Oh Just Go Elf Yourself!

So, there is this thing called Elf on the Shelf.

Oh, wait, you have heard of it?

Skip ahead a bit then.

For those of you new to the phenomemon, let me give you a little back story: The Elf of the Shelf is this magical creature who comes all the way from The North Pole Barnes and Noble to live in your house for some period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our elf always arrives on December the 1st, but I do know lots of people who welcome theirs the day after Thanksgiving. I like to believe that “Little Elf” (the moniker chosen for our elf…we are nothing if not out of the box thinkers in our house!) knows that I can only handle so many days of magical, mysterious, original hiding spots!

Unlike Lisa, who has a bit of a love/hate hate/hate relationship with her elf, I actually enjoy the elf. Don’t get me wrong, I grumble and moan and complain as much as possible about it, but in the end I am glad we do it. My kids love Little Elf and delight at getting to find him each morning in our house. Thanks to my hubby’s masterful elf surgical skills, our elf actually has tiny magnets in his hands, which allow him to go places not normally possible.

For some reason, though, this year I am feeling the pressure of the elf in a way that I have not before. And actually, it is not for some reason, it is for THE reason. The one that I can barely think about without getting choked up, and the one that I really don’t want to acknowledge out loud. But, I will, because I know those of you who have experienced this will help me. I really feel like this is Emma’s last year to truly believe. SOB.

I can already see that the cracks in the foundation of her magical thinking are appearing. She is starting to ask questions without actually wanting the answers. You know how you can just tell with your child when they truly want to know the truth and then you also know when they need to believe a little while longer. That is where we are. And as ready as I think I am to have the conversation with her (I have actually been saving this blog post for the last year and a half because it so perfectly states what I want to say), the thought of actually doing it breaks my heart.


Knowing that all of that, I feel the presence of the elf more intensely. I find myself on Pinterest almost daily pinning various ways the elf can be hidden that will most certainly bring a smile to my children’s faces…something, I might add that is not always easy to do at o’ dark thirty on a school morning. Based on all of the sites I have pinned, I could have our Little Elf come in September and STILL not run out of ideas.

So, you might be asking, what is the point of this post then? After all, it sounds like you have a solid plan and are properly motivated by the fact that your first born should have an especially magical Christmas season, so tell us Ashley, what are you actually trying to say?

Y’all, my early morning, just after the kids leave for school, sipping a hot cup of coffee, blissfully browsing the interwebs self looks quite different from my post bedtime, nerves frayed, just want to be left alone with my TiVo remote and my Draw Something on the iPod self. Shocking, I know, right?

It turns out that come 8:00 p.m. I am not in much of a mood to be clever or crafty. I look around the kitchen and think about the possibility of having Little Elf cleverly posed with some homemade mini pancakes and a spatula and find myself wondering if sticking him in that morning’s leftover toast crumbs would create the same illusion.

Or sure, how fun would it be to have him write all over the bathtub walls with our tub crayons? Guess what, y’all, I can’t even find a blank space on the tile walls because the kids already write on them ALL.THE.TIME. And obviously, removing the writing would involve actual cleaning, like with a sponge and scrubbing.

One of the ideas I keep seeing involves having the elf (maybe to show your children what naughty looks like?) wrap the entire toilet in wrapping paper. Given that I can’t wrap a CD without an entire roll of tape and two helpers, I am pretty sure my attempt at wrapping up our toilet would lead to a midnight emergency plumbing call.

So, I find myself doing what I always do. Just putting Little Elf somewhere and calling it a night. His magnetic hands do allow placement in some stranger places, but really, how many times is it acceptable to wake up to find the elf hanging from the chandelier? I mean without a naked Barbie or three alongside him to justify his swinging?

All of this then makes me feel guilty because I am too tired/lazy/unmotivated to make Christmas special for my older daughter (or in turn her younger sister). I have Elf Mom Guilt.

But then I talked it through with Lisa and came to the realization that if I suddenly switched things up and became an Elf Super Mom that would be even MORE suspicious to my children.

Like for four years the Elf basically moves from spot to spot year after year and then all of the sudden he is outside building a miniature tree fort from popsicle sticks? Or he goes from sitting next to Barbie in the pink convertible to riding shotgun in a car completely made from Legos?

They would notice that something wasn’t right, wouldn’t they? I mean, Little Elf is who he is. They love him. Who am I to think I should change him from a perfectly average elf doing his thing to some Martha Stewart wanna be that tries just a little too hard?

So now I’m thinking if I want to do right by my girls and keep the magic alive, I have only one choice. Let Little Elf be Little Elf. It’s for the children, y’all.






