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Am I a Grinch for hating Elf on the Shelf?

Hi everyone. I want your Elf on the Shelf opinions!

When I first heard about Elf on the Shelf I didn’t realize it was a mass marketed new tradition. I do understand that it seemed to be a thing in some households before the identical mass produced ones sprung onto the market several years ago but my only experience with it has been the one that is flooding everyone’s Facebook feeds.

The idea of it didn’t bother me too much. I thought it was a cute thing where it would change location overnight and the kids would have to find it through out the day and MAYBE get a piece of candy or something. A fun little advent activity. But like so many things, sheer overexposure and how over the top people became with it have really soured me on the concept.


I’m sure there are some people doing it with their kids with moderation and common sense. My primary exposure to it has been watching my future in-laws do it with PiranhaGuy’s half sister, so my Elf on the Shelf feelings are all wrapped up with other issues. There is a significant age difference between PiranhaGuy and his half-sister; we’re in our late 20's, she is in the middle of elementary school. Half-sister is having a vastly different childhood experience than PiranhaGuy. I understand that 1.) Parenting styles/expectations change over time. 2.) When you have more money you’re going to be able to provide more. That being said FMIL is absolutely ridiculous with Elf on the Shelf. Not only does it exceed advent (it makes it’s first appearance on Thanksgiving) it is not a fun little advent activity, it is basically mini-Santa.

FMIL posts every single day of Elf on the Shelf activity on Facebook (I know I can choose to not look at it, but I’m a miserable dead inside person who likes to complain). Some days the elves (because there are 2) bring something small, like hot chocolate or a seasonal activity that they already had like a puzzle, but more often than not they bring something I feel could have been reserved for actual Christmas. For example, last year it brought one of those indoor teepee/tent things that were popular. I wasn’t super familiar with them so I looked it up. $90. $90 for what should be an advent gift. Even if it brings something small there will be like 4 of them so something that was $5 ends up being a $20 day. I tallied it up and they spend more on Half-Sister’s advent activities than they did on PiranhaGuy’s actual gift.

I also think it’s weird that Half-Sister is coming up on tween ages and doesn’t seem to question the validity of Santa at all, which I’m sure is in part due to the crazy elf antics FMIL puts on. Half-sister writes to them and asks them to come to her birthday parties. They also come for the Tooth Fairy. I hate Elf on the Shelf and I dread the day his FMIL tries to give us one as an “heirloom” or just buy us one when we have kids. Also, so much of it seems like performative parenting. Like “Look at how great of a parent I am?” I’d say at least half of it is to show up other parents.

My cousin’s kid also had a full on meltdown because her classmates have Elf on the Shelf and she didn’t. Like “Why does Santa hate us?!” freak out.


I hate it.

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