Elves on Shelves

Monday, December 13, 2010

I heard about elves on shelves a few years ago, when our firstborn was a baby.  I believe the phenomenon originated with The Elf on the Shelf, which was then sold only at a few speciality toy stores (but is now everywhere).  The kit came with a cute little elf and a book about the "tradition" of the elf watching children and reporting to Santa about their behavior.  Apparently that elf would change locations at night, so the children would eagerly search for the elf's location in the morning.  I loved the idea of an elf bringing magic into the house at Christmastime, but I wasn't so sure about the spying part of it.  So I did a little Internet research, tweaked the concept a little, and came up with our own tradition.  Of course, loving handmade crafts as I do, I searched high and low for handmade elves.

Meet Sparkle and Nicky:

These two arrive in December with a letter from Santa.  The letter reminds the children to play well together, cooperate with parents, and remember the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.  It mentions that the elves report to Santa, but that's as far as the spying part of our tradition goes.  And it instructs the children that the elves are very shy and delicate, and musn't be touched.  Sometimes they bring presents -- this year they brought a dress for Big Sister and some boots for Little Brother.  During the day, Sparkle and Nicky sleep in their bed, which we made last year, including a pillow and quilt.  This is as far as my quilting skills go, by the way.

Each night, the elves make mischief.  Each morning, the children can't wait to see what Sparkle and Nicky have done.  This morning, the elves had every Christmas and winter book in our house (a lot!) spread out, covering our couch.  They were up all night reading!

Other elf mischief that the kids have loved, or that's on my list:

  • Bring treats:  chocolate, juicy pears, clementines, stickers, books, art supplies.
  • Hang snowflakes (handmade paper, or vinyl window stickers) on windows or from ceiling.
  • Put up a tiny artificial tree just for the kids, and bring ornaments with licensed characters (princesses!  Sesame Street!  Pooh!  Mickey!).
  • Put family panties/underwear/diapers all over the Christmas tree (quite funny to little ones!).
  • Make fake snow (stuff you can buy, or flour, or cotton balls).
  • Send emails of Elf Yourself dances or personalized messages from Santa.
  • Hang mistletoe over a doorway.
  • Leave messages on post-it notes all over the place.
  • Build things with legos and blocks (spell things).
  • Hide in the Christmas tree.
  • Put new pillowcases on the kids' beds.
  • Dress dolls and put them funny places.
  • Gather stuffed animals and little figurines together for storytime.
  • Decorate with garland or pipecleaner candycanes.
  • Draw funny things, including pictures of themselves and family members.
  • Make messes -- spill goldfish crackers everywhere, pull toilet paper down the hall, etc.
  • Get tangled up in things (ribbon, Christmas lights, beads, etc.).
  • Turn things upside down or inside out.
In an ideal world, Sparkle and Nicky would probably arrive on December 1.  But we wait until we have a Christmas tree.  They disappear on Christmas Eve, because they have to help Santa with his journey.  But they leave a nice note, and occasionally they send the kids cards.  

Happy holidays from Sparkle and Nicky!


  1. Hello Sparkle and Nicky! Love this idea, we've had to "threaten" with calling Santa a few times this year (not my favorite, but it works). Perhaps a constant reminder like elves would be a better solution.

    Knowing us, though, they'd "forget" to make mischief. I have a hard enough time remembering the Advent calendar every day.

  2. This is one of the cutest traditions I've ever heard of Jen! We have two December birthdays to accommodate, and it has been promised that there is to be no talk of Christmas until those birthdays are fully feted on the 12th and 18th, leaving a scant week of Christmas merriment. I wish Sparkle and Nicky would bring their magic and mischief to our house. Even if just for a week.