Updated: Dec 5, 2018
This year, the Elf on the Shelf is turning 13. Yes, that's right, there are potential teenage elves out there! The mother-daughter team Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell wrote and first published the book in 2005. The book was written about their family tradition of an elf that shows up at their home during Christmastime, serving as Santa's little helper. Magically the elf flies to the North pole each night, when everyone is sleeping, and reports the kids' daily behavior to the big man in red. Following the book came the actual Elf on the Shelf doll and a huge trend of families adopting the tradition themselves. Now here's where the real fun, or controversy, over this whole elf thing comes in. When the elf returns each night, he or she lands in a different location, hiding. The kids look forward to finding their elf, in an often mischievous situation, each morning, until Christmas Eve, when the elf finally returns to the North Pole for the last time of the season. And trust me, that's a very sad day in our house.
Reason #1 to jump on the bandwagon and buy an Elf on the Shelf:
1. The kids are so excited, they are up early and more independent everyday
During Christmastime my kids are up early and ready for school on time on their own. For one month out of the school year, the morning struggle is gone. For real. Our mornings are typically crazy and we are scrambling to get ready and out the door to get to school on time. Every morning it's the same whirlwind scramble. Wake up the kids, remind them to brush their teeth, wash their faces and blow their noses. After that it's tackling getting dressed, eating breakfast, packing lunches, doing hair, and putting on sunblock before we stumble out the door with our coffee in hand, if we managed to squeeze that in. When our elf is around, my kids are so excited to find where their elf is hiding and what she was up to while they were sleeping. To me, this far outweighs the time and effort of moving the elf into a funny, creative hiding place each night. Plus, I'm guaranteed to get my coffee in the morning before school.
2. You don't have to be a clever or crafty parent to make it a success
After so many years of this elf tradition being adopted by so many families, there are tons of resources out there that will help you plan out daily hiding places that will spark the magic in your home this holiday season. Seriously, Pinterest and Google are your best friends here. And, for that one time your reminder alarm is missed and you forget to move your elf, you'll also find lots of creative excuses out there to cover up your mistake.
3. Your kids will be on their best behavior...for a whole month!
...or more, depending on when your elf arrives. Not to say that my kids aren't typically "good". For the most part they are very good kids. It's just the typical sibling bickering, I'm referring to here. For the whole month of December, they are reminded by that little red elf sitting on the fireplace mantle to get along with each other, to not tattle, to clean up after themselves. They just seem to do it on their own without being reminded.
4. The belief in Santa will live on for a little longer
Experts say that the belief in Santa is typically lost around the age of 8 or 9. Makes sense. I have a 9 year old, and just last year she started to ask us if Santa was really real. She is starting to understand the reality of visiting every home on Earth in a single night and the impossibility of a fat man sliding down chimneys. But she also clearly understands that if she doesn't "believe" all of the "magic" goes away, including her favorite scout elf and the fun of finding her every morning when she wakes up.
5. Your kids will bug you less about opening presents before Christmas
There's so much build up to one very exciting day in December. One day. Okay, so maybe some families open presents on Christmas Eve or at friends houses throughout December, but it's not every day of the month. Ever since our family adopted the Elf on the Shelf tradition the kids have something to look forward to everyday during Christmastime and have stopped asking repeatedly if they can open presents as they arrive on our doorstep throughout the month. We simply open them up, put them under the tree and they go off and play their own games of hide the elf (with their Elf on the Shelf Plushee) and wait for the next morning to find where their real elf ends up.