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Elf Free Zone

I’d like to start this post with a disclaimer: I love Christmas. I like the sparkle and the glitter and the festive build-up and the sense of anticipation surrounding the main event itself. But I am not a fan of a certain craze that has swept across my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook timeline this weekend.

Elf on the Shelf is an American idea. It’s a little toy that parents purchase pre-December. Billed as a “special scout sent by Santa from the North Pole”, the elf is meant to keep an eye on kids, updating the naughty and nice list before the big day. 

Often though, the elf doesn’t just stay on the shelf. He ventures out in the middle of the night to cause havoc in a corner of the house, ready to be found with much hilarity by the children the following morning. In short, it’s a way to build the sense of excitement throughout December, giving children something to look forward to each morning when they spring out of bed.

A way to improve behaviour and add a sense of fun at the same time? Surely that’s a win then? Well, no, actually. Not in my book anyway. Because, you see, from where I’m standing the Elf on the Shelf has become just another opportunity for one-up-mumship.

It’s only 2nd December, but I can already foresee Competitive Parent Syndrome rearing its ugly head as mums and dads try to out-do each other on social media to have the best “Elf Experience”. Who can come up with the most creative naughty elf scenario? Who can make the funniest elf scene? It’s a slippery slope, I’m telling you.

Putting one-up-mumship to one side though, this blasted elf is a constant reminder to those of us who don’t take part that we haven’t invested the time and energy on creating yet another Christmas tradition for our children. It’s not enough that my daughter has a homemade advent calendar, lovingly sourced presents and a variety of festive days out. No, I am not winning at motherhood this Christmas unless I get an elf too. And don’t forget – it’s not enough to just sit him on the shelf. I have to actually move him around every night and then take pictures of him too.

I hear stories of Elf Facebook groups and Elf Twitter profiles. In some families, I understand, the elf has his feet well and truly under the table. Apparently that’s just a way to ratchet up the fun too, because it’s not enough to give him a name. And now I’m left wondering where it will end. Will the elf have his own Klout score? Will we get “Elf Social Media Gurus” ready to offer advice to other elves who have fewer Facebook friends and Twitter followers?

I’m genuinely interested to know what you think about this. Am I being a complete Scrooge? Am I missing out on a magical family tradition that my daughter will forever hold against me when she grows up? Will I always be *that* awful mother who didn’t do the Elf on the Shelf thing?

I’d love to know what you think. Because, at the moment, I just want him to elf off.