For many Americans, the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season. Trees, lights, and decorations go up, the buying frenzy begins, and a certain little elf starts getting into some crazy capers each night. The official Elf on the Shelf first scampered merrily onto the holiday scene about 10 years ago as the companion to a picture book by the same name written by Carol Aebersold, although the tradition dates back much further.
The story goes that the teeny elf is a “scout” for Santa Claus, watching over kids and reporting back to The Boss about who has been naughty and who’s been nice. The elf, which comes in boy and girl versions, is bestowed with “Christmas magic” when a child gives it a name. However, human contact can short-circuit the magic so elf-touching is against the rules.
Before there was the 21st century version, the odd-looking Christmas pixie popped up in various forms starting in the 1950s, when they were made by a Japanese company called Yuletide of Japan and marketed as “knee-hugger elves.” The original pixies are popular collectors items today. Aebersold’s version, Elf on the Shelf, gained widespread popularity in 2008 when it won several awards, including Best Toy Award. By 2012, it was officially accepted as part of Christmas canon when it got its own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Like most pop culture icons, the Elf is not without its share of detractors. Some critics point to what they perceive as the manipulative nature of the elfin ruse--using the threat of “no toys from Santa” to get good behavior from children--which some argue could be psychologically detrimental. Others take issue with the concept of constant surveillance and the idea that it teaches kids to blindly accept the “nanny state.” A Huffington Post contributor had a different issue with the pixie his daughter adored it and was devastated when it had to go back to the North Pole at the end of the season. Despite these criticisms, Elf on the Shelf has become one of the most popular holiday toys in the world, raking in a cool $10 million in sales each year.
For many Elf aficionados, half the fun is trying to outdo everyone else in coming up with creative poses, vignettes, and escapades for their mischievous friend to get into. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, social media is awash with hashtags like #elfontheshelf and #naughtyelf (search that one at your own risk), as well as images of the yuletide pixies in increasingly elaborate scenarios. While elves fishing in the toilet is pretty entertaining, let’s be honest--that elf is probably exhausted from watching over holiday-hyped kiddos all day. A more realistic elf pose would be one in which he or she is passed out like a sleep-deprived parent, drool and all. Here are a few of our favorite sleep-themed Elf on the Shelf poses:
- Sleeping in the Tissue Box- This one challenges kids to search all over for the elusive pixie, who’s curled up sound asleep inside a tissue box that’s just the right size.
- My Very Own Sleeping Bag- Crafty types can easily make a teeny sleeping bag for their elf, while the rest of us can buy one from Etsy. Tuck him in and make sure he gets a solid eight hours of shut-eye.
- Elf in a Sleeping Mask- Even elves need a little TLC during the holidays. Hook your elf up with a micro-sized sleeping mask so she can really get into that REM cycle.
What Elf on the Shelf poses or scenarios are you most proud of? Share with us in the comments!