The Elf On The Shelf Tradition

Started back in 2005 when Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell self-published the book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” along with a special box with a small Scout Elf inside.

After Thanksgiving this little elf starts appearing in different areas of the house to keep on eye on the children. Each night they report back to Santa and say whether the kids have been naughty or nice. It’s a cute way to keep the spirit of Santa alive and encourage good behavior with the children.

Santa advises that no family member can touch the elf, so no touching is allowed.

Some rules you need to remember

1. The elf comes out for the first time on December 1st. You can bring him out sooner, but he must be moved every night so it may be hard to come up with new ideas to place him.

2. He leaves on Christmas Eve. Your elf will return to the North Pole on the 24 December, hitching a ride back with Santa when he comes to leave the presents.

3. You have to put them in a new position every day throughout December. (Parents, this means you)

4. Your child has to be in bed before you can move the elf. The elf doesn’t move if they are being watched – another great reason to get your children into bed on time.

5. Your elf only gets their magic by being named. Families can name their elf anything after ‘adopting’ them, some top names last year were Buddy, Jingles, Shorty and Snowflake.

6. They are keeping watch for Santa. The whole point of having an elf lurking around your living room for a month is that they are keeping a close eye on your children’s behavior and feeding back to HQ, to decide whether there will be any presents under the tree this year.

7. Children are not allowed to touch them. Elves are very fragile, and if they are touched by human children they lose their magic and ability to communicate with Santa.

8. If they are touched, your child has to write a letter to the North Pole apologizing.


The elf also has various accessories you can purchase to help you with your evening fun of hiding the elf. Some ones I’ve seen are, a self hanging hammock (so you can hang him in your Christmas tree), many different costumes, wizard robes, large ornaments to place them in, hot cocoa stand, a photo booth, luggage and tiny map, snow ball fight set, sleeping bags, letter board notes, footprints stencil, backpack and beach accessories. There’s many out there to create little scenes for your little ones.

Where to hide your elf

Need some ideas on where to place your elf every night? Check out these . . .

  1. Inside the holiday wreath
  2. Above the stockings or in one
  3. Tucked in the kids toys
  4. In the tree
  5. On the coffee table
  6. By the family photos
  7. On the refrigerator with magnets
  8. In the bathroom
  9. Hanging from the curtains
  10. Popping out of blinds
  11. Hiding in a small bowl of popcorn
  12. Hanging down from the chimney
  13. Hiding in the presents
  14. Near the gingerbread house
  15. Riding some Christmas decor
  16. Coloring
  17. Hiding with the kitchen utensils
  18. In the pantry, coming out of a cereal box
  19. In the cabinet, sitting in a bowl
  20. In the refrigerator
  21. On the mantel
  22. On a shelf
  23. On the staircase
  24. In the windowsill
  25. Hanging off the corner of the TV
  26. In a blanket
  27. In the plant
  28. On the bed
  29. In the shoe rack
  30. On top of the toilet
  31. In the linen closet
  32. On the ceiling fan
  33. On the bookshelf

Each Elf on the Shelf kit consists of the Elf and a Christmas tradition book. They also make great gives to parents of younger children who haven’t started the tradition yet. Better yet, hand them down every generation.

You can find them in different colors and whether you want a boy or a girl.

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