Before this holiday season, I had never heard of The Elf on the Shelf.  Then again, it’s fairly new Christmas “tradition”, created in 2005.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s an elf figure that acts as the eyes and ears of Santa Claus… so Santa knows who to put on the naughty list and who has been nice.  A family “adopts” an elf and then becomes a “part of the family’s Christmas” every year.

They can’t be touched or else they will lose their magic.  They also listen to everything that happens in the house.

I see disaster already.

Beside the obvious creepy factor,  here are five reasons why I won’t get an Elf on the Shelf.

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Like The Elf on the Shelf

why i don't like elf on the shelf


1.  The Creep Factor

Firstly, that elf will know exactly what I’m doing at each and every moment… like finishing up the kids’ chocolates, or having a cocktail before happy hour… oh wait, the Elf isn’t real.

2.  It’ll make my kids crazy – can’t deal

The scary thought is that my kids will be on such excellent behaviour at home, that they’ll burst out into craziness the moment they step foot outside.

So far, it’s been the other way around – they behave well at school and turn into monsters as soon as they come home.  And although my kids often drive me to bang my head against the wall, I would much rather deal with the lil’ devils here than multiple phone calls and pink slips from the school.

3.  I’m already using the “Santa card”

I figure, I already use the “Santa knows what you’re up to” line, which I usually start super early like right after Halloween in order to squeeze every opportunity out of that one, so I’m waaaay ahead of the Elf.

4.  I don’t need more work

“Before the family awakes each morning, their special scout elf will fly back to their home from the North Pole. However, since these elves like to play games, don’t expect to find them in the same spot!  While some like to hide in the freezer (probably because it reminds them of the North Pole) and others prefer to sit on the fireplace mantle or hang from the chandelier, these elves love to play hide-and-seek with their families.”

Uhhh, who has to move the Elf – me?  Doesn’t the Elf move magically by itself?  Does that mean every night along with putting kids to bed, getting ready for the next morning, turning the lights off, setting the alarm, I have to remember to move the damn thing?


5. It’s another lie I’ll have to explain later

Another problem I have?  I already have to explain to them – one day – why I went along with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and fess up to the fact that Santa isn’t real.  Do I really need to add yet another explanation to the mix?

It’s bad enough that they’ll probably burst into tears when they find out about Santa… I’ve been holding my breath this year fearing that my 7 year old will hear the truth from some bigger kids.  Oh the mom guilt!


So Elf in a Shelf, although I may have been tempted by all the photos on Facebook, and I was “this” close to adopting you into our family for a split second, I came to my senses and realized  — HELLZ NO!



Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. It’s a cute new idea, BUT I still think “Santa’s Watching’ is just as effective!

  2. My daughter is 3.5 and it’s working fine in our house, she doesn’t try to touch him. I don’t make a point to stress “he’s watching you”. She enjoys waking up and looking for him. He’s creepy for certain, but she seems to think he’s cute. Maybe it’s better for younger kids.

    • Yes you’re right, I think younger kids would definitely have more fun with it. It wouldn’t work on my boys now.

  3. Dallas Gislason Reply

    Great insights on this! The problem with these types of motivational tools is that they rely on fear. (i.e. anything with an “or else” attached to it is fear-based or restrictive motivation). Fear is not a good motivator because it’s not sustainable. The challenge (and I’m still working on this with my children) is instilling intrinsic motivation (i.e. I’m good because I want to be good and I see the reason why it’s important)- Elf on the Shelf does the opposite.

    • Yes I don’t like to use fear as a motivator for anything, although often we do resort to it.

  4. Wow…they’ve been around that long? I only heard about them this year, too. Also not a fan of the idea. I have enough to remember this time of year without having to move an elf all around the house, too. And there’s the creepiness, too…

  5. We have one for my 10 and 3 year old sisters. We hide “Buddy” the elf in different spots around the house. It’s been working with Emily (10), but Elizabeth has a fascination with touching him. We tried to tell her that you can’t touch “Buddy” because he has very fragile bones that can break, but she enjoys slamming (literally) him off of any surface. Maybe it will work better when she’s older.

  6. Agreed…I found this article after doing a search to see if I was the only one who does not like the idea so much. Santa is an easy, traditional and simple character. Adding a new character that I have to lie about, while other families are doing the same but making up their own story as they go along, seems like an invitation to disaster while surrounding Santa with more suspicion along the way. I think that I will wait until the kids are old enough to know better and then include it just for fun. Anyway, the idea that someone can label something as “The New Tradition” and then sell it in the front of Barnes and Noble just really bothers me and screams of annoying marketing. How am I supposed to even get my kids past the door and explain that one, and why didn’t I think of something to sell and label it as a new tradition myself?

  7. My latest post was about our experience with our Elf. This will be our second year. I don’t partake in the creep factor but we do enjoy the fun side of it. I happen to enjoy figuring out new scenarios to put him in, but I can see how many might not. Truthfully it is a lot of work. Plus I feel like some people are elf overachievers, I don’t play that game or I would lose my mind. Though I am creative enought to kit up pinterest for ideas, mine will NEVER EVER fish for goldfish in a toilet… ewww,

  8. AlwaysARedhead Reply

    I had never heard of Elf on a Shelf until last year, and I am glad my kids are past that age. I also think he is kinda creepy looking. Yet I do have Christmas ducks which my teenage boy has decided he will hide every time I put them out. Christmas ducks, elf on the shelf sort of the same thing.

  9. Honestly? If I could have one more Christmas with my kids believing in Santa, building Gingerbread houses, and singing Christmas Carols altogether, I’d do it in a heartbeat. These little traditions that we create are so special and the things that they remember for a lifetime.

    I would have loved to incorporated Elf on a Shelf because I get such a chuckle seeing the pictures on Facebook and Pinterest because it’s so me! Mischievous and silly. Like other traditions, Elf on a Shelf is not for everyone.

  10. My favourite one is #2. You want the craziness bubble to burst indoors. : D

  11. I am so surprised at this reaction! I know it’s been years since you wrote this but I have to tell the world how much fun having an elf is…

    We’ve had our elf since 2007 (my mom purchased it for us from a gift catalog) and our son still LOVES him in 2014. Who wouldn’t want to add extra magic to Christmas??

    For the time it took you to laundry list your complaints about the elf, you could have already hidden him in your child’s juice cup and poured yourself a glass of wine.

    Your children are only little once…lighten up

    • Hi Patty, thanks for commenting! I guess the sarcasm and humour didn’t translate through my post for you! All in all, I really don’t care if others have an Elf, really! It’s not a big deal. This post is meant to be funny! I think you need to lighten up too 😀

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