As if there isn't enough to do during the holiday season, I have added one more thing to remember to do every day by jumping on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon. I tracked the package down at Barnes and Noble and started a new holiday tradition in our house.
Now the kids absolutely love our little elf...I'm not so sure about him. I know I'm not alone as I've seen a number of posts from parents who have had to jump out of bed in the middle of the night or wee morning hours to make sure their elf found a new place to hide.
How Does It Work?
Well basically when you get your elf, you read the accompanying book and give him (or her) a name–my kids picked Twinkle, which is pretty tame considering some of the options they thought were and the fact that when I was pregnant, three-year-old Eliza was insistent that the baby's name would be 'Banana.'
Anyway, once you name your elf, he is now magic. The elf's job is to serve as Santa's helper, watching you throughout the day and flying back to the North Pole each night to report on your behavior. When he comes back, he picks a new spot to hang out for the day.
Now the first thing my kids do every morning is see if they can find Twinkle. Of course, I have to make sure Twinkle has returned from the North Pole each day and sometimes I don't remember...or I do at 5 a.m. and go to check on him and knock a full bottle of water all over the living room in the process.
For the most part, Twinkle has been pretty good. We thought he was in the same spot one day–hanging off the light over the table in the kitchen–but after looking for a while, I was able to determine that he had climbed a little higher and maybe even switched legs he was hanging from. What a brave little guy!
Does It Work?
The Elf on the Shelf is kind of like Big Brother for little kids. We can tell them that is always watching, but having Twinkle perched on a shelf, picture frame or curtain rod peering down at them (he has to be high because one of the rules is he'll lose his magic if they touch him) with his bright blue eyes serves as a constant reminder to behave.
The book reminds them that Twinkle can't talk to them, but he does hear everything they're saying and relays it to Santa each night. I've heard them 'reminding' Santa of things they would like, which is pretty cute.
So at the first sign of any behavior that could lead to the naughty list, I just remind them that Twinkle is watching and ready to report back to . For the most part, just saying 'Twinkle' is enough to head back over to the nice list.
Some families' elves are very creative or mischievous. I have heard of people whose elves who have gotten into chocolates with the evidence smudged on their faces and other adventures.
There is even a Facebook page called the Elf on a Shelf Creativity Factory. Of course, there are blogs stemming from people's love, or hate, for the Elf on the Shelf tradition. I found this one I saw shared on Facebook pretty humorous.
Now our elf hasn't been too creative. He certainly hasn't played any tricks on us, but he has been a welcome addition to our holiday traditions. As per the story, Twinkle will head back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve so come Christmas Day I'll have to find some new disciplinary tactics...