Christmas is my favourite time of year. I can rival my kids in the excitement stakes. I can never sleep on Christmas Eve, despite the fact that I am a fully fledged adult. There is something truly magical about the festive season. Christmas lights can bring tears to my eyes (I was a sap before kids, I stood no chance after). I love following the traditions of my childhood for my own children, and making new traditions too.
When Big was 5, I decided to introduce the big one to The Elf on The Shelf after it flooding my Facebook news-feed. It looked cute. A nice idea. Another way to reinforce the good behaviour threat. A new tradition for my family. Easy.
Here’s how it went down… Please note this was years before you could pick up an elf in Poundland.
Day One of The Elf on The Shelf
Inform husband that I have decided to do The Elf on The Shelf and set about purchasing said Elf. Pick myself up off the floor after seeing the price of the cheeky little imp and re-think the whole idea.
Catch a trailer for Santa Claus the Movie on television and get swept up in a wave of Christmas nostalgia. Decide The Elf on The Shelf is back on, only with a different elf, not the actual elf.
Day Two of The Elf on The Shelf
Trawl the shops for some kind of elf. Buy more decorations for the tree in the process. The husband will be pleased (insert sarcastic tone here). Can’t find a bloody elf anywhere, and beginning to get shoppers rage. Induced by hearing ‘All I want for Christmas is you‘ for the filth time. It’s all Mariah’s fault (I’m more of a Pogues kind of girl). Find a snowman ornament and decide that will do. Henceforth the Elf on The Shelf shall now be known as The Snowman on The Shelf. At least in our house anyway. Crack open the Christmas chocolates way too early because I deserve them after that ordeal.
Day Three of The Snowman on The Shelf
Begin planning the execution of The Snowman on The Shelf. Type a letter to the big one from the Snowman explaining who he is and what he is doing here. Feeling pretty pleased with my creative genius. Begin to plan where the Snowman will be each day and what antics he will have gotten up to. Up to day 4 with no problems. This is fun. Begin to falter. Come up with ideas for days 5 and 6. Struggling now. Run out of ideas.
Eat more of the Christmas chocolates for inspiration and brain fuel. Look at my to-do list for Christmas and wonder if my time could be better spent. Refer to Mr Google and Mrs Pinterest for some inspiration. Less inspired and more a complete feeling of inadequacy. I am not a creative genius after all. Finish the chocolates. Steal four of the less messy and inexpensive ideas and decide 10 days of The Snowman on The Shelf is plenty.
Day Four of The Snowman on The Shelf (11 days before Christmas Eve)
Inform the big one that he has a letter. Read the letter from The Snowman on The Shelf and introduce him to said Snowman. There is much excitement and the feeling of Christmas magic is in the air. Feel all warm and happy, and rather pleased with myself for creating a wonderful and magical Christmas for my children. This is going to be amazing. Before bed hang The Snowman from the living room light ready for the big one to discover in the morning. Don’t sleep very well worrying that the Snowman is going to fall off the light before the morning.
Day Five of The Snowman on The Shelf
The big one seems to have forgotten about the whole Snowman thing. Ask him if he has seen The Snowman this morning. When he replies “no” suggest he looks for him. Begin the longest game of hot or cold ever. Everytime I say “hot” the big one goes in the opposite direction. Repeatedly explain the concept of hot and cold. He’s not getting it. Start to panic that we are going to be late for school. Feign excitement and over-the-top enthusiasm that I have found The Snowman.
The big one’s interest lasts approximately 30 seconds before he starts watching TV. That didn’t go as I expected. Tell myself to hide The Snowman in more obvious places. Adopt a “where would I look for something if I was a five-year-old?” approach. Ponder an acceptable time to start drinking mulled wine.
Day Six of The Snowman on The Shelf
The Snowman is sitting on the TV cabinet with the remote in his hands. The big one spots him easily and finds it hilarious. We are back on track. The big one begins asking lots of questions about The Snowman and his relationship with Father Christmas. Begin to feel like I am under interrogation and I am going to tie myself in knots. Panic that I haven’t thought this through.
