It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You know what that means? The Elf on the Shelf has probably landed at your home. Our elf first made an appearance in 2008, but things have changed a lot in those 8 years. Here’s how we’ve kept the Elf on the Shelf tradition going in our family with older kids.
My kids have had Peter the Elf since he first came November 30, 2008. Yep, we were early in the Elf on the Shelf craze. I bought the book and elf at a boutique in Savannah, Georgia on a girls’ trip. My kids were 7 and 3.
I loved the concept as a tool to encourage my kiddos to behave or Peter would have to report their antics to Santa. Nope, I didn’t find the elf creepy because my kids were loving the scavenger hunt for the elf each day. And there was no pressure to have an over-performing elf who staged elaborate scenes each day.
My how times have changed in 8 years! Everywhere you look, there are creative elf ideas. The makers of Elf on the Shelf came out with Claus Couture (elf clothes and accessories), Elf Pets, a Scout Elves ideas app, and even a guide called Scout Elves at Play (which IMO is way overpriced at $25).
Honestly, I’m kind of surprised the fascination with the elf on the shelf has lasted this long with my kids, but it’s a holiday tradition that my 11 year old especially looks forward to. So much so that he writes notes to Peter asking him to come early and also stop by for my son’s birthday. My teen joins in on the fun and plays along. So we continue with the Elf on the Shelf and see it as a challenge, not a burden to still follow this tradition.
So we’re proof that the Elf on the Shelf tradition can keep going, even with older kids. Here’s how we make it work at our house.
How to Do Elf on the Shelf with Older Kids
Incorporate the kids’ interests and what is happening in your family.
I love introducing some holiday elements to the kids through our elf. He often presents our gingerbread house and Christmas lights, and helps make reindeer food.
Last year, my son had just seen Mission Impossible. So naturally our elf had to pull an Ethan Hunt hanging over the kitchen table and trying to snag a few cookies.
We also bought elf accessories at Barnes and Noble on clearance last year. A tuxedo top makes Peter look ready for playing the piano like my son loves to do.
And when our beloved golden retriever passed 3 years ago, our elf grieved with us and read The Rainbow Bridge poem.
Encourage them to communicate with your elf.
A few years ago, my son started writing our elf during the year. Mostly with questions about the North Pole and what Peter was up to. But sometimes he would ask Peter to come back for a visit. While I wouldn’t advise turning the holiday elf into a year round thing (shudder), but our elf did come for my son’s birthday. Writing notes back and forth is an engaging way to continue the elfin fun.
Don’t stress about being creativity–borrow ideas instead.
Families are having fun with their elves. From pooping in toilets to fishing for goldfish to making snow angels on the counter, Elf on the Shelf gets to be an goofy, naughty or playful as you’d like. Ours decided to impersonate a leprechaun from the Lucky Charms cereal box.
He crashed the nativity set.
He took a bubble bath.
Let the older sibling(s) get in on the fun!
My daughter has been the best Elf on the Shelf helper/brainstormer. For example, she came up with the idea that our elf would drive to school with us–and by drive to school, it meant drive her Barbie Jeep! Older siblings love to be “in” on the surprises and are very proud of their contributions.
Set a reminder on your phone.
Its is SO easy to forget about the elf at the end of the day. The phone reminder has saved us from the awkwardness of Peter staying in the same spot for two days. However, we haven’t always remembered, so when that happens…
If you forget, then have a story to go with it.
Instead of stammering with “Um” and looking shocked, be ready for when the inevitable forgetting to move the elf happens. Becky with Your Modern Family has a great list of plausible excuses why the elf didn’t move from the same spot.
Relax the rules a bit.
The one thing I don’t like about the elf is that you can’t touch him. (Hint: tongs come in handy if you need to move the little fella.) So we ended up buying the Elf Pet reindeer a few years ago because unlike the elf rule, kids are encouraged to play with elf pets! None of this don’t touch or the magic will be lost backstory. Those Elf on the Shelf marketers know how to keep a good thing going!
So let’s share, shall we? I’ll share some Elf on the Shelf links if you will share some of your elf ideas (or tell me why you don’t do elf on the shelf).
Great Links for Elf on the Shelf