Should You Buy The Elf On The Shelf?

We are fast hurtling towards that time of year and if you are debating whether to introduce The Elf on The Shelf book and toy to your kids, I thought I’d share my opinions and experience with the Elf after having it for the first time last Christmas.


First of all – what is Elf on The Shelf? It’s a children’s book that comes with a small Elf doll. The book explains the whole concept in a way that kids can understand, but basically the idea is that the Elf arrives on the 1st of December each year. He lives at your home until Christmas but visits Santa each night to report on the children’s behaviour and when he/she returns he will be in a new location somewhere in your house. Each morning the children have to search and find his new location, where the Elf watches the children to make sure they are being good. The Elf on The Shelf has been around for a long time but seems to have had a surge of popularity in the last few years, particularly with people sharing their Elf’s hijinks on social media.

Teepeeing the Christmas tree – quick and easy way to set up the Elf and guaranteed laughs!

Anna was 4 and Lucy was 2 when I introduced the Elf (who they named Tommy Ted) last year. I’ve never done advent calendars or anything like that so this was the first thing that required some kind of effort on my part! We read the book together and Anna was very excited, although Lucy was a bit nonplussed. Based on this, I would say 4 years old is a perfect age to introduce the Elf. Lucy was interested in the Elf but wanted to grab it and touch it which is against the rules as explained in the book, so our Elf always had to be placed out of reach.

One thing that is a bit off putting is the crazy and elaborate stunts people create with their Elves. Seriously – who has time for that? Pinterest is great for creative ideas for Elf on The Shelf but many involve props or set ups that would be destroyed in a minute by my 3 year old. The kids never expected elaborate Elf scenes and were happy to just find its new location each morning. Most days ours would just ‘find’ a new place to sit – in the Christmas tree, in the pantry, on the book shelf. Nothing creative or particularly interesting (the pictures in this post were probably my most creative efforts) but still required the kids to search around the house each morning.

Reading a book to the rubber duckies.

So should you buy an Elf on The Shelf? If you want to! If you have the time to move it around each night. If your eldest child is at least 4. My tips are to keep it simple and keep it fun. If you have teenage kids it could be a job they do each night for their younger siblings.

But if you decided to purchase one, I strongly suggest you do it now. The last couple of years the books sold out by about mid November. Plus you will want extra time in case the shipping takes longer than expected. You can  buy it here on Amazon.

Tally-ho! Riding Anna’s toy unicorn.

This sort of Christmas tradition is not for everyone, so if you are not into it, that’s cool. I enjoyed it last year and am looking forward to Tommy Ted’s (yes weird name, they couldn’t decide between Tommy and Ted) arrival in December. Another tradition we have is getting our girls a Christmas themed book each year. You can check out what I bought them last year here. I’m still deciding what titles to get them this year, although Anna is really enjoying Dr Seuss at the moment so perhaps How The Grinch Stole Christmas might be a winner for her?

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3 thoughts on “Should You Buy The Elf On The Shelf?

  1. Amazing!! I bought him last week ! (Hasn't arrived yet). To start it with our kids. I have bought a different Christmas book each year since my eldest who's 10 was born – starting to have a lovely collection. I grew up with an advent calendar – one for my brother and another for me ! But instead our 4 take each day in turns and they find a Christmas ask to do !! I love Christmas traditions – can you tell ??? Great post Ros an merry Christmas

  2. I've Unimed and ahhed about it but I think my older kids would have a ball doing it for the little ones and it might give them a laugh too. I can't see myself coming up with 25 different set ups I'm hopeless like that.

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