Dear Fellow Elf on the Shelf Parent

That's As Creative As I Can Be

That’s As Creative As I Can Be

Look, let’s start out with a full on psychobabble confessional. It is not you. It is me.

The following is really a reflection of my poor holiday self-esteem and NOT your mind-bogglingly annoying behaviors.

You see I am already sick of this season and it has only been in swing for about three days. My intentions were good on Thanksgiving morning. I signed up for a 5K knowing that those running endorphins would carry me through the merciless hours of gluttony to follow. It really was a lovely run and morning. I vowed THIS would be the year I became a LOVER of all things Christmassy–this would be the year I hummed Christmas carols while trimming the freshly hewn tree. This would be the year I did not dream of tropical destinations for the entire month of December.

My intentions fell apart when we remembered the one Christmas tradition that has been a source of angst and pain for us three years running.

The Elf on the [God-forsaken] Shelf.

This year, it was a miracle we even knew where the elf was….we have bought a new one every year for the last several because we can never find his scrawny creepy Elf-self on Thanksgiving day. Not to worry though, our suckiness as holiday parents was not lost as we could not find the book anywhere. So we bumbled our way through a story that involved planes, trains, and automobiles. The Elf of Meyer legend is a cross between Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn. He flies, can only be touched by Mom and Dad, reports all things back to Santa and can basically make or break a kids entire Christmas dream.

After our indulgent Thanksgiving meal, we returned home to “find” Snowy, or Elfie, or Jack or whatever the hell his name is this year, positioned on a tall kitchen shelf.

Hadley promptly began to weep.

Twenty minutes later, we had convinced her that he is not mean or scary. That he just watches and tattles to Santa…that it was possible if she was not good, she would be considered bad…very bad but not to worry….all she had to do was be good…very good. Finally, she agreed that Snowy-Elfie guy could stay in the house under strict confinement: no venturing upstairs and no going in her room.

It has been three days and already, we need a 529 account for the therapy this kid will need. Her first note to the Elf read “I have not been good Snowy. Not good at all. In fact, I have been bad..very bad.”

Naturally, Snowy had to respond, reassure, and basically undo the trauma he had inflicted in the first place.

Will This Un-do the Damage? One Can Hope...

Will This Un-do the Damage? One Can Hope…

It pained me so much to see the terror on my beautiful girl’s face that I had to reach out to all of you. We are not in this Elf-hell alone.
Please, it is time for some Elf on the Shelf Parent solidarity. Can we agree to the following?

1. Elf Movement. I seriously am lucky if the Elf moves every day. Can you please keep your elf’s movement simple? I am thrilled that you can rig a tight rope from your ceiling fan to your Christmas tree for him to traverse precariously. I think it’s awesome that your cereal box doubles as some sort of elf sarcophagus. But truly, that crap makes those of us flinging the elf under the couch in a moment of sheer panic while our kid is distracted by their older siblings look really bad. It might be best for your kind to just stay off of Pinterest until January.

2. Elf Clothes. I am really thrilled when none of my kids scrounge their outfits out of the dirty hamper. Clothes for the elf? Really? Let’s agree that Elf magic includes asexuality and a fashion sense akin to my husband. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to live 24/7 in red fleece footies? If, however, you MUST dress your elf, consider this local company: Elf Outfitters–they really are great people–even if they to bring me down—way down.

3. Elf Diet. We have told our child that Snowy is not permitted to eat or drink according to Santa’s laws. Those of you putting out cookies, cakes and five course tasting menus for your well-dressed, acrobatically inclined elf are really out of line. Let’s save the cookie eating fiasco for Christmas Eve, can we?

4. Elf-ography. Oh I do so enjoy the juiciness and hilarity of a well-done Barbie/Elf hook-up scene BUT…I have a SEVEN year-old daughter who happens to be obsessed with Barbie and terrified of the Elf. Do you see how impossible this situation is for me? With all the lights I need to detangle, garland to staple to my banisters and paperclips to invert, I do not have one second to answer “Hey Mommy, what’s Barbie doing to the Elf?”

So it really is simple. We have 24 days till Elf gets sent packing. Those days will go A LOT smoother if we all stick together.

