I’m just assuming you know what the Elf on the Shelf tradition is all about. You’ve probably seen this little Elf spamming Facebook and Instagram feeds over the past few Christmas seasons and popping up in stores. If you’re still not sure what it’s all about you can read more about is here.
We started our Elf on the Shelf tradition in 2014 when we adopted our scout Elf, Linc (he’s our direct link to Santa). I thought this would be a bit of fun but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how much my boys would love it. They talk about and miss our Elf during the year, they even write him letters when he’s back at the North Pole.
If you’re thinking about starting the Elf on the Shelf tradition or maybe you already have, these are my top tips for a stress-free Elf on the Shelf experience.
1. Keep it simple!
Our elf usually arrives on December 1st. That means 24 nights of mischief and fun to plan and create. We like to have a bit of fun with our Elf on the Shelf and plan some antics that take a little bit of setting up, but we balance these with a few simple nights in between. Some nights our Elf on the Shelf just moves locations around our house, now that he’s been visiting for a few years the boys love when he climbs or sits in his favourite spots. Trust me, when you are leaping out of bed at 3am you’ll be glad you only have to move your Elf on the Shelf to a new location.
2. Set an alarm
Do it now! Set a reminder on your phone to go off at the same time each night, preferably when the little ones are already tucked up in bed. This will avoid those 3am wake ups or tactically distracting the little ones in the morning while your other half is performing ninja like moves to get the Elf on the Shelf somewhere new.
3. Look for ideas
Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration if you’re stuck for ideas. You can check out my Elf on the Shelf ideas board here. There are so many creative people out there. Just remember tip number 1 – keep it simple. Our Elf likes to get into a little extra mischief every 3rd or 4th night.
This is one of my boys favourites to date! A few DIY Christmas baubles from the cheap shop, and a selfie while they were sleeping. The next morning they found our Elf on the Shelf nestled in the tree with 2 new decorations he’d made through the night.
4. Use what you have
Don’t get caught up in the hype and craze with all the Elf on the Shelf accessories. Use what you have available to you. The toys you already have at home make perfect props and are usually what I find my boys enjoy the most.
5. Make your own rules
Traditionally if children touch the Elf on the Shelf during the day, he or she loses their magic. But this tradition is what you make it. I’ve seen people with their Elf on the Shelf in a glass jar taking them to visit relatives. A clever idea for moving your Elf on the Shelf when the little ones are around is to use magic Christmas tongs. Just a novelty pair of Christmas tongs from the $2 shop could work. We’ve on occasion had to leave some Elf medicine out (crushed candy canes) for our Elf on the Shelf when he was accidentally knocked or touched by little hands.
6. Say Goodbye
I wasn’t prepared for the sad goodbye on Christmas Eve the first year we started our Elf on the Shelf. My boys were so sad to see him go, there were tears and all. Now we know this is coming we talk about it in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. While we are attending church on Christmas Eve, our Elf on the Shelf leaves a special pair of PJs and a note about how much fun he’s had with the boys. Before they go to bed on Christmas Eve, they each make sure they’ve said a special goodbye before our Elf on the Shelf returns to the North Pole with Santa.