Say hello (again) to The Elf on the Shelf, Santa’s skinny sidekick who keeps our kids in check. We all start with good intentions. But then the darn elf forgets to move. Fret not, we’ve got you covered:
Elf Hack # 1 Ask your elf to set a nightly, recurring iPhone alert to go off after your kids are in bed. (Just don’t call it something obvs like “elf!”) The “Harp” ringtone is particularly magical.
Elf Hack #2 Have him snap an “elfie selfie.” If he forgets to move, scroll through your pics and say, “He fooled us! He stole my phone and took a selfie. What a trickster!”
Elf Hack #3Is your elf out of places to sit? Suggest she follow @ElfOnTheShelf on Twitter for location inspiration sourced from hardworking mamas.
Elf Hack #4Blame the dog/cat/gerbil/fly that MUST have touched your elf accidentally, causing him to temporarily lose
his magic. Build him a protective covering made of candy canes and washi tape (who’s Pinterest-y now?) and refer to tip #1.
Or just place your elf … on the shelf. After all, she’s not “Elf in a Hot-Air Balloon.” Keep it simple: The easiest hunt is magic enough.
The Switch Witch is a mythological witch (shhh, keep this a secret!) who visits children while they sleep to switch Halloween candy with prizes. Think of the Switch Witch as a Tooth Fairy who only visits on Halloween to protect trick-or-treaters from candy overload and cavities, while also ensuring healthy choices.
“Switchcrafted: The Story of the Switch Witches of Halloween” is a new book-and-doll set (a black trick-or-treat bag is also included) that shares the story of the Switch Witches and their need for different types of candy to fuel broomsticks, homes, and baths. And similar to Santa, a Switch Witch watches over kids during the month of October to note those who are naughty and nice. Of course, nice kids get their candy exchanged for a toy (though keeping the candy doesn’t seem like such a raw deal, either). And in case you’re wondering, “Switchrafted” is the brainchild of three women and moms, Audrey Kinsman, Pam Hatcher, and Milena Kirkova.
If your kids can’t get enough of Elf on the Shelf, or if you just want a slightly non-traditional version of it, the Switch Witch (which kids can also personalize with a name) is a fun way to welcome the fall season and buoy everyone’s spirit. Since Halloween is right around the corner, pick up the “Switchcrafted” set and read the book at the start of the month. Then place your Switch Witch doll in different places around the house to watch over the kids!
The Elf on the Shelf has quickly become a beloved Christmas tradition, but it might already be time for something new. For those feeling elf fatigue, another little creature could offer a fun alternative to the ubiquitous holiday spy.
Author L. van King pokes fun at elf mania with the cheeky parody The Dwarf in the Drawer. The Dwarf in the Drawer doesn’t do much, which might be refreshing for some parents who have run out of creative places to perch their sneaky elves. This lovable drawer-dweller is more of a sloth than his enemy, preferring to snooze among socks and watch Colbert rather than report back to the big guy up North. As he laments,
For most of the year, things at home were real peachy.
Then in came that usurper, acting all preachy.
Who died and made that elf king?
That creep who made Christmas a terrible thing?
Based on the sheer number of Pinterest pins alone, The Elf on the Shelf is a huge hit, but the little guy isn’t for everyone. Maybe you and your family have overdosed on good holiday cheer, and can commiserate with this grumpy counterpart. Here’s to new (and slightly sassy) holiday traditions!
Are you an Elf on the Shelf enthusiast, or are you more of a Dwarf in the Drawer dissenter? Tell us in the comments!
Find the best toys and games for your little ones here.
This morning’s Today Show coverage of Manti Te’o's imaginary girlfriend came with an unwelcome extra—an outing of Santa Claus, thanks to an ill-chosen tweet that was highlighted during the piece. The tweet, which appears halfway through the 3-minute segment (along with a voiceover that reads it aloud), says, “You think Manti Te’o's sad now? Just wait until he finds out about Santa Claus…” You can check it out here:
A friend of mine ended up driving her son to school crying, while she tried to explain it away. I imagine that she’s not the only one trying to contact the Today Show today to say, “What gives?” And I’m pretty sure that the segment producer is in hot water, especially as there were probably plenty of other clever tweets about the Manti Te’o situation that didn’t involve destroying a child’s belief in Santa.
It’s not the first time in the past few months when a morning news show has angered parents over their lack of a spoiler alert—parents were ready to come after Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer with pitchforks after she explained during the morning show that parents move the Elf on the Shelf at night, while touching the Elf (a no-no as any Elf-on-the-Shelf owner knows).
