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Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) — Plucking Daisies Find us on Google+

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind)

by Amy Bowerman

Today I was rummaging around the attic looking for a last-minute Halloween Costume when I happened upon a frightening sight!  Yes friends, there IS a Monster in my closet who goes by the name of “Elmer” AKA the Elf on the Shelf!  This is the thing of my nightmares.  Something I NEVER wanted to be a part of but alas I jumped on the ol’ Elf on the Shelf Bandwagon last year and I can’t get off the ride despite the fact that I REALLY want to!

“It will be fun”, they said.  “Your son will love it!”, they pleaded (He did…sigh).  What they didn’t tell me is that I may lose my mind trying to come up with ideas on where to move the creepy little elf around the house for 24 days!


Elf on the Shelf Survival Tips

This year I have a plan of attack (and survival) for navigating “Elf on the Shelf” season that will  hopefully keep my sanity and yours intact!

Devise a plan of Attack

Start planning and start NOW!  December will creep up on you quick with the creepy elf in tow.  Start a Pinterest Board and get a jump on pinning Ideas for “moving” the elf.   Stay ahead of the game and you will save yourself the trouble of scratching your head at midnight looking for a creative spot to put the little devil in red.

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

Feel free to raid my Getting Over My Fear of the “Elf” board for ideas and inspiration.  I’ll be sharing some of my own Elf on the Shelf Ideas toward the end of this post.

Start Late

If you can convince your child that elves like to be fashionably late you are golden!  A good friend of mine starts her Elf on the Shelf Regiment on her son’s birthday December 11th.  12 days of Elf on the shelf is a much easier pill to swallow than 24.  The 12 days of Christmas just got re-named  “the 12 days of the Elf'”…I can handle that!

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

If you have over achiever friends who like to start the Elf shenanigans on the first of December, try telling your child that THEIR elf is far too busy making all the awesome toys Santa is bringing them and will arrive as soon as he puts the finishing touches on the new bike/pony/or other hot item that you may or may not be able to find after black friday :)  If all else fails, avoid any and all contact with Elfing Over achievers until mid December.

Don’t Panic if you “Forget” to move the Elf

Everyone is entitled to a break once in while…elves included.  My wise friend (the one who starts her Elfing mid December) “forgets” to move the Elf regularly.  Her son and my son are BFF’s.  We were having a playdate one mid December afternoon when my little guy (nothing slips by him) noticed that “Elmer” was in the same spot that he was the day before.  When he asked his buddy why the elf hadn’t moved, his friend replied simply, “Oh sometimes he does that.”  Well said kid, well said.

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

Needless to say, I used this situation to MY advantage on the evenings I “forgot” to move the elf.  It’s like a modern rendition of “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” only this time it’s Elfie Goes to Hollywood…”Relax, don’t MOVE it!”

Keep Elves out of High Traffic Areas

As much as I love the Elf on the Shelf Fishing in the Toilet or Taking a Marshmallow Bath in the sink  be mindful that NO ONE can touch the elf or he will “lose” his magic.  This will be a problem if you have only one bathroom.

I thought It would be fun to have our Elf Elmer play my son’s Skylanders game.  However, this turned out to be a bad idea.  Upon finding the elf sitting atop the “portal of power” and holding the Wii remote, my son became angry with the elf and yelled “Thanks a lot Elmer! Now I can’t play my game!!”

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

But wait…it gets better!  As soon as my son had (loudly) voiced his displeasure with Elmer’s latest antics the Elf keeled over ON CUE  freeing the portal and the remote.

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

At this point my son turned to me with a face of pure terror and said “I swear, I didn’t touch him Mommy!”  I just shook my head… for fear if I spoke I would not be able to control the laughter that was bubbling up inside me.  I can’t make this stuff up!

Keep the “Elf Notes” to a Minimum

I had the bright idea that the Elf on the Shelf should leave clever notes.  Not just any old note, perfectly elf sized notes written on Christmasy Scrapbook paper.  This was a BAD IDEA!  Channeling your inner Elf and writing tiny notes (hello hand cramps) late at night is EXHAUSTING!  Not only that, but I had to destroy the evidence by depositing the scraps in the garbage can outside for fear that he would find them and know that I was the elf.  I know this because, he noticed when “the elf” changed stationary patterns because he “ran out” of that particular paper.

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

If you are going to write notes at all, write them sporadically.  This way there will be NO disappointment on the days the Elf arrives sans note…or runs out of his famous stationary.

