Bridging the Elf On The Shelf Divide


DHS Journalism

Journalism students Christian Esparza, Zachary Martinez, Alanna Monreal Frausto, Julian Perez, and Jacob Antu pose for a photo as Jaiden Alvarez jumps to save the group from Elf on the Shelf Andrea Rios’ antics.

Crystal Martinez, Staff Writer

Elf on the Shelf has been a family tradition for many people since 2005. The tradition was invented by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, who self-published the book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” along with a special box with a small boy or girl Scout Elf inside, but the elf concept itself tracks back as early as the 1940s. A movie based on the story of the life of an elf was also released in November 2011. The tradition states that the elf doesn’t move while children are awake & while they’re sleeping, the elf flies back to the north pole to tell Santa how the children behaved that day, but one rule is that children aren’t allowed to touch the elf. If children touch the elf, it may lose its magic & can no longer fly back to the north pole. It encourages children to behave more in fear the elf will tell Santa they’re not behaving, plus you can name it yourself!

As a parent or older sibling, you understand that there is no Santa & there is no magic in the elf, it’s just a stuffed elf with a plastic head. So your job is to keep the belief & tradition alive for any younger siblings or children in your home. You can go to the store or online & purchase your own Elf on the Shelf, it’s a fun way for parents to keep their children in check without the hassle. This is also a great opportunity for parents to lean into their creative side, you can set up a scene & make it look like the elf really did move during the night. Some parents have added a thing of their own to the tradition, they’ll make it seem that if the children are being naughty, then the elf will also start to be naughty. The “elf” starts making a mess, drawing on the children’s faces, or even blaming stuff on the children. 

Children that believe in the elf are obviously going to fall for everything, so this gives parents a really fun way to mess with their kids. In December 2021, a video of a little girl went viral on TikTok. The video shows a mother waking her daughter up for school in the morning. The little girl wakes up & has marker drawn all over her face, she then realizes that it must’ve been the elf. As a child that needs to get ready for school, she’s freaking out because she can’t get it off. The video is linked here, definitely worth the watch! Another viral video introduces Snoop on a Stoop, as a play on Elf on the Shelf, Snoop Dogg has made his own version. Much like Elf on the Shelf, Snoop’s elf is the same size & has a green outfit instead of a red one. He also has the face of Snoop with a, ahem, ‘cigarette’ in his mouth. In the video, a child is heard & seen complaining that their Elf on the Shelf is different & has a cigarette in his mouth. Check it out!

What’s so creepy, untrustworthy, or unlikeable about a small elf that only moves when you sleep? Everything apparently, I’ve talked to 42 persons & 62%  said it’s creepy, untrustworthy, or they just don’t like it, but why? What’s so wrong with it?

“I don’t trust its face,” says senior, Jonathan Guardiola. Now I can’t say I see them in the same way, but I have been suspicious of them. I won’t lie, I’ve tried catching mine off guard & clapping in its face thinking “maybe this time he’ll blink”, but it never happens, it’s not real, but I still have hope sometimes. So what’s to say about Elf on the Shelf? Are they good? Bad? Or just a silly little made-up tradition that many families across the country are celebrating? I know I’ve got my elf on my shelf, but in the end, it’s up to a person as to if they like them or not, nonetheless, I’d like to wish elf lovers & elf haters a Merry Christmas!