The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition


About 4 years ago, my mom sent me The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. I had never heard of this book before, but it has since become a Christmas phenomenon in many families and I thought I would share this with you because I think it is one of the best family Christmas traditions money can buy. At my house, it ensures that my kids behave all Christmas season long without any nagging or tantrums!

Everyone knows Santa has a list for who is Naughty and Nice.  This book plays on that idea and explains how Santa knows which list on which to put people.  The main idea of The Elf on the Shelf is that the little elf doll sits on a shelf at your house during the Christmas season and gives nightly reports about good (and bad) behavior to Santa.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s behavior bribery.  Good behavior = Christmas presents. Bad behavior = Naughty list, no Christmas presents.  I don’t have a problem with this system.  It works for me.  If my kids are misbehaving, all I have to do is point over to the elf and remind them that he’s going to report them to Santa – and they immediately straighten up.  It’s awesome.

The first time you read the book with your child, you get to name your family’s elf and read the “rules” of how the elf works.  You learn that the elf’s job is to report behavior to Santa Claus.  A most important rule is that you can NEVER touch the elf or he loses his magic – which helps ensure the kids won’t try to take him down and move him around.

The hardest part about this tradition is that parents have to remember to move the elf doll to a new location every day so that the kids think that the elf went to give his report to Santa.  I have to admit that our family has quite the forgetful elf and I have had to come up with some creative excuses for him.   Sometimes he gets stuck in our house and can’t report to Santa if the weather is bad…sometimes he gets a cold and doesn’t feel good…and sometimes he really DID go and report to Santa, he just happened to come back and sit in EXACTLY the same spot…just to name a few.

Our elf (“Elvee”) shows up sometime during the week after Thanksgiving and stays through Christmas Eve.  My kids look forward to his arrival every year.  In fact, they have already started talking about him!  You can find The Elf on the Shelf for purchase in bookstores and online at

Have you used The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition?  Do you like it?  Is your elf as forgetful as mine?  Let me know in the comments!

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