Anonymous Mom: It’s Time To Shelf The Elf

MjAxMy0yZDQ3NzRjYWEwNDA1MDEyEve Vawter wrote an article condemning parents for staging adult scenarios with their Elf on the Shelf, saying that “For every asshole parent out there who finds this sort of shit funny, there is a little kid out there who has this sincere optimism about the holidays, who still loves dolls and elves and ugh, we get it parents, you are cool and smart and oh so clever and you can take a dumb elf idea and puke all over it. Now go away.”

While I personally don’t engage in this kind of behavior with our elf, I understand where these parents are coming from. The Elf on the Shelf isn’t just a harmless holiday activity that “cool parents” are annoyed by. It is a manufactured tradition that parents are either forced to engage in or otherwise have some creative ‘splainin’ to do to their child who is worried that Santa won’t know if they’ve been naughty or nice.

The first I heard of Elf on the Shelf was last year when I stumbled on a blog making fun of an insane list of Elf on the Shelf ideas, and I immediately resolved never to have one. The following day I received a call from my Mother-in-law who excitedly explained to me that she had sent our family one of our very own! I made a feeble attempt at protest, but as the package would be arriving after Christmas, I knew that I had at least a year to come up way out of this. This year, her mid-November text gently reminding me that the elf needed to come out soon combined with the fact that she would be staying in our home during the month of December made it apparent that I had to choose between an unpleasant confrontation with my MIL or simply using the damn elf. I picked the latter.

The first time my son (age four) laughed hysterically over the fact that the elf had actually moved from one shelf to another, I was thrilled. I even thought it might be worth it. However, the elf simply moving around only elicited that reaction once. Last night I decided to step up my game a little bit and suggested my son leave some blocks out for his elf to play with. After he went to bed I built a little house and sat the elf in it, but in the morning he didn’t even remember that we had an elf. I finally pointed it out to him, and he gave a very underwhelmed, “haha. cool.” Um, no. Don’t we already experience enough of our children not comprehending and therefore not appreciating the effort we put in to make them happy every day much less during the holidays when a fat stranger gets to take credit for all the presents we to slaved to get?

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  • Andy

    Oh, I hear you…my MIL also gifted us with our elf. We promptly named him Kurt, after the Glee character (you have to admit, there is a strong resemblance) and it’s been downhill from there. He just rotates around our living room. I REFUSE to create ‘fun’ scenes for him (you know, a marshmallow snowball fight, the elf spilled the flour ect) because I already have a three year old, a newborn, and two dogs (not to mention two adults) to clean up after. Not going to happen, sorry. My kids will just have to be content with having a boring-ass elf! I will give him props though, I have gotten some very good behavior from the three year old since the elf climbed out of the attic (somewhat like the creature from “The Ring”)-all I have to do is say “The elf is watching you” and she toes the line ;)

  • SA

    #1 – THIS is fabulous…

    #2 – I just hope by the time my daughter is old enough to realize that this isn’t a “thing” anymore…

    We most likely aren’t going to be Santa people so I don’t think we’ll have much explaining to do on that end. If kid feels left out at school we can make a game of everyone taking turns hiding the Elf to crack each other up. (We unwillingly have one – given to us for her First Christmas)

    I’d much rather spend my time baking and watching Christmas movies (aka – drinking wine, eating chocolate chips, and dancing along to White Christmas)

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I only learnt of teh Elf when I started reading american blogs, about a year ago. And in this year i’ve gathered that the elf is creepy as fuck. Between his stalking antics and his sex offender little face, I don’t want one anywhere near me.

    • Andy

      No kidding-I don’t like dolls, and this little bugger looks like the spawn of Chucky crossed with one of the elves from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. I didn’t want one, but just like anon mom, I didn’t have much say in the matter.

  • Katie L.

    You don’t need the elf to sucker your kids into behaving around Christmas. My mom once picked up the phone to call Santa when I was misbehaving. Thank goodness she was put on hold or I’d have been in real trouble.

    My only issues with the elf pictures are this:

    1. Why do you have to put the picture of your kid’s underwear on the tree?

    2. When someone tells you how creative your are for putting your child’s underwear on the tree don’t reply “Oh thanks! I just come up with these on the spot! I never pre-plan them!” Bitch, I’ve seen your Pinterest board. Don’t lie.

    • Janok Place

      My mom called Santa once too! Seems the customer service in the North Pole is a little slow around the holidays.

    • jendra_berri


    • Ptownsteveschick

      Yeah, I totally have Santa on speed dial. I figure when my kid is old enough to wonder why we don’t have an elf (if it is even still a fad in 3 or so years) I will just tell her its because we don’t need an elf to watch her and report to Santa because he is my close personal friend and I have his direct line.

