Seven things every Elf On The Shelf parent knows to be true.


It’s 10pm. You’ve been job-working all day. Then kid-working all night: Homework. Dinner. Bath. Conflict Resolution. Books. Bed. Bribery and corruption. Bed again.

Then it’s dishes, folding washing, work emails, stepping over unwrapped teacher’s presents. The Crown.

And now you really, really need to go to bed and spend an hour scrolling through Instagram because you promised yourself tomorrow morning is a gym morning (no, really this time) and then…

That Effing Elf.

He's HERE.

If you don't know what an Elf On The Shelf is, can we please swap lives?

Here's a quick cheat sheet. Genius American toymaker decides that what kids really need in the lead-up to Christmas is an extra incentive to be GOOD. And just a little bit paranoid.

So they designed an unconvincing but strangely adorable felt Elf that sits on a shelf and watches. And that's it. The Elf doesn't talk, or move, or download your online shopping list to its Google-Glass eyes, it just sits there, judging.

The Elf comes with a book. The book tells you - and your children, presumably - that this here Elf is a Scout Elf, and that they fly out to visit children and then fly back to visit Santa every night to report on your behaviour and add to the 'naughty or nice' tally.

Listen: Holly Wainwright shares her elf's adventures on This Glorious Mess.

The trick is, every night when he (or she, we have one of both, and the female is distinguished by having earrings and some lippy because #girl) comes back to your house, he settles in a different spot.

And so the hapless parents have to move the Elf every night, and find ever-more interesting and surprising places to hide him so that - SPRUNG! - the kids discover the spirit of Christmas anew every morning. Or something.


Which brings you back to F**K, it's late, and you have to stage an elaborate Elf Vignette.

Here are a few things that every Elf Parent knows to be true by now:

  1. It's only December 8, and your imagination has run dry. There are 17 more days of this. Seventeen.
  2. All those cute extra touches you decided on eight days ago are now deeply infuriating. For example, I decided that our Elf wrote thoughtful and slightly threatening notes in teeny-tiny hand-writing like this:

3. Your place is too damn small to offer 24 different hiding places. Those people on the Pinterest Elf inspo pages must live at Mariah Carey's house.

4. You keep forgetting the rules. Like when you thought it would be funny for Elf to hide in the fridge but then you had to move him to get to the milk. "You're not allowed to touch the Elf, MUM. The Elf will LOSE ITS MAGIC. NOW THE ELF HAS LOST ITS MAGIC. You've KILLED CHRISTMAS. MUM, CHRISTMAS IS DEAD."

Tears, tears, tears.

The Elf In The Cupboard.

5. Other parents are better at Elfing than you. "So Alice has an Elf, he's called Tarquin, and every day he does a good deed. Tarquin is replanting the native grass at the skate park and visiting sick kids and getting Alice to pledge an act of kindness to a stranger daily..."

6. You thought it was going to give you one less thing to do - eg: Threaten your children. But instead, it's given you at least five extra things to do, if you include ideation. (Post continues after gallery.)

7. They work. Yesterday my kids were re-enacting an ear-twisting scene from Ultimate Fighter 67 - at least I think that's what they were doing - and screaming at a level only bearable to ageing dogs.

All I had to do was tell them that Harry and Ruby (my kids lack imagination, clearly, they named their elves after every second child in the playground) would leave if they kept being so annoying and within moments, they were sitting in silence braiding each other's hair.

Well, almost.

Merry Christmas.