This is a FUN FAMILY TRADITION.
It's not too late to start this year.
You Will Need...
Any Elf will do. It can be a girl elf or a boy elf, old or new. A good place to find your elf, your grandparents house. They seem to always have the perfect elf sitting around.
How To Play...
First...Name your elf. That will give him his magic powers and bring him to life.
Next...Explain the rules.
*Every Christmas season the elf leaves the North Pole and comes to your house. The elf's job is to be the eyes and ears for Santa. Santa can't be everywhere to see who is naughty and nice. He needs his elf on the shelf to help.*The elf listens and watches and then gives a report back to Santa.
*Each night, the elf flies home to the North Pole and gives his report.
*The elf arrives back at the house every day in a different location, ready to watch and listen again.
*Children are not allowed to touch the elf. If they do his Christmas magic will disappear.
*The elf does not speak to children, but he can and does speak with parents.
*Parents can send and receive messages from Santa through the elf.
To recap...Every day the elf will appear on a different "shelf". Or in a different location in your home. The elf is there to watch over your children and see if they are being naughty or nice. The elf flies back to the North Pole every night and gives his report to Santa. Then he flies back and reappears the next day in a new location in your home. On Christmas Eve the elf can either fly home for good, until next year, or he can come back for Christmas Day to watch the children open their gifts. You decide.
Your children will look forward to this tradition every year. They will absolutely LOVE. IT.
You will find that your children actually behave better. Not wanting the Elf to give Santa a negative report.
There will be a lot of excitement around "finding" the elf each day in his new location.
You don't have to celebrate Christmas or Santa to have your own "elf on a shelf". And, if you do celebrate Christmas but don't want the focus to be so much on the commercialism but more on Christ, this will still work great in your home. Choose a different character or object to watch over your family. Instead of emphasizing the naughty or nice, have your character watch for ways that family members or children serve one another, good deeds children do, and situations where children are being obedient. Your character can report to parents or magically write about the kindness on a family chart that is on display. Instead of making it an individual "competition" see if your children can collectively fill up the chart with good deeds and when they do, do something fun together as a family. When the chart is full read through all the good that has been done. It will be fun for your family to re-live all the great things they have done for one another. (You could also fill a jar with slips of paper where the good works are written. You could fill a glass jar with marbles or candies for each good thing done, etc...)
As with all family traditions, make it your own. Do what works best for you. Modify.
Don't like the idea of Santa, no big deal (see the modification above). Don't like elves, use something else. Think outside the box when you find places for the elf to observe. You don't have to make this a "heavy" tradition. Meaning, you don't need to use the elf as a threat, constantly pointing out the elf and his watchful eye. Keep it fun and light with gentle reminders and you will see that children naturally want to be good and do good.
DO ANY OF YOU HAVE THE ELF ON THE SHELF TRADITION?
WHAT MODIFICATIONS HAVE YOU MADE?
I would love to hear if you adopt this tradition in your home. Le me know how it goes.