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How we Elf, and other Christmas traditions

I was chatting with some mom-friends about how we do Elf on Shelf without losing our ever-lovin’ minds and wanted to share in case you wanted to jump the lazy train to holidays with kids. All aboard!

In theory, I love Elf on the Shelf, such a cute idea and some families do such a great job weaving this into their yearly holiday traditions. I love seeing all the creative ways you’ve moved your elf or put him up to crazy hijinks overnight! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can brush up on the story here. The thing is, the elf feels like more of an obligation than fun (for me!), and I’ve got more than enough of that to go around at Christmas, so we’ve come up with an alternative plan.

We were given our elf on Hudson’s first Christmas so he didn’t get much action right away. We named him PJ after round and rounds of bickering about the similarity between elf and stripper names (I see you sparkle, candy cane, and snowflake). Our thought was, he can bring out Christmas Eve pjs…and he does. Since the kids are a bit older now and can follow the magic, on December 1st PJ arrives with our Christmas books and then he leaves our new jammies on Christmas Eve. He doesn’t move overnight or watch them for Santa.

Last year I set the books out in a basket on the front step and told the kids there was something special out there for them. They were 50% confused and 50% freaked out.




This year was the first year I did any sort of hoopla for his arrival. I blame Pinterest. We had powdered donuts and I set out marshmallows and maple syrup (those are what elves love best) and our books. The kids woke up from rest time (because I couldn’t get it together for a surprise breakfast) and were thrilled for an afternoon snack of donuts.

Elf on a Shelf welcome breakfast. Making meaningful Christmas traditions.

It felt fun and a great way to kick off our advent calendar of surprises. Some other Christmas traditions that we’ve started as a family are picking out our live cedar garland at the LA Flower Mart since we’ve forgone the real Christmas tree (tear!), visiting Santa at the Huntington Gardens, Christmastime at Disneyland, delivering cookies to our firefighters and librarians, making a new ornament for our tree, lots of baking with Christmas music cranked up, watching the Polar Express, driving around looking at lights and of course my favorite, candle light service on Christmas Eve.

The holidays always seem to be when I feel like a real Parent. Something about creating the magic for them and knowing these are the memories my kiddos are going to grow up with and carry with them as they decide on Christmas traditions for their families.

I’d love to know how you Elf (or don’t) and what Christmas traditions are favorites at your house.


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