Elf on The Shelf

Elf on The Shelf is one of the newer Christmas traditions that I have no experience in. I was 15 when the elf became part of the mainstream and I don't have kids so I've been watching on the sidelines.

Over the last 16 years, I've watched as this tiny elf doll has taken kid Christmas culture by storm and parents stress about keeping that magic alive day after day in December.

Family Tradition

Live Science notes that elves became part of Christmas lore in 1857 thanks to a poem published in Harper's Weekly that mentioned how Santa "keeps a great many elves at work/ All Working with their might/ To make a million of pretty things..."

So, where did the Elf on the Shelf tradition start? According to Woman's Day, it became truly mainstream around 2007, two years after the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition came out. The author, Carol Aebersold, based it on her family's tradition dating back to the 1970s.

The Rules

Some rules vary by family but the gist is that each family gets assigned an elf from the North Pole. Every night in December the elf magically moves around the home getting into funny situations. The kids are not allowed to touch the elf lest he or she loses their magic powers. Additionally, each night the elf reports back to Santa on the behavior of the kids. Gotta stay on that nice list!

Elf Ideas

Year after year and day after day in December it's not easy to come up with new ideas for the family elf. We asked listeners to share their best elf shenanigans this year. Check them out if you need ideas to get to Christmas.

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