Don’t they say with lies to keep it simple? The Father Christmas bit is easy. Straightforward. But now I’m telling lies upon lies about this bloody snowman. What if he talks to the kids at school? Who else has got a bloody snowman staying with them in the run up to Christmas? This is going to be a disaster. He’s going to figure it out and the joy of Christmas will be ruined forever, and I will be branded a liar for all eternity. Suggest a Christmas movie to stop all the questions. Break into the second box of Christmas chocolates.
Day Seven of The Snowman on The Shelf
The big one discovers The Snowman on The Shelf playing with his cars. Seems a bit put out by this. The Snowman is returned to his shelf and the big one spends the day eyeing him somewhat suspiciously. At bedtime he asks a lot of questions about where The Snowman will be tomorrow. He seems worried. Put it down to a sharing issue and make a note not to let The Snowman play with his toys.
Day Eight of The Snowman on The Shelf
The big one is refusing to come downstairs. He doesn’t want to see the snowman. The snowman is scary. He doesn’t like him coming alive and he doesn’t like him watching him. When he puts it like that it does sound quite creepy. Next come the tears. Full on heaving sobs with puppy dog eyes because, “The Snowman is going to tell Father Christmas that he doesn’t like him and then he won’t get any presents.” Holy mother of god what have I done? My parenting halo was tarnished before, but now it looks rusty.
Cuddles and reassurance are administered, along with a promise that Mummy and Daddy will send The Snowman back to the North Pole, with a letter explaining that the big one has been a really good boy but the snowman can’t stay with us. Offer him the remainder of the Christmas chocolates for breakfast to cheer him up (the halo has well and truly had it). The Snowman on the shelf is
shoved into a drawer out of sight sent back to the North Pole, never to be seen again.
It’s fair to say that our time with The Elf / Snowman on The Shelf was an epic fail and that is why this year he will be staying in the box. We’ll find some other new traditions, simpler and less terrifying ones.
Got a laugh looking at my comment from when this originally came out saying that we don’t do it. I moved out not long after Christmas three years ago and its a long story but the elf stayed here nonstop for almost two full years. Good blog post material but a real PIA. Been a while since we’ve crossed paths but have a good one Claire.
Nice to hear from you Jeremy. Have a happy and safe Christmas. x
We don’t do the Elf here either. It just seems creepy to me more than a fun tradition. Maybe A Halloween thing… lol. I giggled more than a few times reading this. Great post. Thanks for sharing!!
Haha – how insane is it that you need a disclaimer about people getting arsey about jokey posts over an elf/snowman? I have discovered that you also need to do the same if you want to joke about your kid’s school harassing you with texts about lunch time brownies! #FridayFrolics
I still love this post. No Elf is allowed near my house! I can’t believe people were offended though! #FirdayFrolics
I’m two days in and all is going well although my big one,was scared at first at the thought of him wandering about downstairs at night.Really couldn’t be arsed last night to come up with elf mischief so am anticipating some glitches seeing as I have feckin 22 to go!!!!
Ha ha if the failed elf (snowman) on the shelf wasn’t funny enough the replies to the comments are priceless.
Haha – I think you got further than I would do! But at least the Snowman on the Shelf is less terrifying than that elf! #FridayFrolics
So funny! I don’t think my daughter would grasp the concept either so I’ll leave it for now lol #fridayfrolics
I managed to totally miss Elf on a Shelf in previous year(s?), but they are all over the shops here and my daughter keeps harassing me to get one. I was considering it… until this. hahaha #FridayFrolics
I’d never heard of it until this Christmas, well creeeeeepy. As a child I would have been scared too. It seems like a good idea but then spying and elves hmmmm….I’m with the big one on this!
