9 Rules For Elf On The Shelf

Some parents love the annual arrival of the Elf On The Shelf, others look at the arrival of December with dread.

“He showed up on November 7th, and by Christmas, some of us were quite ‘elfed out’,” says my friend, Shannon.

I just laugh at her and shake my head.

People, you’ve got to pace yourself. The Elf On The Shelf is an absolutely terrific twist and tradition to add to the holiday season, but you’ve got to know what you’re doing.

The idea is simple: An Elf is sent from the North Pole to watch the kids and report back to Santa. To help keep the belief that the Elf is real, each night he/she goes to see Santa and is found the next morning in a new spot. The movement is what makes him seem real to the kids, but this movement has sparked the creativity of Pinterest parents and things have gotten out of hand.

If you want to have fun, you should take heed of these rules for The Elf On The Shelf. Follow the simple advice of a seasoned veteran and you’ll have a magical Christmas.

1. Wait Until The Tree Is Up

This is the beacon to signal your Elf to arrive. Our first year getting the elf, we were too excited to share with the kids and unleashed him in mid-November. That meant a full 40 nights of finding hiding spots and things for that elf to do. Too much. Now, if you’re a Christmas freak and put up your tree the day after Halloween, I’m guessing you’ve got enough Christmas spirit to make it through the marathon.

Image via Mark Baylor

2. Keep It Simple

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
Take it from my friend Shannon, she went crazy the first year with her Elf up to all sorts of wild antics all around the house. Now, the kids expect a very mischievous and creative Elf, and Shannon’s tapped out on ideas.

Image via Mark Baylor

3. Perform Some Surgery

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
To be honest, I’m disappointed in the structure of the Elf. It’s too light, the arms come apart and then don’t do anything, and I find it very hard to place in interesting positions. If you’re good with a glue gun, Life So Lovely has some tips for surgery where you can add fasteners, velcro, and other devices to make your Elf more maleable.

Image via Life So Lovely

4. The Christmas Countdown

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
Instead of a traditional Advent Calendar, you can use the Elf to bring little treats from the North Pole to help count down to Christmas.

Image via PeaPodSquadMom

5. Surveillance Feedback

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
It’s one thing to have the Elf popping up in a random spot each day, it’s quite another to add some real acknowledgement that he is working. Have your Elf land in the morning with a letter from Santa with reminders on behaviours that the kids need to work on. You’ll have them gasping in belief.

Image via Shannon Hilton

6. Set An Alarm

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
Do it. Do it now.

Set up a daily reminder in your iCal, Google Calendar, or whatever you use to keep track of appointments. Have an alarm sound every night at around the time you would go to bed (after the kids are in bed) to remind yourself to move the elf. There’s nothing worse than scrambling down in the morning while your spouse distracts the kids so they don’t notice the Elf didn’t move. So set the alarm now.

7. Search For New Ideas

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
Now, if you are right into this and don’t want to keep your Elf still, scour the interwebs for ideas. There’s a website (Elf On The Shelf Ideas), a Facebook Group (For Parents Only) and of course Pinterest has a lot of inspiration, too.

Image via PeaPodSquadMom

8. Any Elf Will Do

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
You can use any elf-like character to play this game if you want. A huge knockoff market has already erupted with elves like Christopher Pop-In Kins. Honestly? You could just use a little old Elf already in your Christmas box.

Image via Carol

9. Make Up Your Own Rules

Elf On the Shelf Rules - DadCAMP
The reality of this tradition is it was a family tradition that they decided to market (and very well). So make it your own. Perhaps your Elf pops up in different spots through the day. Maybe your Elf is allowed to be touched. Maybe your Elf only shows up when they’ve been good.

The Elf on the Shelf is another bit of magic to add to this season, and to celebrate the unconditional belief in the impossible that is unique to children — do what works for you.

Image via PeaPodSquadMom

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  1. Nicole November 26, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the link, Buzz! The surgery is an absolutely necessary evil to make him more fun! =) We can’t wait for our elf “Eddie” to make his appearance this year. Great compilation of ideas!

  2. Pingback: Thanksgiving! » Life So Lovely

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