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Are Elf on the Shelf Really Alive? (the real story)

Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas tradition where a family adopts an elf from Santa. And each night, the elf supposedly flies home to the North Pole to report back to Santa. But are Elf on the Shelf really alive?

Elf on the Shelf are not actually alive. As with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and other fictional characters, Elf on the Shelf is a myth created to enthrall and entertain young children and help keep the youthful innocence alive.

Parents typically move the elf each night after the children go to sleep helping to perpetuate the myth that the elves are alive and can move on their own.

That being said, there are some children and parents alike who swear it’s not that simple and that the elves are indeed real and magical.

Read on to dive in deeper on the mystery and decide for yourself.

Elf on the Shelf standing on his own near a Christmas tree with kids looking on

Is the Elf on the Shelf actually moving?

The Elf on the Shelf isn’t actually moving on its own. It’s a holiday tradition where parents move the elf around the house to create the illusion that it’s alive and watching children to report their behavior to Santa Claus. The elf is just a doll, and it doesn’t have any magical powers to move by itself.

Every night, after the children go to bed, parents move the elf to a new spot in the house. This way, when the kids wake up, they find the elf in a different place, believing it moved on its own. The idea is to keep the magic of Christmas alive and encourage good behavior.

Sometimes, the elf is found doing funny or mischievous things, like making a mess in the kitchen or hiding in the Christmas tree. These scenarios are all set up by the parents. Kids enjoy waking up and searching for the elf’s new hiding spot, and it adds excitement to the holiday season.

While the elf itself doesn’t move, the fun part is the imagination and creativity that goes into setting up these scenes. The Elf on the Shelf tradition is meant to be a playful and magical part of the Christmas experience, even if the elf isn’t really alive or moving on its own. It relies on the parents’ efforts to create the magic for their children.

Elf on the Shelf opening a Christmas package with parents

Do parents move the Elf on the Shelf, yes or no?

Yes, parents move the Elf on the Shelf. The elf itself is just a doll and doesn’t have the ability to move on its own. The idea behind the Elf on the Shelf is to create a fun and magical experience for children during the holiday season. Every night, after the children go to bed, parents move the elf to a new spot in the house.

The next morning, kids wake up excited to find where the elf has moved. This makes it seem like the elf is alive and watching their behavior to report back to Santa Claus. The elf might be found in funny or mischievous positions, like hiding in the Christmas tree, hanging from a light fixture, or even making a mess in the kitchen. These scenarios are all created by the parents.

The purpose of moving the elf is to keep the magic and excitement of Christmas alive for the children. It also encourages good behavior, as kids believe the elf is keeping an eye on them and reporting back to Santa. The parents’ role is crucial in this tradition, as they are the ones who set up the scenes and move the elf each night.

While the elf doesn’t move by itself, the creativity and effort of the parents make the experience special and memorable for the kids. The Elf on the Shelf tradition is a playful and magical part of the holiday season, brought to life by the parents’ nightly efforts.

Does the Elf on the Shelf actually fly?

When thinking about whether the Elf on the Shelf can actually fly, it’s important to consider the role of imagination in the tradition. For children, part of the magic of Christmas and the Elf on the Shelf is believing in the extraordinary, like flying reindeer and, yes, a flying elf.

The story and the idea are that each night, while everyone is sleeping, the Elf flies back to the North Pole to report on the day’s adventures and then returns by morning to a new spot in the house.

From a practical standpoint, however, the Elf on the Shelf does not literally fly.

The Elf is a toy, a character from a book that was created to add a little extra excitement to the holiday season. Parents often move the Elf around when the kids aren’t looking, setting up the scene so that in the morning, it appears as though the Elf has moved on its own.

This creates a fun and engaging way for kids to wake up each morning in December, filled with anticipation to see where their Elf has landed.

In essence, the Elf on the Shelf flying is part of the imaginative play that surrounds Christmas. It encourages creativity and belief in magical possibilities, which are key parts of the holiday spirit for many families. For children, the belief that their Elf can fly enhances their enjoyment and belief in the magic of Christmas, keeping the tradition alive and exciting.

Father looking over a sleeping child to see Elf on the Shelf sitting under the Christmas tree

Is the Elf on the Shelf real for adults

As adults, when we talk about whether the Elf on the Shelf is real, we’re entering a different kind of conversation than the one we might have with kids. For children, the Elf is a magical creature that moves around the house, keeping an eye on behaviors and reporting back to Santa. It’s a fun part of their Christmas tradition that adds to the excitement of the holiday season.

For adults, however, we know that the Elf on the Shelf isn’t literally a living creature.

The Elf is actually a part of a Christmas tradition started by a book published in 2005, where parents place the Elf in different spots around the house every night to create a playful environment and encourage good behavior in children. The idea is that the Elf is watching and will report back to Santa who’s been naughty or nice.

In this sense, the Elf on the Shelf for adults isn’t about believing in the Elf as a real entity but about cherishing the joy and the spirit it brings into their homes during the holidays. It’s a tool for creating fun memories and teaching children about rewards, consequences, and festive cheer.

So, is the Elf on the Shelf real for adults? No, not in the literal sense. But does it bring real joy, excitement, and a sense of holiday spirit? Absolutely. In that way, the Elf is very much a part of the reality of Christmas, just through a different, more whimsical lens.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately Elf on the Shelf is a product. Created in recent times and sold and marketed to make money for the concept creators Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell.

But like the urban myths about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and others, the legend of the Elf on the Shelf gets spread and popularized. And it has become a Christmas tradition for hundreds of thousands of families.

And anything that helps spread joy and child-like innocence can’t be all bad, right?

I have a collection of free printables for Elf on the Shelf goodbye letters (5 seasonal and 2 final) you can download for FREE!

They are in Microsoft Word, that way you can personalize them with your elf’s name and also address them to your kids if you wish.

Use a cool font for your Elf on the Shelf goodbye note

Assuming you’ll write the letter on your computer and print it, I recommend using a sort of funky, hand-written looking font.

You may have some great ones, but there are a ton of free ones you can download too. Since this will be during the holiday season, you could also use some holiday-themed fonts too.

Here are my favorite free fonts for Elf on the Shelf goodbye letters

(just click to download them for free from the font website):

Like most fonts you would download online, these are zip files. Just right click to expand and then drag the folder contents into your fonts folder (that for a PC; I’m not super familiar with Mac).

Jeff Campbell