Hahahaha… absolutely loved this post. Just picturing each day and each scenario (you and the Snowman; the Big One concerned with the Snowman playing with his cars) makes me snort. Except the last day – aww poor baby, the tears! Though all quite funny in retrospect. A Christmas story to remember, if not a tradition:)
PS: And no, your motherhood halo is not rusty. It’s the thought that counts, remember?;) Super-funny post
we didn’t do this last year and have no plans to this year either. Its a cute idea, but a bit played out
Gosh i’ve never come across this tradition before and feel quite ignorant. When we did the Father Christmas lie i loved/hated it in equal measure but was mainly relieved when they grew out of it. Once we practice to deceive .. etc. xJo #fridayfrolics
Just thinking about this assy elf makes me run for the Zanax
We had the elf on the shelf for a few years, and it was awful. It had to be up high enough so they littles wouldn’t touch him. We had to remember t move him…I hated it the lies we had to keep telling. I packed him in his box and send him off to goodwill. We then told the girls he must of left because he knew how good they were… Oy vey… damned elf. #FridayFrolics xoxoxo
HA HA HA! This is so brilliant! I’ve not tried elf on the shelf, his face is just a little too smug for my liking! #fridayfrolics
Poor big one I have seen this quite a few times and you have convinced me to stay away thanks for hosting #fridayfrolics
Oh, its so lovely to come back and visit! I realise how much I love your blog and writing and life, work and other linkys have gotten in the way! This is so funny! Proper snorted at this. Yep, Pogues for me too!
Oh this is just brilliant and reassures me that I am not a bad mother for never getting involved with Elf on the Shelf “fun”. Too much hard work and I would totally end up getting myself tied in knots about the elf’s backstory! #FridayFrolics
Hahaha! I’ve never been involved with that Elf but we have pixie doors and at crimbo they leave advent doors by the fireplace that each night they pop a little something behind the numbered door. It goes down a storm with the Twins plus we don’t have to think of new places each day as the advent doors stay by the fireplace!
Love the idea of a Snowman though…I may have to give it a go! #fridayfrolics
I got sucked in !!! Now I have to continue with it every year and troll FB for ideas of things to do. The worst part is, he was packed up with all our Christmas decorations last year. After a trip to Sydney, we assumed we would be back in Melbourne for Christmas. Not happening, HENCE, I have now had to trot off and buy a FILL IN elf. My oldest is already asking if, so I had to do it. Wish me luck. #FridayFrolics
I share the same worries as your son with this elf on the shelf thing!
We are playing it safe with a Christmas Eve box instead…or copping out, which ever describes best!
Oh I’m surprised more people don’t give up on the elf or in your case snowman. I’ve never bought into it and to be honest I hate the idea of my little girl thinking someone is spying on her for santa #fridayfrolics
Claire. I LOVE this. Poor old big one. And the finding out of the price of the elf is about the same reaction as I had which is why we don’t have one, though I like the resourcefulness of the Snowman.
When you put it like that though, the snowman playing with his toys?? Oh no! I love how you handled it though 🙂
Awww! This is so cute – poor Big One! I can see why he would have found it all a bit creepy. Who does that snowman think he is playing with his toys without permission?? Haha 🙂
I like the idea of the Elf on the Shelf, buuuut I can’t really be bothered with another thing to do in December! Bad mum. It’s not something we ever did as kids, so I don’t feel my kids are missing out – we’re happy with the odd Christmas movie, a couple of plays and some advent chocolate! In fact the concept of 1 chocolate a day is enough of a challenge!!
Thanks for linking up for my last list! xxx #TheList
It all sounds like way too much hard work for me 😉 plus I find it a bit creepy….
Woman after my own heart. I actually started writing something a bit along these lines but it was turning into a right moan lol. I sounded a bit bah humbug. But I have to say I got thoroughly fed up seeing Elf on the Shelf nonsense last year (why do we have to adapt all these American Christmas traditions anyway? It’s just overdrive) and just can’t deal with it. Anyway loved this. Very funny as usual. #BestAndWorst
Thanks for your comment. I love other people’s pictures of the elf and his antics!
