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

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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.

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


  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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. 😉

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. 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

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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…

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Our kids like Elf on the Shelf. I guess for us, we like to come up with creative ways to have him grace our house and entertain the kids for those first few moments of the morning. Them finding him and seeing the hi-jinks he’s committed makes for a great morning.

  24. Last year is when we finally got an elf on the shelf. I won’t lie, I do kinda hate it now haha. It was fun for a while, but now it’s more of a hassle each night.

  25. A BIRTHDAY elf??? Wtf??? True story: when the Elf first came out a few years ago, my mama ran out and bought one for me, my 3yo, and my 1yo (at the time). I set it aside on purpose, and sold it online 10 months later, new in box, for almost as much as it had cost her. When she asked me a month after THAT if I was taking out The Elf, I told her that no, I had enough other things to do in my day RUNNING MY HOUSEHOLD to add something clearly invented buy someone with nothing better to do to my to-do list! She got it.

  26. I’m so glad we don’t do that. Our kids know where the presents really come from and so we don’t have to worry about an elf reporting to Santa. I agree with you though, it’s just become this thing some parents feel they have to do and it’s more work than fun.

  27. We have an elf, but we didn’t buy her… it was a gift, so there was no choice. But I totally hear you, I’m relaxing at night and then I have to figure something out. It’s more stressful than it needs to be!

  28. LOL I could not stop laughing during this post because YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE. I have not done it yet, and dread about doing it, but all my mom friends hate it too haha

  29. BIrthday elf? Now that has just gone too far hahaha.
    I will say that we did do Elf on the Shelf for about 5 years. Now my kids are older..and they miss him. This is the first year we didn’t do elf, since they know about elf and santa now.
    They asked this year if the elf could please still deliver their Christmas Eve box. The box every year magically appeared at our front door (thanks neighbors!!) and the elf even rang the doorbell! 🙂 It had pj’s for all four kids, a Christmas movie, family game, and goodies (cocoa, etc). I am glad that they are still young at heart and want all that 🙂 So I guess Elf was a good memory for them!

  30. I like the Elf. Ours is Twirl. She moves every night and that’s enough to keep them excited. All the mischief and gifts is the Pinterest rabbit hole. We do a small trinket or treat here and there, but mostly she bounces around the house.

  31. I am so glad my this wasn’t around when my kids were younger. Even if it was I don’t think I would have done it. I am not that creative and I have enough on my plate.

  32. My preschooler whispered to me the other day, “Mom, Joey looks like my other toys.” It was my out. I could have told her the truth. But I felt the guilt! Ugh! Where’s he going to hide tonight?

  33. I’m so with you! Our daughter, NINE years old (I thought for sure we would be out of this my now, but noooooo, someone still believes in the “magic” and who am I to crush her heart??), keeps leaving our elf notes about bringing her “treats” and “doing fun or funny things” because they are her favorite. She leaves snacks and drinks for him with the notes in hope of some kind of bribery! So….in addition to creating a “funny thing,” I also have to clean up ALL the messes made by and left for said Elf.

    So, what do I do?!? Look up more “fun & simple elf on the shelf” ideas. What?!? Who have I become??


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