The return of my love/hate relationship with Eli the elf

Eli the Elf on the Shelf

She’s baaaaaaaaaack.

It’s that time of the year for our beloved Eli the Elf to come out from the packed away boxes in the basement and return to the chaotic mess of the upstairs.

Last year was our first year with Eli. My lovely friend gave Eli to the girls as a gift. They fell in love with the idea of this tiny elf becoming part of the family and believed undoubtedly in the magic of Eli that was promised in the story that accompanied her.

It was sweet. It was cute.

It was going to be work for me.

With the return of the Christmas season comes the return of the Christmas season stress. Buying and making Christmas gifts, ugly sweater parties,  decorating, baking, attending Christmas concerts, drinking ridiculous amounts of rum and eggnog, and the list goes on. Adding another “to-do” to the list seemed like a heavy burden, but I was in it now. I couldn’t disappoint these girls who fell in love with this friggin’ elf.

The first night that Eli was to hide I put her in the garland above the fireplace. I looked at her and thought she actually kind of looked cute perched up on the mantle like that. I went upstairs to check on my girls and upon my return back downstairs  this is what I came across:

Elf on the shelf was destructive


See that little Elf on the garland there? The garland that’s on the floor!! The garland that fell down and broke half the decorations that were up there???


Keep in mind that I was pregnant at this time, so when I saw this I cried. Then I swore at the elf. Then I ate some ice cream. After I felt a bit better I cleaned everything up and put Eli on the back of the couch where she could do no damage while she waited for the girls to wake up in the morning.

When they woke up the first thing they wanted to do was find Eli. When they did, their excitement of finding this elf was magical for them. They truly enjoyed the idea of Eli watching them on behalf of Santa. That’s when I realized Eli’s potential. For the month before Christmas my parenting strategy consists entirely of me saying “you know Santa’s watching, right?”. Now, it was legit. Now there was a physical presence in the house watching EVERYTHING the girls did. When I heard my (then) 4-year-old tell her older sister to return the candies back to the tin because “Eli’s watching” I had to acknowledge the positive impact this could have on my entire month of December.

As the month went on I tried to make Eli feel at home by placing her in places like this:

Eli the Elf on the Shelf

I was having fun with the creative side of where to place Eli, and the girls were basking in the excitement of it all.

When it was time for her to return to her to her post-Christmas home there was a little bit of sadness (mostly from me who would have to begin creative parenting again). While this elf is a bit of an imposition of my time (to be honest, most of the time spent was perusing Pinterest to find ideas on where to hide her), she brought a lot of joy to my girls and added another element of the magic of Christmas to their childhoods.

Ultimately, I’m glad I fought the urge to return her to the store (my lovely friend included a gift receipt just in case I was horribly opposed). This year I plan to utilize what Eli is capable of (like this), but if I do happen to have one too many rum and eggnogs and forget about her there’s an entire list of reasons why Eli forgot to move that I’m sure I will be forever grateful for!


What are your favorite places to put your Elf on the Shelf?



  1. Rubiena Duarte

    It’s always bitter sweet for me when it is the Elf on the shelf time – I run out of ideas and am constantly looking online for interesting things to do and place the Elf – and we have 2!

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      I hear ya. Pinterest is my saving grace!

  2. Brooke

    Haha this is funny. My nephew LOVES the elf-on-the-shelf. But how do you come up with a new hiding place every. single. morning. I couldn’t imagine having two! Good luck 🙂

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      All I can say is….thank goodness for Pinterest!!

  3. Jackie

    Too funny!! My husband and I hide it on each other all the time..Can’t wait for our baby to be here/grow up so we can carry on the tradition!

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      Definitely! You’ll have a lot of fun:)

  4. Jenni Petrey

    We have two elfs, Twinkle and Elfie, and my kids adore them! It really does make Christmas a little more magical! Our hands down favourite elf activity that we do every year (this will be our 5th year) is elfie selfies with the kids when they’re asleep and drawing on the kids with markers, also when the kids are asleep. It never gets old 🙂

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      Those are great ideas!

  5. anna

    I love the idea of elf on a shelf but I know I’d forget to hide it or just run out of ideas. Well done for persisting!

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      Pinterest is your best friend. It let’s you find other people who have crazy rad ideas;)

  6. Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms

    I’m so grateful for Pinterest and other moms to online to help come up with Elf ideas!!

    1. Samantha Palmer (Post author)

      Absolutely! I don’t know where I’d be without them!

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