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I've had it with these motherf@#$ing elves on these motherf@#$ing shelves!
December 7, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Elves are infesting our shelves! Originally a self-published labor of love, The Elf on the Shelf rose to fame after being photographed in the arms of actress Jennifer Garner. Five years later, it has spawned a movie, a float in the Macy's parade and a bit of a backlash.
posted by jrossi4r (65 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Your 'movie' links to a site with the url "anel f story". Like I'm going to click that at work!
posted by Think_Long at 1:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I have a bunch of vintage Elves, they do not judge you or narc on you to Santa. And if they're misbehaving on the mantle, they clean up after themselves.
posted by vespabelle at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2012


Yes, because holidays need more guilt, and children more paranoia.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a stupid idea.
posted by arnicae at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2012


did i really just pretend to give a shit about a plastic elf?
posted by slater at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


... which the children lovingly named Elfie Rojo. Rojo is the Spanish word for red. You think they’ve watched too much Dora the Explorer?

*sigh*
posted by gurple at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that like Kegel the Elf?
posted by Cash4Lead at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


They had one of these at my daughter's pre-school last Christmas, and they quickly took it down when 3 of the kids got a little freaked out.

I can't blame them. The story is super creepy.
posted by sauril at 2:06 PM on December 7, 2012


The elf on the shelf is to prepare the next generation to accept the drone in the sky. The book was written by the CIA, google chemtrails...
posted by Mick at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2012 [19 favorites]


To this childfree xmas-curmudgeon, Elf on the Shelf seems like it could be a fun idea in theory but in practice it is about a combination of:

1.) Making your children paranoid that they are living in a panopticon police state so that you can bribe good behavior out of them on the basis of even more liesmyths about the magic of Christmas.

2.) Giving parents even more to be guilty about during the holiday season because according to _someone_ they are using their Elf wrong/not enough/too much.

I feel like if I had children to love and enjoyed Christmas at all, I'd stay the eff away from this "tradition". But if you love your kids and Christmas and you have an Elf and it makes your family happy, then I am happy for you.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:09 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why on earth does the little elf figurine have to be so effing tacky?

The first time I noticed the Elf on the Shelf line, 2 or so years ago at a big local store, it was only because the soft bodied elves appeared unusually unappealing & shoddy. I remember thinking it was a really tawdry looking toy. (And I don't have particularly high standards.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, wow -- I had no idea there was a resurgence of this. Wifey and I were putting in our hours at an antique mall we have a booth at, and we had two different people come in looking for those in November, calling them exactly that, "elf on the shelf". I figured these old elves were what they were talking about, I thought it was a "Christmas like Grandma had" desire. Had I known of this, well, let's just say I'm pretty sure I have a whole freakin' crate of these in the basement somewhere, actual vintage ones from the 60s.

Looks around

Nevermind, there they all are, Wifey's using them to decorate again.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2012


I have a bunch of vintage Elves, they do not judge you or narc on you to Santa. And if they're misbehaving on the mantle, they clean up after themselves.

Do they sing while they scrub?
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:13 PM on December 7, 2012


I have *never* heard of it before this year, and now suddenly it's *every*where. Did someone go back in time and retcon this thing into existence??
posted by webmutant at 2:14 PM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


I heard about this from someone who does it with their kids.
I told them it sounded like torture.
posted by tooloudinhere at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I'm decidedly *for* is making up one's own Christmas traditions. We've got a guy called El Mapache who wears a black coat and a big red scarf while he breaks into your house, picks the lock on a lockbox and puts presents into it, just to show that he can. He kind of freaks our 2yo out, but she'll grow to love him. Oh, yes, she will.

One thing I'm decidedly *against* is this elf thing. But, hey, to each his own. My kid will grow up thinking it's sometimes OK to break into people's houses for kicks; these kids will grow up thinking their toys are watching them on behalf of a nominally benevolent but unhealthily intrusive entity. Come to think of it, my kid will be wrong and theirs will be right.
posted by gurple at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Better to just install security cameras all over the house and be done with it.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2012


I hear there's a planned sequel called "The Krampus in the Kloset"

It comes with a large child-sized burlap sack, and if your kids misbehave, you just conspicuously leave it out somewhere for them to find.

A Christmas tradition for the whole family!

