Does an elf visit your house in December? Learn the origin of the Elf-on-the-Shelf tradition, and discover our three top tips for a successful elf adventure with your family. You can even get your own Elf Planner so you’re ready to hit the ground running when December arrives!
Elf visitors have become a key component of many households’ advent festivities. It was in 2005 that mother and daughter duo Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, from Georgia USA, launched their The Elf On The Shelf poem-and-elf boxed combo, based on their own family tradition. Since then, elves have been welcomed into homes across the world each December.
Note: This post contains some affiliate links. This means that we may earn a small commission when you click on such links, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We only share links to products we would use ourselves and all opinions are our own. You can read the full disclaimer here.
The Elf Story
If you’re not familiar with The Elf On The Shelf tradition, let’s get you up to speed:
Santa sends his ‘scout elves’ out to visit boys and girls during the last few weeks before Christmas.
The elves watch how the children are behaving, and report back to Santa each night whether actions seen are worthy of the Nice list, or need consideration for the Naughty one!
Elves then return to their family ready for the next day, taking up a different vantage point within the home. To add to the mystic, children are asked not to touch the elf (or else its magic may be lost and there will be no commentary back to the big guy in red).
Then, on Christmas Eve, Santa calls all the elves back to join him in the North Pole, where they will stay until the following December.
Genius or Madness?
The Elf-on-the-Shelf is generally agreed to be in large part ingenius, whilst simultaneously a parent’s worse nightmare!
Children universally adore searching for their elf each December morning. And, for us grown-ups, it’s a great opportunity to get up to all sorts of magical night-time elfish mischief without anyone questioning our parenting skills!
Younger children are typically very mindful of the extra eyes on their behaviour in the house, making the Elf on the Shelf a useful parental aid as well. (We’ll leave aside those that question the appropriateness of encouraging spying and tattle-telling!)
However, the pressure to not only remember to reposition the elf each night, but also to be creative in location and activity, can feel like quite a chore at an already busy time of year.
Conclusion: In our opinion, elf visitors are a wonderful annual tradition and we highly recommend them. It’s absolutely the stuff of fabulous childhood Christmas memories. We do, however, advise thinking twice before welcoming an elf into your home, to ensure you’re definitely up for the challenge! That being said, we’ve got tools and tips aplenty to make it as easy and fun as possible for the whole family …
Top 3 Tip for A Successful Elf Adventure
Here are our three top tips for a successful and magical elf adventure with your family. Follow these and you are guaranteed a December to remember!
1. Elf Selection!
Will you have one elf for the household, or an elf per child? Will your elf be a boy or a girl? Are you going to follow the Elf on the Shelf story to the letter, or adapt the rules for your family?
If you’d like to buy the original Elf on the Shelf, the link here will take you directly to purchase. There are several elf styles to chose between.
Of course, as with all things popular, there are a whole host of copycat elves available for sale too. Don’t forget to check your local independent stores for some gorgeous handmade elf visitors alternatives as well.
And, if you’d like to avoid the expense altogether, Santa could always grant one of your little one’s existing toy collection magical powers in December so that they can take on the elf role.
2. Get yourself an Elf Planner
Reduce last minute stress by thinking in advance where your elf will move to each night, and record it in an Elf Planner. You could even make a small shopping list of the equipment you’ll need. Then, each evening, you can simply follow your ready-made instructions with no requirement to be creative when you’re exhausted and just want to get to bed!
We’ve created two FREE printable Jolly Festive Elf-on-the-Shelf Planners, just for you:
- Download the blank template below, ready to add your own ideas.
- Or, you can grab a free copy of our Stress-Free Elf Diary – 24 Ideas For Elfie, when you sign-up for the Jolly Festive Newsletter (see below). The diary is full of fun but simple ways to set up your elf visitor throughout December AND a shopping list of the bits and pieces needed to create the scenes (much of which you’ll have at home anyway).
3. Set a daily alarm!
There is nothing worse than waking up to tears because Elfie didn’t move during the night. So, get yourself a nightly reminder organised to get that elf repositioned. Then you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have any 4am nightmare sweats.
If you do manage to forget one evening, don’t panic! We’ve got a fabulously simple yet effective solution that will clear your conscience and keep the illusion alive.
So there you have it. Now you have everything you need to enjoy a successful elf adventure with your family. We can’t wait to see what elfish mischief your visitor gets up to! Be sure to share your favourite poses with us in the comments below.
If you’re looking for other ways to have fun at home this Christmas, check out our ideas here.