Family Fun, Holidays

Things We Don’t Do & the Elf on the Shelf

If you’ve been reading a while, you might remember this post from last year about the night Asher learned the sad truth about Santa Claus.

And while that was all very bittersweet, there was a little part of me that was, of course, a little relieved to not have to keep up the act anymore. It’s just easier when all parties involved KNOW that, hello!, it’s us shopping and buying and wrapping and hiding the gifts and making all of this “magic” happen. 😉

I was also honestly a little relieved to be able to retire the friendly yet kind of annoying Elf on the Shelf. I think the whole elf thing emerged around the time Ethan was a baby. Can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure my mom bought me the “Elf package” one year…(thanks mom….) and the rest was history. Haha.

The boys did LOVE LOVE LOVE the Elf, I will say. It was such a simple thing, really- just move the elf, and in the morning, the kids would gleefully search the house to find him. What great fun! (Except for the person who had to remember to move the darn Elf from the living room to the sun room and then to the kitchen each night….and had a real knack for forgetting to do this until she was tucked in bed, about to fall asleep….).

Over the years, like everything in America, it seems, the cute little Elf tradition had to jump on crazy train, though. It morphed into this big thing, where the Elf no longer just sits on the shelf. Oh, no. The Elf now must make mischief! He’s a regular rebel rouser!

Have you seen some of those pics online? The elaborate pranks people have their “elves” do?? IT’S CRAZY.

I drew the line right then and there. NO WAY. It was all I could do to remember to move the elf. NO way was I going to stay up late setting up elaborate MESSES that the “Elf” made, that I would then later get to clean up too!

So, our elf just sat on the shelf (as he was intended to do, in the first place.)

Sometimes the boys would ask things like, “Why does our elf not get into the pantry and leave flour all over the place?” And I would just say, “Huh! I don’t know. I guess we got a very well behaved elf.”

Last year I moved him around, just “for fun”, since Asher found out about Santa right at the end of November. I felt bad stripping this little piece of magic away, too…..So I did it anyway, even though they knew it was me.

But this year, I didn’t get him out, and I didn’t even say a word about him. I was like- nah. I think I’m good on the whole elf thing. I do not feel the need to move around a stuffed toy anymore!!

It took until December 3rd before anyone even noticed. Last night Asher finally did ask, “Hey! Is the elf around this year??”

I just said, “Nope! He’s not.” 🙂 He gave me a little bit of a hard time, but I doubt he actually cares.

I pulled him out this morning, because Asher was curious where I had kept him all these years. And I will say- I felt a little guilty seeing him trapped inside this plastic box! Poor guy! He must feel so lonely in there….Sad.

This all made me think of other Christmas traditions and some things we DON’T do. I feel like we are pretty “all in” on many Christmas festivities, but then again, I guess I do also happily sit some things out.

Holiday traditions we skip:

  • making gingerbread houses! I’ve never made one in my life. The boys used to do them at a neighbor’s house every year, which was perfect. But now that they moved, they are out of luck.
  • Elaborate Elf on the Shelf tricks. (see above)
  • matching PJs! NO NO NO. We definitely do not do this, as I mentioned the other day. Not in any capacity. I don’t even make the boys match.
  • professional family holiday photos. We did this one year, in 2015. But other than that, we never get professional photos taken (in any season)! They are always very lovely when other people do, but it just seems like a big hassle. Pass.
  • traipsing into the forest to cut down our own Christmas tree. Also a lovely tradition, for those who partake. But we personally traipse into the basement, pull out the box, stick the tree up and call it good. 🙂
  • making a big holiday meal on Christmas! We actually DON’T eat a formal Christmas meal at our house! We tend to do more snacky type foods around our bar on Christmas Eve (cheese/crackers, sausage, Christmas cookies, meatballs, shrimp with sauce, etc)…plus some kind of “heavier” food, but it’s never fancy. Some years we do BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, but oftentimes we’ll do something Mexican inspired. We’ve had carnitas tacos, enchiladas, tostadas…..weird, maybe? But it works for us and I actually love it.
  • a big Christmas cookie making party. I feel like so many people I know attend full day baking events with their friends or relatives, where they make 9,428 cookies in someone’s ginormous kitchen. I’ve never, ever done that! Looks fun and all, but just not something I’ve ever done. I usually bake some cookies with the boys on a couple different occasions and that’s it.

