What Is Elf on the Shelf and How Does It Work?

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Ziva, our Elf on the Shelf, sitting on a reindeer's head in our living room
Ziva, our Elf on the Shelf, sitting on a reindeer’s head in our living room

Have you ever heard of the Elf on the Shelf but have no idea what the fuss is all about? That sounds like us only a year ago. Read on as we introduce you to Ziva, our Elf on the Shelf. In this blog you learn everything you need to know about what is Elf on the Shelf and how does it work.

‘Tis the season to be jolly! With the holidays just around the corner, we’re all hyped up to prepare for Christmas. And as the days get nearer, we can expect the return of a familiar face dressed in all red and ready to spread the festive spirit to every home! Elf on the Shelf is one of the most beloved Christmas traditions that’s been going around for over a decade. 

I often heard about the Elf on the Shelf, but until recent years I had no clue about the Christmas magic of the dedicated elf who quickly became our family elf last year. 

But if you’ve never encountered one of Santa’s helpers and want to know the lore behind the history of the elf, no worries! We’re giving you the ultimate beginner’s guide to the Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition that everyone’s been raving about!

The Elf on the Shelf returned to our home the next morning
The Elf on the Shelf returned to our home the next morning

What is Elf on the Shelf? Everything You Need to Know About Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a fun Christmas tradition created by a mother-daughter duo, Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. The tradition started with the release of their self-published children’s book in 2005, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. The elf on the shelf book comes with a keepsake box, an adoptable Scout Elf, and its official adoption certificate.

After reading the storybook the holiday fun continues with shortlisting elf on the shelf names as your kids can freely name their Scout Elf. We named our Elf Ziva.

Before we show the ropes of playing Elf on the Shelf, you must be wondering the meaning behind it. What is the official Elf on the Shelf about, what is the Elf of the Shelf meaning, and where did it come from?

The Legend Behind the Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition

The Elf on the Shelf story talks about these magical elves from the North Pole, where Santa Claus lives. Every Christmas, Santa’s Scout Elves leave the North Pole each night to become Santa’s helpers and keep track of all the children on Santa’s Nice List.

Night after night, they go back to the North Pole and report to Santa about who’s been naughty and nice. The next morning, the Scout Elves return to their own home and settle themselves in a different spot on different locations in the house, sometimes in peculiar places where evidence of their mischief can be found!

The Elf on the Shelf found a nice spot to hang out for the day
The Elf on the Shelf found a nice spot to hang out for the day

How Does Elf on the Shelf Work?

Before anything else, we need to learn and understand the rules to participate in this fun holiday tradition. But don’t worry, because there’s only three official rules! Read on as we explain Elf on the Shelf:

One, the most important rule is that you can’t touch your Scout Elf because they will lose their magic if you do.

Two, Scout Elves can’t talk, but they can hear you and love listening to your stories or secrets.

And lastly, remember that your popular Scout Elf is only with you until Christmas Eve. After that, they have to return to the North Pole to help Santa Claus prepare for next Christmas! But no worries, early December next year the magic of the elf will return.

Now that we’ve covered the rules, let’s dive straight into the mechanics. Think of Elf on the Shelf as a simple hide-and-seek game. They hide, and you seek. Once you’ve adopted an elf and named them, every morning, from Scout Elf Return Week (November 22nd – December 1st) until Christmas Eve, the elves appear on a new spot.

You can find them in the most obvious spots or catch them in the act while being silly in strange places. The fun part comes in the chase of finding them in a new place every morning, never knowing what they might be up to next.

We found our Elf on the Shelf hanging out in our closet one morning
We found our Elf on the Shelf hanging out in our closet one morning

Overall, Elf on the Shelf is a fantastic way to keep the kids (and parents!) excited for the holidays leading to Christmas. If you haven’t tried this family tradition yet, it’s time to start! You can also choose between an Elf on the Shelf girl or boy to adopt, so it’s perfect for everyone in the family.

When Does Elf on the Shelf Start

The Elf on the Shelf starts in the month of December; we always start the first night of December. 

Elf on the Shelf Pets and Elf on the Shelf Accessories

For those looking to add a little extra flair to this tradition, the more, the merrier with Elf on the Shelf Pets and accessories. Give your Scout Elf a furry friend this Christmas and adopt an Elf Pet Reindeer, Arctic Fox, or St. Bernard – the Elf on a Shelf dog. Each of these elf pets plays an important role for Santa, like the Reindeer who helps Santa’s sleigh soar through the sky.

Ever wonder how Santa travels undetected and unseen? We have Noorah, the Arctic Fox, to thank for that! She hides Santa by shielding him with the northern lights so he can safely deliver the gifts to each house without waking anyone up.

And, of course, you can’t forget every man’s best friend. The St. Bernard dog is a furry and cuddly pet for kids who help Santa by giving him the loudest Christmas cheer. With the help of St. Bernard and the children, the magic of Christmas stays strong through their cheers.

Want to spice up your Scout Elf’s wardrobe? Give your Scout Elf a makeover with the Claus Couture Collection® and MagiFreez® fashion accessories featuring Mrs. Claus’ line of elf clothing.

Other accessories you can buy for your Scout Elf are the Glide-and-GoPeppermint Train Ride, and Peppermint Plane Ride.

Wrap-Up: The Magic of Elf on the Shelf

During the holiday season, the Elf on the Shelf tradition is a heartwarming and enchanting way to bring joy to your home. Now that we delved into the history and discussed the mechanics of this beloved Christmas tradition, you now understand the enchanting story behind Elf on the Shelf and how it works.

The Elf on the Shelf legend is steeped in the magic of these North Pole helpers who, night after night, embark on their missions to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.

With just a few simple rules and a bit of creativity, Elf on the Shelf offers endless opportunities for fun and wonder, making it a cherished part of the holiday season for families everywhere. So, consider adopting your Scout Elf and embark on a magical journey to create lasting memories and warm your hearts throughout the holiday season.

Embrace the magic, and let the Elf on the Shelf tradition become a treasured part of your family’s Christmas festivities.


Related Posts:

20 Best Christmas Books for Kids in 2023

Where to Buy Advent Calendars for Kids in Kuala Lumpur in 2023?

20 Best Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids 


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The Enchantment of Elf on the Shelf Revealed!
About Marlieke Kemp-Janssen:

Marlieke is the mom of a four-year-old girl and, together with daddy, they love living in and exploring Kuala Lumpur. As well as being the founder of Kuala Lumpur with Kids, Marlieke is a digital marketing consultant who has helped small businesses grow through her company Aureum Hospitality Advisers.

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