It’s Christmas time and along with all of the festive decorations and fun that go with the season, there’s one that always comes back every night. For those of you without kids or might be wondering who or what the heck the Elf on the Shelf is, you’ve come to the right place.

The Elf on the Shelf story was created in 2005 by Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell to commemorate their own family tradition of an elf sent from Santa who came to watch over them at Christmas time. The book tells the story of how Santa Clause needed a “Scout elf” to check to see if boys and girls around the world were being nice or naughty. Every night he flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa and when he returns, he hides himself in his adopted family’s house for the children to find him. Children can chat to the elf but can’t touch him otherwise he will ‘disappear forever’ according to the book. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features a hardbound picture book and a small scout elf and typically sells for $29.99 retail.

Every day in December, once the kids are in bed, parents place the elf in different locations in the house, so he pops up somewhere new when they wake up in the morning. Before this can happen however, the Elf must be “adopted” and named by the children of the house. Once the elf is named, the scout elf receives its special Christmas magic, which allows it to fly to and from the North Pole.

The elf has become a pop icon in his own right and every year a new crop of parents discovers Elf on the Shelf. For some parents, the creative demands of the elf are just too much after the first week. The tradition has since gone viral, with parents taking to Pinterest to post pictures and share ideas of the unusual places they put the puppet in each morning. Sometimes parents can get a little punchy and run out of creative ideas and before you know it there’s a viral photo of an Elf on the Shelf sitting on the edge of the tub taking pictures of naked Barbie dolls.

Nonetheless the kids certainly seem to have fun finding the elf every day and knowing that their elf is reporting back to Santa their good behavior is something that just warms the coldest of hearts.


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