I first heard about the American Elf on a Shelf tradition this year. In a nutshell: you buy an expensive doll, register it online, then spend Advent threatening your kids that the elf is grassing them up to Santa, and every evening posing the elf in increasingly imaginative hiding / posing places. Apparently it’s very popular. Although there’s a lot about that tradition that I personally don’t like, I felt that there were a few things that I’d like to incorporate in our Christmas for this year and this year only.
What kicked it off? Well, it occurred to me that now Maxi Minx is 6, it’s possible that this Christmas will be our last where all 3 girls whole-heartedly believe that Santa Claus is rewarding their good behaviour with presents; when Christmas is still utterly magical and mystical to them. Based on me and my siblings, we learned and understood the awful truth about Santa sometime between the ages of 5 and 8. Although I know that Maxi will be happy to join the team and promote Santa’s magic to her little sisters, I want to prolong the innocence and downright fun of all their childhoods as long as I can.
So… we’ve been using the free PNP (Portable North Pole) service for 3 (4?) years, now – you upload details and photos of your child and ‘Santa’ emails them a personal, fun video. Me and The Boss absolutely love watching the girls’ expressions and reactions when they get their video at the beginning of December, after they’ve written their letters to Santa. It’s been the same actor all this time, so Maxi and Midi absolutely, categorically believe that THIS is Santa. The annual video message from Santa makes Maxi’s eyes sparkle like no other event.
This year I felt that I wanted something a bit more long-lasting than that 3 or 4 minute message; something that would keep that magic at home with us. I thought that an adaptation of the Elf on a Shelf tradition might work. A fortnight in, I have to say that it’s been a bigger success than I’d hoped. Here’s what I did:
Edward the Elf
I want this to be a one-off, so decided to knit a little elf, rather than buy one or make a huge fancy one. I wanted to make it myself, knitting every stitch full of love for my daughters. This free Tiny Elf knitting pattern from Spud fitted the bill. Then I wrote a letter from Santa to the girls. It would have been easy to fill it full of warnings and threats about bad behaviour consequences, but do you know what? My wee minxes are good little girls; they frequently show each other lots of care and love. What a brilliant opportunity to acknowledge that! So Santa introduced Edward to them as an elf who worked on the chocolate orange factory line who wasn’t getting along with the other little elves. Santa wanted Edward to learn by watching my minxes in action to see how well they got along together (none of them spotted the throwaway line that he’d also be telling Santa how they were behaving).
On Sat 1 Dec, while everyone was busy helping The Boss make pancakes for breakfast, I sneaked Edward to the front door, holding the letter, and let the girls find him. Maxi read out the letter to her sisters. Mini just chuckled and wanted to waggle his bell; Midi’s eyes got rounder and rounder. They were instantly convinced that he’d come from Santa. Hehehehe!
From that night, he got up to little pranks. Within a few days he’d transformed mornings in our house – instead of having to haul the girls out of bed, they wanted to immediately bound downstairs to see what Edward had been up to. Even better, they wanted to gather together as a trio to go see, together. It’s been working better than an Advent calendar!
Dec 2: he was obviously missing his chocolate oranges, because he was found with his nose buried in oranges
Dec 3: making snow angels in the flour
Dec 4: spelling his name out in sultanas
Dec 5: Santa sent a chocolate orange and a letter of praise to the girls
Dec 6: getting to know the other toys
Dec 7: hiding in the wreath
Dec 8: re-decorating the tree then hiding under the star
Dec 9: what the kids think happened (the trail of flour leads to the fridge, with a big jug of pancake batter inside)
Dec 9: what actually happened..!
Dec 10: fun with soap
Dec 11: getting to know (!) the doll’s house doll. Watched by a pair of smiling OAPs…
Dec 12: more toilet roll fun
Dec 13: a letter from Santa congratulating them on their gymnastics competition and some special good-sister efforts. A new leotard for Maxi and Midi, and paints for Mini