The Elf on the Shelf is a small elf doll with a fun story and purpose. Parents purchase these dolls for their children, and they become an integral part of the Christmas season for many families.
About the Elf
The elf doll that is the main character of all of the Elf on the Shelf products looks like one of the usual Christmas decorations, but he serves a higher purpose. He is said to be the direct line between Santa and the children, and returns to the North Pole each night when the kids are sleeping. Once there, he tells Santa if the kids have been naughty or nice.
When the elf returns from the North Pole, he finds a new place to sit. As parents take charge of finding new and different places in the house for the elf to rest, children delight in finding him each morning leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the elf returns to the North Pole until the next year, when he magically appears once again in the house.
The Story of the Elf
The Elf on the Shelf doll and accompanying book are both the products of Carol Aebersold, who started the tradition with her own young family, and her daughter, Chanda Bell. Both women are former teachers. Aebersold originally used the elf to help explain to her kids how Santa would know if they were naughty or nice, and he became a treasured part of their Christmas traditions. As the story goes, the elf obtains his magic once a family brings him into their home and gives him a name. Parents are free to set the rules for the elf, such as:
- No touching the elf, though children can talk to him.
- Kids may not hide the elf on their own.
- The length of time the elf is "working" between Thanksgiving and Christmas
The Elf Book
The book that comes along with the elf doll is a beautifully illustrated story that explains to children how the elf came to be with them, and how he communicates with Santa. The story also outlines how the elf gets his magic, and gives kids plenty of fodder for their imaginations.
Aebersold self-published the book, and it rose to the top of the Barnes and Noble best-seller list in 2009.
The Elf on the Shelf Website
The Elf on the Shelf website includes lots of fun things to do, in addition to selling the book and elf doll. The site can be slow to load, as it runs on flash technology, but the result is worth it. You'll find beautiful images, great animated segments, and jolly Christmas music to guide you through various pages.
Here are some of the highlights from the official website:
- Register your elf with his new name and receive a special note from Santa, or view the registry itself.
- Visit the "Elf Schoolhouse" to track Santa, play games, and view lesson plans for different age groups.
- Explore the games, Christmas crafts, and other activities scattered throughout the sections.
- Visit "Mrs. Claus' Kitchen" for Christmas treats.
Make sure you explore all of the different sections, as you will find fun things to do throughout the site.
Extra Fun for Parents
Here are some ways to extend the fun of the elf doll and the Christmas magic he brings:
- Tell your kids that the elf cannot communicate with them directly, but sometimes he may brings treats or notes from Santa for them, which you can include when you relocate the doll each night.
- If a child has gone out of his or her way to be extra good, have the elf sitting in his or her bedroom the next morning.
- If you're having trouble finding the real Elf on the Shelf doll and book, pick up any elf figure or doll and write an accompanying note from Santa for your kids to read. They can still participate in all of the fun, and use the website to further explore the story.
The Elf on the Shelf is a wonderful way to give your children a little extra magic during the Christmas season. It's a really cute story, which inspires a great deal of imagination in the younger set.