In short, keep your elf in his PJs all day, avoid sudden or elaborate movements, do not feed him at all for a month, and last but not least, PLEASE avoid any and all sexual innuendo.

Hey, looking at those rules, every year on December 26, I could be the Elf.


  1. Every year I bemoan the fact that my boys (ok, young men) are “too old”, I say Christmas isn’t fun anymore now that they’re all grown up. I miss the excitement of sitting on the floor together, playing with Transformers and building enormous Lego castles. But I have to say if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again with an Elf on the Shelf, I might just take a pass. It sounds horribly stressful! (And I know without a doubt that I would have been one of those people who would forgotten to move the damn thing). Hang in there, I’m sure some warm, sunny place is on the horizon and the Elf will be all but forgotten.

  2. I had the pleasure of breaking my daughter’s heart on Thanksgiving because she began questioning if “Sabrina” was real, after she saw the Elf being sold at Target. She insisted I tell her the truth, which quickly led us down the “truth about Santa” path, and the rest, as they say, is history. A very sad day. Thank you Elf. Thank you Target.

  3. Laura Szilier says:

    Our elf arrived promptly on December 1 and I gave myself a pat on the back for actually remembering to get him out. That said, it is all going rapidly downhill as I have already forgotten to move the elf and it has only been one night! I always tell the kids that our elf only moves around when he feels like it, apparently he is quite lazy ;-)

  4. Ahh! The Elf. Boy do I highly dislike Elfie/Chrissy. Craig and I spent a frantic Thanksgiving night hunting for Elfie-she was not in the boxes of Christmas decorations as she was in the previous years (lets not talk about the book, the kids did dig out an Elf coloring book from the depths of the craft bin). Elfie was finally found in Craig’s office, in the filing cabinet in an empty file folder. Don’t ask-I’m sure it was a last minute panic on Christmas Eve. We do not do anything complicated with the Elf, it is enough to move it and that causes way to many arguments late at night. By the way the Elf lives under the same rules at our house (so does Santa and the Easter Bunny-Tooth Fairy is ok because she is really tiny and non-threatening). Unfortunately, my oldest daughter (the one who doesn’t believe) built Elfie a house to live in during the Christmas season-really I think she is torturing us! The house included a notebook to write notes in to Elfie and Elfie responds. Another thing to remember. I look back fondly on the days of no Elf and blame all my neighbors for this “tradition”.

    Merry Christmas-Elf parents unite!

  5. Melissa Cargan says:

    Love this! I am crying laughing as I read this! The stress of being a parent these days. I would like to add one thing to your post.. These Elves are flammable! Trust me we found out the hard way. He was sitting on the dining room chandelier and the light was left on too long. Now explain that one to your child. That Santa sent the Elf back in flames with half his face melted off!! I may need to get in on your 529 for therapy expenses incurred as a result of burning our Elf! Lol!! All is well now. Ava thinks Rudy has a birthmark!

  6. Mary Savage says:

    Very funny story and am thanking my lucky stars we never knew what elf in the shelf was or is. The bliss of being old parents and just using the “Santa is watching and you will not get presents if you aren’t good” line over and over. Just wish I had thought of that darn elf! Lol

  7. Well, I too have lost our elf every year. The latest elf to magically disappear was our female elf, Elfreda. Panicked on Sunday night and found a tiny elf-like creature with Velcro hands in a Christmas box, put it on the kitchen chandelier but to my daughter’s dismay it had a tag on it from Oriental Trading. Ooops! So, alas, while looking for coats to donate in my basement yesterday, I stumbled upon an Elf from Christmas past (nice hiding spot if I do say so myself) and now this morning wrote an elaborate note about having to replace the other one…something about another kid needing an elf…blah, blah, blah. How many more days until 12/24???

  8. ellen1957 says:

    I had to laugh reading the above … my dog ate the Elf’s hat 2 years ago and I told my grandson that the Elf was naughty, was someplace he shouldn’t have been and Santa had him wear the “hat of shame” until he can be very very good… note: this hat will probably never be changed… AND the Elf slept on top of the ornament box in the living room all year because my daughter and I were both too busy (lazy) to put it someplace that we might not remember… and my grandson (4 years old) hasn’t looked for the Elf yet, but I’m sure he will spot it with his usual excitement when it magically gets its “powers” back! You are not alone … Merry Christmas!!

