I Don’t Get The Whole ‘Elf On The Shelf’ Phenomenon

‘The Elf on the Shelf’- the phenomenon that has grown men and women taking intricate photo shoots of dolls and has children everywhere believing that Santa has spies planted in their homes – is totally creepy. Sorry. Somebody had to say it.

Pictures of the cute little Elf and all of the mischievous situations he finds himself in are taking over Facebook and Pinterest. I ignored it for a while, but it became one of those things that made me feel like a crappy mother – so I had to look into it. Should I have an Elf on the Shelf? Is my child missing out?

It turns out that these seemingly harmless little Elves are Santa’s secret police. Well, that might be a little dramatic. They may not be terrorizing children, but their function is a little creepy.  From The Elf on the Shelf website:

Have you ever wondered how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice? The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition is the very special tool that helps Santa know who to put on the Naughty and Nice list… Excellent listeners and even better observers, these scout elves are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus. Although they cannot be touched, or else they may lose their magic, the elf will always listen and relay messages back to Santa.

“Excellent listeners and even better observers?” So, they’re spies. They’re Santa’s spies. Every night they return to the North Pole to rat out your kids. They come back in the morning and “hide” in a different place. But if they are touched, they lose their magic and Santa cannot receive the information he needs to fulfill your Christmas wishes.

Bringing a new toy into the house that your child can’t touch? How much do you want to bet that every single child out there has touched this thing and cried himself to sleep, convinced that he killed the power of Santa’s magic elf? Santa has always been a little creepy, with the “he sees when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” thing, but they deployment of these little elves is taking it a little too far.

Of course, I don’t want to be a Scrooge. When my child is old enough to care, maybe I’ll try the little spies myself. Just don’t expect any new Elf on the Shelf Pinterest boards from this craft-less mother.

(photo: Amazon.com)

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You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • ChopChick

    They’re so so creepy. And they’re supposed to be mischievous so “they” do all kinds of weird things and then the parents take pictures? I just don’t get why some parents are so into this. It’s so creepy and annoying. And stop posting pictures on facebook you parents. I wanna see your kids not a weird elf.

    I may not be a parent yet but I CAN tell you, there will be no elves on shelves. Nope. Too weird.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      Haha. I know it’s harmless fun – but it’s also creepy!

  • Byron

    They’re basically Scarecrows for children rather than, well, crows. They’re there to fool them into not attacking the corn (candied, in the case of young kids) in the absence of the farmer/parent.

    And if we wanna look at it the “creepy way”, a fat fancily-dressed older man coming down your chimney with “bags of goodies for your little kids” is just as creepy if not more.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      You have a point. Christmas is creepy!

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      hahahah I LOVE this scarecrow analogy! Guess what damn elf is going to be surrounded by candy corn and strung up on a makeshift cross tomorrow?!

  • Sasoura

    Agreed, super creepy

  • whatthehooha

    Heck, creepy or otherwise, I just don’t have the time. I like taking real photographs of real things…you know, sunsets, my kids actually playing, the tree I spent over an hour decorating…and I suck at just remembering to put M & M’s in my advent calendar so, meh, if you makes you feel like a supermom blogging & pinning photos of a pointy-eared toy all day long, knock yourself out. I guess I sound bitter….where’s my wine? ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      Please, if bitter prevents elf photos, stay that way! Thank you, the author, and any other non-elfing parents out there.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      omg… I’m an elfer :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

      I think to be a full-blown elfer you must post “cute” pictures on FB. Failure to do that, plus calling the elf a PITA, keeps you in the sane camp. :)

    • tyop

      It might be “sane” but it’s still creepy. You’re still telling your kids that the elf is spying on them.

  • MommyK

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one!!! Everyone seems to be doing it this year, and I’m already tired of seeing so many elf photos on my Newsfeed. At first I felt like a bit of a Grinch to refuse to participate (my LO is too young to know anyways), but it’s just too creepy. It always reminds me of the Chucky movies, I’d be sleeping with one eye open with an elf in my house, scared to wake up and find it in my bed. There has to be some children who are scared of it, no? And I a little bit dislike that the Elf gets into mischief and it is considered a good thing. Hopefully this is a trend that doesn’t last too long, because my kid will not be getting an Elf on the Shelf…EVER.