Oh Just Go Elf Yourself! — 72 Comments

  1. We don’t have an elf. (I hadn’t actually heard of him before this year.) I know what you mean about those questions. I think about when the last year for my little guy will be, too. I want him to believe for a little while longer.

  2. Oh I hear you!!!! We have the nightly fight, “no its your turn to move the elf” most evenings and if we don’t I wake up in a cold sweat when I start to hear movement in the boys room above my head in the realization that Elfie (even though we were visited by a girl elf this year the name didn’t change).. is still on the TV ledge in the kitchen and I am so afraid I am going to get caught moving him!

    I love to browse the FB (have not even looked at Pinterest and now I WONT) pictures posted of the elves up to mischief, but i like to think of our elf as kind, sensitive soul who would never create more mess for me to clean up and just likes to find a spot where he/she has a good view of the kids behavior.. b/c after all isn’t that what it is all about, manipulating our kids to be good for 24 days (Dec 1st appearance and not a day sooner)!

    Love the Santa letter, rest assured I will be tucking that one away!

    • A couple times during the “elf season” (known as the holidays for normal people! ;)) I try to leave him in the kid’s rooms, and I sweat the ENTIRE time I am in there!

      Robert will offer to move him and then forget and then I have to do it…although, when he does remember he always picks better spots than me! 🙂

      Isn’t that letter just the best ever??

      • LOL Hey, if I had an elf, I’m sure I’d be saying, “Oh, he must just like that spot. I’m sure he went to the North Pole and told Santa all the good things you did. He wouldn’t forget.” or “No, no, he’s not dusty! That’s magic sparkle left from the North Pole.” or “What? You say he was hanging from the ceiling 2 nights ago? Well, he must’ve just enjoyed it so much he had to do it again!” or “What? He has a hole in his outfit and it looks like the cat used him as a chew toy? Pfft…I’m sure that’s not true and he just ripped his clothes on the way in and will be right as rain tomorrow!” Yah…I’m sure I’d totally have those convos with my kiddos…And now you know why the Elf isn’t on my shelf. 🙂

  3. Ashley, I heard about this elf on the shelf thing only a few weeks ago and while I think it is fun for the kids, I just can’t help thinking the elf looks a bit creepy. I mean the way he’s looking at you – it sure looks like he knows something I don’t, and that scares me. But it’s just me 🙂

    • No, you are totally right! He is definitely like a horror movie character waiting to happen! 😉 And the weird thing that no matter where you are in the room, it seems like he can see you!

  4. My surgical services are available for hire at USD$10 per hand. (please include self-addressed stamped envelope. not responsible for lost and/or damaged elves)

    • Seriously, people should really pay you for it. It has been at least 3 years since Little Elf had his surgery and he is going strong! 😉

  5. I knew nothing about the Elf until your last two posts. Sounds fun thinking of places to hide him, until you’ve done it for more than a week. It is sad Emma is figuring out that Santa isn’t really real. At least she is sweet enough not to tell Abby once she figures it out.

    • *HOPEFULLY* she won’t tell Abby! 😉 I think once she truly knows and has it confirmed, she will be good about playing along!
      And yeah, the first few times you move him it is fun. This is year 4 for us, so it has definitely lost its luster!

    • Right? It is exhausting, honestly! I think if we have to do it again next year, our elf will have to arrive mid-December! 😉

  6. Ah, the magic of belief. I just loved our girls’ expressions when they were little and saw the “magic” of Santa. It does come to an end, and I agree: there is a certain bittersweetness to it. Hope you and yours have a delightful season!

    • There is nothing quite like the way their faces light up at the holidays…and I will be sad when it is over. 🙁
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! 🙂

  7. I like the comment about the chandelier and Barbie.
    Overall though this doesn’t make sense – isn’t there enough to do with out building a lego car or wrapping a toilet?
    p.s. to Lisa, I noticed on CNN website there is something about the elf, I’m sure you’re going to want to look at it, bet it has lots of good ideas.

    • Thanks! 🙂 I chuckled to myself when I wrote it, I won’t lie!
      Yes, there is enough to do without doing those things, except there are moms out there who can’t be satisfied to do the bare minimum like I am! 😉
      I will make sure Lisa heads right over to CNN…I know she won’t want to miss that! 😉

  8. My thoughts EXACTLY Ashley!!! Our under-achiever doesn’t do anything but move…if we remember. The pressure SUCKS when my kids hear the famous stories of their friend’s elf doing SO MUCH more than our little guy! Ugh. For the children…we will never ever change! 😉

    • Yeah, I can’t even with those stories from the kids at school. Spare me people, seriously, The Voice is not going to watch itself…I am busy at night! 😉
      Thank God you will join me and resist being an Elf Super Mom!

