The Elf on the Shelf is a cute family tradition that adds an extra level excitement in the lead-up to Christmas. Here's why we love it…
Christmas. It’s no longer a simple celebration with family to praise the birth of Jesus. It’s now a mad rush to meet Santa, stock up on stocking stuffers, find the perfect gifts for the family, and in between all of this, buy a turkey for a magnificent family feast. Phew! But it doesn’t stop there. The Elf on the Shelf is fast becoming a global tradition in the month leading up to Christmas too. So, we’re looking into how The Elf on the Shelf came to be, what it actually involves, and we’ve even got some serious inspo for your own Elf on the Shelf…
So, what is The Elf on the Shelf?
The Elf on the Shelf is a storybook which comes with a toy elf. The book tells the story of Santa’s Scout Elves, who visit homes and watch over the children. They then report back to Santa about who’s being naughty and who’s being nice. The toy elf (thanks to the help of mums and dads) appears each morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, always in a different spot, and disappears while the kiddos are sleeping, to report back to the North Pole.
Children must beware… “There’s only one rule that you have to follow, so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.” On Christmas Eve, the elf appears for the last time, before heading back to the North Pole until next Christmas.
The idea for Elf on the Shelf came to Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell as they sat drinking cups of tea, way back in 2004. They then spent the next three years, along with Chanda’s twin sister Christa, developing the concept and promoting the self-published book.
Fast forward to 2022 and The Elf on the Shelf franchise is MASSIVE. More than 11 million elves have been sold worldwide and they’ve extended the product range to include elf pets, clothing and an animated movie. The Elf on the Shelf even appears in the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
Embracing the Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition…
There’s the school of thought that says anything fun can’t be bad… especially at Christmas. This goes for The Elf on the Shelf, too. Lots of families (more than 11 million of them, it seems) think that the tradition of the elf appearing for the month leading up to Christmas is charming and sweet. The idea is that the kids are encouraged to behave themselves in the lead-up to Christmas so that the elf will report their good behaviour to the Big Man in Red each night.
Some families stick to the bare minimum, with the elf simply appearing in a different location every morning in the lead-up to the big day. Others go nuts, with elaborate scenarios each day involving the likes of surfing elves, an elf cooking a Christmas turkey, or our favourite so far, an elf frozen into a block of ice by Queen Elsa. Pinterest is full of fun, creative ideas for ways to pose your elves each day, plus The Elf on the Shelf website also has lots of lovely suggestions. You can even buy custom-made elf-ccessories on Etsy!
The mum that takes Elf on the Shelf to the next level
Lorraine Garrett, mum to Hadassah and Jahzara, has been planting an Elf on the Shelf for her daughters for six years now. And it’s pretty safe to say she’s mastered the art of it… Check out all of her creative ideas! She shares, “I started doing Elf on the Shelf because it’s a really fun way to countdown to Christmas. Ariel (the name of our elf) gets everyone into the Christmas spirit. When she arrives, we jump into Christmas mode and start decorating the house. The kids know to be on their best behaviour because Ariel will be reporting back to the North Pole every night!”
Although the girls are getting older, for Lorraine, it’s all about making them happy. “I’m sure they know Mum is behind all of it, but they still enjoy waking up to the thought of Ariel and her elf adventures,” she says.
Well, we love any Christmas tradition that builds the excitement up to the main event. And, let’s be honest, every so often it’s quite handy to use the bargaining power of the elf to get the kids to do as they’re told!
Happy holidays, folks…