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Can Elf on the Shelf Move? (Reasons & ideas for why and how)

Elf on the Shelf is a holiday tradition centered around an Elf whose magic is brought to life when a child names it. And each night they supposedly fly home to the North Pole. But can Elf on the Shelf move?

The Elf on the Shelf does not physically move on its own. Parents typically move the elf each night to create the illusion of its movement, adding to the holiday fun and keeping the tradition alive.

However, it is believed to “magically” move overnight to different locations, creating a sense of wonder and excitement for children.

As you embark on this magical journey of creating unforgettable memories for your family, it’s essential to understand the intricacies behind this beloved Christmas tradition. In this blog post, we will dive deep into the world of scout elves and their mysterious movements.

From learning how to make your elf on the shelf work its magic to understanding the official rules that govern these delightful creatures, our comprehensive guide will provide you with creative ideas and solutions for any potential hiccups along the way.

Curious about catching your elf in action? We’ll share some tips on how to catch them moving without breaking any sacred Christmas magic rules. Don’t fret if you’re left wondering why your elf didn’t stir one night – we’ve got the solutions!

So join us as we explore every aspect of whether Elf on the Shelf can move and unlock all there is to know about this enchanting tradition that has captured hearts worldwide.

Table of Contents:

How to Make Elf on the Shelf Move

Alright, let’s dive in.

Making your Elf on the Shelf move is a fun and creative way to bring joy to your family during the holiday season. This beloved shelf tradition has been around for years, and it’s no wonder why. The scout elves that come to visit are known for their mischievous ways and for bringing Christmas magic to homes all around the world.

So, how do you make it happen?

Step #1: Wait until everyone is asleep, especially those curious little ones.

Step #2: Choose a new spot for your elf that will surprise and delight your kids when they wake up the next morning. Get creative with it. Maybe your elf is hanging from the ceiling fan or sitting on top of the Christmas tree.

Step #3: Use props or create scenes with other toys for an extra touch of magic. Maybe your elf is having a tea party with Barbie or playing a game of cards with Woody and Buzz.

Short on ideas?

In a recent article, I have compiled DOZENS of simple, fun, and mischievous Elf on the Shelf ideas you can implement nightly that won’t take a ton of time, or energy, or require you to buy things you don’t already have on hand.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

TIP: To avoid touching the elf directly and risking its magical powers, use kitchen tongs or wear gloves while moving it.

With these simple steps, you can keep the ideas fresh and exciting for your family all season long. And who knows, maybe your elf will surprise you one day and fly back to the North Pole for a quick visit with Santa before returning to your home. Happy elfing.

The Official Rules of Elf on the Shelf

Alright, let’s dive into some elf business.

To ensure a fun and magical experience with your Elf on the Shelf , it’s important to understand and follow the rules from the official Elf on the Shelf website.

So, here are the official Elf on the Shelf rules:

  1. No touching: Remind your kids not to touch their scout elf. Your elf is “real” and it may lose its magic powers from the North Pole.
  2. Moving every night: Your little elf will move to a different spot each night after reporting back to Santa about who made the nice list that day. But they do report not only on best behavior but also bad behavior.
  3. Talking is optional: Elves usually don’t talk but can listen well; however, you can decide if your family’s elf has speaking abilities or not.
  4. A name is essential: Give your Elf on the Shelf a unique name so that it receives its Christmas magic and becomes part of your family tradition. It’s the naming that turns it from a toy into a magic elf.
  5. Farewell until next year: Your elf will return to Santa Claus at the North Pole on Christmas Eve night to rest up for another holiday season.

By following these simple guidelines, you’ll create an unforgettable Christmas tradition with lots of laughter and memories in store. Now go ahead and have some festive fun with your cleverly positioned elves.

Wondering what the right age is to start or stop this tradition?

Well, the official rules say one thing, but as a parent of three, I have a different opinion. So in a recent article, I break down the very best ages to both start and stop the Elf on the Shelf tradition, including the 1 thing I guarantee you should NOT do.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How to Catch Elf on the Shelf Moving

As a parent, you know how exciting it is to see the look of wonder on your child’s face during the holiday season. One way to add to that magic is by participating in the popular Elf on the Shelf tradition.

But have you ever wondered if your elf is really moving around at night? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents have asked the same question. In fact, some cynical parents have even called the Elf on the Shelf tradition evil!

So, can Elf on the Shelf move? The answer is yes. Scout elves are known for their ability to fly back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa. When they return, they often move to a new spot in the house to continue their shelf work.

If you want to catch your elf in action, here are a few tips:

  • Tip #1: Set up a surveillance camera, like a smartphone or tablet, in the room where your elf is located. Make sure it’s hidden well.
  • Tip #2: Be patient. Elves usually move when everyone is asleep, so try staying up late or waking up extra early to catch them off guard.
  • Tip #3: Create an enticing environment by placing treats or small toys near their current spot as bait for their next move.

Remember, catching your elf in the act can be a thrilling experience for both you and your kids. However, it’s important to keep the magic alive by not spoiling the tradition for younger children who still believe wholeheartedly in Christmas magic.

Why Didn’t My Elf on the Shelf Move?

Every morning during the Christmas season, children eagerly search for their elf’s new spot. But sometimes, they might find their little scout hasn’t moved at all. Don’t worry; there are a few possible explanations for this.

Bad Weather Conditions

Sometimes, bad weather can prevent your elf from making its nightly trip to the North Pole and back. This can be due to heavy snowfall or even a severe storm. So, if your elf hasn’t moved, it’s possible that the weather conditions were too harsh for it to fly back.

Elf Needs a Little Help

If you accidentally touched your elf, it could lose its magic temporarily. To help restore its magic powers, sprinkle a little cinnamon next to it before bedtime – elves love cinnamon. This will help your elf regain its strength and continue its shelf work.

Creative Solutions When Your Elf Doesn’t Move

  • A note: Leave a note from your elf explaining why it couldn’t move. This can be a fun way to keep the Christmas magic alive and explain the situation to your child.
  • Kitchen tongs: Use kitchen tongs to carefully move your elf to a new spot. Just be sure to avoid touching it with your hands.

Remember: Elves Are Unique.

Every elf is unique, and they all have their own personalities and ideas. So, if your elf doesn’t move one night, don’t worry. It’s all part of the shelf tradition, and there are plenty of other shelf ideas you can try. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the Christmas magic with your family.


Does the Elf on the Shelf Really Move or is it Your Parents?

The Elf on the Shelf doesn’t actually move by itself. Parents are responsible for moving and posing the elf each night to create a fun and magical experience for their children during the holiday season.

Why Can’t Elf on the Shelf Move?

The Elf on the Shelf is a toy, and the elf’s hands are sewn together so it cannot physically move by itself. It relies on parents to reposition it every night while kids sleep, simulating its movement from reporting back to Santa Claus at the North Pole.

What Happens if Your Elf on the Shelf Doesn’t Move and You Didn’t Touch It?

If an Elf on the Shelf hasn’t moved, there could be several reasons: perhaps parents forgot or were too busy that day. To maintain belief in magic, they might explain that sometimes elves take breaks or stay put due to weather conditions affecting their trip back from the North Pole.


In conclusion, Elf on the Shelf can move if you follow the official rules and get creative with your ideas.

There are many ways to make your elf appear as though it has come alive, from using fishing line to setting up a zip line. However, if your elf didn’t move, don’t worry – there could be several reasons why.

Remember that Elf on the Shelf is meant to bring joy and excitement during the holiday season for children and adults alike. So have fun with it and enjoy this magical tradition!

I have a collection of free printable 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 it 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’s 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).

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

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Jeff Campbell