Here’s the greatest, most simple idea for Elf on the Shelf: Don’t do it. Done.
If you never bring one into your house, you never have to worry about coming up with a second idea using some bungee cord, a Barbie doll, a half eaten candy cane, and a car jack (which sounds like a list of items needed for either an Elf on the Shelf idea, a MacGyver episode, or criminal plans).
I’ve yet to understand why parents willingly purchase the soulless, unblinking doll. Why make Christmas harder? Between the church services, school events, traveling for family and buying presents, you want to give yourself another job every night?
There’s no way I could do that. I have forgotten to do the Tooth Fairy. Frequently. At one point, three nights in a row for the same kid and the same tooth. (That was not a high point of parenting.)
With four kids, I consider a night successful if all of them are alive in bed sorta clean, vaguely fed, and kinda asleep.
Now, Hallmark is trying to get me to stay up later wasting my ever-draining brain power to come up with a creative way to put some Santa spy all over my house? And you want it to be different every time?
No, let me tell you why Elf on the Shelf exists. Facebook. And Instagram. And Pinterest. Social media is the real fuel of the Elf on the Shelf.
If you take Instagram away, I’m betting Elf on the Shelf stays on Hallmark’s shelves and away from yours.
I’ve got a new saying. It’s not, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound.” The better question would be, “If an Elf does something creative, but it’s not immediately posted to Facebook, did it really happen?”
“No,” you object, “we do Elf on the Shelf for our kids. It’s all just fun for them.” Really? So why are you staging that thing like it’s a commercial photo shoot and rushing to post it on Pinterest first thing in the morning?
“Wake up, kids. I know it’s 4:00 AM, but you need to find the elf. Mommy needs to get her … I mean, your elf’s photos online before your Aunt Rachel puts their photos up.” The kids stagger out of bed as Mommy mumbles under her breath about her “selfish, thieving sister” taking her Elf idea.
But no matter how many likes that Elf on the Shelf picture gets on Facebook, the whole thing is basically a voluntary hostage situation. It even gives you one rule, “Don’t touch the elf,” like it’s North Pole Fight Club.
I know the second season of Serial podcast just started, but I feel like this is a mystery that needs to be solved. Just how did parents fall for Elf on the Shelf? Maybe that’s Serial season 3.
I’m not trying to take away your fun and imagination. I’ve defended Santa here before. This is about saving you from yourself (and maybe your kids).
Put down the Elf on the Shelf. Save your nights. Spend them doing what every parent should be doing when their kids are in bed—sleeping.
But if you do unleash the evil in your house, keep it off social media. If Elf on the Shelf can fly back to Santa every night after doing some crazy stuff in your house, he can create his own Facebook page and post his own pictures.
That’s the best Elf on the Shelf idea ever.