    • Aussiemum

      I’ve totally done the “I’m ringing Santa!!!” But I don’t get put on hold, I’ve got the direct line! Lucky for me, Santa sounds a lot like my dad, so he has received calls from me in previous years, and has played right along. Even if he’s been at work, he has still put on his best Santa voice and told the little shits to behave or there will be nothing under the tree but a rotten orange and a pair of socks.
      Luckily, this year we haven’t had to make the call, due to only Mr 7 being Santa obsessed. I have threatened Mr 16 & 13 and Miss 11 that I’ll quite happily cancel their Christmas lay-bys and keep the money for my self and hubby and put it towards our very first holiday to Bali next year! ( We live in Perth, Ozland and must be the only 2 people in the city that haven’t been! Even the kids have been. I’m so lame!)
      But in saying that, I’m so excited to see their faces on the big day! I’ve picked some good shit, and god dammit I’m benefiting from the presents this year. Miss 11 is getting a cupcake making thingo and Mr 7 is getting a kit that makes lollies (I have a very sweet tooth!)
      As for the Elf? Not in my house. I’m far to lazy to come up with a new idea everyday, and I think the day 1 photo would be the cat dragging the Elf away, never to be seen again. I hope.

  • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

    It was cute, until the pervs got a hold of them…

  • T

    I refuse to get my kids one. What a stupid, needless thing. I have such a hate on for it!

  • allisonjayne

    Ugh. We do santa but I am sooooo not doing the elf. I guess I should figure out some ironclad reason why other than “he looks like a fucking creep and also I am lazy”.

    • Andrea

      I was ahead of the curve with that stupid elf because the author is a local and kids around here started before the rest of the nation. I’ve been doing that stupid elf for years and I am THOROUGHLY sick of it. It is a royal pain in the ass and I am not creative enough to come up with creative scenarios of have the energy to carry them through even if I were.
      This year I was hoping that my kid would have outgrown it or maybe forgot about him. Fat fucking chance. He started asking at around Thanksgiving when I though the elf was coming. Couldn’t get out of it.

    • EX

      I’m thinking maybe I’ll tell my kids “only bad kids need an elf to keep an eye on them.” Too much?

    • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

      LOL I did this. It didn’t work. I asked, do you really want an elf to spy on you for Santa. She says, “Yes” I say, I always tell Santa you are always good because I know you always try to be good. The elf might be more picky. She still wants the stupid elf. I said it is too late now to ask for one, so I will ask next year. :( I hope she forgets.

    • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

      I’m actually thinking of picking up some elf like doll at the dollar store and using that. She doesn’t know what the thing is supposed to look like. She only knows her friend has an elf. A REAL elf.

    • M.

      That’s exactly what I plan on telling my kid! That kids who misbehave get the elf sent to make sure they stay in line and we don’t have one cuz he’s such a good sweet angel ;-) I hate that stupid elf and I have enough Christmas traditions in my house already, ones that were traditions when me and my husband were little (we’ve merged them), I don’t need to add some Hallmark manufactured tradition that’s been a thing for like 3 years…

  • Jess

    if you replace elf refences with those of santa, then this is just the same dilema that non-christian families face every year. seems like an explanation along the same lines like “different families believe different things” and “we have our own traditions” would probably work.

    • Skipper

      So true. What makes one tradition better than another? They were all new at one point- Santa, Rudolph, the North Pole. Non Christian families face this all the time. All families face this. I ‘had’ to explain to my son why some people at his school get to have a menorah and he doesn’t. Diversity is good! That said, I find the elf to be creepy and the story of Rudolph to be kind of depressing.

  • CMP414

    My daughter is only 22 months old and still doesn’t get the whole Christmas thing but I do feel a pressure for next year. I hate the Elf thing but EVERYONE I know does it. I don’t want my kid to be left out but I think it’s so creepy not to mention over priced. If we do it, the elf can move about the mantle but I am so not putting it in any situations that I’ll need to clean up after.

    • Mikster

      I agree on the messes…..there are other ways to get creative with the little guy. And there’s no Elf Police that says you have to make him do something every single day!

  • Savannah61

    No kids yet, but planning to have them in the near-ish future. I am hoping that this elf nonsense dies before they are old enough to care about it. Because I have no plans to do it. It’s super weird and creepy to me. Plus, there is no way in hell I’m intentionally making a big ol’ mess that I’ll just have to clean up later. I make enough messes doing holiday baking (which I’m sure will be much bigger messes when it’s holiday baking with children “helping”), I don’t need anymore!

