Elf on the Shelf is the Christmas tradition that we parents love to hate. Many parents have been really vocal about their annoyances with the little Red Elf and his mischevious ways. I must admit that this year I really dropped the ball when it came to our Elf, Frosty. I forgot to move the Elf for two whole days. My oldest son was devastated, convinced that his little sister must have stolen Frosty’s magic by playing with him while he was at school. I could see my son doubting the magic of Christmas and I didn’t want that stupid elf or my inability to adhere to my “responsibility” as the Elf Mover to be the reason that his Christmas Spirit was broken.
I’m throwing in the towel and changing our ELF tradition. He’s not moving, ever again. I’m not going to frazzle my already all-too-frazzled mom-mind trying to match the Pinterest version of ELF Shenanigans or come up with my own Insta-worthy ELF moments. Hell, I’m not moving that guy ever again.
Why Our Elf Doesn’t Move
Aside from being a general pain in the A** to remember nightly to move him to a new hiding spot, there is also this unspoken competition between parents to come up with the most mischevious, cutesy way for their Elf to ring in the Christmas season. Social media is full of the weighted pendulum of parents swinging wildly between Highest praise for the Elf tradition and resentment for the tiny, magical man.
I did myself a favor by setting the bar pretty low when we first got our Elf, so there is no big Elf display that I have to top every year. My kids expect him to be hiding each morning in a new spot, which is apparently too much to ask of this tired momma.
Christmas is a season that is supposed to inspire peace, appreciation, love, and goodness within people, not create an overwhelming anxiety based on unattainable expectations for our kids and ourselves. My kid was getting anxiety about the Elf telling Santa that his baby sister stole his magic. My son was genuinely upset that his sister might end up on the naughty list! (She still might, but not for touching the damn Elf!!)
So we changed the mission of our Elf. Frosty the Elf was no longer a mischevious, tattling mythical creature sent to antagonize my children into better behavior – our Elf’s mission was to spread Christmas Cheer.
We picked a place on the mantle that Frosty the Elf could be comfortable because that is where his ass is staying all December long. The kids made him a blanket with a piece of scrap material and they take turn tucking him into bed each night. I explained to the kids how every night Santa sends a note to our family to give encouragement, make us smile, and make us appreciate the peace that should come with the Christmas Holiday.
Being Good People
I have heard a lot of arguments against the Elf on the Shelf tradition, and basically, at this point, we are too invested. The little Elf has been making annual appearances for 6 years at our house and I don’t have the time to create an elaborate tale as to why he won’t return. I’m three kids deep into this game and I’m sick of losing. Like any good parent who cheats at board games, I decided to change the rules – and now this mom is winning Elf On the Shelf.
It’s not too difficult to tell your kids every day that you love them, but maybe in the hustle and bustle of this time of year you’ve forgotten to tell them how wonderful they are. My oldest seriously worries that he’s on the bad list – like always – even though he is an incredibly well-behaved 7-year-old. I hate for him to doubt himself for any reason, especially that some silly Elf might tell Santa he didn’t eat his vegetables. (No big deal, he never eats them.) I’ve created some cards with little encouragement in case there was an incident. But most of the cards are encouraging and funny.
No more mischief – A New Tradition!
Each morning when the kids wake up the Elf is where they left him. Tucked under his little elf arm is a note. A simple few words of encouragement for the day, a joke about snowmen, or a fun-fact about Elves or Christmas History. To be honest, I expected the kids to enjoy the jokes the most, but they always like to hear the facts. They certainly are my children!
This is going to make it easier for our family to transition from the Believes in Santa phase, too. We can lead in with all the amazing facts about the Christmas traditions and still keep the “magic” of Christmas alive for the youngest kids.
I have created 24 days of FREE printable cards to use with our ELF, which I am sharing with you because I think that it is high time that we get the trouble-making Elf out of our homes and welcome one who ushers in the spirit of Christmas.
So while it might seem that the Elf is more trouble than he is worth – break from the tradition of a mischievous little Elf and welcome the spirit of Christmas Cheer into your home. Want to see more? Sign up to download!