Elf on the Shelf: Too Cute or Seriously Creepy?

Love it or hate it, it’s become a new family tradition

Patch photo archive
Patch photo archive


The Elf on the Shelf - the latest in holiday traditions - is about to find his way into homes across the country around Thanksgiving. For those who aren’t familiar, the Elf on the Shelf is a scout sent from the North Pole to help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists.

Yes, it’s an elf, used as a pawn to spy, watching your child’s every move leading up to Christmas on the premise he will tattle on your little one if they are not being nice. Elf’s main job is to watch and listen.

When I was little all it took was “Santa’s watching you.” But I guess now with greater populations, more houses to stop at each Christmas Eve and more complicated toys to produce by his own elves in the North Pole, I guess I can get why Santa now needs his henchmen to keep things calm down here on earth.

Frankly, I find the entire Elf on the Shelf concept rather creepy - but that’s just one mom’s opinion. I do, however, know I’m unsure how I feel about this in my home.

For Elf on the Shelf novices, there are two rules for households with an elf: Children can’t touch the elf - or risk disarming his Christmas magic leaving him unable to fly back to the North Pole and the elf can’t speak or move when anyone in the house is awake.

Another factor to keep in mind, is the amount of work it can take to move him around every night. Yes, when your child wakes up each morning his elf has to be in a different position in a different spot than where he was when everyone went to bed. YAY! More work during the craziness of the holiday season.

Did I mention the time a friend of mine, after having checked on her sleeping children, had Elf ready for his nightly placement and accidentally left him on the end of her daughter’s bed? Yep, she woke up later, saw him, screamed and is now petrified of the Elf on the Shelf in her house.

Or the response from this friend when I was asking yay or nay on the topic, “I had to tell (my daughter) that the parents move him at night, she was so creeped out by it. We do not have one, and will NOT be getting one.”

Maybe he creeps me out because in my head he looks like one of those creepy Annalee style elves of the 1970s (we had one that sat on our tree each year). I looked him up again this morning and he looks more like Kris Kringle from Santa Claus is Coming to Townthan an evil elf. Or maybe I take issue with the fact that I’m teaching my son that he’s always being watched and everything he does or doesn’t do will be reported back to the higher authority (extreme, I know).

I’m still unsure as to why it bothers me. So, as I usually do, I put the question out on social media last night to find out what friends and others had to say about this new tradition.

And let me tell you - it really appears folks have a straight up love or downright hate for the Elf on the Shelf. The responses I got ran the gamut. Here are a few:

“You absolutely do NOT need to do this Liz... Creepy beyond words.!!”

“You haven't done this yet??? We did it last year (even though he didn't understand the whole concept) and he loved coming downstairs to find the elf.”

“Totally weirds us out. Banned from (our) household for life!”

“It’s something fun for him to look forward to and once he understands that the elf reports back to santa you can use that to make sure he behaves well. win-win in my book.”

“We are a non-elf family! I found it strange.”

What do you think about the Elf on the Shelf? Does he show up at your house around Thanksgiving each year or do you hang out the ‘you’re not welcome' banner?’Tell us which and why in the comments section below.


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