Elf on the shelf sitting and looking curious inside a christmas hat

This is a guest post by Kristen, the face of Gen-Y Mama and the writer behind the blog “Did I Take a Shower Today?” She’s a stay at home mom to two girls and a former Marketing Coordinator who loves to write about parenting, family travel and misadventures of trying pins she finds on Pinterest.

In the age of Pinterest, it is easy to get bogged down with over-the-top ideas and endless new projects and traditions. Take for instance the Christmas tradition Elf on the Shelf: something that started off innocently enough has ballooned into an elaborate show that parents need to perform each day for 25 days, at least. Elf on the Shelf has become a love/hate for many, but I believe the core of the idea to be sweet and magical, and I’m all for it.

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What is Elf on the Shelf?

Elf on the Shelf was first created in 2005. It’s a story book that comes with your very own little elf doll who is (as the story goes) one of many all over the world commissioned to help Santa by going into the homes of children and observing their behavior, both good and not so good. It’s said that each night the elves report back to the North Pole, giving Santa notes about their assigned child’s behavior, then return to the child’s house before morning. This journey explains why the elf is always in a different place/position in your home come morning.

Elf on the Shelf was popular, but things really took off in 2011 when CBS aired a TV special titled Elf on the Shelf: An Elf Story. Since then the franchise has continued to grow and today not only can you purchase the original boy elf and book but there are also girl elves, elves with different skin tones and eye colors, additional outfits and accessories for the elves and even pets! There are Pinterest boards full of ideas on what you can do with your elf and some families get really elaborate with it.

That elaborate effort is where the stress comes in — it’s not easy coming up with big, new ideas and gimmicks for the elf to be involved in every day leading up to Christmas! But it doesn’t need to be that way

Starting the Elf Tradition this Christmas, but Why?

With every great pop cultural phenomenon there is the ever-looming backlash. Sadly, Elf on the Shelf is not immune and this tradition has received some heat throughout the years from news publications as well as complaints from parents who just do not have the time for all of the shenanigans Elf on the Shelf started to “require”. It’s a wonder why I would start this tradition now when it seems it has been burning parents out and causing unnecessary competition amongst mothers on social media. So let me tell you why I’m excited to introduce Elf on the Shelf to my daughters this year:

I Love Traditions
The Christmas season is chock full of traditions: decorating the house, getting a tree, taking pictures with Santa, hanging stockings, matching pajamas…the list goes on and on. But I love it! Having Elf on the Shelf will only add to the excitement of the holiday and build anticipation to the 25th of December. I have as much fun with these holiday traditions as the kids do, and am excited to add something new to the mix.

My Children Won’t be Little for Very Long
The main focus of Elf on the Shelf is the child. This isn’t something that will continue once my children grow up, so it’s only a “temporary” tradition. I would like to engage my kids in the Christmas season as much as I can while the magic is still there for them.

It’s Fun
At first my toddler won’t understand what’s going on but after a few days I’m confident she’ll realize that each morning we look for the elf and she’ll start to become excited about searching through our house for it. As her excitement grows, the fun for me will grow too. And we can all use more fun in our lives, right?

It Doesn’t Have to be Elaborate
Contrary to popular belief these days, all the elf needs to do is move. If some days he or she gets a bit crazy and t-pees the house that’s fine but all it really needs to do is move from one part of the room to another. It is what you make it, and if you do not want it to become all-consuming, you don’t have to let it.

This December 1st, our house will be graced by the presence of an elf for the first time and I’m looking forward to all of the fun that will come along with it.


Need more inspo? Here’s why other moms love Elf on the Shelf too

“We started when my son was 2. He’s almost 6 now. He looks forward to seeing ‘Jimmy’ every year. He talks to him every day (tells him about his day, chores he did, etc).” ~Crystal R.

“Our elf doesn’t cause trouble. I’ve never understood why an elf would make trouble when they are supposed to report to Santa if the kids have been good. Our guy just sits up high and watches.” Abbie R.

“This will only be my second year doing it. My daughter is 4. I love to see her face when she finds out what trouble “Sally” has caused.” ~Danielle L.

“We do it. It’s something fun my daughter looks forward to. We don’t do all kinds of crazy stuff with it though, every once in a while he makes a mess or something but usually we literally just move him somewhere else.” ~Leslie J.

“We do it every year and my daughter absolutely loves it. Brightens up the spirit. She named her elf Rylee and last year we got very crafty. Rylee made a mess in the flour, she even went as far as roasting marshmallows. And at the end off the year, on Christmas Eve night, Rylee goes to sleep in my daughters stalking and by morning she is gone with only a note left behind explaining she’ll be back next year.” ~Sydney E.

We do but she only moves around.. she isn’t naughty.” ~Teasha H.

“It’s my favorite thing! My kids adore their elves. It makes them so excited every morning and night. Our elves don’t just cause chaos they play games, bring gifts and encourage good behavior as well.” ~Alyssa M.

“I was going to do it last year when my son was 4 and he decided he wanted to collect the elves and get more and name them all. So now he has 7 elves that come out of his room for the holidays to play.” ~Jasmine P.

Not convinced? –>What to say if you don’t want to do Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf smiling in a santa hat. Have the fun, forget the stress. Elf on the Shelf doesn't have to be hard.

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