The Elf On The Shelf is a novelty Christmas toy used to encourage good behavior in children. Traditionally introduced at the beginning of the holiday season, the elf reports back to The North Pole nightly, informing Santa Claus of any naughty behavior witnessed. Each morning, the elf returns and "lands" on a different shelf in the home. If you'd like to take a creative approach with your elf, you have many different options for arrival, departure and everything in between.
Arrival from the North Pole
If you have young children in your home, place the elf in an obvious spot. Seat him in a chair at the breakfast table, or lay him on your child's pillow just before morning -- especially for the initial arrival and for children who are not expecting the elf. For older children, make the elf less visible. Searching for the elf is part of the fun, so consider a hiding spot that shows a small part of him. Hide several progressive clues as to his whereabouts throughout the house that lead the children to his location.
Since your elf will undoubtedly become a member of the family, include his name and some background information in a letter to your children. Tuck the letter under his arm on the first morning, and let the children read it aloud or, if necessary, read it to them. The letter should stress the importance of good behavior and offer details about the elf's life back home in the North Pole. For an added thrill, include Santa Claus' signature at the bottom of the letter. Type the letter using a decorative font and print using holiday craft paper, available at most craft stores.
While the family is asleep, the elf will likely get into some mischief. The children will enjoy searching the house for any evidence in the morning. Spilled sugar, cookie crumbs and scattered toys in the family room are all mischievous clues. The elf might also hide small trinkets in pants pockets and shoes for children who have exhibited good behavior.
Departure to the North Pole
On Christmas Eve, the elf will need to return home to the North Pole. To eliminate the sadness of this event, let your children focus on the necessary preparations. Ask your children to write a letter to Santa, detailing all the fun they had and thanking him for sending the elf. Have them ask Santa to let the elf return for the following Christmas season. Let the children place the elf inside a Christmas stocking or near the plate of cookies so Santa can easily find him and take him home.