I am not sure what is going on this year. I have heard more anti-Elf sentiment this year than in the past. I figure it is because the brand has branched out to include unnecessary accessories and such. Whatever the reason for the elf shaming, family Christmas traditions vary from family to family. There is no wrong way to celebrate with your kids. I will never try to convince someone to bring an elf into their home. Do it if you want. If it isn't your thing... don't do it. Such an easy concept, right? No need to be an elf hater! This post is about our "untraditional" elf guidelines.
First off, let me briefly explain the original concept behind the elf to those unfamiliar with it. Basically, it is an over priced doll that is normally sold with an overpriced book. The book basically tells kids that the elf is going to stay in their house and spy on them for Santa. Santa is a apparently a busy guy and needs help making his naughty and nice list. You do something bad... Santa's little narc will head to the North Pole and tell him what you did. You can't touch the elf or it will not come back from his nightly North Pole visit. I think that this is so the elf doesn't fall apart from being played with- once again... cheaply made.
So... to recap, cheaply-made expensive doll that kids can't play with and will rat them out to Santa. To top it off, it is kinda creepy looking and it adds one more thing for parents to remember. So, why in the world am I still a fan of this overly marketed tradition? Because it makes my kids happy. I am all about each family having their own traditions and this one works for us.
We first met our "untraditional" elf, "Mto," when M was 2 1/2 years old. (Yes, our elf's name is pronounced "mmm-toe." The origin of his name will have to wait for another day- sorry!) Peanut was a newborn and getting the majority of my attention. As the holidays rolled around, my hubby and I thought it would be something fun for us to do for her.
From day one, we have made modifications to make the elf tradition work for our family. Rules are made to be broken, right? Well, we more or less rewrote the rules and threw the book in the top of the closet. The hubby and I have had to modify the elf on a shelf guidelines to prevent meltdowns and to eliminate the stress of having a Pinterest perfect elf pose every night. In past years, we have allowed M to carry Mto around in his "magic blanket." She needed to tuck him into the baby bed next to her and it wasn't worth the fight. After she fell asleep, we would sneak in and position him back in the common area. Along the way, we have continued to change it up as needed. Over the past 3 years, we have stuck to a certain set of elf guidelines to guide our placement and overall elf experience.
Our Elf Guidelines
1. Our elf IS NOT a narc!
M is at the age where we are battling constant tattling! Why in the world would we invite something into our home that has the primary purpose of telling on people? Instead, if the kids have a rough day, our elf will skip his nightly trip to see Santa. If you can't say something nice...
2. Our elf IS helpful!
Most mornings, our kids will wake up to find that our elf has helped mommy and daddy with Christmas decorations or gift wrapping. I don't mind having another way to model helpful behavior. Last week, M was helping me put tags on gifts and she told me that we were being "good helpers- just like Santa's elves!"
3. Our elf IS NOT destructive!
I love looking at the pictures of all of the silly elf poses on social media. I often giggle at the snap shots of other elves making messes with glitter and papering the house. If this works in your house, congrats! I am just not at the stage of parenting where I need one more thing to clean up. If the elf doesn't plan on picking up after himself- he better not make a mess. We also are not interested in giving our little ones new ideas of how to be messy- they have plenty of their own ideas.
4. Our elf IS simple!
We don't always make a huge deal out of the elf. He normally just moves from shelf to shelf and stays out of reach. If the kids can't reach him, I don't have to worry about them destroying him or punishing them for their interest in a toy! We do have the tendency to get a little more elaborate as the big day nears- but nothing crazy!
We actually have big elf news!
After 3 years of being a bachelor, M insisted that Mto take a wife! After a month of admiring her teacher's girl elf, she asked Santa for one. Because the elves go back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, I took M to pick out a wife for Mto. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first. Now that she has joined the family, I am actually excited about being able to change it up a bit next year.
Do you do E.O.A.S. with your kids?