Elf on the Shelf has pretty much taken over the holiday world in a relatively short amount of time. Ten years ago, he was pretty much unheard of. Now, the elf is everywhere. Wondering what the scoop is? Here are some facts about Elf on the Shelf.
First, though, what is Elf on the Shelf?
The elf is a doll, called a scout elf, and it is sold with the book Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. You can find the dolls, which now come in boy and girl versions and with different features, and books here (affiliate link). Elf on the Shelf is trademarked, although there are other variations.
How does Elf on the Shelf work?
Here’s how the tradition works, as explained by ElfOnTheShelf.com:
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! This box set includes a hardbound children’s book and one of Santa’s special scout elves.
He usually arrives on or shortly after Thanksgiving Day. If Elf on the Shelf is new to your family, it is tradition to name him or her. (You can find naming ideas here.)
Just how popular is Elf on the Shelf?
Very. The original Elf on the Shelf has sold more than 8 million copies to date. Elf on the Shelf also has a Facebook page with more than 700,000 likes.
Whoa. That’s a lot of people. Does everyone love this idea, or are there people who don’t like the Elf on the Shelf?
Yes. There are lots of people who aren’t fans, for various reasons, ranging from teaching children to be okay with surveillance to creating some extra work for parents at a busy time of year.
When did Elf on the Shelf start?
The first book was published in 2005, so this year Elf on the Shelf celebrates its 10 year anniversary. In its first year, it sold 5,000 copies.
Who came up with the idea of Elf on the Shelf?
The book was co-authored by Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell. Chanda’s sister is Christa Pitts, a former QVC host whom they bill as the business mind in the family. Together, the three run the Elf on the Shelf company which now employees 60 people.
Elf on the Shelf was a family tradition that Aebersold started using an elf she had been sent as a child. Her elf’s name was Fisbee.
Carol self-published the book after publishers opted not to do so. Bet they feel pretty silly about passing on the elf who went on to become a marketing juggernaut and the face of a multi-million dollar industry, huh?
What celebrity gave Elf on the Shelf a big publicity boost?
In 2007, paparazzi photographed Jennifer Garner when she was carrying a copy of Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. By the end of 2009, The Elf on the Shelf was in 8,000 stores in the US and Canada and had sold nearly 1 million copies.
Is there a television special?
Of course there is! A 30-minute animated special called An Elf’s Story debuted on CBS in 2011.
How do you keep kids from moving the elf?
Kids are told that if scout elves are touched they may lose their magic. If contact is made, kids can write an apology letter to Santa and apologize to their elf.
What happens when the elf doesn’t move?
It’s likely that the did move and just returned to a favorite spot, just like humans and pets do. (You can find three ideas for reminders to move the elf here.)
The internet is FULL of ideas. So very many ideas. I’ll be honest – I’ve never done Elf on the Shelf. It was a few years after the book was first published in 2005 that he really caught on, and by the time he was huge, elves weren’t visiting kids as old as my daughter was. So on this topic, I defer to my more experienced and exceptionally creative friends. Here are some of my favorite posts full of their great ideas:
What happens to the elf after Christmas Eve?
He or she heads back to the North Pole with Santa. Find creative ways to say farewell here.
PRIOR POST: Hilarious new trailer for Disney’s Zootopia features sloths running the DMV
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