red elf is already giving you stress dreams about coming up with 25 creative ideas, a new Christmas tradition is here to give busy parents a break. Reindeer in Hereis a new toy all about spreading a positive holiday message — without requiring family members to dream up new, elaborate poses every day for four weeks.

The adorable plush reindeer also comes with his own Christmas story, but this one is about celebrating our differences versus judging actions as naughty or nice. Here’s how it works:

  • Early in December, your reindeer “arrives” from the North Pole.
  • The reindeer stays with your child and writes “notes” back to Santa about their Christmas wishes.
  • Parents don’t have to hide or move the reindeer, but the story encourages the children to take their reindeer on different adventures throughout the month.
  • On Christmas Eve, the reindeer flies back to Santa at the North Pole until next year.

Author Adam Reed launched the book and toy combo last year, when it sold out on Amazon on Black Friday within two hours. Reviewers praised the toy as a way to incorporate some holiday “magic,” but without the behind-the-scenes work or “creepy” spying. The only issue: Several people found that their kids got very attached and didn’t want their reindeer to leave on Christmas Eve!

The plot of the book itself offers a sweet takeaway: Santa Claus wanted a way to better know children around the world besides receiving their letters. That’s when the reindeer narrator — who has two different-sized antlers — came up with a different idea: Have the reindeer stay with the kids during December and share with Santa what they want for Christmas.

“To be different is normal,” he says. “I’ve got one antler small. Thinking different will fix this problem once and for all!”

The emphasis on celebrating each child (and creature)’s uniqueness may offer a welcome alternative to people who dislike the connotations of Elf of the Shelf. While some families really do love their elves and find them helpful in encouraging good behavior, some pediatric psychologists and professors specializing in surveillance technology have spoken out against the toy for creating paranoia and normalizing a Big Brother-like presence at home.

Unlike the elf, this toy has no rules about who can touch him and when. The book also leaves it wide open as to what kinds of activities children can do with their reindeers. It could be as simple as going to the store or picking out a Christmas tree, or an opportunity to plan some service-focused outings that give back, like a visit to a toy drive or community kitchen.

If you’re looking to shelve your elf for good and give the reindeer a try, you can order the book and stuffed animal on Amazon for $33, or just the reindeer toy for $22. Act fast though — given how fast it sold out last year, you’ll want to order now before the holiday shopping seasons really kicks in. Then enjoy putting your feet up as your kids actually play with it without any work on your part.

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