Use the Elf to Banish Bad Behavior

Don’t be fooled by your elf’s sweet/scary grin.  Eleves can be quite menacing and you can use this to your advantage.  If the kids are acting up and the threat of the Elf “watching” isn’t enough to quell the offending behavior it’s time to execute the “elf on the shelf power play”

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com After an evening filled with whining and misbehavior our elf showed up the next day with a box of Candy Coal and a passive, aggressive threatening message.  My son was oddly delighted by the “gift” of Candy Coal so you may want to try the real deal :)  In any event sometimes a not so gentle reminder that the elf is watching is in order.

Use a Decent Camera to Document your Elf’s Antics

This is my final tip and although it may be obvious it wasn’t to me last year.  After going to all this trouble to begrudgingly pose the creepy elf in creative ways you MUST use a decent camera if you plan to document your “Elf on the Shelf Experience”.  Stumbling around late at night trying to take pictures on your iPhone just won’t do.  Learn from my mistakes people :)

That being said please enjoy my (bad) photos of our  Elf on the Shelf ideas from last year.  Hey, they aren’t great, but you get the idea.  When using these ideas please take better photos…and send them to me…J/K…no I’m not :)

Let’s start with the SCARIEST bad iPhone photo first shall we?

Elf Above the Mirror (he wants your soul)

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

P.S.  Have you ever scrubbed copious amounts of toothpaste off of a mirror?  Yeah. Not. Fun.

Elf on the Shelf Decorating Cookies

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

This seemed like a good idea at the time, but guess what?  Red Cookie icing on a white countertop left to marinate overnight takes about a bottle and a half of Clorox to scrub off.  Just so ya know…I should have known…DOH!

 Elf on the Shelf watching “Elf”

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com I was quite proud of myself for this one.  You’d have to be a “Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins” to NOT think this is funny :)

Elf on the Shelf Likes Star Wars

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com The first night the Elf Showed up he showed up in style.  Flying in on a Lego Pod Racer.

The Elf on the Shelf Taken Hostage

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

I’m sure you’ve seen this one before…the old Lego guys against the elf routine.  However the next night…

The Elf on the Shelf Gets Even

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

You know what they say, “Revenge is a dish best served cold!”  Even more so when it is served with a crappy iPhone photo that makes creepy, vengeful elves even MORE frightening! :)

The Elf On the Shelf Gets Crafty

Surviving Elf on the Shelf (without losing your mind) | Pluckingdaisies.com

Don’t be afraid to use your elf to your advantage.  I used Elmer to create and write about a craft project here at Plucking Daisies.  I worked him pretty hard.  You can check out the fruits of his labor in this post written by Elmer Himself…The Elf on the Shelf Gets Crafty.

It’s time to start honing your Elf on the Shelf survival skills.  He (or she) will be back before you know it.  Hope you found my tips helpful…remember to stick to the plan and everything will be ok!

  If we all put our heads together we can beat this thing…it’s about to get Merry out there…so be-wary!  What are your go to methods for surviving “Elf Season”?

Have a mischievous day!


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Scott November 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm

As parents we deal with this issue of remembering every night and so this year we started a FREE service called ElfReminders.com to help parents keep track.

Sign up for free email/text reminders tailored to your own personal schedule… All reminders come from ElfWink and worded so if children see they wont know what it means.

Can also see us on Facebook as well: https://www.facebook.com/ElfReminders?ref=hl

Hope this helps someone this season!


2 Google Test August 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

simply a tiny scribble to let you know, i have shared this on google


3 Laura / The Shed by Pet Scribbles December 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

You have everything covered! What a great primer for the elf keepers of the world! Love how you are keepin’ it real too, thus keeping it fun!
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4 Sandy McAnulty December 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

What a great post! I am mom to seven children, but my youngest will be turning 13 next Feb. I am sure I would have entertained the idea, but thankfully, Elf on the Shelf appeared at a time when my youngest was beyond the stage of me going through the trouble. Oh, I meant to say, DELIGHT. I can’t imagine the time I would have spent on the internet looking through the all the ideas, or coming up with my own ideas, hoping that my ideas would be pinned on Pinterest. Your post offers such practicality. I spend a lot of time each week with mothers of young children, so I am gladly sharing your post with them. Blessings and strength, Sandy


5 Amy Bowerman December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Sandy oh how your comment made me smile :) Thank you for sharing the post and for the blessings and strength! The Elf is still in the closet for now I’m counting the days until he emerges from his hiding spot!



