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That Damn Elf: Spoken from A 5 Year Veteran of Making Elf Magic

elf on the shelf gone badI didn’t know what I was getting into, but my family was an early adopter of the Elf on the Shelf.  Five years ago, my mom called me and said she found the cutest idea for my daughter — an Elf on the Shelf!  She told me the scout elf reports behavior back to Santa and all you have to do is move it to a different spot each night.

I was indifferent, and Grandma proceeded with her plans.  That year, she bought all of her grandchildren an Elf on the Shelf.  That first year, it was fun to see my daughter believing in the magic, and super easy to move that novel new elf around each night.

As my child grew older and the Elf became more popular, I discovered more “fun” things to do with the Elf.  I had him fishing for goldfish in the toilet, going on dates with Barbies, playing with marshmallows like snowballs, drawing mustaches on the kids and family portraits, and decorating the tree with underwear.  It was great fun. I admit I was one of those first people to post pictures of the Elf on Facebook. (Don’t worry, I have changed my ways, people.)

I am now in my fifth season as the magic behind the Elf, and I have to admit that many times when I think of him, I’m now adding “that damn” in front of his name.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to bed and been on the verge of sleep when I suddenly remembered I have to go move that damn elf.

And I’ve really lost all motivation to be more creative than I’ve been.  My kids are starting to take note that the elf has the same hiding places and tricks year after year.

What do you expect, kids?!  If this guy were even real, his brain would be smaller than a walnut! 

We went to a birthday party the week before Thanksgiving, and that child’s elf was at the party wearing an effing cupcake outfit.  I tried not to roll my eyes.  No, kids, that damn elf is not making an appearance outside of the holidays, I thought. My kids were completely fixated on this family’s elf.

“Why did their elf come to the birthday party?”

“I thought that elves don’t come out until you decorate for Christmas.  They haven’t decorated for Christmas!”

I can’t even remember the lies I came up with to address those questions.  As the kids started to beg to decorate for Christmas (solely because they wanted to see that damn elf), I took advance peeks into the boxes while unloading them from the shelf.  I could not find that damn elf!  In my head I was thinking that I really don’t want to have to order another damn elf from Amazon Prime, as SURELY this will be the last year that my daughter believes in this hooey, right?!

Thankfully, I found him stuffed in a stocking, as I likely shoved the elf there last year when no children were looking.

Soon after his reappearance, my daughter announced that her friend (the friend whose elf was at the birthday party) writes questions to her elf and the elf responds.

I tried not to groan.

But it turned out to be rather amusing to see what questions my kids came up with for that damn Elf.  I diligently responded in red crayon written in my left hand to disguise my handwriting.  Now I just have to hope my daughter doesn’t remember how her elf has played “hide and go seek” with her in years past.

I think what amuses me most this year is the Elf Hate spreading on the Internet.  People are standing up and “saying No to the Elf”.  They’re saying he’s creepy (which I would agree).  I just smile and think about how these people will react when a well meaning grandparent gifts their child the elf…  Or when their kids start coming home from school asking why all of their friends have elves and why don’t they?

You people do know that kids talk about their elves at school A LOT, right?!

So this Christmas, I’m not boycotting the Elf.  I’m way too far down the elf path to turn back now.  I really don’t have the heart to make our elf have a fatal accident with the fireplace after all, and I really don’t want to hear the drama that would cause in my house.  I’ll keep this ruse up, knowing that as the Mom, I’m the source of all magic in our house.  This role will one day come to an end, but I will take my lumps and use it as an excuse to play practical jokes on my children until then.



About Lynnette Bellin

Lynnette Bellin
Lynnette Bellin is the former owner and site manager of the Reno Moms Blog. She is a married mother of a teenage daughter and a highly energetic tween boy. Lynnette moved to Reno in 2001 after choosing to live in a place that she loved for its natural beauty. She has written four children's books, including The Kindness Ninja and a series of three books called Adeline’s Magical Moments Collection. She has been obsessed with blogging since 2002. Lynnette loves to experience outdoor adventures in our area, including skiing, hiking, camping, and open water swimming. She spends her days working from home for a NYC ad agency and shuttling kids to dance, lacrosse and basketball.


  1. OMG Lynnette, I can relate. Our new neighborhood is a prevalent Jewish community and first thing Alana did this morning when we stepped out to walk to school is ask her sweet friend – who is Jewish – if his elf arrived yet. He had no idea what she was talking about and it was awkward with the partents… That damn elf… I regret starting it two years ago! PS – I never even dreamt of doing all that crazy stuff…Fishing in the toilet?!?. It’s hard to even remember to move the darn thing!!

  2. Jamie Schnell

    I love this post… I hate that elf! lol, my friend doesn’t do the elf and her son is in 2nd grade, but they don’t do Santa either, so her son just thinks the elf is kinda weird. Not ALL the kids do it, some classrooms do it which is awkward. It’s one of those things where I’ll hope my kids take to heart the lessons they’re learning at home, if we don’t find another option for school. When we get into school I’m going to be the mom bringing dreidels and gelt!

    Usually the elf would be something I’d be totally into, I love craftiness and shenanigans, I just don’t like the idea of someone “watching” to make sure my kids are good… I’ve never really liked that about Christmas, the whole you have to be good or Santa won’t bring you gifts… It makes me sad to see kids be threatened with Santa… We’re being very deliberate about teaching this time of year is about giving and service. I see what you mean about outside influences though, Isaac wants to do Santa because he learned about him at school. So, we’re going to do a Santa gift this year. Previously, we did Christmas Eve with jammies and stories, then a stocking from Mom in the morning, I LOVE STOCKINGS! We celebrate EVERYTHING, just in our own way. I mean we celebrate Pi day and National Grilled Cheese day as fervently as any Holiday. Anyway, JUST SAY NO to Elf on the Shelf! lol.

  3. Sooo agree lol. We’re only 4 days (I was late) into this and I’m running out of ideas. Pinterest made me roll my eyes. Who has time to make little elf outfits, sweep up flour angels, etc? But, as you said, the kids are loving it and believing so we mush push on!

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