How The Elf Got On Our Shelf

I admit, when I first heard of Elf on the Shelf a few years ago, I poo-pooed the idea. Big time. I mean, who has time to rearrange a freaky looking elf every single night for a month? I’ll tell you who . . . this girl.

I could not have been more naïve about this. The Elf on the Shelf is freakin’ brilliant. I now totally understand why so many people are into this thing – kids buy it hook, line, and sinker, and it’s surprisingly riveting for parents.

Here’s how it went down at our house.

It all started in (yet another) attempt to give my kids a reason to keep their room clean and be nice to each other. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m saying to them when I’m trying to prove a point.

“Stop repeating your brother or else I’m going to repeat how you’re not going to get the computer or the Ipad for the rest of your life!” (What?)

It’s some combination of threats, bribes, and truths, and can’t take responsibility for what comes out of my mouth when I’m in that frame of mind.

I told them I heard on the news that Santa was sending out elves to help him keep an eye on all the kids in the world. But this time when I told them this, instead of ignoring me like they usually do, their little eyes were glued to me.

“When will he get here,” they asked.

“How big is he?”

“Is he nice?”


My big, brave four-year old (who substitutes w’s for l’s) said, “I few a wittoo skawued about da ewf.”

With this single sentence, I had the most captive audience I’ve had for weeks. Now I just needed to follow through.

I secretly placed the elf, and his accompanying book, on our couch for them to find.

“The Elf is here!” gasped my six year old. Both of my sons ran towards the little doll and then froze, staring at him with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

It was too easy.

We read the story. It tells you to name your elf right away. My six year old (who I was sure wouldn’t go for this whole thing) immediately picked out a name, Zack. He was beyond eager to follow the instructions to write out his name, our name, and the date in the back of the book. Generally, he hates writing. Not today.

“Don’t touch him!” he shouted to my husband when he reached for him. “The book says not to!”

It’s only been 5 minutes and they already started obeying the rules of the elf.

When we headed out to dinner later that night, we moved the elf from the couch to a shelf when the boys weren’t looking. When we returned, they saw the elf in the new spot, and they freaked.

“He moved! This toy wasn’t tipped over like this?! He must’ve played with it. Look! He moved our construction paper too!”

Crazy fun, friends. Crazy fun.

So what did I do when they went to bed? Googled “Elf on the Shelf ideas” and set up our elf to look like he was playing with their toys. Yup, I’m now one of those moms who will be rearranging a little elf every night for the next 25 days. And you know what, seeing that look of surprise/disbelief/thrill on my kids’ faces is 100% worth it.