I can’t even begin to like that crazy elf thing, it also sounds scary to me!!! #thelist
Just another.money making scheme along with Christmas eve boxes, can’t be arsed with it. I like.simplicity, I survived without elf I am OK haha #TheList
I am with you on this one. I don’t get it at all and especially with all the photos I’ve been seeing of the destruction that the elves are causing! What is wrong with these elves? I’ve stuck to old fashioned advent calendars for bribery – with little toys inside instead of chocolate! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
Elf on the shelf is cute, but it seems like one of those things that you should only do if you, as a parent, enjoy it. Because I think it’s a lot of work! I wouldn’t enjoy it, so I’m not even tempted. Plus our family celebrates Christmas as a religious holiday and we do Santa and stuff, but it’s not our main focus so I don’t feel like putting that much effort into that aspect of it.
Love your Snowman on the shelf idea! would save alot of hassle for those that can’t find elves.
We have an elf on the shelf… ok we have 3 elves, (none of which are the official creepy looking ones) We started with one elf, that was 4 years ago, ideas started to run short so 2 years ago we added another elf to the mix, this year we have added a third, but only because I saw him in the garden centre and couldn’t resist him, so now we have one elf per child, which is a tad excessive to be honest…
I started loving the elf… but now 4 years in it is more hard work then fun, because the kids remember what he has been up to so I feel like I can’t repeat too many of them. I am well and truly bored of seeing it all over facebook and I feel like its become a competition over who has the best elf, rather then just something fun for the kids like it should be.
Oh my word… that was a really long comment, I’m sorry i’ll stop rambling now!
I admire your commitment!
I passes on the Elf also. Whole thing seems a little weird to be honest
This post really made me laugh then I felt quite cruel lol! I hope your son recovered from his ordeal with the snowman. #effitfriday
He has no memory of it this year so I think we have avoided therapy. On that one anyway :/
How did the elf on the shelf become such a THING? How did this happen? I’m not buying into it. I find it hard enough to keep up with the advent calendar. Loved this post x
I keep seeing these pics in my feed and it looks like a lot of effort for very little ‘magic’ and an awful lot of creepiness. I shall endeavour to not welcome the elf at out house either…
This is exactly what would happen to me if I tried Elf on the Shelf! I think its a great idea but you gotta be really committed and organised. I would definitely mess it up somehow by day 11! #effitfriday
Snowman on the shelf lol – I started it last year and the children love it! It can get a bit stressful – The elf kit I bought online was quite reasonable though #FridayFrolics
I’ve been wondering what elf on a shelf is so thought I’d read this for enlightenment. I have been almost crying with laughter…my husband is concerned. I’m not completely sure that I know more than I did though! The drawer sounds a good plan, I’m sure you’ll have some lovely Christmas traditions up your sleeve anyway x
Thanks Lucy. I think we will stick to more simple traditions!
The cost and the trouble of trying to find things for him to do come a big secomd to the fact that he is a creapy little wotsit (notice im being politer here than on twitter). My sister in law is doing something similar for my niece but she has bought a friendly looking elf. #Bestandworst
Oh this did make me laugh Claire! I agree it is ridiculously expensive and I think if you’re going to do it, do it your own way just maybe remember to make it less creepy by telling your child that the elf/snowman is just there to help them enjoy and celebrate the Advent/bring them chocolate (that always works!). I have to admit I haven’t bothered with this at all even though I wrote it in last year’s to do list. It just seems like one more pressure to pile on yourself at what is already a massively pressurised time of year! Thanks for linking up this week #thetruthabout
Oh no, bless him!! I find the whole elf things a bit creepy, why they didn’t make it look a little more cute and child friendly I don’t know! I’m not doing it this year either, I may consider it next year but I don’t really know if I’d be able to stick it out for the duration! Thanks for linking up #bestandworst x
No elves at our house! Then again, no Santa, either. But even if I did Santa, we wouldn’t have an elf that comes alive at night and wanders through the house doing things. People didn’t realize how many children would be completely freaked out by that?
