Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf?
Of course you have. He’s everywhere. I can’t go on Instagram or Pinterest without seeing his little smirk.
And despite the paparazzi-like photos that exist of him all over the web, he is not all that popular in some circles.
Some people have a little hate on for him. Actually, lots of people. Do a Google search. People are having a jolly old time by slagging the elf.
I just don’t get it. I like the Elf. He’s magical. He’s fun. My kids adore him.
But there are reasons out there to hate him (say some people who own blogs and opinions), and I’m going to share them…. and then I’m going to respond.
1. You don’t want to lie to your child.
Okay… what?!?!? That’s a lie right there. Do you even HAVE kids?
I get it – you think it’s dishonest to create a little person who is popping up all over the house and reporting back to Santa. That’s fine. But don’t tell me you don’t lie to your kid.
Magical creatures aside (Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc), you haven’t ever walked into a messy playroom and announced, “Okay… if you don’t clean up these toys they’re all going into the garbage!!!”
You haven’t created “sugar-bugs” that live on their teeth that need to be brushed away?
You haven’t said, “We’re going to go home if you don’t STOPTHATTHISVERYINSTANT!” when you knew that you weren’t going home? You weren’t going to go home for hours, probably?
Maybe you haven’t. Good for you. I’m going to buy your parenting book when I go to the book store to buy my second Elf.
Because I lost the first one.
Yes. That’s a true story.
2. It’s too much work.
I understand that. But why are you writing whole blog posts about elf-work? Isn’t THAT work?
I don’t write blog posts about how I’m never going to exercise because it’s too much effort. It’s all in what you want to do with your time.
Christmas in itself is effort. You can bake everything from scratch, or you can buy it at the bakery. But are you going to speak out against the woman who is making whipped shortbread for her entire neighbourhood?
I don’t get it.
3. People get too crazy with it.
See point #2.
Also, see this awesome evidence:
Am I going to construct these elaborate scenes?
Well, maybe the YMCA one.
But truthfully, Lila would sob an ocean of tears over the Gulliver’s Travels scene. She’s only four. She hasn’t read Swift yet. I’ll wait ’til she’s seven and has read the classics before I recreate them with our Elf.
4. I don’t want to focus on the negative.
This, I do understand. The elf is basically like a little CIA agent who reports back to Santa every night. And if your kid was being a giant jerk, well then, Mr. Elf trots off to the North Pole with that knowledge.
Except – every family is in control of their Elf’s story.
Our Elf is a secret-keeper. Our girls tell him things throughout the day. We don’t say things like, “Ooooh… Max just saw you being naughty! NO PRESENT FOR YOU!”
This is mainly because I’ve seen The Sopranos and numerous mob-movies.
I know what happens to snitches.
Our elf is much more positive-reinforcement. He’s a buddy to whisper to. He tells Santa all of the awesome things he saw during the day. And he’s pretty laid-back. We like him that way.
5. It’s commercialized and expensive.
Welcome to Christmas. You been here before?
If you don’t want to buy the “official, comes-with-the-story-book” elf, then make one! Use something else. A stuffed doll. A rabbit. Get creative!
Stop spending your time spewing elf-hatred on your blog and sew/paint/thrift up a little Elf-friend.
And quit hating, peeps. It’s Elfism. And they don’t have to take it.
6. I’m going to forget and screw it up.
I’ve woken up twice at 1 am in a cold sweat… “I didn’t move Max! Oh for the love of….” And I pad downstairs in bare feet and try to get creative in the wee hours of the morn.
Put an alarm on your phone. Make it a habit.
Or don’t get an elf. It’s like having a puppy. If you’re not ready… you’ll just end up leaving it chained up to a tree in your backyard. And then nobody’s happy.
7. You think he’s a creep.
This is probably the laziest excuse yet.
First, you have to tell me that you never , ever , EVER use Santa as your super-duper FBI agent. You must not ever have said, “Santa is watching…” because you’re just inviting a creeper into your life there. A big one… with a beard. Who comes into your house at night.
Also, you cannot have Facebook.
You – yes you, the parent speaking out against the Elf – a toy that lives in your home and is an inanimate object that cannot even SEE with his fake eyes – think that it’s creepy that the Elf is watching the kids during the day?
