5 Reasons We Hate (and Love) Elf on the Shelf


Yes parents, you read that right, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf. I am acutely aware that what you are about to read will not sit well with some of you. I also am completely unapologetic about what I am about to say.

Catch up on why fellow Military Moms Blog Contributor Jen loves the elf here.

But before you label me the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, hear me out.

The box says “A Family Tradition,” but for something that didn’t even come out until the year I graduated from college, it just wasn’t an idea I was quick to jump on. I love a good holiday family tradition. We always open one present on Christmas Eve after church service. We eat lasagna and cinnamon rolls (not together, obviously). We wear matching PJs against my husband’s best wishes. However, a creepy elf who moves every night, gets into mischief, and becomes this constant reminder “to be good” is just not for us.

Here’s why:

Bribing my kids for 25-ish days

This one absolutely tops my list of reasons that I do not do Elf on the Shelf. Don’t hear me wrong, my kids are not perfect little angels, and I’m absolutely not beneath bribing them to get that good family picture or to make it through a plane ride with some dignity left intact.

What I am against is using an elf to convince my kids that if they do not listen and obey everything that we say that, said elf will go tell Santa that they have not been good and, in turn, do not deserve any presents for Christmas. I don’t exactly feel like this is the Christmas message I want to send my kids. If they aren’t good, they don’t get presents? Is that what Christmas is all about?? Furthermore, what about the other 11 months out of the year? What’s their motivation for obedience then? I choose rather to utilize the same discipline techniques, no matter how effective they are or not, during the holiday season. Consistency, right?

Lying to my kids

My oldest is six and is an analytical thinker — a future engineer, for sure. He has questioned the intricate workings of things as long as I can remember. Trying to convince him that a stuffed elf has magical powers and watches him and then relays what he says/does to Santa would open the floodgates of questions that frankly, I don’t have the energy to answer.

I’m also certain it would freak him out at the thought of an elf watching his every action 24/7.  A short list of other mythological characters that we don’t believe in in our house includes: Santa, The Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy.

Maybe I am The Grinch?

Or maybe I just didn’t realize until I had my own kids how much I really don’t care about their belief in something that should not be their source of joy in life. We can create other magical memories and build unforgettable traditions without creating this never ending cycle of lies that, let’s be honest, have to be untold some day.

I’m not a Pinterest Mom

No offense intended to the Pinterest Moms of the world. I love you. You’re my mom heroes. I

n another life I wish I were you.

The reality, though, is that I’m an Amazon Prime Mom. I’m a grab-the-whole-package of birthday party décor/utensils/goody bags/etc. in one swoop at Party City kind of mom. The vast majority of Elf Moms are Pinterest Moms. They put so much thought into everything. From parties to holidays, they have every detail thoughtfully and intricately planned out. I’m sure they plan what their elf will do way in advance.

We’ve all seen the pictures of the elves pooping Hershey kisses or making snow angels in flour/sugar. Super cute. Mad props to those moms. I’m always amazed at the thought that some of my friends go to each December.

But it’s just not me. Unless my elf is having a glass of wine while watching mindless TV and grading assignments after kids go to bed, it’s not my elf. Maybe I’m just too lazy. 



Speaking of Pinterest Moms … that stuff takes time! Time that I just do not have. By the time my day finally ends, especially during the last month of the year when my husband is gone more, I’m busier at work, my kids are winding down their first semester of school, and nothing in me wants to move a dang elf before I go to bed.

I’ve heard or read about moms waking up in a panic because they forgot to move the elf! Even if they had no intent of doing something crafty, clever, or creative, they still have to make enough effort to move the elf to some place new before their kid(s) wake up in the morning. Want to know how to solve that problem? Don’t do Elf on the Shelf. Nobody needs added stress during the holidays. 

The true meaning of Christmas

All joking aside and in all seriousness, my final reason that we do not do Elf on the Shelf in our house is that as a Christian family, we prefer to focus on the reason we celebrate the holiday, the birth of Jesus.

Yes, we still take pictures with Santa but talk about the goodness of St Nick. We still decorate a tree, hang stockings, sing Christmas carols, make cookies, and all the other fun Christmas activities that make the season so merry and bright. But at the end of the day, we do not want our children to be so focused on what the elf did and whether or not they have been naughty or nice. We want them to know what we are even doing it all for.

Is your family team elf or not? Do you have another similar tradition?