Elf on the Shelf: 3 Rules & What To Do When You Break Them


The festive countdown has begun and I don’t know about you guys, but the Thompson household is very excited.

I’ve found myself about to embark on our very first year of Elf on the Shelf, so I’ve been busy reading up on exactly what these elf adventures entail, and what it means for us parents in terms of input. 

Now, as I see it, there are three golden Elf on The Shelf rules to abide by. I like to refer to these as ‘The Scout Elf Code’.

My bet is that rules 2 and 3 can be easily broken, but fear not, I’ve done some research and come up with solutions to every elf problem that might arise.

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Right, let’s get started. 

What on earth IS The Elf on the Shelf®?

The Elf on the Shelf® is a Christmas tradition that’s been going since 2005, and it’s one that’s majorly captured the hearts of children everywhere.

The idea is that each December, children all over the world will welcome home one of Santa’s Scout Elves.

Santa’s Official Scout Elves looks a bit different from the other elves at the North Pole because they arrive in their official solid red jumpsuit together with their very own storybook called The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition - the book explains to your child exactly what the elf does. It's mega cute. 

So, once you’ve got your elf you can start the shenanigans on any day you choose. Usually, the elf will appear on the 1st of December to help Santa manage his nice list, disappearing again magically on Christmas Day. (Prepare for an emotional Goodbye...) Each and every night your elf will disappear off to the North Pole to report back to Santa, reappearing the next day, in a completely new position in the house. 

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Elf On The Shelf Rule #1

Right, so first off, when your very own Scout Elf arrives, you’ll need to introduce him or her to your kids and come up with a name.

We’re calling ours Dave. (Well, why not?)

Receiving a name is a pretty big deal for your elf. That’s because it’s only after a Scout Elf is adopted and given a name, that they’re bestowed the Christmas magic they need to fly to and from the North Pole each night to fulfil their very important duties.

The role of the magical Scout Elves is to help Santa manage his nice list by taking note of his family’s daily Christmas adventures and reporting back to Santa at the North Pole each and every night.

Elf On The Shelf Rule #2

Every morning, your Scout Elf will return and find a new spot in your home from which to sit and watch. This means that each night you’ll need to come up with an exciting location for your mischievous Elf to appear, so the kids can find him when they wake up.

First tip - it's probably best to set a nightly alarm to remind you to move the elf. Cos, let’s face it, woe betide you when morning comes around and the elf has not moved a muscle since the night before!

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Elf On The Shelf Rule #3

This is the most important rule of all: don’t EVER let your kids touch the elf.

It’s the elf equivalent of feeding Gizmo after midnight. Why? WHY? You ask. Well, because all his elf magic will disappear! So parents, whatever you do, DO NOT let the kids touch the elf.

As a mum to a 19-month-old grabby boy and a demanding three-year-old who think she’s already sixteen, I sense troubles ahead for rule three. To me, it sounds like the foundations for many a repeat tantrum in our house.

“Look at this cute little elf!” Big smiles, laughs, and enthusiastic jumping as hands reach up to grab him…

“Oh, but you can’t touch him! No touching Dave!… I SAAAAID, NO TOUCHING THE ELF!”

Moving on…

What if I forget to move the elf?

Oh, horror! Horror of all horrors. How could you? Nope, seriously, this is going to be me, probably every other night at least, so it’s best we’re all fully prepared for this eventuality.

Here’s a very handy list of valid reasons why your elf may be found rooted to the same spot after his nightly trip to the North Pole. Best to rehearse these so you have them to hand. 

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1) It’s your elf’s fav spot in the house. Yep, when your Scout Elf flies back from the North Pole and lands in the same spot, chances are it’s because it’s their newfound favourite place to be. Don’t worry, kids!

2) The spot has a great vantage point. When your Scout Elf was watching over you yesterday, they couldn’t believe what a great view they had! That’s why they decided they needed another day to see you from this perfect vantage point.

(This one sounds a bit creepy…)

3) They wanted another day to see you do their favourite activity. Is your elf sitting in the bathroom again? That’s because they LOVED watching you brush your teeth for TWO WHOLE MINUTES. (That’s two WHOLE minutes, kids!).

Second tip: It’s time to be smart. Use the elf for leverage across the home in situations and battles with your kids you wouldn’t normally envisage winning:


“Maddie… Dave is watching you! You can’t just wear the nappies with the tigers on, that leaves at least two-thirds of the pack of Pampers UNUSED!”

(Everybody needs an Elf Dave.)

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Special duties at the North Pole

4) Santa gave Dave a very special duty at the North Pole, and he didn’t have time to create a new spot on arrival back at the house.

5) Dave’s been busy working on a surprise for you and needed more thinking time in the same spot. As you slept, Dave managed to get most of the surprise planned, but he just needs one more day to make his terrific idea come to life!

(NB: A bit elaborate this one, requires more effort from you as you then have to figure out what this fantastic surprise is…)

6) Dave’s just trying to trick you! Bet you didn’t think Dave would show up in the very same spot—that’s why they picked it: to make you do a double-take! What a joker you are, Dave!

Tricks, cookies and forgetfulness

7) Sadly, Elf Dave ate too many cookies back at the North Pole. Mrs Claus was just finishing a big batch of them when Davie arrived, and they just so happen to be his favourite treat.

He overindulged (as we all do at Christmas) and only had just enough energy to get back home, with no time to find a new spot.

Give him a Rennie and let him rest! 

8) Your Scout Elf forgot their spot from yesterday! Yep, forgetful old Dave!

With so many things to remember to tell Santa, Dave got back to home only to realise he’d forgotten which spot he’d been in the night before! Silly Dave.

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9) Dave heard somebody and had no time to pick a spot before being seen. He had to hunker down back in his original place. 

Simple - we like this one. 

10) He DID move, just slightly. You just need to take a closer look!

It may appear as though Dave is in the exact same spot, but look closely: he’s DEFINITELY sitting differently than yesterday! And he’s almost certainly looking in a different direction.

Hmmm... this one might not wash but is definitely worth having in your armoury. 


11) Somebody touched Dave, and now he’s unable to move. *Cue eye rolls*

The biggest error of them all, for elves are only magical until they’re touched by human hands. How COULD you?!

He might just have had enough magic to get back to the North Pole, but back in the house, he’s rooted to the same spot for another day, while he recharges his magic.

But don’t worry kids, a day’s rest is all your elf will need, and they’ll be right as rain the following night.

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Adopt an elf!

So now, my fellow first-timers, you know exactly what’s expected of you. Adopt your elf today!

You can also buy accessories, backdrops, and reindeers, to make your elf adventure as elaborate as you wish, but this year, I think we’ll be keeping it fairly simple….

Thanks to Your Baby Club for having me, and to you all for reading my blogs this year. Looking forward to many more in 2021.

Stay safe, stay sane, stay well and have your elf a merry little Christmas! x

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