  • Natasha B

    My 9yo and 4yo have never asked why we don’t have an elf….my answer would be…because Hallmark invented it? What ‘tradition’ is the creepy thing rooted in??? They weren’t even popular until 2/3 years ago.

    • Andrea

      A lady wrote a book that explained it. She basically created the whole thing and it sucks. She’s a local too, so my kid even has the book autographed by her. I met her during the singing when she went to my kids’ school and it was all I could do not to choke her with the damn elf.

    • Natasha B

      I feel like we should sneak into her house and start hiding the creepy thugs everywhere. And everywhere she goes…one would pop up…

    • brebay

      The thug under the rug? I’m in.

    • Natasha B

      We could start a Pinterest board.

    • Andrea

      HELL YES!!!!!

    • Alicia Kiner

      Yeah, my kids are too old for it too. I just this year found out what the heck it was all about. Shrug. No big. We have our own traditions, and my kids haven’t asked a thing about it. They go to a very diverse school where about 1/2 the kids are non-Christian, so that could be why.

  • Mikster

    tough. Mine go to school and ask why they are the only kids without a cell phone, to which I answer: “You don’t have a job to pay for one yet.” Deal. While my kids are too old for the Shelf Elf, I have no doubt I’d have had a ball with it when they were little. And now he’d be boozing and partying like a rock star …..

  • Amy
  • Aja Jackson

    Can’t stand that creepy looking doll and he will not step foot in my house. Luckily most people I know don’t actually have an elf so I’m good.

    Every Christmas when I was little my mother hung an ornament that was a little bag of coal that had “naughty” written on it. It never moved, I don’t even ever remember her talking about it or pointing to it. The bag just hung there as a threatening reminder of what could be. It was enough.

    • Natasha B

      That is diabolically fantastic.

  • pineapplegrasss

    Yeah, no creepy elf for me. Besides I’d just fall asleep and he’d be outed the same way the tooth fairy was.

  • Jessica

    I feel like all the elf antics are pretty ridiculous & I don’t understand why people post them on Facebook. However, Christmas elves are a favorite of mine. My mom has had some pretty cute ones hanging out on her tree. So even though my daughter is too young to care about the elf on the shelf, we have one sitting in our tree among some other elves & fairies. I don’t have any plans to move him or really buy into the whole backstory.

    This is one of the only pictures I really liked of the elf :)

  • brebay

    Kids swap stories about this at school? Um, I think that’s wishful thinking and justification.

    • Lucille two

      I was surprised but one of my coworkers was just complaining that her son (4) was asking why they didn’t have one after preschool. Maybe the teachers ask about it?

    • Andrea

      Yeah they do. They totally talk about it.
      I was raised in S America, where we have the tradition of the Three Wise Men coming on Jan 6th if you leave your shoes by your bedroom door. My then 4 year old happily yapped about this to his preschool friends and I had 2 panicked calls from other moms asking me WTF was this about because their kids were asking when the Three Wise Men were coming to THEIR house.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      That was Saint Nick at our house. Weird…. (Catholic childhood difference?)

    • Andrea

      Could be!

    • brebay

      I think I’d tell my kid that it was fake and to tell them their mom needed a new hobby ;) jk

    • Savannah61

      I teach & I’ve heard a few lunchroom conversations about it. I haven’t heard teachers talk about it, but a few kids do.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Yes, and both my kids had them in their preschool. However, we don’t have one at home and neither of them asked, so I say we’re good :)

    • Jessica

      I didn’t think they did either, but it’s apparently a big topic of conversation at circle time when the kids share each morning in kindergarten.

  • AP

    “They can’t say the elf is made up because then they are the asshole parents who ruined the magic for the other kids at school.”

    The Elf is for sale quite prominently in the kids’ section of pretty much every store, with giant price tags. Kids aren’t stupid. I mean, the “Mall Santas are Santa’s Helpers” makes sense, because Mall Santa isn’t standing under a “Mall Santa Sale Only $21.99 this week!” and he doesn’t end up in people’s homes (usually…). You’d literally have to never go into a big box store, watch a commercial, or have a Sunday circular in your home from mid-October to January to keep the charade up very long.

    I’m a big supporter of Santa, but the Elf is so commercially for sale, covering his true story of origin just isn’t plausible for very long.

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    “So what are elf-less parents supposed to do when their kid comes home from one of these elf story swaps and asks why Santa didn’t send him an elf?”

    What we Jewish kids whose families ignore Christmas have been doing for years–develop a look of smug condescension whenever this babyish crap comes up in conversation.

