A Letter To The Elf On The Shelf Creators From A Busy Mom

Dear Family Who Created The Elf on the Shelf,

I hate you. I generally try to not use such strong language but, honestly, I hate you for getting rich while making my life harder at Christmas time.

Why I hate the Elf on the Shelf creators - The Everyday Mom Life

I’m sure you thought you were creating this magical thing that would help kids behave better at Christmas time but the truth is, the elf (threat) doesn’t work on my kids at all.

And really, I don’t care about that at all because if we have a situation where they’re not behaving an elf that they never see move certainly isn’t going to help.

What I do care about is that you have given me yet another thing to do during the most magical time of the year. Even before our elf, Jingle, graced our lives I was already buying all the presents (for everyone in both my families), making reservations for all the magical experiences, spending half a day waiting to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop, shopping for the Christmas outfits, making the Christmas cookies, cleaning the house, putting up the decorations, photographing and sending out the Christmas cards, wrapping all the gifts and cooking whatever other food we are required to bring to gatherings.

Why I hate the Elf on the Shelf creators - The Everyday Mom Life

Then, at the end of the night, after the kids are in bed, I finally get to sit down…to work. I can only imagine how moms who work a normal schedule outside the home must feel.

Exhausted, I finally begin drifting off to sleep around 11 p.m. each night with my computer still on my lap, the lights of my tree still on and the background noise of a Hallmark movie, I remember. I remember that I have to move that damn elf or make up some story for my kids the next morning about why she didn’t fly her butt off the North Pole.

Not only that but because this has become such a phenomenon, I feel pressure to think of something creative.

At this point you’re probably thinking, SO JUST DON’T DO IT!!!

I’d do exactly that if I could but like I said this is a phenomenon. My daughter already knew about this elf at 3-years-old thanks to preschool friends who had one. She asked me the day after Thanksgiving when Jingle was coming. (Eye roll) Then she drew the elf a stocking and hung it next to our’s on the fireplace. (Face palm)

If I don’t do it and make up some lie, I have mom guilt. If I do it and do a lackluster job, I have mom guilt and I’m annoyed and then I have more mom guilt about being annoyed. Either way I’m emotionally screwed.

So, so far, we have annoyance and guilt that our smiley elf has caused.

The third reason the elf is a PIA is because it’s costly. It’s not just about the clothes you can buy the elf or the miniature reindeer, stuffed toy you can buy it so the elf has a freaking pet (cause every mom needs another pet to take care of!) but it’s about the gift expectation that some parents have now created for this thing.

Luckily, we aren’t there yet but it’s something I see on the horizon. Jingle has brought the kids pajamas but other than that they don’t seem to have any additional expectations.

Why I hate the Elf on the Shelf creators - The Everyday Mom Life

However, I know parents who have the elf bring their kids something every day. Who has that extra cash laying around at Christmas time? Are presents on Christmas not enough anymore?

So for these reasons you are not my favorite people. Considering this “tradition” was created by a mother and her adult daughters, I feel like there should at least be some sympathy thrown our way for all your riches. Or at least some chocolate…and wine.

Now excuse me while I go find some ultra-creative new position for our elf before I fall asleep on the couch.


A tired mom who already has enough to do

P.S. The fact that you created a BIRTHDAY Elf on the Shelf only reinforces my irritation and disgust. You really don’t think parents are going to fall for this BS twice a year, do you?

Instead of Elf on the Shelf, try these 25 fun family ideas at Christmas time.

Why I hate the Elf on the Shelf creators - The Everyday Mom Life

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  • robin rue December 04, 2017 05.55 pm

    You’re right, you can’t just not do it. The teachers at school have them and the kids go into class talking about the funny things their elves did, so your kid ends up feeling left out if you don;t get one. I hate ours, too.

    • Everyday Mom Rachel December 04, 2017 09.30 pm

      Oh my gosh yes! It drives me nuts that teachers are using them as a tool too!

  • Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor December 04, 2017 06.05 pm

    This is too funny and many of the reasons why I refuse to let the Elf enter my house. As moms, we have enough going on. So if my girls want to see the elf, I guess they will have to go to thier friends house.

