A new Christmas craze has started people, if you haven’t heard of ‘The Elf on the Shelf’ seriously, where have you been?
The internet is currently flooded with pictures of the naughty elf, in THE most creative situations known to man. Who is this elf might you ask? If like me, your only just twigging on to this new trend mid December and wanting to know what the low down is, allow us to enlighten you on all things ‘Elf on the Shelf’.
What is ‘Elf on the Shelf’?
The original idea came from a children’s book called ‘The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. The book was self-published in 2005 and is about a group of elves who are hidden in homes, and watch children on behalf of Santa to decide whether they have been naughty or nice.
The book quickly became a hit and the Creative Child awards named it book of the year in 2008. That same year the book had a categoric rise, with social media really propelling the profile of the book.’ The Elf on the Shelf’ character was created as a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, as it was a 2014 bestseller.
The narrative of the story is that the elf is hidden in the child’s house during the day to watch their behaviour, and then flies back to the North Pole to let Santa know if they have been naughty or nice. The elf play’s a game of hide and seek with the kids, who have to find the elf in different spots around the day.
The book only sets up one rule that children must follow, so that the elf can do its job: “Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”
The Elf’s somewhat frozen wide eyed grin has been described as ‘creepy’ by some parents. His overall look is that of a vintage 60’s toy; think Bill & Ben, Noddy,and those weird pull along telephones with the blinky eyes. It’s that frozen smile of the elf in naughty ‘hide and seek’ mode that we find most disconcerting.
Photos of ‘Elf’ in fabulously creative set ups have been circulating on instagram and facebook which no doubt puts enormous pressure on those parents whom are less creatively inclined. The temptation to outdo other parents to be more creative and think outside the box, can put pressure on parents whom are already stretched in the festive season. The pressure can be seen to take away from the fun element of the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ ritual.
“I watch and report on all that you do!” the elf warns in the book, adding that “the word will get out if you broke a rule.”
In a culture that seems to be alarmingly going down the Big brother route, this can seem like were giving the wrong messaging to our children. The moral code of do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do, rather than behave because your constantly being watched, is the right code for most. Correcting behaviour in January without ‘Elf’s’ help can also prove to be a challenge.
Misuse of Elf
The apparent misuse of Elf has also been widely documented as well. Various photos of Elf in ‘inappropriate’ positions have surfaced, sometimes taking on a macabre feel. There have been concerns expressed that this could again, give children the wrong impression and the wrong example, especially given how widely the internet is available. It seems to highlight how easily an innocent Christmas gimmick can be misused with young children encouraged to ‘copy’ the behaviour.
Although ‘The Elf on the Shelf’ story and toy has had controversy, it has done nothing to dampen the popularity. You just have to google the title to find no end of inspiration of things to do with your ‘Elf’. Many of the photos are amusing, with some I’m sure bringing endless amounts of fun and amusements to little ones and adults alike.
The Poopy ones
The Snow Angel
Elf and his Toy buddies
Elf and the grown- ups
Where can I get ‘ The Elf on the Shelf’?
You can get it from www.theelfontheshelf.com which then redirects you to their UK site. It retails at £27.95, and comes with the book and Elf scout.
As with all things, there will always a certain level of controversy. Admittedly I do personally find the concept of an all seeing, all knowing Elf with a frozen smile a little creepy, but on the other hand, love the thought of creating funny scenarios and knowing that the hide and seek element would bring endless hours of joy to my household.
So okay, the messaging in the book is slightly big brotherish but hey the beauty of being a parent is that you get to choose. Read the book, don’t read the book, read certain pages, miss some out, the choice is yours. As a parent we get to know our children implicitly and know exactly what works for them.
I’m adapting this and portraying it the way we want, for some light-hearted seasonal fun.
First things first, time to get my icing bag out and prepare some ‘Elf’ poop cookies. Joy!
Pictures – Instagram, Farrellfamilyfun.com