Then you gleefully post the entire days’ worth of photos at the Zoo on Facebook, tagging every single person and/or tree/dog/car in your status update for everyone in your friends list (such as, the person you met at the grocery store, your high school boyfriend, that irritating hair stylist that you don’t feel comfortable un-friending) to see?!?!?
Give. Me. A. Break.
Just say that you don’t want to put the effort in, and I’ll respect you.
Sometimes I don’t want to vacuum. I get it.
What about imagination?
I like our Elf – Max – because he is magic. He bring imagination and excitement into the house every single morning. It is amazing to see the girls chatter with him. To see them come up with stories about what he does at night. To see them connect with their creative sides, even if I haven’t concocted an incredible scenario for him to be “found in”.
Our society is already raising kids who are cynical. Screens are doing the work for them. Imagination should be cherished. It should be cultivated.
And I totally get it if you don’t want to buy an Elf, or if you don’t want to enslave yourself to a nightly routine of moving him around.
But why the hate? Why knock imagination, people?
Leave the elves alone.
Tell me friends, what do YOU think?
Creeper-little spy? Or magical friend? I want to know your opinons!
Lisa @ Wine & Glue
I can’t tell you how much I love this post! Okay. I for sure think that the elf is creepy. But we still love her 🙂 I also think it’s wrong to lie to my kids, but not any more wrong that the inordinate amount of candy they eat during December or the fact that sometimes our “babysitter” is an iPod. I can’t believe that people are so up in arms about a toy elf. Kind of cracks me up. Good thing they haven’t heard about world hunger!
awesome! Your comment about world hunger is both funny yet sad. If only people were more passionate about things that truly matter.
Hear, hear! A point definitely worth focusing on.
Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! This elf needs someone to have his (or her) back! And yeah… sometimes I fib to my kids.. but not the big stuff. That’s okay, right? 😉
I just wrote a blog post about the elf, but it was more about Santa. I don’t do the elf yet. My oldest is only 2, so I know I can get away at least one more year without doing it. It isn’t that I don’t like him. He just seems like a LOT of work and I have all the work I need as it is. I’m not hating on him or the people that do it, I just don’t know if he is for me. I’ve actually came up with an alternative. What gets me up in a tizzy is the people who don’t do Santa, then proceed to tell you that you are a bad parent because you do! Someone actually told me I was causing irreversable psychological harm to my child. Anywho, you can read about our “Santa” traditions in the post!
“Irreversible psychological harm”!?!?!?
Oh my. That sounds like someone who hasn’t ever had an imagination in his or her life. A bad parent?!? What about stories that are told at bedtime? Those aren’t real. It’s about encouraging your child to believe in a bit of magic.
And yes, the Elf can be quite a bit of work. It’s definitely not for everyone! 🙂
Great post- I understand some of the points about the elf but I agree with your rebuttal. People seem so full of hate when they criticize things online and I usually find they have a completely different reason for it (ie. they find it too much work).
We were honest with our kids about Santa, nearly from the get go but we still gave gifts from Santa. So we didn’t do the santa threats for good behaviour. But they still get to have the tradition of a stocking and a few gifts tagged from Santa (all the gifts are put under the tree after they’re asleep- that’s the real magic for them.)
I’m sure other parents think it’s pretty grinchy to take away the magic of Santa but I know how much fun Santa still can be without believing. When we were teenagers, we were still super excited to see that he had filled the stockings while we slept- knowing Santa wasn’t real never diminished the excitement of the tradition. (same with Easter- I remember being disappointed at 18 when my parents went away on easter and we didn’t get an egg hunt)
I have to appreciate the elf creativity of the parents who’ve adopted this tradition. It’s just fun. My kids don’t believe and they’re getting older but they would still find it fun to find the elf each morning- the tradition doesn’t have to focus on the snitching bit. Telling him secrets would be a great idea- you could encourage your kids to tell the elf something good that their siblings did.
I doubt I would buy one (kinda the commercial thing, I get that) but I was thinking of the DIY idea myself.
I have my reasons for not telling my kids Santa is real but I don’t have to defend it to those who do. Nor should they have to defend why they do. It’s a parenting choice, like many others, and I can tell you that my kids have never felt deprived because of it. They find their christmas quite magical- I think we need to add the elf to our tradition.
