Now that you've spent a few weeks faithfully crafting festive displays for your family's Elf on the Shelf and tiptoeing around the house after bedtime hiding your seasonal visitor in unexpected locations, there's probably a small (not so small?) part of you that's merrily planning his departure. Except that you might not be completely sure when exactly he's supposed to hightail it back to the North Pole. Does this tradition have an annual expiration date? What to do with your elf on Christmas Day might be the number one question in your mind as the holiday approaches.
According to the official Elf on the Shelf website, Santa's helpers fly back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. And, in case your kids want to know, their return is necessary for several reasons: They're needed to help Santa answer letters, to take part in "special projects" like the building on marshmallow igloos, tend to the reindeer, hang with their friends and "pass Scout Elf Training Camp." Following that logic, one would think that the Elf's last night in your home would be December 23, but from the looks of social media, pretty much no parents at all get rid of their elf that early. Instead, most people seem to use Christmas Eve as an opportunity to give their Buddy (or Scout, or whatever you named your guy/girl) a big send-off. But...then what?
After investing so much time and energy into your Elf, simply stashing him away in a box for the next 11 months seems sort of cold — and not in the fun, frosty sense of the word. What, one minute the Elf is perched on a homemade zipline in the middle of your living room and the next he's relegated to a shelf in the closet? That doesn't seem very Christmas spirit-y to us. Yeah, he's a doll, but he's also sort of a family member. (Remember: Your kids think he's alive, sort of. Probably?)
Of course, if you feel like your real holiday present is that you get to stow that elf away until the last few weeks of 2018 — yippee! — then it's the perfect time to find a good hiding spot. Make sure you tuck them in a part of the house that is impenetrable to your little ones — the last thing you want to do is explain to the kids why the elf is tucked away with their old school projects in the middle of spring — and in a spot that you will remember. Yea, good luck with that.
The other option to ensure that your little ones won't stumble upon the elf prematurely before the following year is to get rid it from your house altogether. Send it off to grandma and grandpa's, donate it to the Salvation army, or gift it to another family if your kid is borderline too old for the elf's antics anyway.
The truth is though, official website recommendations aside, there's no reason why you absolutely have to evict your Elf after Santa's visit. It's not like the Elf police are going to come knocking on your door. Who's to say your Elf can't join your family for Christmas dinner?
Surely after all his hard work as part of Santa's worldwide surveillance team your Elf deserves to sit down for a nice meal with the people he's been spying on for weeks, right? And it's safe to say any Elf would be thrilled to help open presents (it's just a shame he can't help clean up all the crumpled wrapping paper or wash dishes). And there's no reason why the Elf has to make himself scarce after bedtime on the 25th. Have plans for a post-holiday getaway? Why not bring your Elf along? Bonus points if you're headed someplace tropical. Elves don't exactly get the chance to soak up too many rays the rest of the year.
If your kids have gotten particularly attached to your Elf and you're sensing impending heartbreak on the horizon, you might even want to consider making him a year-round addition to the family. Write up a letter from your Elf on Christmas morning explaining that he loves living at your house so much, Santa is making an exception and allowing him to stay all year (reporting back to the North Pole all the while). Who knows, maybe his presence will inspire them to be on their best behavior even during the off season! No need to keep hiding your Elf every night, but you might want to occasionally bring him out every so often to remind your kids he's around. Maybe he'll even find a hobby or two while he's on sabbatical!
After all, what's one more guest on Christmas Day? And if he stays on for even longer, there's most likely someplace for him to hang his pointy hat. Perhaps he can move into Barbie's guest room or borrow the Batmobile from time to time. This is one case where the phrase "the more, the merrier" really does apply.
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