All About Elf on a Shelf by Julie Arduini

He’s outfitted in red and white and pays attention to all your deeds.

He’s polarizing—he’s loved and tradition or hated and judged.

Santa? Nope. It’s the little figure that takes over your Facebook feed, Elf on a Shelf.

I had no clue who or what this was a few years ago and I still see folks scratching their heads wondering where did this thing come from, anyway?


Photo from Elf on a Shelf website.

Elf on a Shelf is a children’s book that explains how the elves are sent by Santa to watch over boys and girls and report back to let him know how they are behaving. According to the Elf on a Shelf website, when a family adopts an elf by giving them a name, the elf receives its magic so they can go to work. At night the elf leaves for the North Pole to report to Santa and when the family wakes, the elf is back home, but in a new location the child/ren need to find. Often the elf is caught doing something mischievous. Elves have been also known to share lessons, Bible stories, or even warnings about bad behavior.

The concept has taken off so much that there is also a birthday and reindeer tradition. There’s also an app that gives ideas for the scout elf that can be simple, crafty, silly or messy. Part of the fun is taking pictures of the elf antics and putting it on social media. Another aspect is sharing the elf name. Over the years I’ve read about Joe, Chippy, Sparkles and Buddy.

We for our family, I was skeptical. I didn’t want another product to take away the true meaning of Christmas but our youngest was so enamored with the concept I compromised. Instead of buying the book and original figure I bought a plush elf that was a girl (and in my opinion, less creepy.) Our teen son and I had fun and a little bit of stress trying to put Pinkie Pie in all kinds of situations. There were mornings the youngest found Pinkie Pie on a zip line, in the sink washing dishes, in the bathroom putting bows on the mirror. But she also led a Bible study for the Christmas stuffed animals. Gave out gifts. Wrote encouraging notes.

I realized during the process I looked forward to our daughter’s reaction and her joy was contagious. It pushed me to be creative and intentional. Because she was on the upper end age wise, Pinkie Pie retired after one year of service. But the process surprised me. Sometimes the season is hard for me and this was a way to push past the fog and celebrate the season. We didn’t lose the focus on Christ’s birth. I really have no regrets.

This year we’ve moved on by adopting a family advent calendar. We took turns creating challenges meant to give us family time and situations that encourage us and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Already I’m glad we’re taking the time for this, but I confess, I’m watching my Facebook feed to see what the elves are up to.

How about you? Does your family have an Elf on a Shelf? What are your thoughts about them?


About juliearduini

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. The last book in the series, ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future, is coming soon. Her devotional, FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER, features the surrender themes and characters from the series. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and starting April 2017, will be part of the Inspy Romance blog. She resides in Ohio with her husband, two children, and secret chocolate stash. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.
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2 Responses to All About Elf on a Shelf by Julie Arduini

  1. Trista says:

    Basically since my sons’s birth I have been anti Santa. So it goes without saying I was anti elf when it came about. Let me explain first that for my program in school I had to read tons of stories about abused children who didn’t get gifts for holidays and somehow equated that to them being terrible. “A Child Called It” crushed me.
    Then there was my own disappointment in year after year begging Santa for a Barbie Dream house and Santa never came through. I thought it was because I was bad. And while as an adult I know that the Barbie dream house was probably our grocery bill back then, as a child I was crushed.
    Then this year Jaxon is full on Santa. And wants the elf because he believed that Santa wouldn’t know he is good any other way. I didn’t have the heart to crush his dreams. It was his reality. Now I love that little Elf. She has helped me in many ways as I’m in a difficult season, and Jax has so much fun and excitement sei g her shenanigans. We also have her model kindness and in turn asking Jaxon to do a kind gesture. So, whatever your spin is, the Elf has the potential to put magic and joy into Christmas in a day and age where children grow up so fast. I’d like to thank Sparkles for bringing some holiday cheer into my home where I have failed to be able to now.
    Wow. This was as long as your blog. Lol


    • juliearduini says:

      Thanks, Trista! That’s so funny, I wrote earlier this week about how I didn’t get a Barbie Dream House and how angry I was. Small world!

      Like you, I was skeptical at best about the elf, and like you, I possibly received the most joy from it when we did it last year.

      I’m so glad you read and shared your thoughts!


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