Like basically everything in parenting, Elf on the Shelf can be a blessing and, well, a curse. The cute little guy (or gal) creates instant opportunities for magical holiday memories, it’s something that doesn’t induce a sugar high in toddlers (we’re looking at you, chocolate Advent Calendars and Hanukah gelt) and most of all, kids freakin’ love it. Of course, it is a statistical fact that every single participating parent—and there are millions who have brought this tradition into their home—will forget to “help” the Elf find his new resting place while the kids are asleep. Cue the myriad questions, flurry of white lies created before proper caffeination, and general stress at a time when we really don’t need any extra. That’s where these tips come in. Here are some smart ways to make your family’s Elf on the Shelf experience as jolly as St. Nick himself!
Don’t Feel Like You Have to Do It By the Book
That’s right—if this is going to tip you over the edge of parental sanity this season, skip it altogether, or do it on your own terms. Maybe your Elf spends the week in the North Pole and your house is his weekend home…or maybe your Elf comes early in December and just wants to snuggle with his holiday buddy all month instead of moving around a ton. Note: the “wing it” approach works best if you have small toddlers who A. can’t read the book or B. compare solid notes with friends.
Keep It Super Basic
Yes, there are people who create elaborate scenarios with the Elf. Some people enjoy this. These are probably the same people who complete proper baby books, have professionally taken holiday photos and may or may not knit. Maybe that’s you, maybe it’s not—none of this plays into how “good” of a mom you are, we promise. If you’re don’t want to spend more than 30 seconds a night on this, don’t. Kids will just love the magic of him moving around, and simply existing.
Get Expert Help
The family-run brand has apps you can download, Elf clothes you can dress your visitor in, and super easy ideas for the Elf, with step by step instructions. Just like with most things in life, putting in a little time, or throwing a little money at your problem, can work wonders. For more, go to: https://www.elfontheshelf.com
Head to Social Media
Instagram and Pinterest have a ton of amazing ideas, from easy to elaborate. If you need inspiration, fast, just use hashtag #elfontheshelf and you’ll have your month filled in seconds.
Keep a Shortlist of Excuses Handy
If you end up forgetting about the elf one day (and it will happen…), you can reduce the stress by having a good excuse or two ready to go. For instance, there was a blizzard at the North Pole and the Elf got stuck there while checking in with Santa, but he’ll be back tomorrow! Pro tip: Discuss your excuses and the order in which you’ll be using them with the other parent, so you’re on the same page if questionedJ
This story originally appeared on The Local Moms Network.