Where To Watch 'The Elf On The Shelf' & Learn More About The Holiday Tradition

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Last year, my husband and I introduced our son to the time-honored tradition of an Elf on The Shelf. My then four-year-old named the elf Jingle Bells Heart, because what other name would suit a magical elf that comes down from the North Pole? There’s also an Elf on The Shelf holiday special that’s been airing every year which — if your kid is an elf-fan — they're sure to adore. If you’re wondering where to watch The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story, there are a few ways to catch it this holiday season. I can't promise that it will join the ranks of Rudolph and Frosty as a classic Christmas special, but 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.

The upcoming showings on TV are on Cartoon Network on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. ET, and Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET. It will also be on TBS on Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m., and that's just naming a handful of scheduled showtimes. And if you don't do the TV thing and prefer to stream your content, The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story is also on iTunes. Or, you can buy the movie on Amazon, but it’s not available on Amazon Prime streaming at this time. 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.

Elf on the Shelf Official on YouTube

The Elf on the Shelf book that comes with a plush elf 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 as he watches over children all year and his scout elves who hide in homes to watch over children and report their findings 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 nine-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 and 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.

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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 in 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 most of the showtimes as they air.

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