Some kids love it, most parents hate it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this odd holiday tradition, here’s a simple, humorous summary. And for those who ARE familiar, consider this a snarky recap of the strangeness that is the Elf on the Shelf.
Here’s How it Works
You shell out about 30 bucks for the doll and bring it home. You tell your kid(s) it’s been deployed by Santa from the North Pole to surveil their behavior, to confirm they qualify for his Nice List.
Note: Don’t worry. There’s Nothing potentially scarring about this. In addition to the benefits of its behavior control, nurturing a nice set of anxiety and insecurity is healthy for a modern child. And it will plant the seeds of a useful paranoia they’ll need in the real world of non-existent privacy and unlawful monitoring.
The 1st & 2nd Rule of Elf Club
Firstly, you do not touch the elf. Secondly, you DO NOT touch the Elf! The penalty for violating this rule? The elf will forever lose all of its powers and be doomed to roam the earth as a crippled and unemployed misfit of the natural and unnatural worlds.
Note: There’s no real pressure here for kids, though. Remember, as long as they are told not to, they hate touching things that are brightly colored and resemble a toy.
The Final Rule of Elf Club
Like the toys in Toy Story, the Elf has strict orders to never talk or move in front of us mere mortals. It can, however, move to new tactical positions whilst humans are away or asleep. So, each morning the kid can frolic about the house in search of their nomadic overseer.
Note: This is where the real fun for parents comes in. There’s always the regular hectic frenzy of running a family, but now, in addition to the breakneck panic to accommodate the holiday and winter season, parents have the jolly duty of remembering to move the Elf each night! And don’t forget, there’s a festive treasure hunt added to the fun of offspring-wrangling you need to do each morning. Joy!
Next Level Tactics
So! If you are going to, or have already decided to set up this yuletide spy in your home for family fun and child conduct management, why not go all in? Here are some ideas:
1) Arm your Elf with miniature weaponry from other action figures for a greater air of zero-tolerance. A gun, a sword, a bow with poison-tipped arrows; so many options.
2) Draw angry eyebrows on your Elf to give it a more awe inspiring presence. You can add fangs, too. Kids don’t really know if arctic Elves have fangs or not.
3) Use the element of surprise by placing the Elf in startling locations. Suspended directly above their bed, inside a box of cereal, floating in a sealable bag in the toilet, that sort of thing!
4) Transplant the head of your Elf onto a large, formidable dinosaur, monster or robot toy for more shock and awesomeness.
5) Use lipstick or washable red markers to graffiti ominous messages on surfaces near the Elf. Like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Kids love Harry Potter.
6) Buy even more Elves to create an atmosphere of inescapable and overwhelming oversight. Scatter their positions strategically, or group them together in a imposing formation.
Okay. So, obviously (hopefully it’s obvious), I’m just being funny here. I don’t actually think the Elf is traumatizing, no more than threats of Santa’s Naughty/Nice list is, as a thing some parents do. I’m sure lots of kids have fun with the daily game of finding their silent seasonal sentinel, or whining to their parents about it not migrating, when parents forget to relocate the dang thing.
Personally, my wife and I choose not to add the Elf to the blizzard of things we already endure during the holidays. To the parents that decide to undertake the Elf commitment, you have my respect. And my pity. (Remember to set a daily reminder or seven, folks!)