    Alternatively, since my (admittedly limited) understanding of the Elf’s purpose is that he/she/it (see limited understanding) is supposed to be watching the kids to make sure they aren’t doing anything to get them put on the naughty list, tell your kids that you know deep down that they’re good human beings, and good human beings don’t need their behavior monitored constantly.

  • CelesteF

    How to explain why other kids have the elf and you don’t “Santa only sends the elf to watch over naughty children.” BOOM problem solved.

  • scrooge

    My kids got one from my hateful sister-in-law last year. Its still in the attic. They’re young, so that creepy bastard is staying up there. Now my husband’s ex wife poses her elf and takes photos everyday and posts them to facebook and her blog. She has elaborate stories about her wacky elf. Here’s the thing: She’s 35. And childless. I think that elf is the only “person” who can stand looking at her bitch face.

  • Kay_Sue

    I still hate the elf. But it is fun to see the look on my seven year old’s face when he finds it in the morning. And he does look for it. I think we are stuck, at least for a little while.

    I can definitely see why parents get addicted. We’ve been a little more creative this year, and it would be easy to get sucked down that rabbit hole if I was less lazy.

  • Litterboxjen

    I have a serious hate-on for the Elf, and given my tradition of stuffing my foot down my throat with my MIL whenever I express a strong opinion on something, I just *know* that the year I go on a tear condemning them will be the year I ended up getting one from her for my kid.

    It makes me angry that this is a manufactured “tradition” that is becoming a thing, and yes, I know that’s how traditions are made, but I prefer traditions that come organically and not those that a company tells us to adopt.

    Finally, if it ever came up as to why we didn’t have one, I’d just tell my kid the cats chased it off. :D

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Up-vote for “hate-on”!

  • EcnoTheNeato

    Easy explanation: “Santa said you were SO GOOD this year, you don’t need *insert elf name her* to watch over you anymore! But you better stay good, otherwise I’ll write him a letter and he’ll have to come back and watch over you for all the times I can’t”

    Boom. Easy-peasy. I’m not a parent, but I AM an expert liar…

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Also, calm down on the hype train. I figure the Elf bubble will burst. I won’t put it down with eggnog or trees or watching a certain movie just yet. It has been around since the 50′s (technically), but thanks to social media it exploded after it became “canonized” in 2005 by a particular company.

      But I hear you on the main gripe. Let’s calm down a bit because not everyone is creative or LIKES to clean up a mess they made just for the sake of a picture to post on FB (and then pretend it’s actually about the kids). And you strike home with the fact that the elf is another means to have children neglect the hard work of a parent who is working extra hard to enhance their Christmas; it’s bad enough Santa does that, to a large extent, already…

  • ranch mom

    An important, if not critical, part of being a parent is being able to live by, and explain to your children your own creeds and philosophies (religion or not, liberal or conservative, vegetarian or bacon lover, dog vs cat). If you can not do this, and your guiding fear is that they feel “left out” of any trend, you have a bigger problem than a ridiculous elf.

  • Sara

    My friend told her kids there is a secret webcam in the tree that Santa watches them on. She just points to the tree, yells Santa and it’s like the elf,but less work.

  • whiteroses

    I refuse to do Elf on the Shelf for all the reasons described- creeps me out, laziness, etc. We do St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 5-6, we do Christmas, we do chocolate advent calendars, we go to holiday light shows, on Christmas Eve we bake sugar cookies and gingerbread, there’s Midnight Mass for the hubby and Boxing Day… etc. The holidays are busy enough. I don’t want to add one more flipping thing to the list.

    I’m all about Christmas magic. I adore Christmas- it’s the one day of the year when, in my family, anything goes. No set bedtimes, eat whatever you want whenever you want it, and basically party down. But I think that doing Elf on the Shelf might be going a bit overboard, what with all the other traditions my family observes that are far more personal to us. No hate on anyone who does Elf on the Shelf, but it’s just not my style.

  • Larkin

    I’m late to this article, but OMG THE ELF!!!! It is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure I would have had nightmares about it if I’d had one as a child, because I had an ongoing fear of my toys coming to life.

    Our eight-year-old niece has one, and actually mentioned once that her best friend didn’t have one and wondered why. We said it was because Santa only has a limited number of elves, so her elf went to visit other kids’ houses during the night and watched them all when they were at school. ;-)

    My favorite was in a STFU Parents post where a mom told her kids that the elves hid in the vents. She didn’t have to do anything, and the kids were super well behaved any time they saw a heating/cooling vent (which are pretty much everywhere).