Simplify Christmas: Saying Goodbye To Elf On The Shelf

elf on the shelf

Several years ago a new trend came up during the holidays: Elf On The Shelf.
Many jumped on board seeing it as a fun tradition, and many took immense pleasure in setting up elaborate scenes. And now, several years later are coming to realize that this cute tradition is taking a lot more effort and they are longing to go back to a more simplified Christmas season.
The kids are looking forward to the elf coming out, and the parents are not….
So, what’s a parent to do?

If you want to keep the elf:

  • Just hiding the elf in different places can be enough. No need to create elaborate scenes.
  • If you have an older child that is not “into it,” ask them if they would like to take over the tradition.
  • Depending on what your children believe of the elf, they can take turns hiding him around the home and whoever finds him gets to hide him from the others.

If you are ready to have the elf take a departure from your home:

  • Have the elf visit one last time, explaining in a letter that he got a promotion at work or needs to be present in another family’s home.
  • Have a package of goodies delivered stating that Santa said the children have been so good, and there was no need to send the elf to your home anymore.
  • Maybe the policies at the North Pole have changed, and Santa is delivering toys to all children just because they are children and there is no need for constant supervision.

Just remember, the elf is completely imaginary and can do anything one can imagine! If the elf is no longer a source of joy, find a way to let it move on.
And don’t feel ashamed about it! The holiday season brings many more things into our lives, so many different traditions and events, it’s perfectly fine to step away from the ones that cause stress instead of joy.

Traditions are essential… in balance

Traditions are a significant part of the holidays. And the key to balance is to only follow through with the traditions that your family enjoys.
It’s easy to have an “ideal” Christmas in mind and want to do all the things that entail. But if it leaves no time to enjoy the season with your family, the entire point of traditions flies out the window.
Spend some time with your family, talking about the traditions that are important and schedule those out on the calendar.
Let go of the traditions that don’t contribute to your overall goal of a meaningful holiday. Rotate traditions that are important, but more challenging for your current season of life. Try to include something for everyone, but in the simplest way possible.
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If you need guidance to create a more intentional Christmas season, I created a 4 part course to help you do just that. Click here to learn more. 

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Crunchycon on 12/03/2018 at 12:05 pm

    It seems like there is so much more available in this era..I’m definitely in the younger end of the Baby Boomer era and grew up in a small town, so our options were much more limited. Our Christmas traditions were pretty minimal by today’s standards: A tree, a door wreath and a simple string of lights along our front porch; a trip to the “big city”to look at the department store windows and celebrate December birthdays (we have three in our family); whatever Christmas concert was going on at school and the Christmas service at our very small church. Elf on the Shelf was a simple “Santa Claus is watching”, without the elaborate explanation or staging. It seems like a small amount compared to the plethora of choices today but it was definitely enough.

    • Mickie on 11/30/2019 at 5:34 pm

      Crunchycon – I am at the older end of the Baby Boomer gen, but my traditions were pretty much the same as yours – and going to Christmas Eve services at church.

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