Elf on the Shelf: This is how the big kids do it

Elf on the Shelf: A Family Challenge Game Tradition

Ah, Christmas. The time when otherwise sane individuals turn holiday traditions — whether trendy or longstanding — into online warfare. Live tree versus faux. Decorations up pre-Thanksgiving versus post-turkey (check out THIS Facebook group). Santa or no Santa. (No, really.)

And then there’s the elf.

In the past week, I have seen more posts, articles, blogs and diatribes championing and railing against the Elf on the Shelf. Apparently, you’re either Team Pro-Elf or Team Anti-Elf; there’s no gray area. Where’s the middle ground? Where’s the room for friendly debate and discussion? Where are the people who can admit that, as with any topic, there are pieces of truth and salient points found in all arguments?

I’m calling a Christmas truce. We all need to kick up the Kenny G and chill.

And if you adopt — or continue — a holiday tradition in your house, simply remember why you’re doing it. Are you doing it because it makes you and/or your family happy? Does it create memories? Does it make you laugh, smile, come together? Do that.

Which is why, when we jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon, I tried to think of a way to make our Elf tradition both unique, anticipated and enduring. I wanted something that was fun for the adults, magical for the kids — and allowed the Elf to stick around, even after the kids have grown up.

Thus, What the Elf: The Starr Family Christmas Challenge, was born. We laid ground rules last year, are having a “soft launch” this year via my Instagram, and plan to do a full rollout in 2015.

It goes like this: The Elf arrives Dec. 1 and remains through Dec. 24. The mover of the elf — for now, my husband and I, but we plan to include the kids as they mature beyond Santa-magic years — alternates each evening. The first year, the first mover is determined by a coin toss. Going forward, the previous year’s challenge winner goes first. Photos will be posted each week, on Saturday evening, to Facebook and/or Instagram, with the balance posted on Christmas Eve. The person whose photos receive the most engagement (total of likes, shares and comments) wins a predetermined prize. Competitors are welcome to campaign among family and friends for support. The Elf arrives as a fun holiday visitor who does funny/nice things, not as a behavior-modification tool or a bribery tactic.

I use a printable calendar to plan out “my” Elf days for the month in advance — there are a ton of websites, blogs and Pinterest boards with inspiration, but I also think about what our son is into currently, what he would find funny, what quirks our house holds that we can play against, etc. My hope is that, in 20 years, we’ll be the family sitting around the table laughing about “That year when the elf did…”

Prefer to see everyone’s elves go down in a blazing yuletide fire? Fine by me. Let’s just have a little more roasting chestnuts, and a little less ranting, this season. Cheers!


2 thoughts on “Elf on the Shelf: This is how the big kids do it

  1. Pingback: A very merry Christmas | The Sensible Home

  2. Pingback: 12 days (and counting) of Christmas books | The Sensible Home

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