Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Take the Elf off the Shelf

We are eleven days from Christmas, and if you’re like many of our sad, pathetic Ask Smidge readers, you’ve been moving a little toy elf named Pumpernickel or Frostbite around the house for at least fourteen damn days now.

Perhaps you were even foolish enough to get a pair of them, and you’re forced to come up with wacky elf pair ideas each night.

Or perhaps, you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf yet, but you’re kids have been bugging you and you’re contemplating the idea.

Maybe you’ve dodged multiple bullets and have no idea what an Elf on the Shelf is or what I’m even talking about.

Well, have no fear! Our inbox has been overflowing with Elf on the Shelf-related questions, and as always, we have all your answers.





We’ve held off getting an Elf on the Shelf ever since our kids were born, but now our oldest is in kindergarten and hears about the other kids’ elves all the time. Should we cave in and get one?

Undecided in Union City


Dear Undecided,

Each family needs to weigh the pros and cons of these types of holiday tradition decisions for themselves, because each family is special and unique, but there is no way in hell you should ever get an Elf on the Shelf. Never, under any circumstances. It’s like twenty-five-plus days of having to remember the tooth fairy, but much more annoying and involved. Move your children to a new school or move your family to a new town if you need to.





I’ve heard the term “Elf on the Shelf” before, but I must confess, I don’t know what it is. Can you explain?

Lost in London


Dear Lost,

We’re not 100% sure if it was intended to be a harmless children’s book before it became a gigantic commercial time and money suck, or if it was diabolically planned from the beginning to invade every home in the free world and ruin Christmas, but that is essentially what it is. Hope that helps.  





My husband and I are running out of ideas for what to do with Popcorn, our Elf on the Damned Shelf. He’s already pulled every toilet paper and kitchen cooking prank we could think of, and quite frankly, we’re getting tired of cleaning up his messes. Besides, inflation is killing our family budget. We can’t afford to be wasting toilet paper and food anymore. My husband has searched for new lower-cost, lower-mess ideas on the internet, but none of them are exactly appropriate for children. Please help.

Empty in El Segundo


Dear Empty,

My advice would be to have Popcorn leave a nice note with a candy cane for each kid stating that Santa needed him back at the North Pole permanently due to a horrific industrial accident with the machine that clamps both sides of the Etch a Sketches together, and the resulting multiple-elf shortage on the assembly line. Viola’! No more Elf on the Shelf to deal with, and the kids are happy because they received a plausible explanation and a candy cane.





Our eight-year-old son was on TikTok and saw a compilation video of some less-than-appropriate Elf on the Shelf scenarios, including an Elf passed out with a Barbie doll and surrounded by empty beer cans, and an Elf “refilling” the See’s candy sampler, if you get my drift. What should we do?

Blindsided in Buffalo


Dear Blindsided,

Just explain to your son the unfortunate truth that some elves aren’t as good and wholesome as other elves. You can let him know that it’s not their fault. Their elf parents probably just let them indiscriminately surf the internet on apps like TikTok when they were eight years old, and that’s why they ended up bad. Cheers!





I have completely blown it. We had so much going on this weekend with family coming into town and crazy holiday shopping emergencies, etc., that I forgot to move Cupcake for three days! Our little girl never said anything to me, but I found her this morning looking up at the hanging light fixture over our dining room table crying. Cupcake has been hanging upside down from one of the lights since Thursday morning, and my daughter wanted to know if she was OK. What should I tell her? Please help!

Heartbroken in Hoboken


Dear Heartbroken,

No problem. Just let your daughter know that sometimes when little boys and girls don’t live up to their potential and disappoint their parents, their elves refuse to move. That’s a two-fer! You’re off the hook for accidentally neglecting your Elf duties, and your daughter will surely be trying a little harder in all her endeavors. You’re welcome.




Well, there you have it, folks. All your vital Elf on the Shelf questions answered and all your crises averted. You’re welcome.

Have a fabulous (and hopefully Elf-free) Christmas!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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