(PCM) It’s that time of year again when the beloved elf emerges from his hiding place and pops up in the homes of people all over the world in various places. More of these fairies will do anything but sit on a shelf. What started as a game for kids to teach them the difference between naughty and nice has grown into a pop culture phenomenon that has attracted many adults for fun and shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Elf On The Shelf was launched in 2005, and in case you don’t know what’s behind it, I’ll tell you what’s on the official Elf On The Shelf website:

Elf on the Shelf® is a special spy sent to Santa from the North Pole to help him keep track of his lists of naughty and nice people. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf gets its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole every night to tell Santa about all the day’s adventures. Every morning the elf returns to his family and rushes to a different place to see what is happening. Children love to wake up every morning and run around the house looking for their elf.

There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to fairies. First, the elf cannot be touched; the magic of Christmas is very fragile, and if touched, the elf could lose this magic and not return to the North Pole. Second, an elf can’t talk or move if someone in the house is awake! The job of an elf is to watch and listen.

While most families with young children stick to the original purpose of Elf on the Shelf, others have certainly taken a grain of salt and come up with their own elf games. They’ve even created a parody book called Elf off the Shelf, which is reserved for adults and tells the story of Horace the Elf, who deviates from his Christmas obligations and likes to get up to a little mischief.

Speaking of parody, people have also started putting the leprechaun in some very interesting situations that play with a different aspect of pop culture. This includes an elf shower on Santa, auditions for The Voice, a night to meet Barbie, a Harry Potter in disguise, and more!  You can check out our list of the 33 best Buzzfeed On The Shelf ideas here!

Newfoundland even used an elf in a PSA against drunk driving that has since gone viral, in which the elf gets out, gets drunk, gets behind the wheel of a pink toy car, then pulls over, fails a breathalyzer test, and finally starts wearing a helmet. Some critics of the campaign have expressed concern that the PSA could influence children’s prejudices about the set eleven and take away their innocence. However, supporters of APS argue that it is an excellent deterrent, showing the consequences of drink-driving if one does not obey.

The folks at Robinwood Photography also took a series of fun photos with their Elf on the Shelf, named Elfward, who causes a lot of trouble while the kids are away or sleeping, like reacting to Friday the 13th movies, jumping in the jacuzzi with Barbie, and playing the dating game!   The results are hilarious, but definitely for adults only…. the site has a tame section for the more uplifting adventures of Elfward.

Other people think the elf is just plain scary, and some psychologists claim it can be more harmful than helpful to children. They say it is the parents who should decide as the authority in the home, not the elf or Santa Claus. It can also keep parents who are already stressed during the holiday season busy, all the more so because they have to remember to take the elf to a new hiding place every day. If they forget that, the result for the children can be devastating and negate the entire purpose of the elf.

We want to hear from you!  Do you have a leprechaun on your shelf at home?  Do you have any funny stories to tell? Do you find an elf scary or innocently funny?

frequently asked questions

The Elf on the Shelf tradition began in 2005 when Carol Ebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell self-published Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas tradition, accompanied by a special box with a little elf inside.

What’s so special about the leprechaun on the shelf?

Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas tradition where a special scout from the North Pole is sent to your home to encourage children to behave. Santa’s helper is supposed to watch the children during the day and return to the North Pole every night to report whether they’ve been naughty or nice.

What are the different types of elves on the board?

15 spin-offs of Elf on the shelf.

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