There Will Never Be an Elf on Our Shelf


Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down, no competition. I unabashedly start brainstorming wrapping paper color themes in October, and selecting the family Christmas card design takes time and careful thought. I’m trying to convince my husband that we need matching Christmas pajamas, which of course we do not because no one does. What I’m saying is that I love this holiday and everything that comes with it. Well, mostly.

december-2014-041Before becoming a mother, I had heard of the elf on a shelf. Facebook friends who are moms would post pictures of a slim, smiling, slightly creepy elf apparently getting into all kinds of mischief overnight. And I’d scroll past these photos as fast as I would with anything involving Frozen; I wasn’t a parent and therefore didn’t need to know about these things. Well now that I am a parent, and the holiday season is upon us, I decided to give the elf a look.

For those unfamiliar, here’s information on the Elf on a Shelf, from the official website:

“It’s a fun-filled Christmas tradition that’s captured the hearts of children everywhere who welcome home one of Santa’s scout elves each holiday season. The magical scout elves help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists by reporting back to him at the North Pole nightly. Along with their friends, the Elf Pets® Reindeer and Elf Pets® Saint Bernard, Santa’s elves bring the spirit of the season to life!”

So, here’s what I conclude: children think this small elf is breaking into homes and stalking them. And parents are supposed to not only purchase the elf and elf accessories (like a peppermint grappling hook or tutu, I kid you not), but they also have to think of creative places to put the elf each night, possibly setting up an intricate scene that may or may not include marshmallows, candy or a Saint Bernard, inexplicably. When my son goes to bed, I almost exclusively spend time with my husband, eat ice cream, drink wine, watch TV or work. Elf scene prep is not making the cut. And I have more issues with the elf.

Honestly, it sets parents up to fail. The elf reports back to Santa every night in December? I’ll bet most kids have a bad day or two, and then what? You deliver the news that the elf told Santa, and now your kid is nixed from the Nice List? Sorry, Santa’s not coming this year, kids. Or you ignore those few bad days, Santa comes as planned, and the kids infer that the elf is a pushover.

Also, don’t we have enough holiday characters? There’s Santa, of course, reindeer, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, the Grinch and the elves that work in the workshop. That’s enough, North Pole.

And finally, do kids talk about their elf with friends? How do you explain that Santa sends these elves to stalk some kids, but not others? Seems like water cooler chatter (chocolate milk chatter?) will poke some holes into this elf’s story. Now, I totally understand the whole concept of Santa visiting kids and bringing gifts presents the same issue; not every household can afford this or wants to do this. That’s why I fully support Santa not giving super expensive gifts (leave that to the parents, if they choose.

My son is too young to care about the elf on a shelf, but even when he’s old enough to possibly care, I’m telling him that Santa is always watching, and if anyone else comes into this house solely to watch him, call the police.


Go back, Elf.


  1. Well I teach pre-k and my kids love our elf. They tell him secrets and look forward everyday to see where he is sitting. I think it is silly to do all those scenes. Who has the time? Our elf brags on how great our class is. It is a very fun positive thing in our class.

  2. To each their own of course, but I couldn’t disagree more. In our household, it’s the most magical part of Christmas, even more so than santa or presents. When we started, it wasn’t something I took much stock in, but the kids adored it. My daughter loves when our elf shows up on Dec 1. She writes him letters often, she rushes out of bed in the morning to find him and is sad when he has to go christmas eve. As an adult, it’s silly, and there are nights I don’t wanna find a new spot for the elf. But it’s 24 days a year, and the joy it brings my kids makes it worthwhile. (You certainly don’t need to buy any accessories or go elaborate with his daily poses) They are only young for a small window of time. Their wonderment and belief in magic will give way to realities soon enough. So for now, I revel in their excitement in this wierd little elf.

    • I’m so glad it is so magical for you, Kathy! I, too, cherish this time in my son’s life… and I write this now, but if he asks where our elf is in a few years, I may give in. 🙂 I love the magic of the elf, I just don’t like the commercialism.

  3. I love that idea… just having him sitting somewhere new! No scene prep, just a fun game! Perfect for that age group, too. Thanks for sharing!

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