  9. Oh, my friend…you are on the cusp of entering Lisa and my world of dislike for the elf. The damn questions! I don’t like it because of all the questions and the letters and the disdain for where it’s hiding. It’s exhausting! I don’t like it because I miss when they really believed and the elf sits, stares and mocks me. It’s exhausting.

    • I think I am close to joining you and Lisa! I am definitely becoming Scrooge like in my feelings about the elf! 😉

  10. {Melinda} I am actually happy that my children are too old to have gotten swept into the Elf on the Shelf magic. Too much pressure for sure. Last night, we all watched the movie Elf as a family. No superhuman mom efforts required besides hitting the remote. Now that’s more my speed. 🙂

    • BWAH HA HA HA!! I laughed out at your superhuman mom sentence! That is totally awesome…and totally right up my alley! 😉

  11. I’m still a little sad that ours are past that magical stage, so I totally understand your feelings of Emma’s (possible) last year to believe ;( . I do think you have a new solution to your “exhaustion” in finding new hiding places though. Knowing Emma (and her excitement of helping and how creative she is ;), why don’t you give her that “new responsibility” of hiding Little Elf to keep the magic going for Abby!! She would be SO good at that!! So creative!! And you could retire!! Win / win ;-)!!

    • You are so right! That will DEFINITELY be the job I give her! 🙂 She would love it and could easily think of creative stuff! Thank you! 🙂

  12. Well, the elf was not around when my kids were little, but I used to tell my kids that if they stopped believing then Santa would not bring them a gift….that way the dream was kept “alive” until they were teens (not really but we pretended). I know it is another reminder of how quickly kids grow, but it will be ok. I think the elf concept is cute and I seriously wish I had thought of it!

    • Um, Raquel that is you in your profile picture, right? How in the world do you have teens?? You could be a teen!!
      Okay, back to your comment…seriously, how much do I wish I had thought of this product…it is pure genius! 😉

  13. HI! Its my first time here, saw your comment on the Bloggess. I pride myself on my Elf slackness. Mine can hardly remember to move, much less make mini donuts out of Cheerio’s. I am sure you have read Jen’s Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies blog post from last year at “People I want to punch in the Throat”. That post is what got me into reading blogs at all. Anyways, I am writing to thank you for my new excuse for the rest of my life why our little “Fred” will never do anything great – it’s just not him. He is a lazy bastard and to change now would just be…creepy (pun intended)! Great post! Thanks! Devan

    • Yay Devan! Welcome…hope you stay awhile…don’t let our mess scare you away! 😉
      And honestly, it really warms my heart to know that we are providing moms everywhere with the rationalization that just doing enough is enough! 😉 After all, if Fred suddenly went crazy, imagine the bar that would be set for the future!
      P.S. The mini Cheerio donuts made me laugh out loud! 🙂

  14. “Don’t has a sad, Ashley”. Hilarious. I’ve yet to get THE Elf mostly because I already know how attached my boy would get to it. Those beggy toddler eyes would subject me to years and years of elf-hiding hell. I just know it.

    • Resist Tori. Seriously. Stay strong! 😉
      The don’t has a sad made me laugh, too…Lisa is so good at the pictures and words on them! 🙂

  15. I am laughing out loud. Because for years I refused to give into the elf thing until my husband heard about the little guy and now we have one. Of course he arrived after my husband left for his weekly out of town week long work week! After 3 days I am having trouble keeping up … the tales from shcool about the elf who hung all the underpants on the tree, the Pinterest pins, oh the pressure! But enjoyable all the same!

    • What a total husband move, right? 😉 Mine would definitely do something like that to me, too!
      Yeah, the stories from school are driving me bonkers!
      So glad you read and commented! 🙂

  16. You might be surprised. My older son knew at 5 (and wasn’t at all bothered). He was just too logical. My youngest is almost 9. He still believes, but truthfully I think he’s acting. If that’s true, who knows how long it will go on? I never did the Elf though!

    • I feel like my little one will be like that. But I think it will crush Emma. Interesting about your younger one…eventually he will have to realize, right…I mean, maybe when he is a dad and buying all the gifts?! 😉

  17. This is our first Elf on the Shelf year, and I refuse to have Sprinkles the Elf do anything requiring too much clean up. It’s not worth shortening a temper tantrum or five just to have to spend an hour creating a crafty Elf spot and then another 20 minutes cleaning it up later. Nope…our creativity stops with our Elf’s drinking problem……

    • Could not agree with you more Leslie…and I feel like as someone who does amazing parties, if you are unwilling to have the Elf go nuts, then more power to me! 😉

  18. We have an elf. I don’t love him. I don’t hate him. I have hated him in past years, but there’s no pressure now because my girls don’t believe anymore, so we’re just doing it for fun! It’s only been a few days (we also wait until December 1 because that’s definitely the maximum amount of time I can manage it), but my oldest girl has already moved it twice when she came downstairs and saw I hadn’t moved it yet. Impressive mothering, right?

