Elf on a Shelf: I feel like someone’s always watching me.


The winter holiday season is full of all my favorite things— family, friends, cute decorations, food, shopping, laughter, joy, and lots of memorable moments. However, there is one aspect of this season that I begrudgingly welcome back every year.

If you guessed that I was talking about the “Elf on the Shelf”, pat yourself on the back. I begrudgingly haul that thing out each year much to the entertainment of my kids.

I’m not going to lie— I tried to resist bringing that little smirking character into my house as long as a I could. One day, when my oldest was three, Amazon made me an offer I could not refuse, and I added that little stress maker to my cart. A couple years and a couple kids later I added the Disney version “Holiday Mischief with Stitch” to our mix. Now, Stitch and our elf, Watch, travel around our house during the holiday season creating shenanigans.

I started out really simple with our elf crew. I’d simply move them around at night and for a few years that sufficed. My elf set ups got a little more involved during the holiday season of 2020. I think after the year that it was, I was searching for a little more magic myself and in doing so, I sentenced myself to being ‘extra’ each successive year.

Work With What You’ve Got

I have some friends who get really into the Elf. Their set ups and pictures they share each morning are amazing. I tell one mom each year that she is my “Elf Mom Goals.” I don’t know how they do it, but I feel the magic just looking at their pictures!

I’ve recently come across elf kits you can buy that will give you a whole month’s worth of set ups and accessories for Christmas. Even though I can see the benefits to procuring one of those, I’ve not invested in one myself. I did, however, once buy (and subsequently lose) the kit that adds wire to your elf to make them bendable and posable.

I choose to let Pinterest be my guide and attempt to recreate some of ideas I see there as close as possible with what I’ve got around my house. It’s amazing what you can do with crayons, construction paper, and glue. Some of the simplest ideas I’ve used have been my kids’ favorites.

Here are some simple, but elaborate ideas that I’ve repeated:

  1. The Rogue Milk: This one is really easy and elicits lots of laughter. All you need is a Sharpie to draw an angry face on your milk jug and some floss to wind up your elf. Add a Post- It that says “Help the Milk’s Gone Bad!”
  2. Pop It: My kids love those pop it fidgets. I set up my elves with a handwritten sign that said “We made you a pop it!” One slice of bread and some left over Halloween fun size Skittles later, we had a homemade pop it.
  3. Bathroom Graffiti: I used dry erase markers on the bathroom mirror to write some elf messages like, “Elves rule. Santa drools!” I propped the elf up on the bathroom counter holding the marker and went about my merry way.
  4. The Elf Zipline: Some ribbon, rope, or even a belt from a bathrobe and a pant hanger make a super easy zipline for your elf. Clip the elf’s hands with the pant hanger and then hang the hanger on your line— I tied mine from my kitchen ceiling fan to a kitchen cabinet knob.
  5. Elf Twister: Using crayons and a piece of construction paper I drew up a Twister mat and spinner for the elves. One held the spinner and the other appeared to be playing. It took me all of five minutes to make the game and set the scene. Best part was I saved the Twister game and can reuse it!

You Mean to Tell Me the Elf Doesn’t Really Move Itself?

You can’t be a true elf household if you haven’t woken up one morning to find distraught children because the elf didn’t move. To them it’s like the end of the elfin’ world! In all reality, what happened was a tired mom fell asleep before she could make sure her kids were out enough before moving the elf. But you can’t tell them that!

So what does one do?

I’ve blamed it on the dog.

Yes, you read that right. I’ve blamed it on our poor unsuspecting hound dog. She must have gotten up in the night and the elves mistook her for a kid and didn’t move.

I’ve blamed it on my husband.

Sometimes Dad gets up for work extra early and the elves haven’t left yet and then they’re stuck.

I’ve blamed it on the weather.

Sometimes the snow is a flying and the elves just can’t venture out in that.

Either have a canned response for when these moments happen or be ready to think fast and on your feet to come up with an excuse because kids are like bees and dogs: they can smell fear. Whatever you do, do not panic!

Be The Magic 

Now, I know that the ‘elf life’ is not for everyone. Sometimes it is a real pain in the behind to worry about all these ideas and moving elves. I am guilty of grumping about Elf Season. Heck, I just learned that the elves aren’t supposed to actually return until December 1st. I mean, seriously! I’ve been sentencing myself to a week of extra work all along and no one thought to tell me. Ugh.

There are plenty of times I think I have reached my elfin limit, but the laughter and excitement from my kids brings me back from the brink of plotting elf extinction.

Let’s face it our children are only young once and we’re the magic makers in the holiday season. So, I will suck it up and plan elf move after elf move because I know that some day I will be missing this season of my life.

Now, if you will excuse me, it’s just past bedtime and I’ve got some elves to move.

Author- Marisa Mcloed


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