An Elf on My Shelf? No, Thanks.

It’s that time of year again. You’ve probably already seen the social media posts… The Elf is back.

A few years ago, I’m sure Elf of the Shelf was someone’s bright marketing idea. {Really, why didn’t I think of that? I would be rich!} Anyway, in case you’re living under a rock, you can “experience the magic of Christmas” with a little stuffed elf who watches over the house until Santa arrives. Um… No, no, and no!

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is my favorite time of year. I absolutely love decorating the Christmas tree with my family while holiday music plays in the background.  We look at the ornaments my mom made us, set out the nativity scenes, and hang the wreath on the front door. But one thing I don’t do, and nor will I EVER do, is that elf.

He was cute at first, all sitting on the shelf. Then, moms had to take it to the extreme. Now, every day, parents are expected to come up with some elaborate way to present the elf to their kid. I’ve seen pictures of flour all over the floor with little elf prints in it. I’ve seen toilet paper unrolled all over the place with the elf mischievously holding an empty roll. I’ve even seen one where the elf took all the decorations off the Christmas tree. Yes, I said ALL the decorations off the Christmas tree. Really, folks?

There are even entire blogs dedicated to giving people ideas for the Elf on the Shelf. I checked it out. And what grand ideas did I find?  Glad you asked… Have the elf switch clothes from one closet to another. {No.} Empty out the pantry. {No.} Use a marker to write on the family pictures. {No.} Have the elf kidnap barbie using duct tape and all. {No.} And one of my personal “favorites” — the elf in the middle of a marshmallow fight with an ENTIRE bag of marshmallows thrown all over the place. {Nooooo.}

Why are we creating a mess for ourselves to clean up?!

Not only would I have to create each of these “cute” little scenes, but I would be the one frantically cleaning it up after my kids went to bed each night! {I mean, I can hardly manage to pack school lunches some days. My kid is bringing leftover turkey and cranberry sauce in her lunch today.}

But let’s talk about the most important thing, in my opinion.  Who decided the elf was supposed to do “bad” things? Aren’t elves nice? Aren’t they Santa’s helpers? Because throwing marshallows all over the living room is not helpful at all!!!

Why couldn’t the elf do things like clean up the kitchen while I have a glass of wine? Or maybe he could scrub the toilets? Fold clothes? Massage my feet?  Now that is an elf on the shelf I could get on board with!

And to top it all off, this year there’s a viral post going around where the elf is displayed with a note saying he contracted Lyme Disease from one of the reindeer and is going to have to sit still and just watch all season. Since when is Lyme Disease something to joke about?! Oh, sure I want to open up that can of worms with my 3 and 6 year old. Try explaining that little scenario to a kid. Ticks, disease, sickness… That will surely get them in the Christmas spirit.

So, he’s messy and rude {and now apparently sick}. And if I don’t have enough mom guilt over not doing the Elf on the Shelf, now there is a whole family of elves and accessories. There’s a girl elf, parkas and graphic tees for the little elves to wear, and even pets for the elves. I just can’t. I can’t do it.

I’m really not trying to sound like a jerk. If you have the time and energy to deal with the elf on the shelf, go for it. If it makes your kid act like an angel because they think Santa is watching, more power to ya. If it’s a tradition that your family really enjoys, keep it up!

But for us, Christmas is already magical enough without having to add a mischeivious and sickly elf to the mix. And if my kid asks, our “Elf on the Shelf” is at the North Pole, helping Santa so he actually has toys to deliver this year.

No Elf on the Shelf


  1. It always strikes me as funny when someone pretends they aren’t being judgy and snarky by throwing in a token “power to you.”
    Not all mothers like Christmas. Some of us struggle for a way to make the season magical for our children everyday, when the season was never magical for us. Our elves don’t eat our kids out to Santa. They reflect the playful and loving nature of our home. They help to remind me that I love my kids more than I’ve always hated Christmas. They even helped turning my spirit from one of dread to almost cheerful of the holidays.
    So, instead of writing a post trashing what you disagree with, and thinking you’re ok because you threw in a “power to ya.” Why don’t you write a post about how YOU keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home everyday? Maybe it will give some of us off the shelf and out of the box ideas? In the meantime, our elves are getting back to their marshmallow fight.

    • Dani, I love, love, love that the elf on the shelf has helped you and your family find the Christmas spirit in your home. You have clearly made an effort to turn the holiday into something your kids enjoy and now something that you enjoy too. You are right, if the elf helps keep the Christmas spirit alive in some way, I think that’s awesome. Really, my post was meant to come across as light hearted and silly.. .I wasn’t considering the serious side, and that the elf may help someone bring the Christmas magic into their home when they have a real need. Thank you for taking the time to write in…

  2. I absolutely agree with you 100%! I felt the playfulness of your tone and thought your opinion was well worded. I am a bit of a Scrooge at Christmas when it comes to making things movie magical when I know there are so many doing without. I understand it BEGAN as a fun way to get your kids in the spirit (like they need help?) but a usual society has to take it to the highest level and go completely overboard. Sure, some probably don’t go to the extremes that you speak of, but it becomes so commercialized and out of hand so quickly, a lot of parents feel obligated to fall prey to the pressure of not leaving their kids out. But you know what? That’s life! Not everyone gets the same opportunities so who cares if an elf doesn’t show up on your shelf? I do like the idea of the kindness elf, but it’s still a little creepy if you ask me! I guess I’m fortunate as neither of my children have ever asked about getting an elf! ?

  3. dear andrea ~ relate. and appreciate your bold stand re. ‘elf’.
    i feel the same about ALL ‘hallmark holidays’ in general. they have robbed the lights and spirit right out of the celebraton.
    holidays have become too commercialized. deeply rooted in eating too much, stressing out over commitments, obligations, shopping, decorating, negotiating places and turns, and putting up with people i really do not care to spend time with.
    in our family we plan get togethers often and celebrate our love for one another as much as possible.
    we buy presents during the course of the year. when we find something special, that we feel individuals may like.
    all is clean and calm in our household.

  4. Although I´m doing some stuff with the Elf on the shelve and enjoying it, I totally share with you most of your thoughts.
    Good article!

  5. Of course not everyone has to have an Elf but the elf you described is one prevalent on social media but not the one we have. My Aunt sent my daughter an Elf about seven years ago, before he became poplar on the internet. All he does is fly to a new place every night (except that day he REALLY liked his spot from the day before). I think that was the original intent based i on the book. My kids would be confused, and probably a bit concerned if they woke up to the crazy antics. Just wanted to point out there are other ways to do it. They are funny to see though!


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