I don’t think it’s grinchy to not have Santa – I think that every family has their own story, and they can’t all be the same! But I think that the way you approach your Christmas traditions is still fantastic. You’re keeping excitement alive in your own way, and you’re not bashing others who do it their way.
I love the Elf because he’s a little bit of something special every day. Long after I knew that Santa was only an idea, and not an actual man, I still thrilled at getting presents and stockings from him.
But despite my DIY inclinations… I still bought him. Maybe that’s where I was a teensy bit on the lazy side. 😉
I like the idea, but found the elfie guy a little creepy. We went with Christpher Popinkins instead 🙂
Oh.. that is intriguing! Who is Christopher Popinkins!?!?!
Kenz @ Interiors by Kenz
I love this post so much. I’ve been really excited to do elf on a shelf. Hopefully next year Evelyn will be big enough to sense the magic 🙂
I think that the excitement of her parents will probably be absorbed in her wee little self. Christmas magic is something incredible when you witness it in your children. I’m already excited for you guys!
OMG I am laughing so hard. Found your post thru twitter and it put a huge smile on my face. My favorite line: “She hasn’t read Swift yet. I’ll wait ’til she’s seven and has read the classics before I recreate them with our Elf.” LOLOLOL. Also timely since we forgot to move the elf last night and my husband had about 15 seconds to move her before the kids came storming in the room looking to see where she chose to land today… and consequently he was only able to move her about 6 inches to the right… and the kids were not impressed. Must get creative tmrw 🙂 Have a good weekend!
I’m glad that you enjoyed this post, Kristen! (It was fun to write, I will admit)
I’m trying to stay on top of the elf-hijinx (though I did JUST remember to move him – and it’s 11 pm right now). I’m sure that we will have a 15 second moment this holiday season. If all else fails, I’ll just chuck him across the room.
He might be napping.
Amy of while wearing heels
Oh, who could hate on Max :)…or Linus (in our case!). Thanks for standing up for the elves.
Oh – Linus! – that’s a great name.
I couldn’t let the elves be slammed by all of the naysayers. Elves are good guys! 😉
Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage
I love the ELF and would totally get one if my son was not 17. I don’t get the ELF backlash? I guess people have to have something for their little Grinchy hearts to complain about. LOL :)))
So true. Some people do have to get their inner-grinch out of their bodies. I get it. It’s catharsis. 🙂
I love it! Great post!
Thank you, Shelbi! 🙂
Wonderful post! I’ve been going. Back and forth with my friends that say things like, “I was going to get one and then remembered I’m smart!” Or “Hubby and I keep adding decorations and lights to our tree. But we refuse to participate in Elf on the Shelf.” Then they try to say it’s not a dig. I’m generally thick skinned, but I feel they are slamming my parenting traditions. My kid loves his elf and remembers his antics all year. My 5-30 mins of prep are so worth his reactions. I get a kick out of the silly poses and what not, but some folks are truly haters. Funny…none of them seem to complain about clowns at birthday parties or scary jack-o-lanterns. Lol If they choose not to do it, I don’t judge…so don’t judge me because I’m creating fun memories for my kid.
I hear you. I would feel like they were making a comment on my choices, too. And it’s so strange, isn’t it, how people can say things like, “I remembered that I’m smart… and so I won’t do the Elf on the Shelf…”
That’s like saying, “I remembered, ‘Hey, I’m smarter than this..’ so I told my daughter that no, I would not play house with her because she is six years old and I know that she does not, in fact, have a baby. That baby is fake and has a creepy look on its face with those weirdo eyes that shut when it lies down. I won’t be a slave to this game…. This ‘house’!”
Lighten up, people! Celebrate imagination! Quit celebrating your jaded little opinion!
Whoa. I’m ranting in my reply to you, aren’t I, Becki! Sorry about that. I think I was preaching to the choir here, wasn’t I? 🙂
I think the elf is creepy looking, but I so desperately want one LOL, I agree why waste your time writing about why not to do it, I don’t do Halloween I don’t spend my time writing all the reasons for it, I just don’t post about it simple. I love that your elf is named Max, I’m so angry at myself for forgetting to get him this year oh well next year is fine. Personally I don’t get why people get so up in arms about something as stupid as a toy, surely there are more important things to make your cause. oh well I hope the girls love the elf and make lots of fun memories of him.
