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For the Christmas holiday season, introduce your children to one of the scout elves sent from Santa Claus himself, and place him on a shelf. This elf on the shelf will watch over your children and report back to Santa Claus on good behavior. This is a great family tradition for families with small children.
‘Tis the season that comes around every year to delight all the little souls in our life. During this special time, a seemingly popular tradition takes place where an elf on the shelf is brought home to tease and teach little ones about Christmas traditions.
Print an arrival letter from Santa and the Elf at the bottom of this post.
The elf on the shelf is “one of Santa’s helpers” sent by Santa Claus himself to make sure the kids at home are on their best behavior.
On many occasions the elf on the shelf may be “up to things” while no one is looking, like a little fun mischief and silly things.
This will be the first year in our family that we are doing the elf on the shelf tradition and we do hope to keep it going for several years while the kids are small.
I have a 2 and 4 year old, that are really starting to remember certain holiday elements like the Christmas Pine trees, tree ornaments, and lights.
What is Elf on the Shelf?
Elf on the shelf is a Christmas tradition establish in 2004, where an elf doll is “sent from Santa Claus” to watch over the children’s behavior during the holiday season.
This holiday activity is a fun ongoing event that can be observed from Thanksgiving all through to Christmas Eve. The elf then departs back to the North Pole, after his job of watching for good behavior is done.
The tradition was started only 18 years ago in 2004 by a mother, Carol Aebersold and one of her twin daughters, Chanda Bell. The mother and twins had practiced the elf on the shelf as a personal tradition during their childhood and decided they wanted to share the tradition with others, thus spreading the custom to others.
The elf is said to travel every night to the north pole to report back to Santa, and arrives back to the his seasonal home before everyone awakes. Some activities the elf of on the shelf partakes in, is hiding every morning so he can be sought out by the kids, and other mischievous activities. Before the elf could partake in any of these activities, the children should give him a name – which will “activate” his magical powers.
Elf on The Shelf Names
My kids named their elf “Elfo”, it’s short and cute and easy to remember. The children could pick any name their hearts desire, or they could also pick names from popular movies to make it easy.
Movies like Elf, and Harry Potter have funny relevant names that can be used for naming your elf, like “buddy”, or “Winky.”
Picking festive names that related to a Christmas object could also prove to be clever, like “Holly”, “Pine”, “Tinsel”, “Bell”, or “Snowflake”.
Other clever names that could be used could be related to the weather or food items that bring warmth and joy, such as: “Frosty”, “Snowy”, “Nippy”, “Coco”, “Sugar”, “Chocolate”.
Whatever names you pick for your Elf, once you name him – he will be sure to gain his magical powers of traveling back to the north pole every night to report to Santa and the elves amongst other activities he “will” partake in during his stay.
24 Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas
While your elf on the shelf is visiting, he should be up to some christmassy adventures everyday, including and not limited to a daily hide-and-seek morning game. Your kids should wake up in the morning and go looking for the hidden elf as they know he would have found a new hiding spot.
Here are some ideas for how to use an Elf on the Shelf to make sure you make your Elf stay eventful:
- Hanging out by the tree (simple and fun way to keep your elf visible)
- Putting your Elf in the pantry with some cookies or crackers
- Have the Elf host a Hot Cocoa party with scrumptious goodies
- Put Elf on the table with coloring pencils and some Printables!
- Sitting in a pile of freshly washed and dried towels to fold.
- Sitting on the coach with the TV remote
- Hanging by a safe light fixture
- Hanging in a bowl of goldfish crackers as if it were a ball pit
- Sitting on top of the refrigerator with a bottle of milk
- Sitting on the kitchen counter with arm in the cookie jar
- Hanging from the pole of your broom
- Hanging from the doorknob
- Ripping the paper from one of the holiday gifts
- Building a marshmallow fort
- Sitting by a stack of pancakes and a dusty mess of baking powder
- Setting a picture of himself in the background of everyone’s phone
- Writing a letter to the reindeer about toys
- Sitting and organizing the toys (to encourage your kids to do the same thing)
- Making color paper snowflakes with construction paper
- Playing mischievously with a roll of toilet paper.. what is he doing?
- Reading a story book in the bed
- Planning a Christmas holiday party with toy friends
- Elf trying to solve a Christmas puzzle
- Sitting in a bowl of Christmas themed chocolate Kiss candy
For a printable list of Ideas on what to do with your little elf on the shelf buddy – make sure to check out this post and download the printable.
Are Elf on the Shelf Real?
The elf is only as real as you make him out to be. The magic of Christmas is in believing – and for children it feels pretty real. Children love objects that have been personified, meaning objects that have been given human like characteristics and behaviors. The elf is a great example of festive cheer and occasional fun mischievousness.
At What Age Should you Start the Elf on the Shelf Tradition?
We believe that between the ages of 3 – 14 would be a good time to practice the elf on the shelf tradition, young children will be intrigued by the human like appearance of the felt doll and rosy-cheeked cute face. You can continue to bring out the elf every Christmas after the kids decide they are too mature to play along with the hide-and-seek and mischievous game of the elf.
Elf on the Shelf Arrival Letter Printable
This printable arrival letter is perfect for when your elf arrives at your home. It includes an arrival letter detailing why he is visiting and what to expect. Place this letter in the box or envelope where you plan to unveil your elf to your children, or put the arrival letter in an envelope and place it in the Elves arms. Your kids will discover the elf with the letter and be pleasantly surprised to learn why the scout elf has decided to pay him a visit.
Living Life as Moms also has an entire Elf on The Shelf Arrival Package in our shop that includes:
- This Elf Arrival Letter
- The Elf’s Departure Letter
- Santa’s Letter before the Elf’s Arrival
- A Cheatsheet Guide of 30 Ideas to do with your Elf on the Shelf, with a Planning Calendar.