The Elf On The Shelf Is A Marketing Miracle

I’m not sure of the name of the award they give marketing campaigns. If it were my job to name it, I’d call it the Mind Control Medal. Anyway, whatever that award is should be given to the evil geniuses behind the holiday ‘tradition’ of Elf on the Shelf. This ‘tradition’ is very loosely based on Scandinavian folklore, but mostly it was a cute story that we now have to make a thing- a Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter party of creative splendor and what-not.

My first issue with this lies in the obvious. They look way too much like clowns. I swear to you they are watching you and waiting for you to drop your guard.

Another problem lies in my own ineptitude/laziness. For example, the year the boys were born, Michael went out and bought a lovely pre-lit tree. I made it more festive by putting all the Christmas cards we received on it as opposed to ornaments. I bought the boys stockings for the sole purpose of taking their picture in them since they were only a month old. By the time I got around to this, they were too big, and I kind of shook them in like a pillow in a pillowcase before remembering not to shake the babies and then freaking out.

This behavior is weird considering my mother is Mrs. Claus. When I was little, Christmas was everywhere in my house. If it was stationary, it had a nutcracker, santa figure, or plaid ribbon on it. We had stockings on our bedroom doors because having them over the mantel wasn’t enough. I have a lot to live up to, so I don’t need an extra tradition, thank-you-very-much.

Look, I even hung lights in the boys' room. What? It's fine.

Look, I even hung lights in the boys’ room. What? It’s fine.

I’m also not big on the intent of the Elf on the Shelf. I think it does two things. One, it provides whimsy and excitement to the days leading up to Christmas. I’m sorry, are we saying before someone invented this smiling spy cleverly disguised as an elf that the month of December was boring? Cookies, parties, decorating, school break was not enough? The last thing I need is something else for my kids to get rabid over. I have one son that can smell the chocolate from his Advent calendar through a door and another with a wish list he devised in August and has carefully monitored ever since. I need no more fun please. Isn’t Christmas too hectic and stressful already? Now we need to add art director to Santa’s minion to our plate? No thanks. When I want my kids to experience daily bursts of creativity, I turn on the TV; there is a new Christmas-themed Dora every day.

The elf’s second purpose, as far as I can tell, is to scare kids straight so they can earn the toys their parents bought on Black Friday and therefore cannot return due to the fine print on the receipt. In other words, he’s blackmail. He’s blackmail that has to be named and given a back-story. My blackmail is a little less complicated. “Do what I’m asking, or I will be the crabbiest mommy on the block.”

I see the Elf on the Shelf as another being I’d have to be responsible for. Sure, it would be great to have at least one thing in my house that bent to my every wish, but it’s still too much trouble. He also has an end date for responsibility. You only have to watch over him for like 25 days. With real kids there is no end. Ever.

An added bonus is the Elf on the Shelf is yet another thing we can use to be mean and hateful to each other. Oh, you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf who does creative things like build marshmallow snowmen in the pantry? Do you even love your kids? Or, the flip side, Oh, you lie to your kids about an elf spying on them? I guess you don’t have any better ways to teach your children to behave. How sad for you. Parents even got to curse out a Good Morning America host for revealing the Elf’s true puppet masters. Thanks a lot Lara Spencer; you ruined my magical fucking holidays.

No Elf on the Shelf here, but can I scare you with some Angry Birds on a dresser?

No Elf on the Shelf here, but can I tempt you with some Angry Birds on a dresser?

I love the holidays, and I love making my kids happy. I don’t need a creepy elf in my house for that. However, in honor of the power to make me think I do, I give to you, dear marketing minds behind the Elf on the Shelf, my Mind Control Medal and an insincere Merry Christmas.


14 thoughts on “The Elf On The Shelf Is A Marketing Miracle

  1. I think the thing that irritates me the most about that darn elf is all the “mischief” that he gets into. Seriously? You say this is a tactic to get your kids to be on the “nice” list, yet he sets an example of naughty behavior? When I first heard of Elf on the Shelf I thought it was a cute idea. However, the more I see what other people are doing with theirs, the less interested I am.

  2. Amen to that!
    Truthfully, I’m scared as hell of that creepy thing. I don’t want that guy showing up holding my cup of coffee. Weird.
    We do the “craft” a day. I’d rather spend time making memories than worrying about where that stupid little elf will show up.

  3. I am feeling grateful that nobody I know does this and I don’t think my kids have ever heard of it. They already have to put up with the fact that I refuse to do anything about Christmas until all the birthdays are done after the 10th. My kids are just excited that I told them maybe this year we can put up outside lights. (Always better to keep expectations low! Then what little you do looks awesome!)

  4. I have one of the old elves on the shelf from my grandparents’ Christmas decoration. It’s so scary looking that it terrifies both my husband and I. We have an elf, but he hung out in my oldest’s room year round. I wanted to use the one we just found, but we agreed that the two year old would be permanently scarred.

  5. Ha! This was perfect. I had no idea Lara Spencer ruined the surprise. And I know it’s hateful or whatever, but I still think it’s ridiculous to have one. Mostly from a “waste of money, no time for another thing, and it reminds me of Talking Tina from The Twilight Zone” perspective. No elves here. I already have to lie about Santa.

  6. You nailed it. Loved the “do you even love your kids?” part!! The only reason I like our Elf is because I use him to make my kids laugh their asses off every morning, and that is music to my ears. But I don’t do the whole “The Elf will tell Santa!” bullshit. That’s just not my style. I’m more of a “you will do what I say or I will sell you to a man with a white panel van” kind of mom. Hey, whatever works.

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