This had me chuckling right along! I have a love/hate thing with the Elf…it works for so many people and they do such cute things with it, but that Elf is freaky as all get-out! And the price? Not a chance.
My sister has a collection of little toy reindeer who get up to similar antics in her house…this year they started off the season with a new baby reindeer!
We do Santa’s Workshop where each day something new appears. No-one watching or hanging around or anything like that. Phew!
This parenting stuff is hard work!
This is hilarious, and I am determinedly ignoring the whole elf on the shelf thing! If he found the snowman creepy, thank god you didn’t do the real elf because their faces are just terrifying! They look like an evil ventriloquist dummy! #twinklytuesday
I’ve seemed to of missed the Elf on the shelf thing but I think I’m with you on this one, my son would not be happy knowing there is an elf or snowman playing with his toys whilst he was asleep, think we will just stick to advent calendars and trees #twinklytuesday
Awe!! I’m sorry you had such a hard time at it. Not every tradition works for every family. I love that you tried to get clever with it and make it your own though! I struggle with the toothfairy in the same sense… and we’ve made quite a lot of stories to attach to her and why she forgets to come etc. Mom fail. But we have done elf on the shelf for 3 years now and my kids start asking about when Perry (our elf) is coming around the end of July!! My oldest “knows” so he helps us out a lot. There have been times he’s gotten up before me to make sure he’s “moved.” The whole story behind the elf is a big deal to my kids. How he goes back to the north pole every night, how if you touch him he loses his magic for a night. So the older kids get excited to pass down and enforce the “rules” to the younger (I have four kids) We adore the elf tradition, as it is definite a full family effort. He comes to our home the day after Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday in November) so we can get the most from him. You can see some Perry’s antics searching #elkinself on Instagram 🙂 #thetruthabout
I think I’ll just have to enjoy everyone else’s pictures 🙂
I’m sorry for your son’s distress but this post really made me laugh! And a big relief to read too. Frankly, I’m kinda sick of this Elf on a Shelf business. The official elf, as you said, is really expense and, frankly, bloody creepy looking. Plus, I’m sick of looking at him on my Facebook newsfeed.
My son is only 2.5 so probably a bit young at the moment anyway, but I don’t intend to ever do EoaS as 1) it looks like A LOT of creative effort during a time of year when you’re already busy, 2) it could invite too many questions when the big Santa secret is already quite challenging to keep under wraps and 3) I would fear that the coming alive factor would scare the hell out of my kid (quite rightly really!). It seems to me a little like one more thing that adds to the whole Pinterest-generation, competitive thing. I know, I sound so miserable lol! I do love Christmas really, promise!
When we were kids, an advent chocolate before breakfast and the promise of Santa was enough excitement so think I’ll stick with that and leave EoaS and Christmas Eve boxes and all that other stuff to other, more enthusiastic mums 😀
I love Christmas, but we put too much pressure on ourselves. My kids love driving around looking at the Christmas lights. Simple!
I don’t know where I’ve been because I have totally missed Elf on the shelf and only read/heard about him this year. I think my son would have exactly the same reaction as yours. We have had problems in the past with the tooth fairy, his response; I don’t want some strange person coming in my room and looking under the pillow and we weren’t allowed to hang a stocking in his room, the big man could put in an appearance downstairs but his room was out of bounds entirely. I think a sneaky little Elf popping up around the place and touching his stuff might just push him over the edge. And I must admit I am slightly relieved because my creative juices aren’t really flowing in December only the wine. 🙂 #twinklytuesday
Thank goodness for the wine 😉
I have to admit – I couldn’t stop laughing when I read your post last night, and I came back again today to have a second read. Bless his little cotton socks! x
Thanks 🙂 Always nice when people come back for more.