  9. Loved your blog! That damn elf is the death of me during the Christmas holiday season. I’ve resorted to reminders on all of my calendars and my phone to move him every night after the kids go to bed. I’ve somehow STILL managed to forget already. I’m constantly seeing posts of these super cool and cute things that everyone else’s elves are doing, and boy oh boy, do I feel inadequate! I’ve always been a pretty creative person, but when it comes to Rex’s evening activities, I’ve got nothing! LOL

  10. I have delegated moving the elf to my 14 year old son. He actually enjoys it and in his youth with a childlike and sometimes twisted (but not inappropriate) sense of humor he comes up with great elf ideas. I offered to give him 20 bucks for the job but he says he’ll just do it for fun :) Also, our elf does not come back until December 1st, at the same time we break out the Advent calendar. It saves a few days of having to come up with ideas that she does not come out the day after Thanksgiving. Finally, just a thought..if your daughter really doesn’t like/is scared of the elf, maybe the elf should just leave a note saying “I can tell you are a very good girl just by watching you for a few days. Santa has asked me to come back to the North Pole and help him because he is swamped with work making toys. I hope you will understand and I will come visit again next year”. She will probably be relieved quite honestly and that will be one less chore or holiday pressure for you.

  11. I’m very thankful this trend came after my girls were grown. It sounds like a cute thing in theory, but would have been a disaster in our house, too. Just too much. Good luck for all of you trying your best!

  12. Christine says:

    I am so very thankful the Elf came after my kids were grown. It sounds like too much work. And quite frankly, a little creepy to have an elf spying on people in the house.

  13. I may be in the minority here, and it’s not because I’m Jewish either, as we embrace all religions and all holidays, but I don’t really like the idea of telling children that their gifts, which are GIFTS for the sake of the giver/giving, are dependent upon their daily behavior in December – whether it is because of Santa, the Elf, or even God. That is all.

  14. There should be “elf on the shelf ” annymous for us parents. We told our kids that the elf doesn’t show until the Christmas decorations are up and the tree must be decorated. Then parents of the year forgot to put the blasted thing out. So the quick thinking mom that I am, I remebered something I saw on pintrest. I wrapped that bad boy in a wash cloth and stuck it in the fridge! Then told the kids that they just didn’t see it this morning.

  15. The Elf….this started after my oldest was a teenager and I was so excited to get one for Xander. Nothing stopped a holiday emotional breakdown quite like a quick glance toward the elf. We have learned over the years to put a 10 pm cell phone reminder called “jingle bells” this has help my complete inadequacy in remembering to move him. Once we made the mistake of placing him on the shelf above Xander’s bed. The scream was likely heard all the way to Wegmans and the days of not being able to sleep that followed were so painful…for us all. At 10 years old, the first thing out of his tramatized mouth when he saw it this year was…he better not go upstairs. Last year, we decided that he was probably old enough that he would not care if the elf didn’t come back. So imagine my shock when he came back from school the Monday after Thanksgiving visibly worried and upset. I sat down with him to find out what was going on and he said in a devastated voice “I must have been really bad this year, all of my friends elves came this weekend and I did not get one. Santa must be really mad at me or maybe he knows that I wasn’t sure he was real.” So, I lied. I told him that that the elves sometimes arrive at houses with younger kids first. Ugh.
    Now people are cooking meals and baked goods, writing daily notes…..I can’t do it.

  16. Oh Christine, thanks for sharing this, it explains so much. Every year right after Christmas another Elf shows up on our doorstep looking for a peaceful quiet shelf to sack out on… I don’t even know how many of the little buggers are running around here now… not to worry though, they stick to the shelves mostly… if they spend too much time on the floor Tessie eats them.

  17. I’m in the corner with those who oppose the creepy elf. Both of my boys asked me about Santa at a pretty young age (6&7). They wanted to know if he was really real and having always been honest with them I told them the truth. They have always been grateful for that and my relationship with them has always been very close. I understand the concept but never wanted to flat out lie to my little Dudes. Pro tip: they will all find out one day and may not be too pleased that they were fooled by their own parents. Get away from that thing ASAP!

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