    • That is super awesome! I am loving your older girl…I feel like why not get the whole family involved in the elf magic! 😉

    • No, I am in full agreement with you…I definitely forsee a Hollywood horror movie starring the elf at some point! 😉

    • Your blog about Jolly made me laugh! 🙂 I do agree that when you are not stuck putting them up high all the time it gets more fun!

  19. This is the first year the elf has visited. My oldest is also beginning to ask questions and I figured it’s now or never. I have the best intentions but… Thomas, our elf, this morning is lying on top of the unfolded laundry in the basket. That’s where I threw him when I heard the boys come down the stairs. The upside is since we can’t touch the elf, it gives me another day pass on folding and putting away the clean clothes!

    • I will not even lie, this comment made me BURST OUT LAUGHING! Because, I will not even hesitate to do this EXACT SAME THING with Little Elf! Damn genius if you ask me! So glad you read and commented! 🙂

  20. Awwww, this is our second year with the elf and I just can’t imagine what it’ll be like when the magic starts fading. You just made me think about the future. Not good, I always end up in tears with the most ridiculous thoughts ever. Thanks for sharing. I love the wrapping paper photo.

    • I always end up in tears about those kind of things, too. It is hard to imagine when they will won’t be this innocent. I say enjoy every moment with your elf! 🙂

  21. My kids are 14-22, so we haven’t had believers for quite some time. Best wishes as you navigate this. And with the elf.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  22. Some people are just so clever. I couldn’t think of those kinds things…. of course, these days you don’t need to think because there’s 1001 things to do with your elf already primed and pinned and waiting for you.

    That seems like the kind of thing that I might think I’d really like, but when it comes down to it it would stress me out.

    • I totally agree! It just creates stress and feelings of inadequacy when you look on Pinterest at elf stuff. Seriously, WHO are these people with so much cleverness and time on their hands??!! 😉

  23. hahahaha. I have to laugh because I skipped the elf. I don’t like him 🙁 As for Santa, we’ve transitioned to “the Santa game”…and like you said–the kids just don’t ask too many questions because they don’t really want to know. I just started referring to it as “the Santa game” a few years ago. And whenever he starts asking questions about Santa or talking about Santa, I just ask if he really wants to know or if he wants to keep playing the Santa game. He’s never picked to stop. AND he gets even more into Santa than he did when he was little. Good luck with the elf-ling, though…glad it didn’t catch on at my house 😛

    • I like the idea of the Santa game…I am definitely using that one! 🙂 Yes, be thankful you did not go for the elf…it is exhausting and annoying! 😉

  24. Are you telling me that my elf’s hands are MAGNETIC??? And all this time I just assumed that they were glued together. This changes everything!

    Well – no – it doesn’t really. But maybe I’ll remember to move him tonight…

    • Sorry Anna, your elf’s are not in fact magnetic…just my elf’s hands! 😉 See, my husband (on the side) fancies himself a bit of an elf surgeon if you will and installed the magnets in our elf’s hands a few years back. They are still going strong!
      For the price of a padded envelope and some stamps, he will operate on your elf, too! 😉

  25. Well, every morning my daughter wakes up to find her poor little Elf in the exact same place. So, our Elf hits the North Pole during the day. Ha…see what we did there? Momma keeps forgetting the find a new home at night and throws the dang thing in a different location as my daughter gets in the car to go to school in the morning. Dang elf!

    • You know what, not all elves are night people. I get it. In fact, it is probably easier for Santa to have them rotate through anyway! 😉

    • Take it as a blessing Stephanie, honestly. You are not burdened by all the chaos of the elf, but can enjoy their antics from afar! 😉

  26. I am growing a hatred towards the elf myself… I am running out of places that it can go… how bout a week before Christmas, not Thanksgiving! Seems like my kids are losing interest as well..

    • Great idea! Let’s adopt that plan for next year…the elf comes for a week! My kids are not nearly as into it anymore either. UGH.

  27. Why have a never seen this post before?? I feel so lame never having orginal EOTS ideas–or time to do it–or let’s be honest, REMEMBERING to do. Nice breath of fresh air in this holiday craze, ladies!

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