Christmas traditions; ‘Elf on the Shelf’ watches over children

Bernard the elf watches over Rhett and Marsha Nisson's children from a chandiler, St. George, Utah, circa, December 2014 | Photo courtesy of Marsha Nisson, St. George News

FEATURE — It’s become a holiday tradition for many families — an elf that watches over children from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve and reports back to Santa Claus whether they are naughty or nice – this overseer is also known as “The Elf on the Shelf.”

“When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all the day’s adventures,” according to the Elf on the Shelf website.

Darius watches over the Hinds family from a stocking, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Eva Hinds, St. George News
Darius watches over the Hinds family atop a Santa Claus hat, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Eva Hinds, St. George News

The story of the elf began in 2005 and was written by authors Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell. According to “The Elf on the Shelf” story, the scout elf returns every morning to check on the family and perches in different places around the house.

One mother, Alayse Roundy, reminisced on her childhood friends having an elf when she was young.

“He would just appear on the clock above the fire place for awhile and then disappear,” she said. “I remember how excited I was to catch a glimpse of him. I want my kids to have the same feeling of seeing a little magic.”

While some families like to keep their elf subject to good behavior, others like him to be mischievous. Roundy said when her husband is home the elf is put into some troublesome situations, but spends most of the time next to the baby Jesus.

Various elf activities include leaving a movie for the children to watch the next morning, leaving a mess of packing peanuts for the children to clean up, showing up with googly eyes on pieces of fruit and on himself with a sign saying “I got my eyes on you.”

Marsha Nisson, a St. George resident and mother of three young children, said her elf, Bernard, likes to hide in sneaky places or does some fun activities. Bernard also leaves Christmas pajamas for the Nisson children each Christmas to remind them that they have to be fast asleep for the magic to happen, she said.

“Today he showed up on a hang glider getting ready to fly out tonight until next year,” Nisson said.

While some mothers enjoy their children’s excitement and reactions others say they don’t feel it helps them.

I don’t think that it’s going to help the kids’ behavior too much, because right before Christmas – instead of working on the behavior all year-round – isn’t really a good parenting technique,” Eva Hinds, a mother of two young boys, said.

Hinds said her mother had a ceramic Elf on the Shelf when she was young that she would keep out all year long and move on occasion. She would not have an elf if her sister-in-law didn’t give her one, she said.

“It does help my older nephew, because I say ‘the elf is watching’ and he straightens up,” Hinds said. “(My son) James just thinks it’s fun to find (the elf).”

Washington and Iron County locations to adopt a scout elf include:

St. George

  • Christensen’s Department Store, 761 N. Bluff St.
  • Coach House Gifts, in Red Cliffs Mall, 1750 E. Red Cliffs Drive #1202
  • Barnes & Noble Book Store, in Red Cliffs Mall, 1720 E. Red Cliffs Drive
  • Target, 275 S. River Road

Washington City

  • Bed, Bath and Beyond, Inc, 844 W. Telegraph St.


  • Buck’s Ace Hardware, 489 W. State St.

Cedar City

  • Christensen’s Department Store, 929 S. Main St.
  • Harmony Home Furnishings & Decor, 111 S. Main St.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.



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  • JR December 25, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Teaching your kids the value of a creeper spy to coerce their behavior #lazyparenting

  • Old elf lover. December 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I’m more than fifty years old. The elves were around when I was a baby. So created in 2005? Not even close. Stolen and rewritten in 2005 maybe but created in 2005, uh, NO.

  • S Steed December 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    What is the obsession with fostering distrust in the children of their own parents? When the kids find out you’ve been lying to them, do you expect them to think that’s the only thing you’ve been lying about? Whatever happened to teaching honesty and accountability? If any kids are reading this: ask your parents to grow up and stop lying to you about Santa. Sorry to be so cynical, but it feels like we have suppressed creativity except in ways we can deceive our children. It boggles my mind that people think that lying to their children will help them to be good people. If you want to teach them to be good: start by being a good example.

  • TruthSeeker December 26, 2014 at 3:10 am

    The elf on the shelf conditions kids to be spied on. Parents are manipulating their kids in in such a way that makes Hitler happy. Ruling elite and govt and corporations are now using the home to train people in this new surveillance security society. Good job dumb parents.

    • Koolaid December 26, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Isn’t that what bishops do? Or do they condition kids to spy on and report on the parents?

      • Defender December 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        Another completely asinine comment by our local kook KOOKAID. What a fool you are and your comments demonstrate that very clearly. It surmise that your comments are not simply a result of pressing submit before you think, it is actually that you simply neither think clearly nor know anything about which you post. What an idiot you are. Bishops do not spy. Bishops do not coerce children to spy. Free agency reigns and that is clearly an LDS principle. You simply show yourself the fool every time you post. So post away and leave no doubt for the rest of us.

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