  • Erika December 04, 2017 06.47 pm

    I am soooo happy that my son was grown long before that frakking elf hit the market. Elf on the Shelf is a bridge too far, even for this holiday and tradition loving mama. lol

  • Erin December 04, 2017 07.43 pm

    haha! I was hoping my boys would not remember Elf this year but they did so he’s making his “magical” appearance as late in the month as I can help it. 😉

  • Margaret Westhoff December 04, 2017 07.43 pm

    So funny. As the mother of a 1 year old and 2 year old, I don’t have to deal with the Elf on the Shelf yet, and for that I am grateful!

  • Beth Davidson December 04, 2017 08.46 pm

    Bahahaha, I hope you moms with older children all band together and get this nonsense to stop before my kids are old enough to make me do it!

  • Cassie December 04, 2017 11.31 pm

    We only just started getting elf on the shelf over here in Aus and even though I’m not a parent I can totally feel your pain here that it’s just another thing you have to do!!! Mind you – I love seeing everyones creativity! I’d have to be super planned for it earlier in the year haha. Busy Phillips always puts up hers on Instagram and they are CRAZY

  • Abby Darlington December 05, 2017 12.13 am

    haha I love how honest you are in writing this post! I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant with our first, so I’m sure I’ll be in your boat within the next few years. Heres to hoping that kids are over the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ fad by then?

  • Ana De- Jesus December 05, 2017 01.18 am

    Lol I never knew that there was a birthday elf on the shelf as well haha ! I agree though it must put even more pressure on you at Christmas x

  • Karen Morse December 05, 2017 01.20 am

    That’s a pretty solid open letter that’s true to the core! It shouldn’t feel like a chore for you moms, especially who have so much on their plate!

  • Laura @ MommyDearest December 05, 2017 01.44 am

    I have a love hate relationship with our Elf on the Shelf too. Thank goodness for Pinterest to give me some help in the idea department. I think I still do it because the look on my kids faces is totally worth it, There is so much awful in this world that if I can bring a little bit of magic, even if it only means moving the elf from room to room, it’s all worth it in the end. (I’ve also fallen asleep and forgotten to move the Elf) Face Palm

  • Shell December 05, 2017 01.50 am

    We don’t do elf on the shelf and we never have. When my son was in school he never asked and we never had a teacher who had one in the classroom… I think if a parent really doesn’t want to do it they just shouldn’t but I agree once you start you are prob stuck moving that elf around for many more Christmases to come 🙂

  • Angie December 05, 2017 01.55 am

    I’m not at the Elf on the shelf stage yet. My daughter is almost two. We’ll see if she asks for it as she gets older but so far I’m not looking forward to it. Every parent I know who does it hates it! Lol

  • Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh December 05, 2017 02.50 am

    Our Elf Mr. Sweets is taken care of each night thanks to my husband. He has never done anything much, other than move everyday to a new place. He does bring candy, and a few cheap things like socks.

  • Kristina December 05, 2017 05.18 am

    I love doing our elf on a shelf. Our kids named him Russell. I have fun thinking of new ideas and love seeing the kids search for him in the morning.

  • Journa Ramirez December 05, 2017 08.45 am

    Well, elf on a shelf couldn’t be avoided during Christmas. You are so honest and I love it. You made me smile!

  • Krystal Butherus December 05, 2017 01.36 pm

    I personally like seeing the expression on my son’s face when he finds the Elf. To me, it rings in the holidays, and gets the kids into the spirit. I see where you’re coming from; it’s difficult to work all day, becoming exhausted, THEN try to be creative with the Elf.

  • Joey (BTaC Blog) December 05, 2017 01.46 pm

    My daughter became aware of the elf when she was in gradeschool.

    I told her I didn’t know why we didn’t have one and I was pretty sure they just show up for bad kids.

    She was satisfied with that until fifth grade. Since I was sure the whole Christmas deal was about to get more grown up (if you know what I’m saying) I informed her that I would not permit any elves on our shelves. They make messes, I told her. And you know I don’t like messes. Did you see how the elf put sharpie marker mustaches on every member of Evan F’s family while they slept? That’s not happening.

    We weathered another elf-based storm that year and before she started sixth grade, I dropped some holiday truth bombs. My daughter points to this as the worst thing I’ve ever done to her.

    So, you see, not having an elf is not the worst thing you can do to a child. The worst thing you can do is attempt to save a middle school kid from embarrassment.

