Elf on the shelf

01 December 2017 | Kate Owens

December is finally here…how did it come around so quickly? It seems like only yesterday, we were all soaking up the last of September’s summer sun. But, December is here, which means it is the official day that we, the UK nation can start celebrating all things Christmassy!

And one trend that I heard about this morning on the radio was the very bizarre, “Elf on the Shelf”. When I heard this phrase, I was utterly clueless as to what this entailed, as I can imagine many other Brits were too. Perhaps those who have ‘little ones’ though or…those who are the ‘little ones’ are a little more clued up.

So, what is “Elf on the Shelf”? Well of course it’s another Americanism that the UK has decided to adopt. It was first brought about from a book back in 2005 and slowly, over the years, it’s grown and grown. The whole concept is that these loving and adoring parents buy this little stuffed elf and place him somewhere in the house and every night when the children are asleep, the elf goes walkabouts and in the morning, the children need to find where he has ended up. A modern take on hide-and-seek if you will. And the whole idea is that this elf has been sent from the North Pole from Santa, to keep an eye on all the children to see who is on Santa’s “Nice” list and who is on the “Naughty” list.

And the UK shops are, unsurprisingly, jumping on the “Elf on the Shelf” sleigh ride too, with John Lewis selling its pack for a princely £19.99. Money well spent? Hmm, I’m not convinced. Surely you could just go down to your local B&M or Poundland and pick up a stuffed elf there, and save yourself a whole lotta money? But then you wouldn’t get a book to read all about how the elf has come from the North Pole and is checking up on the children… blah blah blah! What happened to telling stories using your imagination?!

Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical, after all Instagram has been taken over with parents around the world giving it their all and showing off their elves in situ. It’s almost turned into a competition (how millennial of us – a ‘Christmas Instagram Competition!’). Not all of the Instagram pictures are the wholesome and pure images you would expect to see of Santa’s little helper though. Some have a taken a rather more risqué turn, as you’ll find if you look here.

Is “Elf on the Shelf” going to stick around? Will all the other retail stores going to start selling their own packs too? Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time of the year. But the retail marketing machine gets bigger and stronger every year, with more and more being hypnotised by the whole farce. But perhaps that’s what the new Christmas tradition is.