Let me start by saying we never planned to get an Elf on the Shelf. My kids were fine without one for many years. They asked a few times, but we firmly said no. However, four years ago, my daughter got really into it, so much so that she drew a picture of an elf and started hiding it around the house. Her birthday is a week before Christmas, so my husband and I thought it would be a good idea to get her an Elf on the Shelf and switch it with the paper on the night before her birthday. When she woke up on her birthday and found that her paper elf had actually turned into a “real” elf, she was ecstatic! It was a very sweet moment. Little did we know that we would be stuck with this pesky thing for the next several years, moving it at the last minute, night after night, almost the whole month of December.
And, now, it’s back!
This year will be the fourth year that we have had to deal with our elf situation. Luckily the first year, we only had to move it for a week, so we are going on our third year of having to move this thing for a full month. However, this may be the last year that we are stuck moving this elf, as my daughter is at the age where she will likely start to question things. For the moment, she still believes that the elf actually moves itself, which means I keep finding myself researching simple ideas for the Elf on the Shelf.
I refuse to get crafty with this elf, so why does every list of ideas that I find seem so complicated?
I like to keep things simple. I am not going to print out fancy, colorful letters from Santa or the elf. I am not going to pop popcorn late at night so the elf can be watching a movie the next morning. I am also not going to put out rope for our elf to zipline across a room with candy canes. Did you know you can even buy elf kits that have everything you need for 25 days of moving your elf? I think that’s a little extreme. Sure, the printouts are cute and so is the zip lining with a candy cane, but I do the bare minimum with our elf and use whatever we have in our house. I do not go out of my way for this elf. I just move it and sometimes use props that I have around the house and my kids think it’s hilarious.
What I have learned over the past few years with this elf is that it’s best to put it in a place where it will be out of our way for the most important tasks of the day. It seems that the bathroom and kitchen should be off limits for the most part. It was brushing its teeth with my daughter’s toothbrush once so she had to brush with her finger that morning and night. I made the marshmallow bubble bath in the sink once so that sink was off limits for the day. It was drinking coffee out of a k-cup one year and I left it under the Keurig so my husband couldn’t make coffee for 24 hours. I also had it “cooking” with M&M’s once. Totally forgot that I was going to need the stove to cook dinner that night. I also did the whole “rock climbing” with bows on the wall. It fell and laid on the ground the rest of the day. Oops! How do some of these elves stay in place?!?! Honestly, it’s best to just hide it somewhere without all of the fancy extras. I promise, your kids will not know the difference.
I have a love-hate relationship with our elf. I love it because my daughter wakes up extra early to search for it, which means no more fighting to wake up for school. That’s probably the best thing that has come out of this silly tradition. And, I suppose, the happiness and joy of finding it each morning. At the same time, I feel a sense of relief when it’s over each year because the holidays are already stressful enough, so remembering to move the elf each night just adds to it. While I try to have fun with it, it can be an annoying task. All in all, I guess I’ll actually miss the pesky thing when it’s no longer a major part of our holiday traditions.