Saturday, November 19, 2016

Elf on the Shelf Guide for the Exhausted

Many years ago a sweet co-worker of mine gifted my family with our very own Elf on the Shelf. It was a hard time for us and I was so touched by the gift. Rudy quickly became a loved family tradition and has brought lots of laughter to our holiday seasons during the years.

What is an Elf on the Shelf? According to, "Santa’s scout elves help him manage his naughty and nice lists. During the Christmas season, the elves are adopted by families and fly back to the North Pole every night to tell Santa about the day’s adventures. When the elves return from their nightly North Pole journey, they hide in a new spot and wait for their families to find them!"

You may have seen elf tutorials on how to take your elf apart and insert wire so he can move. The ones where you can sew little outfits to go with each day's theme. The elves who play elaborate tricks on their family. You may even have an elf that does these crazy things. And it is awesome. It really is. I love seeing these and keep them coming! However, I do not have the time for that. I work full time and my 2 part time jobs keep me very busy and very tired. I love to keep it SIMPLE! However some nights, after 6 years of this elf and his shenanigans, I am at a loss for where Rudy should 'move' to. This Christmas will be Rudy's 7th with us! If you are in the same predicament, here is your game plan.

PLAN EARLY! Write down each night you need to move the elf and where he will go. Gather any materials you may need and put everything in one spot (make sure the kids can't find it!). This will take a bit of time, but you will be so thankful at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night when you don't have to think and search Pinterest for the perfect idea.

SET A REMINDER IN YOUR PHONE!  Have you ever bolted awake at 2 a.m. and realized you forgot to move the dang elf? Or worse - have your kids gotten up before you and came into your room crying because their South Pole messenger didn't move? 'IS HE DEAD MOMMY?!?!' Yup. Been there. Let's not go through that again this year, OK? I set mine for 30 minutes after the kids' bed time.

KITCHEN TONGS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND! The #1 rule of Elf on the Shelf is he can NOT be touched. He will lose his magic! However, I also have a dog. If there is a tasty elf anywhere around - he will be eaten. This significantly limits where the elf can be placed. How does one avoid both catastrophes? THE MAGIC KITCHEN TONGS! You could be cute and buy a new pair and decorate them. Or just grab a pair out of the kitchen drawer - make sure they are free of BBQ chicken residue. TA-DA! The kids can discover the elf, mom or dad moves him somewhere high and safe, and everyone is happy. I don't care if it is cheating.

YOUR ELF DOES NOT NEED TO BRING GIFTS! I know lots of elves bring gifts to their kids. Rudy just doesn't. He never has. Maybe he does a poor job at the North Pole and Santa doesn't pay him well. I don't know. And it is OK. TRUST ME! Kids don't need 'stuff'. Yes it is fun but generally it is something they will look at for 3 minutes and put down and you will end up tossing it in July. I have seen elves bring things that you may purchase for your children anyhow - a new set of Christmas PJ's, a book, or a special snack to take to lunch that day - all great ideas. But don't kill yourself trying to plan gifts. It is really OK if you do not.

KEEP IT SIMPLE! It is fun to have a couple elaborate scenarios for your elf and the kids LOVE it. But they also love the simple stuff. Plan accordingly. On a night you know you will have some extra time (or even a morning you can get up extra early), have your elf make mini pancakes or organize the kitchen pantry. (FUN!)

And . . . what you have been waiting for. Here are some super simple ideas. Make sure you plan for LOTS OF EASY!

Rudy asked for brownies!

What a couch potato!

Just hanging around. 

Rudy decided our decorations were not satisfactory. 

Just a simple note. He also likes to color!

Rudy is finding Nemo! I see him, do you?

The holiday season can be so stressful! What better way to relax than a marshmallow bath?

Apparently sock monkeys are not athletic. Not like we are surprised. 

Q-tip snowflakes in the bathroom!

Flour 'snow' angels! Easy to do, a bit of a pain to clean up. 

Even Rudy knows the reason for the season. 

Who doesn't like making paper snowflakes?!

Just chillin' in the Christmas tree!

Rudy hanging out with the snow people. He loves being part of the holiday decorations!

Can't get easier than an elf in a stocking!

Rudy likes to build! He has also made Lego houses!

Nerf gun fight!

Elves LOVE candy!!

Once every year, Rudy tries to be helpful and pack the boys' lunches for them. He doesn't understand what people eat!

Easy, hilarious, and right up any boys' alley. Replace the Christmas stockings with UNDERWEAR! 

Game night! 

OUCH! Poor Rudy. 


Rudy is trying to tell us we do not have enough sugar in the house!

This is one of those ideas to save when you have extra time. Crepe paper blocking bedroom doors and leading all
the way to Rudy's 'hiding spot'! OOPS! He was caught red (and white) handed! Silly, Rudy!

Care for a spot of tea? Hot chocolate works, too!

Rudy helping with the gift wrap!

Rudy tried making his own clone army. 
 There you have it! I have helped you with 'The Elf'. Now as far as the unexpected house guests, burning Christmas Eve dinner, fighting the holiday shopping crowds, and just saying no to pie - you are on your own!



  1. Can you believe I have an Elf on the Shelf but have never used him. He's just sat in our house collecting dust in his box. Maybe he should take a trip to your house and meet Rudy.