6 malia December 1, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Amy you are so hilarious! I love your hearing your Elf on the Shelf tips!
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7 Paula@SweetPea November 24, 2013 at 8:08 am

My husband was just standing over my shoulder laughing at your elf’s antics. If I had a kid, I’d certainly do this at Christmas.
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8 Brenda LW November 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I found this post on Pinterest and had to see what your elf was up to. My experience with Elf On a Shelf was definitely from the early days of his life (back in the 60’s). My mom had an elf that she got off of a bottle of dish soap and he would watch over us at Christmas. He also watched over my kids every time they visited Grammas. Now that she is gone, the elf is at my brothers with his 2 girls. Our daughter is now expecting her first baby (a girl!) and the elf will be at her house when she gets old enough. I’m so happy that the elf that watched over my brothers and I will now be watching over my grandchildren.


9 Allyson November 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

You had me LOLing through this post! I might hold off another year with the Elf after reading this. My son is only going to turn 3 in a few weeks…what do you think?
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10 Amy Bowerman November 8, 2013 at 9:04 am

Glad you liked the post :). 3? Ah that is a tough one! Sometimes I wish I had started it earlier just to see the “wonder” in little man’s eyes. He is much more discerning now at almost 8.

That being said, keep in mind that once you start you can’t stop until they stop believing in the man with the bag. It’s a loooong term commitment but hey Pinterest is here to stay (so far) so there will always be a resource for Elf ideas :)

Good luck in all your Elf adventures…it’s a wild ride but the look on the kids faces when the elf comes to town is priceless!



11 Melissa Neylon November 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Don’t forget in the movie, and I believe the book says it also, the kids aren’t suppose to touch them, that should solve the kid moving issues. And I don’t remember it mentioning he HAD to return Dec 1. I used to have him, show up every once in a while, just to ‘check in’ for Santa. One night every few weeks throughout the year. Then he would arrive when the Christmas excitement really got into the kids. He had shown up as late as Dec 15. I miss it now that my kids are older.


12 Amy Bowerman November 7, 2013 at 7:05 am

Cute idea having the elf show up throughout the year to “check in”. As much as the elf stresses me out I have a feeling I will miss him too…as soon as I breathe a sigh of relief. My son is 8 and I have a feeling this may be the last year of “Elfing” for us so I plan to make it count! :)



13 Audrey Pettit October 31, 2013 at 7:50 am

Oh, Amy! What a fabulous post! You had me chuckling and smiling at every turn here. I have to admit that although you seem a bit tortured by your elf, you do work him brilliantly. I never did this with my kids, and now it’s a bit too late for us….but I can see how this would be a lot of work! But how fun for the wee ones! You are a genius to start planning this now. Will save a lot of hair pulling in another month or so! :)
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14 Tina October 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm

When I forgot to move the Elf for two days in a row (because I had been sick with a cold), I told my daughter that he was hiding out to keep safe from the germs.

My daughter also complicated things by making him a bed and putting him to bed in it every night, so I had to sneak in to get the elf out. She also would write letters to him and he would write back (great for improving her writing skills, but late night + tired mommy + elf notes = a cranky mommy after about a week). I also made the mistake of going all out on the first night, and then realized the next day how high I had set the bar and how screwed I was. Thankfully she seemed okay with the less complicated antics later in the month.

And finally one night the dog got him and carried him into the hallway, though she didn’t chew him up. By late December I was kind of wishing she had. I’m dreading him coming back this year, but I’ll follow these tips and maybe stay sane this year.


15 Amy Bowerman October 31, 2013 at 8:44 am

Tina this made my morning. I laughed so hard and feel better as a parent that I am not alone in wanting the elf out of my life!

Telling your daughter that the Elf was afraid of germs is genius. Elmer our Elf will Definitely be coming down with something this year. I would love for my son to practice his writing but he would rather I send him to school in an Elmo T-shirt than do that :)

You’ll get a kick out of this one when I first came upon the Elf I was working at a Hallmark store and had to frequently climb the scary ladder in the stock room to fetch Elves OFF the highest shelf where he and his minions were stacked to the ceiling. I resisted the temptation to purchase this monstrosity until December 1st of last year when I brought him home like an idiot. I must have looked into his eye and been hypnotized.

Happy Elfing to you…start late…stay sane!



16 Dee in NH October 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

What a riot! I have also somehow avoided all the elf stuff! (thankfully so, he is a bit creepy).


17 Judy Shea October 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Amy.. you are a hoot. That’s was so funny. I remember the elf as a kid. So fun to read all the adventures. He takes a licken and keeps on ticken.
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18 Dorothy(Dakota Bear) October 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Very cute! I escaped this one.
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19 Amy Bowerman October 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Oh Dorothy how I envy you! :)



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