I've never bothered to read up on this whole Elf on the Shelf craze until now. It sounds absolutely creepy and I would never subject anyone to it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is some sort of anti-Elf false flag propaganda from Mordor operatives, right?
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Something about this reads like the cold open to a doctor who episode.
posted by The Whelk at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


On the other hand, River Glau is set to star as an elf in a Hallmark Movie, so that's sort of plus one for elves.
posted by angrycat at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know two families with these elves... one family's mom does the cutesy things like baking a bunch of cookies and pretending the elf left the mess for her to clean up, or setting the elf up on the floor with a bunch of other toys around a board game in progress. The other family's mom makes their elf hump the angel on top of their Christmas tree.

I have no point. I just wanted to talk about elves humping angels.
posted by palomar at 2:25 PM on December 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


angry cat: I think you mean Summer Glau, the actress, who played River Tam, the character.

River Song is a whole other kettle of fish.
posted by percor at 2:26 PM on December 7, 2012


Palomar, that's what my friend does after her kid goes to bed...takes inappropriate pics of the elf humping Barbie/drinking/smoking and posts them to FB. But when the kids come down, the elf is doing something cute and has left them a sweet little note.
posted by emjaybee at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2012


As Cash4Lead implies, I cannot be upset at a product that brought us that hysterically funny episode of The League.
posted by phearlez at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2012


They creep me the hell out. But most of the parents of my daughter's friends think they are awesome. *shudder*
posted by gaspode at 2:37 PM on December 7, 2012


Humph. Just a way to teach kids today how to get away with stuff. If Santa counts on the elf reporting what he sees, then as long as you know where the elf is, you know where you have to be good and where he can't see you mis-behave. If you must whack your brother over the head, do it outside.

In my day, Santa did his own spying, thank you very much. And he was magic, so he knew everything going on everwhere -- there was no escape.

Fortunately, the only kids I have are my four legged fur babies, and cats really dont give a sh*t about Santa.
posted by pbrim at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Jewish woman created Kippah Kantor as a response....I think they're both ridiculous.
posted by brujita at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2012


My kids believe in the stupid thing, but they haven't figured out the range-of-vision loophole that pbrim describes. They're little kids.

If they're being jerks I just mention the elf and they cool it. Works for me, and that's why parents buy them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:47 PM on December 7, 2012


I think it's kind of a cool idea. You put them out for awhile, get your kids used to anthropomorphising the little dolls. Then late one night, you wake the kids, rub the elves in bacon fat and peanut butter, and drop them in the cage with the rats you've been starving for a week.

You tell them, "This is what Santa thinks of snitches."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2012 [40 favorites]


needs a servo to slowly turn the elf's head towards the child, then the eyes to flssh red ... just once, so the parents can deny it ever happened.
posted by scruss at 2:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, because holidays need more guilt, and children more paranoia.

The Wimpy Kid agrees: "Even worse, though, than Santa himself is the "Santa's Scout" doll that Mom puts out around this time of year. According to her, Santa's Scout is keeping an eye on how her kids behave. He periodically reports his "nice or naughty" findings to Santa. Santa's Scout seems to show up everywhere in Greg's house, making him uneasy. Of course, he doesn’t really believe that whole story about his reporting in, but just to be sure, he is on his best behavior around the doll."
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:00 PM on December 7, 2012


I imagine the name-alike porno version of this is called The Sylph Is A MILF.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Psshh! Everyone knows Santa spies on you from the cameras hidden in the electrical outlets.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2012


Never heard of this, but it seems very creepy. Why go with a wimpy elf when you can have Krampus the Christmas Demon, mentioned here several times before? He REALLY scares the mischief out of naughty children.
posted by mermayd at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2012


slater: "did i really just pretend to give a shit about a plastic elf?"

Apparently not.
posted by boo_radley at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a couple of friends who do this crazy, over the top, making messes and crap...and they have friends who do it...and all of the people who do it; at least to this crazy level, all seem to be fundamentalist Baptists. (Anecdotes not being data...just a correlation I've noticed.) So, maybe it's a church thing? Like everyone at church is doing it or something, I dunno. I think it's insane.

The "book" is so badly written, the elf is the misbegotten lovechild of a kewpie doll and a viagra fueled sausage casing, birthed in the bile of rapacious corporations that really, really, REALLY hate the meaning of Christmas.

