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Elf on the Shelf for Busy Lives & Low Budgets

This is our 3rd year with Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf friend, but it’s the first that my kids have really been into it. Mary is a ‘big girl’ now (and a preschooler!) and Kat is interested in everything her big sister is doing. As crazy as life is right now I really wanted to do something fun for them this holiday season.

Don't get overwhelmed with Elf on the Shelf mania. Find out how to incorporate the tradition into your Christmas without spending too much time or money

Our elf arrived on 11/24 and we’ve been having lots of fun so far. Even though I would love to go all out and crazy with marshmallow baths and Barbie convertibles every day I just don’t have it in me (for the record I will be dying the milk green). I have figured out a few tricks to make the Elf on the Shelf tradition more fun than stressful.

Don’t Forget the Elf

My number one tip is to set an alarm on your phone. I’m one of those people that can remember a conversation for 6 months ago word for word but can’t remember what day of the week it is. I have alarms on my phone for medication, payments, appointments and now my elf.

I have an alarm that pops up at 9:30 every night. 99% of the time both kids are sleeping by then and no matter how much I would like to be, I’m not. Some days I just grab the elf and hide it for my kids to find and other days I do something a little more elaborate.

Don't get overwhelmed with Elf on the Shelf mania. Find out how to incorporate the tradition into your Christmas without spending too much time or money

Give the Elf Credit

My next tip is to let the Elf take credit for things. So far my Elf has brought a second reindeer for Kat and delivered chocolate advent calendars. In the coming weeks she’ll be dropping of Christmas dresses on the day we go see Santa and the new tree topper I bought when we go cut down our tree.

Those are all things that we’re going to happen anyway but this time I let the Elf take the credit. I lost nothing and the kids get some extra holiday magic.

Can’t go Wrong with a Joke

When you’re really busy keep it extra simple. I have a stack of holiday craft paper that I rip a sheet from and scrawl a note before bed. If I don’t have anything fun planned I just write a joke from the Elf.

Jingle and I have a soft spot for dad jokes 😉

Don't get overwhelmed with Elf on the Shelf mania. Find out how to incorporate the tradition into your Christmas without spending too much time or money

Read a Story with your Elf

My final weapon is located in the basement with the canned good and 50 tubs of Christmas ornaments. Last year after Christmas I rounded up all the Christmas books and movies and hid them. Seriously you can only read “I’ve Seen Santa!” 1,245 times in one year.

If I feel the Elf has been lazy or the girls have been extra good I pull a book from the basement and leave it for them to find. I start with the shorter books that I don’t mind reading over and over.

Don't get overwhelmed with Elf on the Shelf mania. Find out how to incorporate the tradition into your Christmas without spending too much time or money

On the bright side I’ve never had less trouble getting Mary out of bed in the morning! Every morning is a stampede to the living room to see where the Elf has gone. Kat has yet to find the Elf first but shes always right behind her sissy clapping and giggling.

Don’t Lose the Elf

Our Elf and it’s pet reindeer are currently living in an Ulta bag in my underwear drawer. I can tell you that because my kids can’t read.

My kids are already asking when the Elf will be back. I don’t even want to imagine the tears there would be if our elf ready to go on Black Friday.

So my final easy Elf on the shelf tip is to put your self somewhere you can’t lose it. That probably means not putting it away with the Christmas decorations.

Do you have an Elf?

Check out my Christmas page for more ideas or start here:

Get the kids involved with the decorating this holiday season with simple contact paper ornaments (no glue or glitter required!)

six hand painted Christmas ornaments turned into holiday magnets

 

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Kristin

Tuesday 5th of December 2017

I love the idea of the elf delivering the advent calendars. We do both and this would be such a fun way to handle them!

Louise

Tuesday 5th of December 2017

I bought an elf a couple of years ago, but at the time Oscar wasn't sleeping, so we never put him to use. And I left it to late to plan anything this year! Noooo. Hopefully next year I'll remember to use him. It looks like you do an amazing job with yours, and all on a budget too :)

Louise x

Tiffany Khyla

Tuesday 5th of December 2017

This is great advice for busy parents! I wish Elf on the Shelf was big when I was younger. I wonder how creative my parents would have gotten.

Alicia

Monday 4th of December 2017

Such creative ideas, I love it. We always look for new way to set up the elf.

Lois Alter Mark

Monday 4th of December 2017

It's amazing how quickly the special things about the holiday season add up to create some of the most stressful weeks of the year! I'm glad you're finding ways to keep things light and joyful- Elf on the Shelf seems like such a fun (and easy!) way to create cheer during otherwise busy days.