A new holiday tradition?

You’ve heard of The Elf on the Shelf. The 2004 children’s book and doll set has become a beloved, playful tradition among many families.

It’s also caused backlash from parents who dislike the concept of a nanny-state elf who spies on kids and evaluates their behavior for gift worthiness.

Well, what if you could have the playfulness of an annual holiday tradition without the spying and consumerism (and nightly hiding duties)?

Two Eagan parents — Sean and Catherine Green — have created their own book and character to create a new kind of tradition with Adventure Santa.

The 12-inch-tall plush doll with a long, white beard doesn’t spy, but instead wears hiking boots and carries around a backpack that holds notes to the kids about things the whole family can do together.

Catherine Green said she came up with the idea when she was working crazy hours. She wanted to make special memories, but in her own way, on a realistic schedule.

“We had seen other holiday traditions that have become popular for kids, but I wanted to focus our tradition on spending time together and creating fun holiday memories,” she said.

The Greens started by writing down things they could do together as a family, like cutting down their own Christmas tree, decorating the house, going sledding and making cookies. They put those ideas in a little backpack they’d made for a Santa doll.

“I pretended those were Santa’s ideas for things we should do during the holiday season and this helped the magic come alive for the kids,” Catherine Green said.

“The kids absolutely loved it,” Sean Green said.

This holiday season, after two years of development (including 50 test families), Adventure Santa is available for sale, along with a hardcover book.

The Story of Adventure Santa tells the tale of St. Nick and his top elf, Tavi, who creates a doll that allows the man in red to go on virtual adventures with families around the world, so he can focus on the tasks at hand at the North Pole.

The Greens wrote the original story and then turned it over to a professional children’s book author — Megan Borgert-Spaniol — to polish it up.

Kim Gordon, an award-winning illustrator from Minneapolis, provided the imagery.

Adventure Santa kits include the doll, the book and cards and cost $29.99 at adventuresanta.com. He’ll also be for sale at the Mall of America Candy Cane Craft and Gift Expo on Dec. 10 and the Carousel Craft Show on Dec. 17 in Maplewood.