What the heck is “Elf on a Shelf?” What the heck is “Elf on a Shelf?”

If you hang out on Pinterest or Facebook, you’ve probably already seen a post (or fifty) about something called “Elf on a Shelf.” If you’re wondering what the heck the Elf craze is all about, we’re here to get you up to speed on this popular holiday activity.

Elf on a Shelf started with the 2004 children’s book “The Elf on a Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. The Elf is one Santa’s helpers and according to the lore, he keeps an eye on the children of the house and reports their good and bad activities back to Santa. Each morning children find the Elf in a different spot in the house, the movement of the elf each day is what convinces kids that the elf is indeed keeping an eye on them.

Some parents have gotten incredibly creative with their elf scenarios. Each morning, kids come down to find the Elf engaged in all sorts of interesting activities. There are entire websites and hundreds of Pinterest pages devoted to setting up fun Elf scenes.

Grandparents can get in on the elf fun even if they are far from their grandchildren. You’ll need a little cooperation from your grandchildren’s parents, of course, but you could: Have a second Elf at your house and one day a week you can set up the Elf. FaceTime with your grandkids so they can follow along as you find the Elf. The next night, he returns home. Or, pick one day each week when the elf is “found” with a letter or little gift from grandma and grandpa. If you’re spending the holidays with your grandkids you can take over the last few days of setting the stage for the family Elf. I guarantee you that by then mom and dad will be tired of looking for creative ideas!

Now that you know who the Elf is, you can join in on the fun. Check Pinterest for Elf on a Shelf ideas. Be sure to follow GrandparentsGuide on Pinterest by clicking here.