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What is Elf on the Shelf?

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Now that Halloween is over – Lisa and I are gearing up for the Holiday Season and moving right on to Christmas!  We both feel like that not only is Thanksgiving about focusing on all that we are grateful for, but also Christmas!  So, we don’t feel too bad about not decorating our homes for Thanksgiving.  

One of my kids favorite parts of December is that our Elf, Jasper, comes from the North Pole!  Some of my friends have asked different questions about the Elf on the Shelf (EOTS) and so I figured I would write up a FAQ on here for all of you too!

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What is Elf on the Shelf?

The EOTS is a little helper of Santa’s that helps him compile his Naughty or Nice list.  When you purchase your EOTS you are officially adopting your elf.  At that time, you get to name him/her and they receive their magic, so they can fly back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa on your kiddos!

When your EOTS returns each day – they come back to a different spot to “watch” you.  This is what the kids love about the EOTS.  Each morning they get to run around the house looking for their Elf.  

There are a few rules though.  First, the EOTS CANNOT be touched or they lose their magic.  (No worries if they do get touched though, we’ve created a Magical Recovery Kit for you to use to help your Elf get their magic back!)  The other rule is that the EOTS cannot talk or move while anyone in the home is awake.  


When does the Elf arrive?

Usually the EOTS arrives the morning on December 1st.  However, I have heard of people having them arrive the day after Thanksgiving.  This really is a personal chose for you to make.  From my experience – having the Elf around from Dec 1st through Christmas Eve is plenty long!  


When does the Elf leave?

The Elf should come for the last time on the morning of Christmas Eve.  My kids always are sure to set a fun little drawing and thank you card next to our Elf, Jasper, that day for him to take with him back to the North Pole!


Are there different Elf on the Shelf dolls?

YES!  There is only one real brand of Elf on the Shelf, but within the true brand of Elf of the Shelf there are different Elf on the Shelf dolls.  There is a Blue Eyed Boy Elf, a Brown Eyed Boy Elf, a Blue Eyed Girl Elf, and Brown Eyed Girl Elf and also a Dark Skinned Brown Eyed Girl Elf and a Dark Skinned Brown Eyed Boy Elf.  They also have a few fun little outfits you can purchase to dress up your EOTS: Game Day Jersey, Collectors Elf Skirt (2012 HERE), and Apron Set.


When do you move the EOTS and where do you place him?

I choose to move our Elf at night, after all the kids are asleep.  But, if you have a late night family and are up before your kids.  Then, you may choose to move your EOTS in the early morning.  

You will move the EOTS each night to a new place around your house.  Generally, the Elf is placed in places that you can see without searching.  However, sometimes to make it more challenging or for older kids, the Elf hides in places that require you to open a drawer or cupboard.  

Here are some ideas for your EOTS:

25 Quick and Easy EOTS Ideas that take under 5 mins

Elf on the Shelf Joke Cards

More coming later this week!


Are you supposed to cut the tie between their hands?

This is again a personal decision.  Some people don’t and some people do.  The reason you would cut them would be to make your elf easier to position when placing him each night.  I have also seen tutorials online that help teach you how to add wire to your EOTS’s arms and legs, so you can bend them in fun positions.  They also add velcro to their hands, so that they can hand or attach them to things. This tutorial from Dirty Diaper Laundry is a good one!


Is the EOTS mischievous?

It is often heard of the Elves being mischievous and getting themselves into trouble.   This is by all means not a requirement.  The elves behavior is up to your preference.  My kids are currently 5, 3 and 5 months and I am choosing not to have him make messes and cause mischief.  However, my older sisters kids are between 13 and 3, so to make the whole EOTS thing more fun, she chooses to have him be a little mischievous and make it fun for their ages!


I hope these answers help you decide whether or not you are going to adopt an Elf for your family!  If you have any other questions, please ask them in the comments and I’ll update the post with any questions and answers I feel that everyone would benefit from!  Have a great day!

Are you ready to take the hassle and worry out of your Christmas Elf this season while still giving your kids the most amazing experience? The Ultimate Christmas Elf Book of ideas has 25+ printables and ideas available in one simple download!

Ready for some help this Elf Season? Then you need the Ultimate Christmas Elf Book of Ideas - 25+ Printables and Ideas for just $4.99!!

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Pam Dana

Pam is a stay at home working mama that enjoys all phases of life! Between her 3 kids, fur baby (a beyond cute Goldendoodle), wonderful husband, friends and working, she stays pretty busy! But, she is loving every aspect of her life! Here on Over the Big Moon, she loves to share DIY's, recipes, printables, organization tips and more!

Comments (6)

  • No worries neongirl. The elves don’t need all this fussing to move about. I’m sure if these adults truly believed in the magic of Christmas they would find this out as well.

  • what if kids read this like me you would ruin the elf’s for them I’m 11
    I think you just ruined the elfs for me thank you soo much

  • Thanks for all the info. Just wanted to point out a typo on when the elf arrives…you have day after Christmas instead of Thanksgiving. Thanks again!

  • lets say we put the elf in an easy to reach spot, do we parents get to move him? ore do we just leave the elf in the exact position and place we found it all day?

    • Pam from Over the Big Moon

      You leave him there all day and move him after the kids have gone to bed for the next day! So, if you have little kids, I would suggest putting him out of reach!

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