This is exactly the kind of thing that happens anytime I try to do anything “nice”! x
Ha ha this amused me greatly and gave me hope – I HATE the blasted Elf on the Shelf and he doesn’t look cute, he looks evil!!! This nasty little elf is taking over the world! I like the idea of your snowman better but boy, it does sound like a lot of work!
Oh bless him – I can imagine that the idea of an elf (or snowman) coming alive at night could potentially be quite a scary one for children (as is a strange man letting himself into your house in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, but that’s another issue!). We’re not doing Elf on the Shelf – it’s one more thing to get stressed over and to try and remember to do in the run-up to Christmas but I quite enjoy seeing all the photos on other people’s blogs. #TwinklyTuesday
Awwwwwww your poor boy getting so worried about the snowman coming to life!! And when you put it like that I can totally understand where he is coming from!
I have been quite keen on doing the elf on the shelf or something similar however I just don’t think we would have enough time in the mornings to pay enough attention to what the elf is doing. The mornings are such a rush to get read and out that dawdling over an elf that’s up to mischief is the last thing I need! So not for us this year. Maybe next year!
Hahaha! I love it! I see this happening to us eventually. In the meantime, my Elf is totally getting hold of that TV remote tonight! Brilliant! And I laughed out loud at the hot and cold debacle! Hilarious!
Seriously, how hard is it? Hot or cold!!!!
Haha! My little one is a bit too little to introduce elf on a shelf but my sister uses a magic robin that’s in the garden. Every time they see a robin my sister reminds them that it’s checking up on them and is one of Santa’s special robin’s! That way it’s not in the house and only visits sporadically so they don’t feel like they’re being watched all the time. Genius and has worked well for a few years now! #TwinklyTuesday
That’s a lovely idea 🙂
Oh no! Its so difficult to introduce new things, we never know how our 2yr old will react to things as it changes day-by-day! I hadn’t seen Elf on the Shelf until really recently but I decided Mia is too young for it a the moment and if I’m honest, I didn’t want to put the effort in! 🙂
aww, the poor thing! I suppose I wouldn’t much like something coming to life and watching me. I don’t think I’d ever do this because it is also likely to be a complete fail, I’d never be able to think of 24 places to put it for a start!
hahaha I lasted three days last year. I have put an elf on the shelf this year but it won’t be creative. I’m using it as a bargaining tool. 😉 #MaternityMondays
I’m really not a pintrest perfect mum!
Ha ha giggled at this, but poor little one, I suppose it is quite creepy. We have a visiting elf called Peter who leaves chocolates in the Calendars. He has been with us for 13 years and is very easy to maintain x
I like easy to maintain 🙂
Ha, I’m completely with your child on this one – I’ve always thought the whole concept of freaky looking Elf being sent to spy on you in the run up to Christmas a tad creepy!
Not to mention the sheer tedium of having to think up something new for it to be doing every day, and getting up to ‘mischief’ that would warrant naughty behaviour on any other day but because it’s a bloomin’ Elf it’s overlooked! 🙂
Can you tell I’m not a fan either, lol 🙂
I hadnt thought of it like that although we should through a childs eye. I was shocked at the price to!! I like the idea of the naughty elf more and finding what mischief hes caused over night rather than spying. Also checked out ideas on pinterest :p im about 4 years ahead of myself though with a 10month old. Far too excited myself he hasnt got a clue what christmas even is nevermind an elf.
Ahhhh it will come. Before long you will be being woken up at 5am every day in December so they can open their advent!
I must say when I looked at the official Elf on The Shelf and all his rules I found it quite off-putting. All that spying and reporting back, plus being told that you’re not ever to touch it.
I’m going to have a bash at my own version with an Ikea elf and the back story that she has come to stay for a rest after working so hard in Santa’s workshop. Hopefully my daughter won’t get freaked out by the night time shenanigans!