It’s a tricky situation. Morning news programs are supposed to be all about news—the truth about what’s happening in the world. But these programs are often on when kids are around as they get ready for school. And it means that newscasters on these shows should maybe be a little more careful about sharing the truth about the magical creatures that are still real to a significant portion of their viewership.
Did you catch the snafu this morning on the Today Show? And are you planning a TV blackout around Easter Bunny season?
I don’t have an elf. I’m not getting an elf. And for the love of Christmas, please don’t buy me an elf.
Parents, you know the elf I’m talking about: the Elf on the Shelf, that doll with the freakishly thin physique, jaunty hat, and creepy sideways glance. When I first heard about this Christmas interloper a few years ago, I thought so very wrongly that he’d go the way of countless other bad ideas that get trotted out every holiday season, and be left behind in a heap of Christmas albums from yesteryear’s boy bands.
But in a few short years, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, a marketing marvel cooked up by a couple of moms, who packaged the pixie in a festive keepsake box complete with storybook, has cemented its seat at the Christmas table, right alongside such classics as Frosty and Rudolph. The elf even got his own TV special. However, unlike everyone’s favorite snowman and reindeer, which know their rightful place is at the North Pole, the elf is a fitful, messy, repeat overnight guest in your home, at the busiest time of the year.
You see, it’s not enough to just have an elf perched on your mantel or TV console, “watching” the kids for good behavior each day before he “flies” to the North Pole and delivers his report to “Santa.” The next morning, the kids bound out of bed to see where Buddy or Jingle or Jack (it’s critical to name your elf; that’s how he gets his magic, instructs the book) has return-landed overnight, whether in the branches of the Christmas tree in your living room, or atop the American Standard in your bathroom (yes, really). The elf is sometimes found having made some midnight mischief, like having gone for a spin with Barbie in her pink convertible (that sly dog), or wedging himself inside an upside-down glass in the cabinet. In some homes, this nightly ritual starts before the calendar page even turns to December.
How fun! What excitement!
In a moment of elf peer pressure (“The kids love it,” said one friend; “It is a great discipline tool,” conceded another), I thought about my children, and their friends with toy elves dangling from the mesh side pockets of their backpacks this time of year. Was I being a mean, self-centered mother, averting my gaze from the towers of Elf on the Shelf boxes crowding the aisles at Barnes and Noble?
I turned to the most scientific poll I have at my disposal: I asked my Facebook friends.
“Am I the last mom without an Elf on the Shelf?” I wondered aloud.
Quickly, I was assured by a handful of friends I was not. What did we need this elf for anyway, one pointed out, when we already have an all-seeing Santa to keep an eye on who’s been naughty or nice?
And then, there in my news feed between photos of elves making snow angels in plates of flour, or elves sledding down hills of mini marshmallows, the elf regret poured in.
“Don’t get one!” implored one friend. “It’s a total pain in the you-know-what!”
“Is it possible to resent a stuffed doll?” said a second pal. “How many times I’ve woken in the middle of the night to realize I forgot to move ‘Freddie.’”
“Someone bought an elf for us. It’s on a shelf, the shelf in my closet,” said another friend. “And there it shall remain another year.”
So moms, if you’re suffering from elf remorse, take heart: you’re not alone. And if your elf gets lost on his way home from the North Pole, or makes the unfortunate choice of hiding deep inside the kitchen trash can, or meets the jaws of the family dog, this mother, and countless other have-enough-to-do-besides-remember-to-move-a-freaking-elf moms, won’t judge you.
And if anyone dares to buy you a replacement elf, I have just the idea for a gift you can get for that person in return, one that also likes to launch surprise messes when nobody’s looking.
We caught on to the Elf on the Shelf trend a little late in my house. The incredibly clever product came on the market more than five years ago now (and was created by two moms, of course!). But if you haven’t heard of it, let me brief you. You buy an Elf in the store (Santa puts them there) and you read the book that comes with him, An Elf’s Story. In the story you learn all about him and his purpose. He is here to watch the children of the household and report back to Santa every night if they have been naughty or nice. You have to give him a name — my daughter named ours “Max” last year — and every morning he magically appears in a new spot in the house. (That’s the trickiest part, moms: Remembering.) But it’s worth it for this powerful line: “Max is watching you!!” Here’s where he popped up this morning:
And tonight he is going to be on TV. Well, all the Elves on the Shelf will be there. The show originally aired around Thanksgiving. But if you missed it, you can watch tonight on CBS at 9:30 ET/PT (or DVR it). My kids got to review it this morning and were mesmerized: “Hey! That’s Max!”
For more Elf on the Shelf delight, or just to pee your pants laughing (this one had to be made for the parents), check out the Elf Training Video.