I mean, what a horrible thing to teach your kids; that they are being spied on all the time; that some creature may be hiding under their beds, sneaking in and out of the house, and that Christmas, which we all know is ALL ABOUT PRESENTS, will be ruined if they look at, touch, talk to, or otherwise interact with the little spy. The instructions tell parents to tell kids that if they interact with the toy at all, then they won't get any presents for Christmas. This toy is so wrong on so many levels.
posted by dejah420 at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


someone posted a link to the "Backlash" link on my facebook list today. And then a couple posts down, someone else posted this picture, which made for a nice contrast.

(I am very glad my parents did not do anything like this; instead we had "Sam Yakaboochie", of whom I have spoken before.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


My lord that thing is horrible looking. There couldn't be anything worse .... oh, wait ... this is what Kippah Kantor looks like.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2012


Wow, I have never heard of this. From the first link it seemed like sort of a fun creative thing, but then there is a trademarked product line and branded "message Santa" line, etc? Ugh. And this is widespread now?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:33 PM on December 7, 2012


Wait until you see the Girl Elf on the Shelf skirt. This is on the back of the package:

The original Claus Couture is a dazzling ice-white, pleated skirt, sure to please the most fashion conscious female Elf on the Shelf. Beautifully embellished with holly berry red snowflakes, this skirt will make your girl elf ready for this Christmas season. Simply place the skirt where your pixie elf can see it and overnight, she will slip into it just before heading back to the North Pole for her nightly visit with Santa.
posted by BibiRose at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thing is so boring looking, nothing like the elf i grew up with in the 70s. Still creeps me out, probably from watching Poltergeist as a kid. ;)

I mean, what a horrible thing to teach your kids; that they are being spied on all the time

Might as well get them used to it, when the thing to watch out for is terrorists or whatever boogey man is in then.
posted by usagizero at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2012


I'm thinking it's a shame to limit this to just the Christmas season. I'm going to get one of them Nanny Cams and install it in a Chuckie doll.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found out my sister had one of these things and decided to free my little niece and nephew from its grip.

I babysat them in their house one day and the kids were there in the living room, playing under the watchful eye of the elfen bastard. I saw the spy on its perch and shouted with mock surprise "You've been infiltrated!", then ran to the kitchen and grabbed a meat cleaver. I rushed back and snatched the elf up, threw it to the floor and hacked it to bits in front of the shocked children. I dropped the cleaver, turned to them and said "We've got eight minutes before Santa's Christmas Commandos get here!" We ran out the door, jumped in the car, and drove around for a couple hours. I finally decided we "should check to see if Santa called off the attack by now." By the time we got back to the house, the kids had cried themselves to sleep in the back seat. I carried them to bed and wrote a little note from Santa, saying how he respected them for standing up to him for once and as a reward he would always give them presents whether they were naughty or nice. My sister hasn't called to thank me yet, but I'm pretty sure they all appreciate what I did.
posted by orme at 4:00 PM on December 7, 2012 [41 favorites]


Well, I sure as hell appreciate it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:05 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ugh. We got a free sample of this thing at work, and it creeped us out too much to review it. The way it squats in the package is way too reminiscent of the Catalan Christmas tradition of the caganer...
posted by limeonaire at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Santa brings coal to all people who refer to their SO as "The Hubs," creepy little plastic elf or no.
posted by mochapickle at 4:36 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ma Ingalls' explanation of Santa Claus in On the Banks of Plum Creek is far more appropriate.
posted by brujita at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The second hand bookstore my daughter works at (2nd and Charles) has these all over the place, for the second year in a row. I never ever heard of them till I saw them there.

People are so silly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2012


Santa brings coal to all people who refer to their SO as "The Hubs," creepy little plastic elf or no.

He shits down your chimney if you use "DH" and you’re not talking about the American League. I’m not sure about SO…seems a little borderline...
posted by bongo_x at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


If we're going to terrify our kids into being good, then we should just go all the way. That's why I'm going to be old-school and teach my kids about Schmutzli or Krampus.
posted by muddgirl at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


(That is to say, I think these sorts of traditions are charming and hilarious, but when they start to become another weapon in the Mommy Wars, I start to get turned off. No, kids, your Elf on the Shelf will not be staged in meticulously crafted scenes of naughtiness. I can barely get dinner on the table. Sorry your mommy is so shit at life.)
posted by muddgirl at 6:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


This concurrently seems like the worst kind of parental bribery and the latest in Mommy War artillery.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a new thing? Good gawd, my boyfriend's mother has one from forever ago. It's quite creepy; that plastic face alone is disturbing. Boyfriend's mother said she did this Elf on A Shelf stuff to her kids when they were young (think 1960s).

