Every year, parents from all over take part in the time-honored tradition of Elf on The Shelf. And if your kid is an elf fan, you'll be delighted to know that you can watch The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story, a holiday special that’s been airing every year. While I can't promise it will join the ranks of Rudolph and Frosty as a classic Christmas special, it will give your little one a chance to get to know the story of the elf you spend time re-positioning every. Single. Day.
If you want to host a screening for your kids, you can check TVGuide.com to see when it will be playing on cable. But if you don't do the TV thing and prefer to stream your content, the 26-minute movie is now available on Netflix (included in the subscription) and Prime Video for $3.99. The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story is also on iTunes for $9.99. You can buy the movie on Amazon on DVD or Blu-ray. Additionally, you can watch it through TNT by signing in with your cable provider information.
Whether your family follows the Elf on the Shelf tradition or not, you and your kids can still enjoy the story of a little boy who is unsure if he still believes in Santa and the elf who helps him find his faith in the big guy again.
The Elf on the Shelf book that comes with a plush elf that tells a different story than the TV special, but the message of believing in the magic of Santa’s elves is still there. In the book, the story follows Santa Claus as he watches over children all year and his scout elves who hide in homes report their findings about the kids’ behavior back to Santa throughout the Christmas season. As an adult, the idea of an elf spying on me sounds all kinds of creepy, but kids really get into it.
The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story is about 9-year-old Taylor who isn't sure if he still believes in Santa or not. Chippey is assigned to Taylor as the elf to restore his belief in Santa. But when Taylor breaks the cardinal rule of the Elf on the Shelf and touches Chippey, he loses his magic. They then have to work together to learn (through singing and dancing) that true belief was inside of them both all along.
The book was written in 2005 and the special first aired in 2011. Since then, it’s slowly becoming another holiday tradition for families who may not even be into the physical elf aspect of it. Though I can't promise that your kid isn't going to instantly want a scout elf of their own after watching The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story.
For those who don't know, the "magic" of the elf in your home involves parents moving it to different locations every night for your child to find their elf the next morning. The idea is that the elf moved him or herself, further adding to the magic that they’ve been sent by Santa to watch over your kid. The book started with a self-published version by author Chanda Bell and her mother Carol Aebersold based on a childhood tradition.
"When we were growing up as children, Santa used to send an elf to our home. And the elf used to watch during the day and report to Santa at night," Bell told CNBC. "Once an elf receives his name, that's when it gets Christmas magic and comes to life."
That childhood tradition became the book, which eventually inspired the holiday special that’s set to air a number of times throughout December. And if your kid is anything like mine, you’ll be watching it again and again. Bonus: there are also several variations of the elf story in other movies available on Netflix like Elf Pets: Santa’s Reindeer Rescue and Elf Pets: A Fox Cub’s Christmas Tale.
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