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Embracing the Elf on the Shelf

Nathalie Hardy/News-Register<br><b>Finn the elf delivers a stack of 25 wrapped books with instructions to open and read one each day leading up to Christmas. In the Hardy household, the impish little fellow’s sweet and silly antics are a much-anticipated part of the holiday season.</b>
Nathalie Hardy/News-Register
Finn the elf delivers a stack of 25 wrapped books with instructions to open and read one each day leading up to Christmas. In the Hardy household, the impish little fellow’s sweet and silly antics are a much-anticipated part of the holiday season.

Dec 3, 2013

By Nathalie Hardy
Of the News-Register

Whether you embrace or eschew Elf on the Shelf, the pint-sized phenomenon is here to stay. At least it is in the Hardy household.

It’s the time of year when I begin preparing for our special December visitor. It’s hard to say who is more excited: me or the boys.

Nope, it’s not Santa. And, no it’s not Jesus, either. Though we are fans of both those fellows at our house, the first one is a one-day gig and the latter is an everyday presence. The guest I’m talking about is named Finn, of Elf-on-the-Shelf fame. The boys believe he came from the North Pole, but the truth is he followed me home from Target a few years ago.

One of the best purchases I’ve made as a holiday mom is the $30 investment in the little doll and hardback book relating the story of how Santa’s little narc came to be.

Now that I think of it, maybe the whole elf thing was hatched by the NSA to normalize being spied on, but I didn’t buy the elf as a behavior modification device. Mostly, I was sold on the elf’s spirit of making merry in our home.

I knew the boys would like the elf, but I never dreamed they would literally fall in love with the mischief maker they named Finn. Nor did I expect to find myself cheerfully inventing ideas for the elf to make more work for me, all in the spirit of creating delightful, magical moments for two of my favorite people on the planet.

Our elf arrives right after Thanksgiving bearing cozy new pajamas, cocoa and marshmallows, which are off limits the rest of the year. He also brings new toothbrushes, by the way. No, the elf doesn’t have to buy things, obviously. But he does seem to pick up a few of my December errands, transforming things like new toothbrushes into more exciting events than I ever could.

To be honest, in Finn’s world, sometimes magical and messy go hand-in-sticky-from-candy-canes-hand. But mostly he does simple little things to make the boys giggle and eagerly anticipate the next day.

For instance, the boys have awakened to find Finn drinking the maple syrup after making pancakes, with sprinkles. Another time, the little rascal took a dry erase marker and drew mustaches and horns on our framed pictures. Since we’re book people, on Dec. 1, he delivers a basket of 25 garage-sale purchased books, wrapped up with instructions to open one each bedtime leading up to Christmas Day.

Not everyone is thrilled about the advent of this new tradition. And I get it; really, who wants more messes? But, luckily, the elf is smart enough to use dry-erase markers and seems to be familiar with my personal threshold for messes, so we’re good there. 

Plus, childhood is the shortest of seasons. What’s a few more sprinkles to sweep up in addition to the daily accumulation of crumbs, leaves and dirt?

And to be clear, nowhere in the Elf manual does it suggest the elf should do all that stuff, the aptly named toy is cool with simply sitting on the shelf.

Not all moms embrace elfing; in fact, some lament its creation and prefer it didn’t exist.

When it comes to elves, like with everything else, to each his own. The last thing any mom needs is more pressure. If the thought of elf season makes you smile, consider joining the fun. If the idea makes you cringe, pass on it the way I pass on cookie exchanges, caroling and gingerbread-house making.

But, for those who elf, do the non-elf mamas a solid and teach your kids that just like the rest of the year, families all have their own ways of doing things.

And now, for Finn’s first trick of the season, he’ll trash my bedroom as we play hide-and-seek in our trunk of Christmas decorations. 

For more ideas about how to have a little holiday fun with your family’s elf, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes. For the rest of you, whether or not you elf, Merry Christmas!

 Nathalie Hardy invites your feedback at or at her website,

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