I was always quite horrified by the ratty little thing. I can't believe people (my brother's wife) spend their money and time with this. Holidays are stressful enough.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:37 PM on December 7, 2012


I have an Elf. Yesterday Morning he appeared in our kitchen rolled into a Burrito. We have named him Voldemort. My husband calls him Ole Shithead. My children who are teens know that the spying part is bullshit. For us it's all about Mom (me) and the stupid things she does with the elf. All in good fun.
posted by caroo at 8:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


As long as I can remember, two of these Elves were part of our Christmas decorations growing up. But I never knew, as a kid, that they were anything more than goofy-looking decorative dolls. They were intended to sit sedately on the stairs to the basement, but I routinely placed them so one would have his little arms clutching the end of the banister desperately trying to hold on, while the other clung to his foot as they dangled over the abyss. My mom would be annoyed and put them back to their proper poses -- I would find another absurd location and pose, etc.

My brother bought me my own Elf, in a kit including the book last Christmas. The book was the most joyless, prissy addition to Christmas I've ever read. I still appreciate the quirkiness of the dolls from childhood, but the new Elf doll...well, it's on a shelf somewhere, probably in the back closet. And there it will stay.
posted by daisystomper at 10:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


My mom invented this for us in the late 70s. We had a series of elf figurines sort of like this that she claimed were there to watch and report back to Santa. My younger brother came up with the diabolical genius master stroke of turning them around to face the wall, just in case. You never know what could happen in the course of the day and if they didn't see it, it didn't happen.
posted by Eumachia L F at 3:01 AM on December 8, 2012


I reluctantly bought one of these nightmares.

I think they are awful -- creepy, horrible message, stupid-looking. But my little daughter begged for one and I caved. And she LOVES this shitty thing -- she bounces out of bed in the morning to see where it is. We never mention the spying aspect because come on.

So now I have to remember to POSE it every night. It is torture. For ME!

It will be a lot easier after reading stories about it humping the tree angel and Barbies, though -- thanks!
posted by theredpen at 4:52 AM on December 8, 2012


It's incredibly depressing that so many people will chase any stupid old fad so long as they see a celebrity participating in it.
posted by JHarris at 5:02 AM on December 8, 2012


(I am very glad my parents did not do anything like this; instead we had "Sam Yakaboochie", of whom I have spoken before.)

I like that story! My mom always put some presents under the tree from Santa, even when we were all grownups. I do that, too. It's just fun.
posted by not that girl at 8:14 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Growing up with my grandparents, we had about half a dozen of these little elves. They were just...elves. Oma had bought them way back when she and Opa had first married (in 1951), they were just decorations, no "tradition" or any such nonsense behind them. They just hung out in various corners of the house, and I'd occasionally be silly and pose one with Opa's morning cigar and coffee, or Opa would slip one into my backpack and I'd have a giggle fit when I got to school.

I'm kind of disgusted by the idea of this "Elf on the Shelf" thing. Seriously, you need to take a cute decoration and turn it into something threaten your kids with and teach them that they're being spied on and will not have a nice Christmas if they...well, act like kids? Horrible.

Elder Monster figured out I was Santa when he was 5 or 6. He walked in on me wrapping presents and yelled "I KNEW IT! YOU'RE SANTA!", and cracked up. I asked him if he was mad, and he said no, he liked the idea of Santa. We still wrap gifts in secret and don't put them under the tree until Christmas Eve. We still make comments to the effect of "Well, if you're not a butt, maybe Santa will bring you [whatever]" to each other. Santa should never be used as a threat of punishment, that just sucks all the fun out.
posted by MissySedai at 10:05 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think about it even medium hard, the path we took as a culture to get from "festival of lights in the darkest part of winter" through "gift-giving season of family and friends" to "year-end performance review for children" says a lot about us.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:09 AM on December 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


That's an enlightened kid you've got there MissySedai! I predict great things from him.
posted by JHarris at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2012


Santa brings coal to all people who refer to their SO as "The Hubs," creepy little plastic elf or no.

He shits down your chimney if you use "DH" and you’re not talking about the American League.


And if you ARE talking about the American League and don't turn your head and spit immediately after mentioning the designated hitter (ptoie) then he shits AND pisses down it. Then lights it. Because his pee is flammable after all that brandy and cookies.
posted by phearlez at 7:36 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The latest from The Blogess.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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