Skip to Content

Is Each Kid Supposed to Have an Elf on the Shelf?

Elf on the Shelf is a long-standing Christmas tradition where a family adopts one (or more) elves from Santa to live with them for the holiday season. But if you have more than one kid, is each kid supposed to have an elf?

While each child in a household can have their own individual Elf on the Shelf, many families do indeed choose to just adopt one elf for the family.

That makes it easier on the parents each night when deciding what to make the elves do. And it eliminates potential arguments between children if one elf or elf activity is preferred over another.

But there are other hard and fast rules that should be followed.

In this article, we’ll explore the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, how many kids have elves, and how parents with multiple elves manage to make it work.

Let’s explore!

A cozy living room decorated for Christmas with a family of four (two parents and two children) engaging in festive activities. The Elf on the Shelf i

What are the Elf on the Shelf rules?

The Elf on the Shelf tradition comes with a few simple rules to make the Christmas magic work. First, the Elf arrives at your house to watch over things and report back to Santa each night. Each morning, the Elf returns and sits in a new spot, waiting to be found by you.

One major rule is that you can’t touch the Elf. Touching the Elf might make it lose its magic, which means it won’t be able to move or go back to Santa. This is why the Elf is usually placed somewhere you can see but not easily touch.

Another rule is that the Elf doesn’t speak or move while anyone in the house is awake. It waits until everyone is asleep to make its move. This adds to the excitement because you never know where the Elf will choose to sit the next morning.

The Elf also needs a name. Giving your Elf a name is part of the fun and helps make him or her a part of your family.

Lastly, the Elf flies back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to stay with Santa for the rest of the year. This marks the end of the Elf’s visit for that holiday season.

These rules are designed to create a fun and magical experience leading up to Christmas, making each morning an exciting hunt to see where the Elf has decided to sit after returning from the North Pole.

How many kids have an Elf on the Shelf?

As of recent years, the Elf on the Shelf tradition has become increasingly popular, with millions of families participating worldwide.

Specifically, The Lumistella Company, which manages the Elf on the Shelf brand, has reported over 22.9 million Scout Elves, Elf Pets, and Elf Mates adopted globally. This figure underscores the widespread appeal and integration of this festive tradition into holiday celebrations across various cultures and communities.

The Elf on the Shelf phenomenon extends beyond just the figures themselves, encompassing a range of activities and media, including animated specials and various other branded merchandise. This widespread adoption highlights how integral the Elf on the Shelf has become to the Christmas experience for many families, providing a playful way to connect with the holiday spirit.

A festive home scene during Christmas time with a family of four (two parents and two children) at a dining table. Each child is happily interacting w

Why do some kids not have Elf on the Shelf?

Not all kids have an Elf on the Shelf, and there are several reasons why this popular holiday tradition might not be part of every household.

First, cultural differences play a significant role.

The Elf on the Shelf is primarily a Western tradition, particularly popular in the United States. Families from different cultural backgrounds may have their own unique holiday traditions that don’t include the Elf.

Economic factors also influence whether families participate in this tradition. The Elf on the Shelf comes with a cost, not just for the initial purchase but also for the accessories and the time parents need to invest in moving the elf daily. For some families, this expense and the effort aren’t feasible, especially during the holiday season, which can already be a financially demanding time.

Additionally, some parents choose not to introduce the Elf on the Shelf due to the nature of the game itself, which involves the elf watching over the children and reporting back to Santa on their behavior. Some parents disagree with this aspect as they feel it introduces a ‘surveillance’ style of teaching behavior management to children.

Lastly, lifestyle choices and personal preferences dictate whether families adopt this tradition. Some parents might not want to commit to the daily responsibility of moving the elf, or they prefer to focus on other holiday activities that they find more meaningful or enjoyable for their family.

Each family’s choice is often influenced by their values, beliefs, and circumstances, which explains why the Elf on the Shelf isn’t a universal feature in all homes during the Christmas season.

A festive home scene during Christmas time with a family of four (two parents and two children) at a dining table. The children are distinctly younger

Is it harder for parents to manage moving multiple Elf on the Shelf elves?

Managing multiple Elf on the Shelf elves certainly presents more challenges for parents than just handling one.

Each elf is supposed to have its own unique personality and position each morning, which can require a significant amount of creativity and planning. When there’s more than one elf, parents need to come up with distinct scenarios for each, ensuring they’re placed in different parts of the house to keep the magic alive for each child.

Additionally, the daily commitment increases with each added elf. Parents are responsible for remembering where each elf was the day before and then thinking of a new, engaging spot for it to appear the next day. This can be especially taxing during the busy holiday season when schedules are already packed and parents are managing numerous other holiday tasks.

The logistics of managing multiple elves can also become complex. Parents must ensure that each elf’s story and actions don’t contradict the others, maintaining a cohesive narrative that aligns with the holiday spirit and family traditions. This can turn into a significant nightly effort to keep the story exciting and fresh.

Despite these challenges, many parents find that the joy and excitement these elves bring to their children make the extra effort worthwhile. The elves can encourage creativity in children as they speculate about the elves’ nightly adventures and foster a fun, festive spirit in the home.

However, it’s important for parents to balance the workload with the enjoyment to ensure that the holiday season remains joyful and not overly stressful.

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether each child should have their own Elf on the Shelf ultimately comes down to what works best for your family. There is no hard and fast rule that dictates one elf per child is necessary. Instead, the decision can be shaped by considering your family’s size, the age differences between your children, and your capacity to maintain the tradition effectively.

If managing multiple elves feels overwhelming, remember that the spirit of the Elf on the Shelf is to foster joy and excitement about the holidays. It’s perfectly acceptable to have one elf for the family or multiple elves if it enhances the Christmas magic without adding undue stress.

Consider your children’s personalities and dynamics: some may enjoy the shared excitement of a single elf’s daily adventures, while others might appreciate a more personalized experience with their own elf.

Also, involving older children in the setup for younger siblings can be a fun activity that fosters bonding and keeps the tradition alive as they grow older and learn the secret behind the elf.

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