The Magical History of The Elf On The Shelf

By Shelby Brunson

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The first rule of the Elf On the Shelf is that the child cannot touch it. The second is that the Elf will not move or speak while the child is awake.


The beloved elf doll comes with the book, Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. Since it was published in 2005, more than 11 million books have been sold, meaning more than 11 million elves are sitting in families’ houses around Christmas time.


Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition tells the story of a scout elf from the North Pole who watches over kids at their homes and reports back to Santa on whether they were naughty or nice. The elf moves to a new spot in the house everyday for the children to find.


The idea for the magical doll came from a family tradition in the home of Chand Bell. She grew up with an elf doll, which belonged to her mother, on the shelf. Every morning, the elf, Fisbee, would be sitting in a new spot.


In 2003, while visiting her mother, Bell spotted the elf still on the shelf and decided she wanted to construct a book about her family tradition so others could enjoy it too. Bell’s sister, Christa Pitts, and their mother, Carol Aebersold, helped her with the six month journey of crafting the story built off of their family tradition.


When the women presented their idea to publishers, it was repeatedly rejected. Because of this, they had to publish 5,000 copies themselves through credit cards and retirement funds. 5,000 copies were published and sold out of the trunk of their cars and at fairs.


The elf character began picking up momentum, and by 2012, the elf was a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


A St. Bernard Tradition and A Reindeer Tradition have sold nearly two million copies and revolve around the Elf on the Shelf pets.


In a package, the elf comes with a storybook so that children can understand the story and enjoy the magic of the Elf on the Shelf. At the heart of each story that was published, Bell hoped that the children would learn a valuable lesson. She wanted the message to be that Christmas is not just about gifts, but about families doing things together and getting closer during the holiday season.


Elf on The Shelf is not as popular in other parts of the nation as it is in the south. Maiclinn Waller, originally from Washington, quotes, “I’d never heard of the elf on the shelf till I came here. In the south, I was shocked about how big of a deal it is.”


It appears that the tradition of the Elf on the Shelf is more popular in the southern states than the northern.


Wherever the Elf goes, rest assured that it will continue to fulfill the wishes of children across the world and be in a new place every morning!


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