Elf on the Shelf: An Introduction to Elf Life


A long long time ago (2005), in a galaxy far far away,
A mom and her daughter publish a book
To boldly go where no Elf has gone before….

Ummm almost right, let’s try this again!

“Welcome to Santa’s North Pole! At the North Pole, Santa has many helpers who make the Christmas season special, including The Elf on the Shelf® Scout Elves and their friends, the Elf Pets®.”

The world was first introduced to the Elf on the Shelf in 2005. That year, Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell published a children’s book called The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. They teamed up with Aebersold’s other daughter, Christa Pitts, to market the book to kids. The story was based on the family’s own holiday tradition that started in the 1970s. In their household, an elf would appear every year after Thanksgiving to keep an eye on the children and prevent them from misbehaving.

The Christmas tradition has just two rules. First, children are not allowed to touch the elf, or it will lose its magic. If an elf is touched by mistake, the official Elf on the Shelf website advises children write a letter to Santa to apologize and sprinkle a little cinnamon beside the elf before bed. Second, the elf will not speak or move while the kids are awake. The elf only moves at night when it makes its trip back to the North Pole. Once it returns home, it then assumes a new spot in the house.

When should you start Elf on the Shelf? The company recommends age 3, but I think age 2 works also. It just depends how invested you want to be! You need to be committed once you are in, and it’s a bit stressful and fun at time same time. We started ours exactly on November 30, 2014 which means our son was just over two. Our son named our family elf Elfie. As I am writing this, I asked my awesome spouse, why did we did it when he was just 2 and he said, “Because I was so excited about it, don’t you remember?” Ah yes! He is excited for the first week or so, then after that, I am stuck coming up with the ideas!

This year with COVID-19, like many parents, I have been “preparing mentally” for what I am going to do, and deciding what I am not going to do this year. Every day, my thoughts on what we’re doing for the holidays is a bit different, and I keep going back and forth on some things. But one thing is always the same: which Christmas box did we hide our Elf in?! I also think, because of COVID, I will have to–no–I will NEED to put him in quarantine lock down… for at least 14 days.

Now for anyone who is new to this, it’s good to remember that all the great ideas you see on Instagram or Pinterest may or may not work for you. Your set-up is not the same as another family’s. In our house, I need to make sure Elfie is not in the way of anything important. We have learned a few lessons about this over the years, the hard way.

Once I put Elfie in the shower. That was a mistake. Did I want him to get wet? No! Did my son want to take his shower with him? Yes! … DOH, why didn’t we–I mean, I— think of that before??

Another time, I decided to use Elfie to block the access to the cupboard where the candy canes were kept. This also happens to be the cupboard where we keep our son’s EpiPen that I needed to send with him, and also where I keep the medication I need to take.

I won’t lie, sometimes I’ve had a few mornings where I rushed so much I felt like I did a 15-minute workout just because I had to move him before our son woke up, or Elfie was just not in the right spot and I had to move him and put him back.

With the popularity of Elf on the Shelf, many businesses have started to cater to the tradition. One of my favorites was buying these awesome Elf cookies made by a local baker (The Cookie Mama, who no longer lives in the state). One was of the Elf, and another one was a sort of letter from the Elf, where this awesome baker would write our Elf’s name and our child’s name and make it a good introduction to the return of the Elf.

Photo by The Cookie Mama

We have also bought Elfie a chef outfit, which came with a spoon, bowl and apron. We have since misplaced the spoon and bowl, but it’s still fun. Last year, we added in a cereal and cookie kit, and a lot more outfits.

This year, I surprised myself trying to buy about 12 outfits for the Elf to wear on an online auction site. I was stunned that the last bid I made was for $56.00, when normally I get things for $10-14! Who am I? What is going on with me? I am happy to say I did manage to find another box of cookie mix, peppermint cereal, and a few other things on sale last season. I think because of COVID-19, I’m overthinking this a bit and want to make sure it’s fun, different, and keeps us smiling during the month of December. 

Being from Canada, it’s interesting that the Elf on the Shelf the French part of my family has doesn’t look like ours or follow the same rules. That Elf can be touched by the kids and carried around. It’s been interesting the quick replies I have had to come up with when our son asks why cousins are allowed to travel with their Elf in the car, and we have ours in a mason jar. In writing this, I have found out that we haven’t really been following the rules of the book. We do have book that came with our elf…somewhere. Where that book is, I am not sure, but I will find it before Elfie arrives!

I am unsure if this year is going to be the last year of the Elf. I know that seeing our son happy and excited over a simple silly thing the Elf did makes it all worth it for me at the end. So, if you are someone new to the Elf Life, please know it can be as much as fun as you want it to be. You make it what you want. No need to overdo it unless that is what you want!

Here is the Elf’s Story:



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Lucy Baril
Born and raised in Canada, Lucy is relatively new to Rochester. Her and her husband Richy moved here in 2015 after he accepted a position at Mayo Clinic. They bought a now over 20-year-old camper, and have been exploring the USA on State at a time. This French Canadian speaks French at home or while camping, with her hubby and son Eliot. Sometime she speaks French/ English to her newly found friends. Lucy is a social butterfly. She will challenge you step out of your comfort zone and take on any and every event that is kid related or not in this city. They have been watching our city grow fast before their eyes, and enjoy navigating through the change. She loves to try new things because how else do you figure out if you like it, or are good at something if you don’t try? Engaging people is Lucy’s passion. She takes this on by baking, volunteering, and giving back to this community. Lucy was an office manager in Montreal and loves to organize and host events. She loves people. Having a husband that is Bi-Sci-Fi means the dogs in their lives are named after Star Wars or Star Trek, this includes the newest member of the family. Miss Nimoy is 100% American and a Golden Retriever, she is a great companion for their son Eliot. Eliot has an interesting middle name, when you meet Lucy ask her about it. Lucy has had three miscarriages and as painful as it is to talk about, it helps Lucy heal and feel closer to people who also experienced loss. We are never alone and Lucy makes an effort every day to connect with people and be a part of her community.


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