Elf on the Shelf

What is Elf on the Shelf?

If you are a parent or grandparent of young children you are probably well aware of the current phenomenon of the Elf on the Shelf. However, if your family dates to pre 2005, you may not be aware of this very popular elf and its huge impact on the Christmas season.

To briefly educate you on “elfology” :

The elf comes from the North Pole and once you give it a name it then receives its magical powers. The elf sits in various places around the house and at night flies to the North Pole to give a report on the young one’s behavior. These reports will then determine whether your name will be in the naughty or nice book.

It is very important to never touch the elf once it is named and receives its magical powers or it will lose its powers.

Last year I wrote about my niece’s son, Aidan, and his mischievous escapades which led to worry about his elf’s report to Santa; but even I was not aware of the immense popularity of this little elf until I began receiving a huge number of hits on this post, beginning around Thanksgiving.

The strange thing about blogging is you never know what will happen to your masterpiece once you publish it to the web. I’m not sure how people are being directed to this post but it must have made it into some kind of directory to receive so many hits. I scrolled through 52 pages of Google listings and did not find it there.

The Blogosphere

While browsing Google I found there are many blogs, tweets, and Pinterests dedicated to the Elf on the Shelf and it has a number of Facebook fans. There is everything from dressing your elf to equating the elf with Jesus and Christmas. (I’m curious about the last one but didn’t take time to read it.) There are stories about good elves and bad elves, parents who love the elves and parents who hate their elves. If you go to the official Elf on the Shelf web site you will find everything from a map of adoption centers to interactive games and Mrs. Claus recipes.

In addition to serving as a behavior enforcer before Christmas, the elf may make special trips during the year. Aidan’s elf showed up for his birthday and he was so excited he almost cried.

Who doesn’t love a pesky pixie?

It is hard to explain the immense popularity of these little pesky pixies but who doesn’t love an elf? It is hard to find fault with one of Santa’s helpers.  Last year a short made-for-TV movie appeared before Christmas about the Elf on the Shelf and over 4.2 million viewers tuned in. It will be repeated this year on Dec. 14 on CBS from 9:30 to 10 pm.

Jim Silver of Timetoplaymag.com explains the elf’s popularity as filling a previously untapped niche. He said, “For all the years we’ve talked about Santa Claus, elves have never gotten their due with kids.”

Also boosting the elf craze is the 2003 Will Ferrell movie “Elf” and the new Elf on the Shelf balloon in this year’s Macy’s parade.

The Christmas elf isn’t popular with everyone. Some critics say it promotes spy tactics that might not be healthy for children.

From a marketing standpoint it is a stroke of genius. Every Christmas young girls usually get a doll but the boys are left to entertain themselves with robots, cars, and mechanical or electronic gadgets. Here is a doll that is socially acceptable for both sexes and every family must have one.

Finding the right name for your elf

If you are having troubles finding an appropriate name for your elf there are web sites to help you.  Aidan named his, Eyeball, because it is always watching him and my sister’s great-granddaughter named hers, Sheila. I think that is a wonderful name for an elf (hint—see the header above for the author of this blog) but some sibling rivalry got to my sister. We aren’t sure why she named the elf, Sheila, because I have not been around her very much but you should have seen her big eyes when I showed up at a family gathering and she learned my name.

Laura Spencer of Good Morning America found out the hard way the popularity and influence of the elf. After a story about the elf one morning they received complaints from angry viewers because she was holding the elf and they felt she disturbed its magical powers. The next day she followed up with another report explaining how it did not have a name yet but now that they have named it Gary of Good Morning America it cannot be touched. She reassured everyone that the elf still has its magical powers.

A lasting tradition?

If your family doesn’t have an Elf on the Shelf I predict that you will soon because I think this is a tradition that is here to stay.

Back by Popular Demand

I wrote this and posted it a year ago but lately I have been getting so many hits on it that I decided to run it again. Do you remember a visit to Santa after you had been naughty? That can strike fear in the heart of the bravest kid.

Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos


How does Santa keep track of all those children and know who has been naughty or nice? Which girls and boys deserve the latest, hottest toys? Or, which ones missed their goal and will receive only coal in their stockings? Santa’s special agent, the elf on the shelf, is the answer.

My niece’s family adopted one of these special elves to watch over her four year old son until Christmas. They named him Eyeball and he hides in various spots around the house and then magically flies to the North Pole each night to report to the big guy. However, caution must be taken around the elves and the only rule is that they must never be touched or they will lose their magic. Each elf comes with this instruction–“There’s only one rule that you have to follow so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”

Armed with this information young Aidan has been on his best behavior since Thanksgiving. That is, until this week. Oh yes, he was swayed by some of his preschool buddies and fell over to the naughty side. It seems he and several other boys were being typical ornery boys and were rough-housing in the bathroom. When his mother arrived at the school to pick him up the teacher said she needed to talk with her. As she disappeared into the conference room his face fell from a big grin to absolute desolation. He was BUSTED!

On the ride home he perked up and decided he wasn’t in trouble after all because the incident happened away from home where the elf couldn’t see what he had done. But when his mother reminded him that the elf was magical and knew everything, then his mood turned to real fear. He worried and fretted about what would happen.

The next morning his mother, forgetting the events of the day before, decided it was a good time to go see Santa at the mall. Nope, he didn’t want to see Santa. He wasn’t going! He drug his feet and pouted because he knew he was really in trouble now. Santa knew everything! How could he face Santa after what he had done? Once his mother figured out why he didn’t want to see Santa she had to do some fast thinking to convince him it would be alright. She told him that this Santa they were going to see wasn’t the real Santa but his brother. OK then, that made all the difference.

We adults think we are home free and don’t have to worry about an elf on the shelf spying on us but we are wrong. We actually carry that little elf on our shoulder—it is called a conscience.

Happy Holidays!

Aidan Reeves, 4 years old, after making up with Santa.