The Elf on the Shelf (Spoiler Alert! Do not Read with your Children!)

We did it.  Not because we wanted to, but because we were cornered.  My youngest came home from school and announced “guess who’s coming on Saturday?”  And I naively thought she had invited a classmate over.


Her reply?

“The elf!”

At first I was confused.  Then some memory was jogged – something I had seen online, in someone’s Pinterest…something was clicking…”Oh,The Elf on the Shelf, how did you hear about that?” I blurted out.

Classmates were talking; their elves had arrived just after Thanksgiving.  One (wise) classmate informed my Ruby girl that some elves don’t arrive until December 1st.  Phew.  That gave us two whole days.  Now I had to get an elf.  But…what if I didn’t?  The world would not stop turning if our house did not have an elf.  Plenty of children have survived the holidays without one up until now.  I certainly had better things to spend $30.00 on (like half of a sip of gas!)

But as I stood there, faced with her unbridled excitement, not having an elf began to feel akin to the possibility of the tooth fairy not arriving.  What if Thanksgiving skipped our house?  How would that feel?  Could we be the one home without an elf?  Oh the pressure…clearly, I had to get my hands on one of those things.  And not just any elf!  As it turns out, a girl elf.  Because that’s what Ruby had convinced herself was on it’s way…gulp.

And lucky for me, In this world of texting and Facebook and emails and Twitter, one just has to put out the S.O.S.  So my distress signal went out and the replies were plentiful.  But the news was bleak: “Lee Lee’s has them!”  I phoned Lee Lee’s Boutique, and no dice – they had sold their last little girl elf that afternoon.  Same with Collier’s, Lienwand’s…no luck.  And then my phone rang.  A friend had just left Books-A-Million which is almost an hour away from our house.  She had seen my Facebook post (thank the Lord!) and was turning around because she was certain there was a little girl elf still in stock.  Eureka!  We had our elf!  Now what?

Although I had heard some of the buzz, I did not know what to do with said elf.  Luckily, she (or he) comes with a book that gives you some insight as to what this business is all about.  In a nut shell, you get an elf with a book for about $30.  You read the story with your child(ren) and hide the elf and box from your child until a pre-determined day when Santa’s helper magically arrives, usually bringing some sort of mischief with it.  The storybook will tell how your assigned elf watches throughout the day and then flies to the North Pole, reporting your childs behavior to St. Nick each night.  On Christmas eve, she (or he) will leave with Santa, and hopefully return the next year.


But why would you want to add one more thing to your holiday craziness?  I was admittedly apprehensive…until I watched my daughter absolutely light up.  On the first morning, our elf had snuck into the fridge and dyed the milk green.  So silly.  So simple.  So much bang for your buck!  She was hooked.  And all I had to do was hold up my finger at the first hint of misbehaving and say “the elf is watching this!”  So much more effective than some other reminders I’ve tried.

And it really is fun.  Silly, creative fun.  The internet is rife with Elfin ideas.  (I even downloaded some free printable cards created by Erin at here)  Additionally, friends post on Facebook what their elves have been up to, and share photos.  The kids compare notes with their classmates.  And most importantly, it’s an incentive for good behavior.  They want the elf to return each morning and they certainly want it to give a good report to Mr. Claus.  It’s so effective at encouraging good behavior that the teachers are getting elves for their classrooms.  The Elf on the Shelf is nearly viral.

So we have our elf.  And she is working her magic, albeit in some very unorthodox ways (see reindeer poop above).  And Ruby’s classroom has an elf too.  Will it have the desired effect? Eh, who knows…but we sure are having fun watching her adventures – stay tuned!

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