My boys and I are having a lot of fun with Byrne the leprechaun. He showed up on March 1st, to kick off the month of all things green, and has been making mischief ever since. Our family can certainly claim some Irish ancestry on my mother’s side, and like many American households, we enjoy the festivities associated with St. Patrick’s Day regardless. Byrne is definitely bringing out our holiday spirit!
Although we also enjoy the Elf on the Shelf tradition at Christmas, and have quite the collection of elves, I find that we’re too busy at that time of year to really enjoy it. Here’s why you should consider establishing a different elf tradition and why you don’t need to follow the Elf on the Shelf rules.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the words “elf” and “he” to keep things simple, but your character can take on any shape or name that works for your family. While leprechauns work great for St. Patrick’s Day fun, you might use a heart man for Valentine’s Day, a pixie to celebrate spring, Uncle Sam for July, a leaf man for harvest, or a witch for October. Remember, you’re making the rules this go around.
I find that the most important quality for having fun with your elf is that it’s posable. The Elf on the Shelf is actually pretty floppy although there are instructions out there on how to give him added flexibility. I have an affinity for Annalee elves, and that’s where our Byrne the leprechaun came from. The Annalee elves stand on their own, have both legs and arms that bend, and are hangable upside down or right side up! Dolls with bendable parts or homemade creatures made using felt and pipe cleaners will work well too. The more positions your elf can get into, the more fun you can have.
What child wouldn’t want to wake up, or come home from school, to find that elf mischief has taken place in his house. I find the joy on my child’s face totally makes the whole experience worth it for me. Don’t pin yourself down so that the mischief has to take place at night. If you’re like me, by the time you get the kids in bed, all you want to do is veg out with a good TV show or book. Elves can work magic while the kids are at school, at a ballgame, or taking a nap just as well as overnight. We usually limit elf antics to once a day, but if I’m feeling energetic, the elf might be extra active too.
Elf pranks don’t have to be expensive. For example, elves can make use of the toys already in your house. Lego bricks, trains, cars, and all sorts of blocks can be used to either make a mess or create an interesting pattern.
Elves can also be very artistic. This Post-It note shamrock cost less than $1 and was completed in under 30 minutes. I did a Google search on pixel shamrock, but you might also look at Perler bead patterns. I envision a heart for Valentine’s Day, a flag for July, and a pumpkin for Halloween. I bet your elf can even handle multiple color designs!
Elves should have magical powers to defy gravity and fly like Superman. A little fishing line goes a long way! Zip lines, rock climbing walls, gymnastic moves, and astronaut adventures are all fair game for your elf.
We maintain the kids don’t touch elves rule at our house, and you’ll need few elf rules of your own. Elves shouldn’t get wet, become dog toys, be bent in ways they weren’t intended, etc. If your child needs to clean up an elf mess or interact with an elf prank, mom or dad should move the elf out of the way first.
Although your elf has his own personality, sometimes your elf will want to take on an alter ego. Folded character heads are a simple and easy way to do that!
My boys love to name their elves. For Byrne, we did a Google search on Irish boy names and picked one from the list. Our elves also write lots of notes. Sometimes they start up a dialog with the kids which encourages the kids to write back.
If you weren’t too keen on the whole elf idea, maybe you’ll give it some more thought now. We have an incredible amount of fun with our elves, and I feel like we’re making memories and traditions to last a lifetime. There are lots of other ideas on the web for stunts your elf can do, and I would love to see what you come up with! It’s not too late for St. Patrick’s Day either. Your elf could arrive on the 17th and stay until the end of the month. Annalee is even having a contest to design a leprechaun trap which could mark your elf’s arrival. Whatever you decide, have fun!