To Elf Or Not To Elf On The Shelf?

Should you embrace the Elf on the Shelf or is the tradition one part creepy and two parts too much work?

Image via A Small Snippet

Since 2005, the Elf on the Shelf has quickly become a phenomenon during the Christmas season, one that has a great deal of fans, but has also earned some criticism. So what is all the fuss about? 

If you’re not familiar with this household name, here’s a quick rundown: the Elf on the Shelf is a picture book that explains that Santa knows if children are naughty or nice by reports from elves who visit and observe children between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each book is more like a kit because it comes with a stuffed elf that parents can set somewhere in the home (a shelf being the obvious place).

Image via Snippets From Suburbia

Some have criticized the Elf on the Shelf for being creepy and say that it is manipulative to convince kids to behave by making them feel that they are constantly being watched. Defenders of the Elf on the Shelf say that it is a sweet, fun, and harmless tradition. So if you haven’t done it in years past and are considering it, you might be wondering—to Elf or not to Elf? 

Really the answer will depend on your feelings and your kids. Obviously we all we want our kids to behave not because they fear losing presents, but because they are learning right from wrong! However, the idea that Santa is watching kids for naughty or nice behaviour has been around for ages—the Elf on the Shelf just offers an explanation for how he accomplishes such a lofty undertaking.

Images via Pinterest / Pinterest


Of course, like any tradition, you don’t need to adopt or reject it all out. You can always put your spin on it. If you love the idea of the Elf on the Shelf or if your kids desperately want one but the “monitoring” part makes you uncomfortable, you can always de-emphasize that aspect of the tradition and have the Elf just be a countdown-to-Christmas houseguest.

Another fun twist on the Elf that many families have taken to doing is having the Elf commit acts of mild mischief in the night —knocking over things, getting into cookie jars, etc. Obviously, this is a little more work for parents (both in making the mischief and cleaning up after it!), but it can be a fun and silly way for kids to participate in the Elf on the Shelf tradition along with their classmates

Image via Rocking My 365 Project


We can’t really tell you whether to Elf or not to Elf, but what we can say is that as with any festive tradition, the most important thing is to promote the holiday spirit of love and kindness and get kids excited for Christmas in the way that best suits your family.

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