  • Jeanine December 05, 2017 02.41 pm

    We enjoy our elf. It doesn’t do anything but sit basically on a shelf but my kids enjoy it, so we will keep it around. I think its a to each their own type thing!

  • AnnMarie John December 05, 2017 04.02 pm

    I am totally not doing this either! It takes too much of my time and I have better things to do with my family than move an Elf around.

  • Brittany December 05, 2017 04.19 pm

    We haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet. I love your honesty. It looks and sounds like a super fun tradition, but I am sure it takes a lot of thought and extreme creativity that I am not willing to tap into after bedtime!

  • Halley December 05, 2017 05.05 pm

    My sisters and I loved doing Elf on a shelf growing up. We always set up traps and had so much fun when he wrote us letters, I’m definitely thankful my mom took the time to create those memories for us.

  • Marissa Zurfluh December 05, 2017 05.58 pm

    Maybe I ama horrible Mom but I flat out told my kids it was fake and that the adults move them every night (if they remember).

    I actually just wrote a post about this on my site. I don’t feel using fake people or doll is a great way to get our kids to behave.

  • Lexi December 05, 2017 06.48 pm

    I love how honest this is! My daughter is almost two so fingers crossed this dies down before she knows what it is!

  • Emily @ Love, Pasta and a Tool Belt December 05, 2017 07.46 pm

    I am really hoping that my daughter does not want to do the Elf on the Shelf once she’s old enough to understand about it. I have an aunt who does it for her kids and gets so into it but I’m pretty sure I would just forget every single night haha.

  • Tara December 06, 2017 01.15 am

    Before I had kids I thought Elf on the Shelf sounded like the best idea ever and I couldn’t wait to do it. This is year 2 and only Day 5 and I’ve run out of ideas to stage our elf, ugh! Now I’m regretting it, but as you said they already learned about the Elf from preschool too.

  • Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins December 06, 2017 01.40 am

    I’m totally with you on this. Having kids, I get the whole thing about wanting to create Christmas magic and fun, but for heaven’s sake, I don’t have time to move around a dumb elf every night. My daughter just found out about these elves from her friends at school (she’s in kindergarten) and I told her we have an elf, but that she’s invisible. We’ll see how long she accepts that answer…

  • Shannon Gurnee December 06, 2017 02.36 am

    This is hilarious and honest! I have to keep my kids from telling their nieces about the elf and that it isn’t real. For the parents buying the kids gifts each day before Christmas, my thought is that they are either rich or only have one kid!

  • Terri Steffes December 06, 2017 05.18 am

    I’m so glad Trixie (that’s our school elf!) wasn’t around when my daughter was a kid. She would have tricked us into getting one.

  • Jessica Joachim December 06, 2017 10.45 am

    I have actually never done elf on the shelf. We planned on doing it this year, but i’m not totally sold on the idea. My oldest is almost 5 and has never really asked about the elf so we just never started.

  • Reesa Lewandowski December 06, 2017 02.53 pm

    When my son was 1 years old, I thought it would be a fun tradition. Here we are 8 years later and I curse myself for thinking that!

  • kimberly lewis December 06, 2017 06.14 pm

    that darn elf is causing trouble for those who have it in their home and for those who don’t. What to do!

  • TColeman December 06, 2017 06.28 pm

    This is definitely something that I loathe as well. Coming up with all the fun ideas is so much work.

  • Brittany December 06, 2017 07.51 pm

    Oh man, I don’t think I could have let the hand-drawn stocking slide either and I’d probably cave. I feel very grateful my sons haven’t asked for one yet because I’m with you it’s just too much unnecessary pressure.

  • Heather December 07, 2017 12.10 am

    I fully agree BUT it’s a tradition my daughters love so much. They are going to freak out when they grow up and realize it isn’t real!

  • Cindy Ingalls December 07, 2017 01.06 am

    I’m so glad this wasn’t around when my daughter was little. I probably would have been sucked into doing it, but lucky I don’t have to now. It does seem like peer pressure for adults, lol. I say just say no.

  • Hey Sharonoox December 07, 2017 02.50 am

    I echo the comment by Jessica Joachim. I’ve never started it and my kids never asked for it. So I’m cool of not having the elf on the shelf


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