It’s that time of the year for our beloved Elf on the Shelf to come out from the packed away boxes in the basement and return to the chaotic mess of the upstairs.
I did not buy Elf on the Shelf.
My lovely friend gave “Eli”, as she’s now called, to my 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.
What you need to know before you buy Elf on the Shelf
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:
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:
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 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.
However, one thing to consider before you buy Elf on the Shelf is the need to have “the talk” when your older kids figure out that Elf on the Shelf is a character. My 8-year-old found Eli in the closet wrapped up in her box and was devastated at the fact that Eli was not the magical elf she once thought for her to be. Fortunately, I was able to convince my daughter that while Eli was merely a way for parents to keep their kids in check with an actual physical presence “reporting back to Santa” (I was a bit more kid-glovey than that, of course) that Santa was still very real. I’m not ready for her to stop believing in Santa, and she’s definitely not ready to let go of her belief.
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 favourite places to put your Elf on the Shelf?