Elf on the Shelf Antics & a Few Thoughts

This will be our third Christmas with our Elf on the Shelf. When we received our Elf on the Shelf as a gift from my mom over three years ago, it seemed like a fun holiday tradition.

I didn’t think about the impact my decision to do Elf on the Shelf would have on other families. I didn’t think about much, other then how much my children would love it. All season long I see Facebook post and blog post and open letters about Elf on the Shelf. Criticizing. Making fun of. Putting down.


I want my children to focus on the reason for the season. Then focus on that. Focusing on bashing how others choose to celebrate isn’t very merry at all. It is creepy, it is too much work, I don’t want to use it as behavioral modification.

I get it. The Elf on the Shelf isn’t for you. That is okay. It is for me and my family though. And that is ok.

We don’t use our Elf for behavior. We don’t use Santa for behavior either. In fact, just yesterday Quinn asked me if he was naughty, would he still get presents? I told him Santa would always come. That he didn’t have to worry about that. That he was a good boy and if he did something naughty, it was a bad choice–he was still a good boy.

A family recently started dinovember. The idea is that plastic dinosaurs come to life when you are sleeping. Really the concept is similar to Elf on the Shelf. I saw the idea featured by the Huffington Post (You can read that here). I read the article and got a real kick out of the fun things the dinosaurs did, but the real take-home for me was the last paragraph.

Why do we do this? Because in the age of iPads and Netflix, we don’t want our kids to lose their sense of wonder and imagination. In a time when the answers to all the world’s questions are a web-search away, we want our kids to experience a little mystery. All it takes is some time and energy, creativity, and a few plastic dinosaurs.

Childhood is fleeting, so let’s make sure it’s fun while it lasts.

All I thought to myself was YES! YES! YES!


We all need to stop taking everything so seriously. There is room for religion and fun. There is room for everyone to celebrate in their own way without criticism.

For those of you who feel that Elf on the Shelf or other fun antics take away from the meaning of Christmas, I would have to disagree. Creating excitement and wonder and joy is the whole point of living! I would argue that a family with lots and lots of holiday traditions is a closer knit family. A family with love and care pulsing through its veins.

To all you Elf on the Shelf families–please do not feel like you need to defend or justify your choice to have fun, play and create magic.

This post isn’t meant to offend. It is just to remind everyone to lighten up and let a little fun and magic in your heart.


I apologize that some of the pictures are dark. I don’t remember to snap one, until I go to move him when the kiddos are in bed. Without further ado, here are a few things are elf has been up to, since he appeared December 1st.

Elf on the Shelf in the Christmas Tree.


Elf on the Shelf hiding on a bookshelf.



Elf on the Shelf taking a bath in fruit loops.elf-on-the-shelf-fruit-loop-bath


Elf on the Shelf zip-lining.elf-on-the-shelf-zip-lining


Elf on the Shelf spelling.elf-on-the-shelf-spells


Elf on the Shelf peeking.ELF-ON-THE-SHELF-PEEKING


Elf on the Shelf in a jar.ELF-ON-THE-SHELF-IN-A-JAR


Elf on the Shelf hangs on the mistletoe. elf-on-the-shelf-mistletoe


Elf on the Shelf egg face.elf-on-the-shelf-egg-head


Elf on the Shelf extra kisses!elf-on-the-shelf-extra-kisses


Elf on the Shelf rolling in toilet paper.elf-on-the-shelf-toilet-paper-roll

Elf on the Shelf taped to the wall.




There is lots more elf on the shelf fun here, including how to say goodbye to your Elf on the Shelf (with a fun printable letter!)


  • Kellye A.

    Oh, your cat! That is plainly a face of disdain, “Oh, when *I* until the toilet paper, I get in trouble! But when *he* does it, you laugh and take a picture.” Love it! And great post! I’m not sure yet If the elf will be right for our family, but no one has the right to dump on someone else’s traditions simply because it’s not how they choose to celebrate.

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      LOL. That cat is a stinker and half–that is probably exactly what she was thinking.

  • Heidi Milton

    love this post, Megan! life is too short to be a hater — enjoy every second. :)
    xo heidi
    PS — taped to the wall? i lol’d!

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      Very true Heidi.

  • Tara

    I don’t have a problem with the elf on the shelf, although we personally don’t choose to have one. I only get annoyed when I have friends that feel the need to post daily pictures of their elf on facebook. Although, even then it’s easy enough to just scroll past.

  • Lauren

    I had no idea that elf on the shelf was such a contentious issue! I’m glad you’re continuing your family tradition — what other people think doesn’t matter!

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      LOL! Me either. I was shocked so many people had an opinion.

  • Andrea Kay

    Thank you Megan! We choose to have an elf “Miroslav” (lol) and my kids LOVE it! I totally agree that our kids are only kids once and they are only little kids for such a short period of time, why not make it FUN and magical! I enjoy seeing my friends post where their elf is found every morning and frankly it gives me good ideas for ours :) It is so disheartening to see other people putting each other down over such a silly thing, especially when it brings so much joy and wonder to our kiddos! Thank you for sharing with us the things that are traditions and ways of making family memories for you and your children! P.S. Miroslav will be found Washi-taped to our wall tomorrow! Thanks for that awesome idea!!! :)

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      You are welcome. I’m glad your kids enjoy it. Eleanor is 2 and half so this year she really enjoyed it too. It was fun to see her get into it. She remembers everywhere the elf hid. Every morning she would look for him she would say all the places he has been. Kind of hard to believe that Christmas is over.

  • Nancy M Armstrong McIntosh

    elf Sparkles came to visit my grandkids this year. They are having so much fun with it. the two youngest ones had a mishaps with sparkles. sparkles fell off on to the floor and my 2 yr old granddaughter picked her up and the 5 yr old started screaming at her, telling her that she is making sparkles sick. so my daughter had to explain to them that santa will make sparkles all better. So Santa sent and iv drip of peppermint and sparkle dust to sprinkle on to her to make her better. Sparkles had to stay in bed for two days. it was so fun they would go and visit her and I would go over there I had to go visit sparkles in her sick bed. but no touching.. lol

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      Haha! I’m dying over the IV drip of peppermint and sparkle dust. What fun!

  • Leila

    I couldn’t agree more, people are so uptight every time i post or talk about it I do get some folk that make negative comments I think its because they don’t get it! Its our 3 years for our family as well and we love it. Thank you Megan.

    • http://www.balancinghome.com Megan Bray

      Funny isn’t it? My kids just adore it and it is fun!

  • Nancy M Armstrong McIntosh

    My mom which is the great grandmother touched sparkles before it was time and my two youngest granddaughters seen her do it. They told my mom she was making sparkle a sick. My daughter told them they still had some sparkle dust to sprinkle on her so they sprinkled it on her and then when they was looking spaekles sat up. We had to explain to my mom what the elf was all about. Lol. That night sparkle was able to go back to the north pole until next year.

  • libbywilko

    I think it’s a fun idea and I totally believe you do what works for your family and ignore anybody’s comments!