Oh, The Elf on the Shelf… where do I begin? I think it’s fair to say that I have a love hate relationship with the whole idea of it, and I truly believe most parents feel the same as me. Sometimes I really resent this mini houseguest that definitely overstays his welcome. But first, let’s start with a little backstory and what the purpose of having this little visitor in the house is.
In our house, we have two elves. We have Aiden and we have Jameson. Aiden was the first to choose us for his Christmas family. He came to us four years ago on December 2 because quite frankly, Mommy and Daddy were trying to avoid him for as long they could. However, it was hard to get around it any longer when my daughter would keep asking why elves came to her friends’ houses and not hers. Two years after, when Christmastime came around again, poor Aiden was nowhere be found, so a story was carefully crafted. Our new elf, Jameson took his place. The kids were happy and the parents breathed a sigh of relief. When Mom and Dad found Aiden (behind Dad’s rolled up socks in a drawer) a day after Jameson had already comfortably taken his spot, another elaborate story was made to convince the children that the elves needed friends to keep them company and to watch the family with. Lies. Lies. Lizaaaaa Minnelli. I was feeding my children all the lies. Lies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s comical, really! But it also had me thinking if this was just utterly ridiculous or went along with all of the magical parts of Christmas? To top it off, the elves needed a pet so a St. Bernard named Ginger joined them from the North Pole. Thanks a lot Netflix for your Elf Pets movies.
Now the reason for all of this madness is so that children can experience the magic of Christmas in another fun way. The elf or elves come around December 1 from the North Pole and watch the kids to make sure they are being kind and well behaved all day. Then at the end of the night, the elf transports back to the North Pole and tells Santa who has been naughty or nice. He then returns before morning comes where he will land in a different spot. Moms and dads must be ready to move their elf every night before they fall asleep on the couch while watching cheesy Christmas movies. Oh, and did I mention that the kids can’t touch the elf because then his magic will be lost! So, if you have a toddler, put him somewhere up high. I once had to explain to a concerned six year old that the Aiden’s magic was surely not lost, despite the fact that her little brother was chewing on his head. And to make this fiasco even more interesting, the elf’s pet is allowed to be kissed and cuddled! The positive in all of this is that you get to tell your kids that the elf is watching and they must remember to make good choices. It works very effectively I must say. I also recommend calling Santa on the phone with the app. Works like magic in this house! And of course, they love having the elf in the house all month. It really helps them get into the Christmas spirit which makes me smile. But you’d better not forget to move him! You will have a million questions aimed at you the next morning before you can even take your first sip of coffee. Pro tip- if you forget, just tell your kids that the elf was tired from all his flying back and forth and needed a night to rest.
Some parents do the basic. They move their elf and call it a night. Others really have some fun with the whole thing. Their elves get caught up in some funny mischief whether they’re hanging from a chandelier or eating all of the cookies in the house. I am not that mom and thankfully my kids aren’t aware of the funny elf antics.
There are also some other alternatives to Elf on a Shelf. Some parents prefer the Mensch on a Bench for those who celebrate Hanukkah, Santa’s Lazy Gnome for those who won’t remember to move their elf, Reindeer in Here, and my personal favorite, Snoop on a Stoop!
Is the elf a little bit of extra work for parents during the madness of the holidays? Absolutely. Is it creating another lie that you will have to explain later on when your kids are grown? Yup! Is it the best feeling ever to watch your kids light up when they see the elf on the first day he returns back from the North Pole to greet them? You know it. Will you keep doing it because it makes them feel the magic of the season a little bit longer? Always.