Keep 'em believin' series Part I

Whether you love him or hate him (or love to hate him)  the Elf on the Shelf® is here to stay. Since 2005, the elf and his story have been gaining popularity around the world.

Born out of one family’s tradition, the book that inspired the toy was self published after being rejected by publishers. A grassroots effort started by a mom and her adult twin daughters grew into a worldwide phenomenon. Read the full story here. It is inspiring, no matter how you feel about the elf!

Each family decides when their elf comes from the North Pole to settle into his or her post. The elf reports back to the big man himself, letting him know if the children of the home have been naughty or nice. Quite an appealing motivator for parents wanting to remind their kids that Santa is always watching, and he wants them to be nice!

 The problem is, to keep kids believing their elf is the real deal, he or she has to move around. Without them seeing. And sometimes he plays pranks.

 It sounds easy enough. But let’s face it, the holidays are a busy time. Sometimes a tired parent just forgets.

“Mom, are you sure our elf is real?” one child asked after her parents forgot to move it. Oops!

 During the holiday season, one only needs to scroll through their social media to see posts of despair and frustration over forgetting to move the elf.

 But this year we have an opportunity. If you want to give yourself a break, parents can use the pandemic to quarantine their elf at the North Pole. We can’t leave our country, so perhaps it is not safe for the elves either?

 Elf on a Shelf

(photo by Misty Ladd)

Of course, this might not be every parent’s cup of eggnog. Many kids have lost a lot this year and may need their traditions. So this really depends on your child. But this could be an opportunity for your child to see your elf as a pen pal. The children could decorate a box (like the way many kids decorate boxes for Valentines at school). This becomes their magical mailbox to write to their elf. This way you determine how often the elf responds and your child maintains a personal connection.

 Another option is an elf quarantine hut at your house. That way the elf can still keep an eye on the children, but he has a pretty good excuse to not move very much. A doll collector box would be a perfect quarantine hut. Or you could task your children with creating one with the building blocks of their choice.

To complete the look, you can even mask up your elf. You can cut out a simple mask from felt (so you don’t have to sew the edges). The kids can even decorate them.

If you like the idea of a mask, but not the work, check Etsy for elf masks. Many crafters have adorable offerings.

For those that want to keep the elfin games the same (or up their game) there are some great ideas for helping to give your elf life. We want to add some more dimensions to your elf by utilizing multiple senses:

Sounds: Early on a morning when your elf has been on the move, play elf sounds. When your kids wake up they will hear the elf laughing and they will jump out of bed to find him or her.  All you need is a portable device with YouTube on it. Search for “elf laughing sound effect” and you can pick your favorite. Put it out of sight and hit play. 

 Smells: What does Christmas smell like to you? Many of us have smells from the holiday that bring us right back to the holidays of our youth. We can use these smells to add an extra element to our elves. And it can help your children find your elf if they are playing hide and seek with them. Spray your elf with the holiday themed body spray of your choice, or use a glass spray bottle filled with water and add 3-5 drops of essential oil (such as peppermint, evergreen, or cinnamon). If the kids are trying to find your elf, mist a little extra in the room where they are hiding as a clue. If these smells are too much for your family, you can also sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on your elf for a more subtle smell.

Child holding elf on a shelf

Photographic Evidence: If you have the official Elf on a Shelf®, chances are you can find people online with the same elf. There are elf idea groups found on Facebook. Exchange pictures of your elf with local landmarks with others that have done the same. Poof! A photographic travel log. Load them to your phone. That way you can open your phone and exclaim to you kids, “Oh, no! That silly elf took my phone with him on his last journey”

 New hiding places: We all learned how to Zoom this year, and your elf is no exception. So place him with a device and turn Zoom on. Of course there is no call (he just logged off) but for extra flair, change the screen name to your elf’s name.

 And of course if your elf gets homesick  he can be placed near the TV to check in on the North Pole. On YouTube search North Pole ambiance for several choices. Netflix also has their “fireplace” shows, in case your elf wants to roast some marshmallows.

 Where is your elf’s favorite hiding place? What elf prank did your kids love? What didn't work as well as you hoped? We are seeking your elf stories, both naughty and nice! Tell us on our Facebook page.


For additional proof that Santa is real, pick up one of our magical Santa Proof Kits.