Oh Mel… can’t your elf still show up?!? There’s almost three weeks left before Christmas!
I love our elf. He’s so much fun – and I feel like it draws Christmas out… which is something I love.
Lila is the biggest fan of Max. She goes tearing down the stairs in search of him every morning. It’s all worth it when we see her face.
I totally did the… oh crap I forgot to move the Elf thing last night. Good thing Sophie woke me up and I remembered. She has already got the hang of looking for her in the morning and this is only our third morning. Oh and by the way… hilarious that you lost one!
Oh, it definitely happens… this “Oh crap, the ELF!?!” realization. The kids never forget though. It’s the first thing that Lila goes hunting for. She’s like a dog with a scent…. 😉
I definitely think the elf is creepy looking and I’ve never really wanted one. We don’t make a huge deal out of Santa so I guess it wouldn’t be worth it. I’ve never liked the idea of people telling kids that if they’re naughty Santa won’t bring them toys knowing full well that would never happen. I also don’t do your number one, tell my kid I’ll throw away all his toys and such when I know that won’t happen. I never threaten with something I can’t and won’t do so that’s why Santa isn’t a big deal here.
That being said, I do like the creative things people come up with using the elves. Some of them are so funny and take so much imagination. I love it! I also have come to realize that not everyone uses the elf as a negative thing like I thought when they first got really popular. I respect the folks that are switching it up and using it as a positive.
Me too, Gina. I think that putting a positive spin on the elf is where it’s at.
I don’t turn Santa into the Naughty Police, either (though TV does that for us… Lila has definitely picked up on the “naughty/nice” thing through shows and books). Really, the girls love the hunt. They zoom down the stairs every morning to find Max, and I love being a part of the game.
As for the empty-threat thing – I wish I could say that I don’t do it. But alas… sometimes I do. Maybe a New Year’s resolution is in order there!
Refreshing to read something in defense of elves! Never understood the haters. This is year 3 for us, my nearly 6 and just turned 9 year olds LOVE ours. The elves fluctuate between simply sitting somewhere fun waiting to be found and more elaborate stagings. It can be a lot of work but I enjoy it as much as the kids, it is great fun for us and that is why I do it. I’m curious to see if it is a tradition my children will continue with their own families one day.
I wonder if my own kidlets will do it with their children too. It’s been such a fun tradition for us, and while I do understand some of the reasons why people don’t start the tradition (same as any other tradition – it’s cool if it’s not your thing), but why the hate?
People love to slam the little guy, and I just don’t know why! H
I think the “Elf on the Shelf” is a fun Christmas tradition…..too bad it came out after my kids were grown! I’m glad you and your family and incorporated this into your holiday traditions!
Julie @White Lights on Wednesday
So check it. I’m totally not a pro-elf girl. We thought about getting one last year, until Mike conceded I’d be the one doing the work. I trumped that mess, we were getting ready to move in January. Packing a house, Christmas and an elf? No. Duh. The biggest thing that bugged me was the negativity/spy thing. But your secret keeper/positive re-enforcement elf has me rethinking things Tara. We may just have an elf next year. 🙂
I’m so thrilled I might have convinced you, Julie! I’m SO pro-elf. Lots of people have told me that they’re not entirely sold on the Elf business, but I feel like it’s just the bad press that has brainwashed them.
(Or maybe I’m just a bit crazy)
I enjoyed this post as my facebook news feed is so full of negativity. I actually had one friend tell me that what I did was cute, but not get too annoying with it. I told her she has a “Hide the Post” button. Use it.
Now, I don’t post every single day b/c clearly that gets to be a real drag. I just have fun with it with the kids. I think they are on to me, but they are still having fun with it. And isn’t that the spirit of Christmas?
I totally agree with you. Why – WHY – do people feel the need to gripe about the Elf? I find it such a strange phenomenon that so many people get irked by these traditions.
Like you said – it’s about having fun! It isn’t hurting anyone!
I definitely think the elf is creepy! lol I got lucky and all my kids were already teenagers when we first heard about the elf a few years back….so no elf for us. My niece has one though and has informed me that her mother is a liar. She said that mom lies when she says the elf tells Santa what she does cause she was bad last year and still got lots of stuff for Christmas! So the elf doesn’t care what she does. She’s 6. *sigh* she believes the elf moves himself though. Kids are funny.