  • MommyK

    What happens when the kids find the elf in the closet in July?

    • VanCan

      At that point, you’ll have to tell them that the elf is just a sick voyeur and you’re calling the cops.

  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    I admit it. I have an elf. *hangs head in shame*

    I wish we had an Elf Anonymous support group.

    I never wanted to be an elf person. It started innocently enough with my daughter coming home in tears last year saying WHY DO ALL MY FRIENDS HAVE ELVES AND I DON’T HAVE AN ELF DOES THIS MEAN SANTA WON’T KNOW IF I AM GOOD OR BAD?! so I sucked it up and ordered a damn elf, on sale.

    I have never photographed this elf. I am not even that creative with him. The elf is just a major pain in the ass because we always have to remember to move him, and even though we have only had him for a few short weeks I am running out of whimsical shit to do with my elf.
    I have an elf, and I resent this elf.
    Someone please thank me for sharing.
    *hides in the corner and cries*
    I’m a damn elf person :(

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      haha – ElfAnon

    • katydid0605

      oh eve…thanks goodness we already like you ;)

  • Tea

    I don’t even remember these things when I was a kid, it’s like they magically appeared in the last five years, or didn’t exist in Ohio. They do seem creepy, I probably would have been afraid of it as a child.

    Please don’t let these be a thing in ten years, or we’ll have to explain ” No elves here, Daddy is blind and the kitty is blind too so it might get hurt.” Lest I accidentally smack it off the shelf in accidental magic-ruining elf assault.

  • VanCan

    This sort of crap is why I don’t want to start the Santa game with my kid (she’s too young now to notice). Seems like too much work to invest in a fairy tale. I barely have the energy to wrap presents and make gingerbread and now I’m supposed to hide the North Pole’s KGB all over the house? Feh.

  • C.J.

    Luckily my kids think it is creepy too and don’t want an elf. Even the 10 year old thinks it is creepy and she doesn’t believe in Santa anymore and knows the elf isn’t real!

  • katydid0605

    i agree its creeping , and actually we dont even really heavily do the whole “santa” thing. Ive never uttered anything about santa watching in the months leading up to christmas, and my kids are 4 and 6. My 6 year old know santa isnt real ,but chooses to play along anyway which is totally fine by me and up to him. I tell them they can believe what they want.

    We met a lady last christmas who brought her evles to Chili’s for dinner with the family. they went everywhere with them. and her kids must have been 10 and 11. now THATS creepy.

  • Ellie

    THANK YOU! Super creepy and idiotic. But my MIL is actually annoyed with us that we won’t put the one she gave us around the house to skeeve out our kids.

  • Jessica Temple

    The whole idea of believing in Santa is creepy if people would actually read their history

    • tyop

      just seems like a way to get kids to believe in God later, even if
      that’s not what every parent intended when they teach their kids about
      Santa. He sees everything you do and it’s NOT supposed to be creepy, he
      rewards and punishes the kids if they’re good or bad, and being able to
      bring presents to every house in one night doesn’t make sense, but you
      have to believe it or you won’t get any presents.

  • Robynn Rowen

    I agree with you. I thought it was kind of a cute idea at first- but today I saw (Pinterest) an Elf on the shelf holding a little sign that said “Dissapointed in your behavior last night- SC” For myself, I don’t think that is the right way to approach unacceptable behavior in a child. I believe it is the parents responsability to address their childrens behavior when it happens and not manipulate them into being good through guilt and fear that “Santa” is dissapointed in them. I don’t see how that is fun at all….. The magic of Christmas is about giving and love and not about fear, and guilt…..Just my thoughts

  • brandy

    same im verry scared of elf on the shelfs i rember when i was little at night i hurd something in the kitchen and saw him eating cookies i told my parents but they thought it was cute but for me i was scared to death! btw im only nine!

  • little1

    I agree with brandy people made fun of me because i was scared of thoughs elfs!

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  • Ran

    Relax, no one is forcing you to participate. Let others who enjoy participate

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