By Kelly Youngblood
Our elf story began seven years ago, back when I had two kids three and under.
Now I have three kids 10 and under. And a seven-year old elf named “Dane.”
It’s been a long seven years.
By my calculations, that’s roughly 210 nights of me trying to come up with something cute/funny/clever for our elf to do. And since my youngest is only six, I’m guessing I’ve got 210 more nights of this to look forward to.
Excuse me while I sob.
I’ve rued the day I brought Dane into our lives many times. I’ve contemplated “losing” him. Fantasized about his demise- maybe an accidental asphyxiation by Christmas lights?
But I could never go through with it- the fact is my kids love the creepy, little guy and look forward to his return every year.
So rather than toss him in the trash, I’m throwing a certain perspective away. We’ll call it the “Pinterest Perspective.” It’s the idea that I have to stay up late every night burning my fingers with a hot glue gun and cutting out paper snowflakes to create elaborate, mystical scenes for our elf.
No. Just no.
I encourage anyone who is feeling like me and just too tired to deal with creating recurring elf shenanigans to re-read the book. It’s “Elf on the SHELF”, people. It’s not “Elf Floating Down from the North Pole in a Magical Hot Air Balloon.” It’s not “Elf Wraps Entire House in Christmas Paper.”
Rest assured, the book is further proof you’re not doing it wrong if you don’t go all out every night.
Of course, if you do enjoy working with hot glue guns and can cut paper snowflakes like nobody’s business, that’s great. Don’t let me stop you. (Please, just tell your kids not to talk in public about the amazing adventures of their elf.)
Seriously though, you don’t need to do something spectacular with your elf every night to make your kids happy. You can set the bar low. You can lower their expectations. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it.
Some nights I have more energy and will put forth more effort. Other nights, Dane gets lazily put on the Christmas tree or stuffed in a stocking. And that’s ok because my kids still look for him every morning to see what he’s up to.
Granted, they barely bat an eye when he’s very undramatically sitting in a new spot.
But I firmly believe when my kids are older, they won’t really remember exactly what our elf did- just that he was there and part of our Christmas tradition.
Just when I think our elf can’t get any lamer, my son’s teacher told me last week how he had excitedly shared that our elf had left candy canes in his stocking that morning.
And that’s why I’ll keep doing it.
My kids look forward to him coming back every year. It’s a tradition we’ve started since they were very young and as much as I’ve complained about it, I’m sure I’ll miss that darn elf one day.
Tips for Keeping it Simple
- Stay off of the Internet- even the “easy” Elf ideas require more effort than I’m willing to give.
- Buy cheap “props.” Not everyone wants to invest more money in their Elf but a box of candy canes or M & M’s can go a long way.
- Use what you’ve already got. I find most of my inspiration in the toy box.
- Enlist the help of older kids (or husband- whichever one is least likely to resist). I was a little sad my 10 year old is now in cahoots with me but it’s actually been a fun new thing for us to do together.
- Push back your Elf’s arrival date. Who says he can’t come a week before Christmas?
15 (Really) Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf
I’ve used all of these ideas this year or in past years:
- Elf in the Christmas tree
- Elf in a stocking
- Elf in a Barbie car (or other vehicle)
- Elf “battles” a gang of action figures/pack of animals/herd of dinosaurs (you get the idea)
- Elf hangs upside down from a ceiling fan
- Elf TP’s tree
- Elf leaves note asking for children’s Christmas list
- Elf leaves cookies/donuts/candy
- Elf wears soccer uniform (paid $10 at Target)
- Elf wears tutu (or other doll clothes)
- Elf rides on a stuffed reindeer
- Elf plays cards, board games, etc. with friends (other stuffed animals)
- Elf makes Play Do cookies
- Elf reads a book
- Elf leaves something from Target Dollar bins
What’s your Elf’s go-to move(s)? Share in the comments below!