To Elf or Not to Elf?

December is officially here, which means Christmas is right around the corner. For this house that also means that our mischievous elf Figgy has returned. The return of these elves seems to always spark quite a bit of debate in the mom community about whether or not to begin the elf on the shelf tradition. I admit that I too was once a questionable parent about letting this thing into our house because it does require some extra nightly work and creativity and dropping the ball could be pretty devastating. But our debate was settled a few years back when we decided to give it a go and my daughter fell in love with our newest Christmas tradition. She would get up every morning and race out to see what shenanigans Figgy was up to next. Her excitement made it an easy yes for us to continue on with the tradition each year.

My boys however have been a different story. Drew is still pretty young yet, so he may still buy into the idea of this elf eventually, but Damion presents more challenges than perks at times. I’m not sure he quite understands the concept of “magic” or if he does, I have no way to know it as of yet. I’m not sure if that is an autism thing or just a Damion thing. I know that my older brother held onto the Christmas “magic” for much longer than most, so maybe it is something Damion will get to with age as well? So, the question at our house is less of whether to elf, but how to do it in a way that one child does not ruin the magic for another, and how to potentially get the others interested. So I will hit how we have dealt with these two elf on the shelf issues at our house:

  1. Not Ruining the Magic for the Others

So obviously one of the big rules to these elves is you are not allowed to touch them or they will lose their magic. Not a great threat for a kid who doesn’t seem to understand or care about the abstract idea of “magic”. Damion will say the phrase, “You can’t touch Figgy”, but he will do it alongside a mischievous face that suggests other intentions. We have worked through a lot of this issue with reminders, but after the first year with a few touching fiascos and having to make up some mom special gloves delivered from Santa (make your own or look on Esty), I learned to put a few more layers of protection in places. The easiest one is to put your elf somewhere that is not easy to be touched. Whether that means high up, or maybe in a room that you only access together at the time to go look and see what he is doing, adding in these extra layers of protection may help keep your child from breaking the number one elf on the shelf rule and potentially ruining the idea for believing siblings.


2. Getting the Not-Interested, Interested

This is always a tough one in our house. Damion is a creature of habit. He has a few limited things that he is interested in, and it can be hard to steer his attention to anything new. I try many methods to help peak his interests in new things, especially in the holiday season, which sometimes takes some thinking outside the box. He loves books, so reading about the elf helps some. They now have movies or shows with the elves, so that is always a potential too for our visual learners. Personally, the best way we have found is to work in things that he is interested in already alongside the new. This means that our elf may add some familiar characters alongside him in some of his nightly activities. Also, Damion currently thinks people making a little bit of a mess is hilarious so we have that in our corner now too for the elf to use. I know it is unlikely that I will ever have him running out every morning ready to find what the elf is up to like his sister, but I do love those smiles I get when he realizes the elf is doing something he actually thinks is funny or is hanging out with one of his favorite characters. Even just that smile is worth it for me.

So, you may be thinking that you already have way too much on your plate (especially this time of year) and adding in elf duties might not seem appealing. I get it. Honestly, If Damion was an only child, with the amount of effort versus his return in interest probably would not have been enough for me to buy into the idea either. But with one child who really enjoys it, the little bit of time and effort is worth it to me. The time it takes me at night to help our elf in his work is minimal, and on really busy nights just moving location can be enough. Thankfully with Pinterest in place I don’t have to be too creative myself and am never short on ideas. If you haven’t figured it out from some of my other blogs yet, I enjoy being festive, so it is kind of in my wheelhouse anyway. It is now just an added bonus to work on ways to expand on Damion’s interests too and help him join in on some more of the Christmas fun. If you do have a kid on the spectrum I hope these few tricks will help peak their interest and keep the “magic” alive.