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Elf on the Shelf – Overwhelmed yet? Here are 6 Tips to Keep it Fun…

Have you seen all the pictures EVERYWHERE of a little red elf? Maybe you are wondering, “What, exactly, does it all mean?!” Well, let me educate you…elf-on-the-shelf-print

“Elf on the Shelf” is a special ‘scout’ elf, sent from the North Pole, whose job it is to help Santa Claus with his ‘naughty & nice’ list. When your family is adopted by an elf, you choose its name. The elf watches the family during the day, and each night, he or she reports back to Santa Claus  in the North Pole about all of the day’s observations. By morning, the elf has returned. Elves can be somewhat mischievous, so they are usually found doing different, silly things around the house.

There are two basic rules that every child learns:

First, an elf cannot be touched – or it will lose its ability to go back to Santa!
Second, an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! An elf’s job is to watch and to listen, and come awake at night.

Overwhelmed yet?

I’ll admit – At first, even I thought it sounded like a lot of work for the parents… but I was wrong! With a little bit of planning and the right perspective, this tradition really can be easy and so much fun for the whole family.

I’d like to share with you how we ‘entertain’ our Elf-friend, “Evie” during the Holidays – with the hopes that it gives you the courage to try it out with your family in the future…

Elves usually come to visit after Thanksgiving – ours appears on December 1st.tree days 93

The first thing we do is have our elf (Evie, as she was named), delivered to our door. We package her in a box, and even put it in the freezer so it will seem to have just come from the North Pole. Our kids literally SQUEAL with joy when they hear the knock on the door!DCC_3917

The box is opened, and the fun begins. We include a typed letter (written by Evie of course), in which she explains her mission at our home. The first year my daughter stood and watched her, determined to see her move.

Let me just say it right now – Trying to come up with super-creative ideas takes a LOT of effort (Mad-props and fist-bumps to all those moms out there who go all-out every. single. night!) Personally, I just don’t have it in me!

So, here are some simple thoughts and things to remember:

1. Remember: your Elf stays in the same place all day.

May not be a good idea to use the one bathroom sink in the house for his marshmallow bath, or in the container of cereal the kids love! (one of my own personal #momfail moments, here!)

tree days 96

2. Don’t forget – Dads can be helpful and super creative too!

I was so surprised how many good ideas my hubby came up with – including a staged race with our kids’ other dolls!

3. Do not be afraid to out-source creativity.

If your own personal well of creativity is coming up dry, Pinterest and Google will help you get the juices flowing again.  Some of my favorites EVER are listed here.

4. Don’t over-complicate things.

Have fun and get crafty – but don’t stress about it. We try to do one super involved idea once a week and simple ones for the other days. For example: on the first day of her return this year, Evie decided to drink a Capri Sun in the fridge to stay cool. The second day, she was a decoration on the tree. We are not always super creative – but it doesn’t matter. The kids just can’t wait to find her each morning.

5. Try to plan ahead, when you have the time.

My hubby and I try to plan out Evie’s whereabouts a week at a time. If not, we find ourselves about to go to sleep, jumping up and scrambling to throw something together quick. Of course, the occasional slip up is fine – but not for a week straight.

6. Give the kids a chance to bid farewell – until next year.

On Christmas-Eve evening, your elf will leave to return the following year. You can allow the kids to hold, hug, and say good bye. They help choose a place in the house for the final watching and waiting for Santa to take her back to the North Pole.

Our family has only participated in the “Elf on the Shelf” festivities for the last two years, and already, we have so many special memories! I know that our kids will remember the fun we had with Evie for years to come.DCC_3908

If you are looking for something new to do with your family during the holidays, I hope you will give “Elf on the Shelf” a try!