Elf on the Shelf: What’s the big deal about the Christmas craze?

Like other overseas events and occasions, Elf on the Shelf is becoming more of a trend in South Africa during the Christmas season – and parents around the country are loving the results!

The festive tradition is geared at children, and getting them to behave during the festive season. And the concept is simple – be on your best behaviour if you want to land on Santa’s nice list this year!

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Elf on the Shelf originated as a Christmas tradition by author and music teacher Carol Aebersold.

In 2005, the US mom penned the book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, which told the tale of a group of elves who work for Santa Claus in the North Pole. The elves visit children’s homes during the holiday season on a mission from Santa: to determine who is naughty or nice and report it back to him.

Carol penned the book for her daughter Chanda Bell as a way to spread happiness and cheer during the holiday season.

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‘The Elf on the Shelf’: How a family tradition grew to a global Christmas enterprise | Cobb Life Magazine | https://t.co/2H2qjT7029 https://t.co/SkgPBGtVx3

— Chanda A Bell (@chandabell) December 1, 2021


The actual game of Elf on the Shelf works with a small toy elf doll who makes an “appearance” between Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and Christmas Day (25 December) Every day the elf appears in a new spot in the house.

But there are a few important rules to the game: Firstly, you cannot touch the elf, or it will “lose” its magical power. Secondly, they see and hear everything. And lastly, they disappear on Christmas Eve to give a “full report” to Santa on the children’s behaviour.

According to Carol, the Christmas tradition is a “simple game of hide and seek.”

She explained in an interview with CNBC; “The elf will watch us during the day, report to Santa at night, and in the morning before kids wake up, the elf flies back from the North Pole and lands on a different spot in the house”.


If you’re still confused, remember it’s your job as a parent to move the elf each night to their new spot for your kids to find.

A few ideas to get you started on the Christmas fun…

Play on the Covid-19 theme by having your elf get vaccinated, masked up or even “go into isolation”

Set up an “elfie” with props for the perfect selfie

It’s summer in SA, so let your elf “cool down” by the pool or with a refreshing drink. He or she could also hide in the fridge/freezer!

Summers are for braais, so get your elf busy on the barbecue grill.

Stage a Zoom call for your elf and all his buddies on your PC

Get your elf to set a fun challenge for the day like finding hidden goodies around the house.

25 Elf On The Shelf Ideas… you’re welcome! pic.twitter.com/tG8e3US2md

— Gift and Graze (@giftandgraze) November 30, 2022


Elf on the Shelf dolls, accessories and even the book are available at a wide range of retailers around the country, including

Bid or Buy
Crazy Store
Checkers and many more

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