That’s all I can think of! What did I miss? What traditions do you skip out on?

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for the little sprayer nozzle on my sink faucet. Really comes in handy!

7 thoughts on “Things We Don’t Do & the Elf on the Shelf”

  1. Oh man, we skip almost everything you mention above, too!

    A few others:
    – we mostly skip holiday parties. I’m an introvert and the thought of doing a big cookie exchange (we did this one year and I have never wanted to do it again) or a large social gathering (pre-COVID, of course) holds zero appeal. I know this is a HUGE deal to a lot of people.
    – we also mostly skip giving gifts to anyone outside of our immediate family; we gift teachers, crossing guards, the mailman etc, but I don’t send gifts to aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews or any of my siblings/siblings-in-law…but they do get photocards.
    – wrapping gifts in matching paper. The presents under our tree look like an eruption of whatever smorgasbord of wrapping paper I had exploded. There is no coordinating. There are no ribbons. Just presents wrapped relatively neatly but without any theme or particular aesthetic appeal.

    Our kids have never believed in Santa (we didn’t push it either way and they just never really caught on and have never expressed any interest in believing!), and I never got into the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. By the time my kids were old enough it was so hyped up and looked absolutely exhausting to maintain all through the Christmas season.

    I can’t imagine getting matching PJ’s or making a gingerbread house. We’ve done the cut-down-your-own-tree thing and I am NOT a fan. I much prefer picking one from a local lot and paying $5 to have it delivered.

    I actually have a blog post drafted all about this sort of thing that I’ll post soon and I’ll link back to yours!


  2. its great that you skip many of those. it’s so time consuming. we are skipping advent and the Christmas tree gifts this year as we will be leaving home on December 17. Still got some small gifts for the girls but not like previous years. they are nice to do but its so time consuming and each year the excitement goes down a bit as they get older. nowadays they prefer travels than physical gifts.


  3. I was listening to a podcast this morning about minimalist Christmas and they mentioned elf on the shelf came out in 2005! They went over how ‘new’ a lot of our holiday traditions really are in the grand scheme of things. We do not have an elf and we never will. We have an advent calendar w/ drawers and he gets m&m every day and a book to unwrap every 3 days. I usually host a cookie decorating party with my college girlfriends and their kids but haven’t the last 2 years due to covid. I make GF sugar cookies and another friend makes gingerbread men. We’ve been doing it for many years so it’s fun to look at photos over the years. We have never gone to see Santa, even before covid. I know some find the screaming kid photo funny but it’s too jarring for me to watch my kid suffer? Plus Paul is EXTRA sensitive and very shy so I just know it would go horribly so will never be worth the effort. We have an artificial tree and always will because real ones are such a mess! And expensive!

    I always feel a little grinchy around the holidays because I do so much less and buy less for our kids than the average parents – or that is how it feels when looking at the highlight reel of IG. So I am taking a little break from IG/FB so I don’t fall into the comparison trap and question what I am doing. I know we are making the right decisions for our family!


  4. Oh I loved this post! We skip all the same things with two exceptions: 1. We got matching pajamas last year, as kind of a pandemic thing, and maybe we will wear them this year? Maybe not? 2. We do make a big traditional Christmas dinner. Otherwise, NO WAY to the Elf and especially gingerbread houses!


  5. Wait…do people do matching pajamas in real life? I sort of thought that was a joke. Or for people in the 1%.

    Traditions I like: sending cards, putting up a tree, and going to see lights at a garden of some sort. Traditions I don’t like: traveling, giving gifts to people I barely know, and baking. The pandemic has been good for me to see what types of were really important to me!


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