Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Trend Watch: Elf on the Shelf

Around the holidays, we constantly hear the word "tradition" being thrown around. Some traditions are quite common (a turkey feast, opening presents bright and early Christmas morning) while others are unique to a family and can date back decades. In our family, we are always open to starting new traditions. Every year we add something different alongside the tried and true activities and foods; some ideas stick and some don't make the cut the next holiday season. As families grow and change-with new partners and babies added-it makes sense to find a balance between things passed on from great-grand parents and new 21st century traditions.

The Elf on the Shelf is just such a new tradition. Introduced in 2005, this story book and toy combo requires quite a commitment from anyone looking to add something new and special to their Christmastime. After reading the rhyming story book, parents must find new and creative ways to display the elf to be found by excited children each morning for the month leading up to the big day.

From the website: "The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition includes a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day's adventures. Each morning, the scout elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their scout elf each morning."

While purists will head to the craft store in November to buy felt and other supplies for the coming month, official branded accessories are available to add to the  expense  fun of the experience. Examples include: an apron, an aviator jacket, and a sports jersey.

The necessary dedication, time, money, and surreptitiousness required is beyond anything I would sign up for, but I am impressed by the parents who decide to take on the challenge in order to add some whimsy to their home. Many of the most creative ideas can be viewed  on (and copied from) Pinterest or other social media photo sharing. It does beg the question: is this solely for the children, or is it just one more way to show off your flawless family to an audience of bedraggled parents? Regardless, I am of the opinion that if you're willing to commit to 25+ original elf tableau every year for the next 10 years, more power to you!


  1. Thank you. Now I know what "The Elf on the Shelf' is all about. It really does seem like a lot of work.

    I love this time of year because of the traditions. My husband is Italian and English and I am Polish and Croatian, so we have a lot of European traditions happening. My Croatian side cuts up and apple on Christmas morning and we all share a piece of that same apple. It is supposed to bring us good health in the New Year. I am looking forward to creating new traditions with our own little family this year.

    1. That sounds like a really nice tradition. I love simple, meaningful acts this time of year. I'm thinking of creating a home made advent calendar (with little toys, activity coupons, and sweets) for our family, rather than buying a little chocolate one from the store. When Eloise is older, of course.