If your kids ever ask you how Santa Claus gets to know who has been naughty and who has been nice, you should introduce them to the Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition. While it isn’t one of the Christmas traditions that date back many decades into the past, the Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition has become one of the most popular ones in recent times. It is not uncommon for you to find people discussing or sharing their fun elf-on-the-shelf ideas and experiences. You may have even come across celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Mariah Carey, and Reese Witherspoon joining Elf on the Shelf trends.
But what exactly is this Elf on the Shelf tradition?
What Is Elf on the Shelf?
How It Started
The Elf on the Shelf is a fun family tradition based on a Scandinavian holiday tradition. It came to life through a book written in 2005 by Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell. But long before the book, the Elf on the Shelf idea was already a Christmas tradition between Aebersold and her daughters.
As early as 1974, Carol Aebersold would place a pixie elf on the shelf and tell her children that the said elf was there to keep watch on the people on Santa’s Christmas list.
The story she told her children was that the elf paid attention to what they did to know if they are being naughty or nice. She told them that every night, the elf would go back to the North Pole with a report for Santa.
The general idea behind this tradition is to help families have fun together and sustain the magic of Christmas. More importantly, the tradition aims to help kids be in their best manners.
How It’s Going
The tradition has grown from what it was at inception. Today, The Elf on the Shelf is a big brand with millions of customers all over the world. It has gone beyond the book and elf doll kit business as the range of products from the brand now includes items like clothing, games, and movies, amongst other things.
The brand is run by The Lumistella Company, which is owned by Carol Aebersold, and her twin daughters, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts.
When Does Elf on the Shelf Start?
Elf on the Shelf typically starts towards the end of November or at the start of December. The official recommendation is November 24 – December 1.
When Does Elf on the Shelf Leave?
The elf on the shelf will not remain in your house all year long, however. On Christmas eve, when Santa comes around to deliver gifts, the scout elves leave for the North Pole with him. Then they come back the following year around the end of November or at the start of December.
During their stay in your house, the scout elves on the shelf will leave every night to the North Pole to deliver a daily report to Santa. Then they will return to a new spot the following day, and the children have to find the elf in its new spot.
Having the elf return to a new location in the house every night is one of the features that make the tradition fun. It creates that sense of magic. Unsurprisingly, you may find parents sharing elf ideas – basically hints about the new location of the elf.
How the Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition Works
- Buy this Elf on the Shelf kit. It includes the book, a scout elf doll, and a box.
- Once the kit arrives, the whole family should read the book together. After reading the book, you may choose a name for the elf.
- After choosing a name, place the elf on a shelf and follow the rules.
What Are the Rules of Elf on the Shelf?
Like any tradition, Elf on the Shelf comes with its own rules. Some of them are:
- The children should be nice. This is perhaps the most vital rule.
- The elf will go back to Santa every night to give a report on the behavior of the kids for that day.
- To ensure the elf retains its Christmas magic, no one should touch it after it has been placed on the shelf.
- Parents/adults may touch the elf in special cases. Children, on the other hand, should not touch it all. If they do and the elf loses its magic, it may be unable to return to Santa every night.
- The scout elves are great listeners. So, even if they do not talk or move, the children can talk to them.
- Besides talking to them, the children may also give the scout elf a letter to deliver to Santa.
- The elves should be treated like a part of the family, not a merchandise.
- The elf on the shelf is typically nice. However, in some cases, some elves are energetic.
- The energetic elves can do some bizarre things when they return at night.
- The quiet elves, on the other hand, just go around doing their thing without fuss.
Some Elf on the Shelf Names
- Red Velvet
What Age Should You Start Elf on the Shelf?
According to the official recommendations, you should start the elf on the shelf Christmas tradition when your child is at least 3 years old. But then, some children can take part as early as 2 years old.
While there may be no official maximum age for this Christmas family tradition, it is not uncommon to find children losing interest in the tradition as they get closer to their teenage years.