That Effin’ Elf on the Shelf and His Hilarious High Jinks

| December 24, 2012

If you are a parent of a young child, you are likely quite familiar with the Elf on the Shelf. If you are Facebook friends with parents of young children, you’ve no doubt been bludgeoned daily by pictures of said elf and are likely wondering what the hell it is. The Elf on the Shelf  is a self-published book that came out in 2005, written by mother and daughter team Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. Their illustrated book comes with a stuffed elf with a plastic head, and an expression that is at once genial and menacing. The body is worthless, floppy and listless, and only made for literally sitting on a shelf and leaning against something for back support. Oh, and it also curiously lacks feet.

The story is that the elf (which the child gets to name) goes back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa how the child(ren) behaved that day. When he returns at the end of each night, he appears in a different place so it becomes a game for the child to find him. Being a first time parent, I easily succumbed to the elf, not wanting to deny my son anything that would make his childhood anything less than legendary. He christened our elf “Apple” (give him a break, he was three), and we were good to go. Except that Apple soon became the bane of my existence. I would frequently forget to move him until I was drifting off to sleep at night and would have to bolt up out of bed to grudgingly move Apple to another location. Then there was the quiet frustration on busy school mornings when my son couldn’t find him. I began to really dislike the elfin effigy

The next year, for the sake of my sanity, I decided to change things up a little bit. I started to create scenarios with Apple interacting with other toys, or mimicking movie scenes. My son loved it, even if he didn’t always get the references, and it made Apple easy to find, since he was usually acting out his tableaux on our dining room table. Plus it entertained me and made sure that I wouldn’t forget to move him. Total win.

I polled my friends and family, who have so generously encouraged me, to find out what were the ten best Apple adventures of the past two years. Here’s the final cut:

1. That Naked Girl from the Motion Picture American Beauty
No Barbie doll was hurt in the making of this photo. That is a Bratz doll wig. Even wigs made for melon-headed Bratz dolls are not big enough to contain Apple’s hat and head. Level of difficulty: 3


2. Rock Band
Apple is all about Glitter Rock. He is very comfortable with his sexuality and freely borrows from Barbie’s wardrobe. Thank God for large sequined cones that he can lean against. Level of difficulty: 6


3. King Kong
Apple Kong! Fishing line is a critical component here. Level of difficulty: 5


4. Snowball Fight!
I used a ten-year-year old bottle of Equal for the snow. Gross. I threw away all of the marshmallows, and washed the figures afterwards. Pro-tip: marshmallows will stick to anything with the right amount of spit. You’re welcome. Level of difficulty: 3


5. Marilyn Monroe from the Motion Picture The Seven Year Itch
How could I not attempt such an iconic image? I fashioned the dress out of a drawstring pouch, and sewed in some floral wire at the front of the dress for that blown-up look. Floral wire became an important tool in getting the stupid elf to stand up. I was usually able to hide it under clothes, but in this case you can clearly see Apple sitting on it. The Bratz wig makes another appearance. My son thought this was supposed to be Justin Bieber. Level of difficulty: 7


6. Neil Armstrong
One small step for Apple. One giant leap for elf-kind. Thank goodness for the Barbie career clothes line. Apple wears them well. This turned out to be a bit traumatic for my son. The tape on the ceiling was not holding and Apple would fall after some time. He was on the floor in my son’s bedroom (right where he dropped) when my son woke up the next morning. One of the rules of Elf on the Shelf is that no one is supposed to touch the elf or he loses his magic. My husband had to gingerly pick him up by his helmet. I’m just glad the dog didn’t think it was one of her chew toys. Level of difficulty: 6


7. John Cusack from the Motion Picture Say Anything
That Peter Gabriel song is totally in your head right now, am I right? I had to do an online search for a Ken trench coat, and Amazon didn’t disappoint. Even better, it came with a black suit and tie which I put to use later. The bad news is that my husband intercepted the delivery and found that I had spent $15 on a Ken trench coat, and wondered aloud (and kind of stern-like) if I had a problem. Awkward. To make this floppy puddle of an elf stand, I ran floral wire up his pants and trench coat up through the sleeves. I then stuck the floral wire into a piece of foam board underneath, and placed that under some brown paper. I fashioned the boom box out of foam board as well. Level of difficulty: 7


8. Picnic in Paris
Ah, Paris. There’s really no place like it as you can plainly see. I intended to make a beret out of one of my husband’s socks, but the elf hat that’s hot-glued to Apple’s head would not abide, so I tried to go boho with it instead. G.I. Joe gazes into the distance. He sports an ensemble from Ken’s closet and is filled with self-loathing. My mother gave me a bunch of Barbie dolls, clothes and accoutrements that had belonged to my nieces. I knew that these would freak out my son, who is highly prejudiced against girls’ toys, so I started him off slowly with the baby doll. When he saw this scenario the next morning, the first thing he said was “That is not my baby! Where did that baby come from?” That amuses me more than it probably should. Level of difficulty: 4


9. Gangnam Style Goes “Elfin Style!”
This was the first Apple adventure I did after the Sandy Hook shooting.  I just wasn’t up for it, but my son was so disappointed that Apple had only moved from shelf to shelf for two nights, that I had to rally. Getting the Elf and Barbies to stand upright by hanging them from the ceiling proved to be quite challenging. Also, I had a brief self mental check-in, when I found myself binding Barbies’ wrists and hanging them from their necks. The next morning, my son demanded to know where these Barbies had come from. Level of difficulty: 9


10. Aluminum-Foiled Bathroom (also known as the Ice Cave with the Hateful Robot from the Motion Picture Logan’s Run)
There’s a special subtitle for this one: “I Won’t Get Foiled Again.” Halfway through this production, I hated myself. Taking it all down the next day, I revisited that emotion. Level of difficulty: 10


11. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis from the Motion Picture Thelma and Louise
Clearly, I have a thing for iconic movie scenes. Please note the bottom left corner of the background is missing. That’s where the boom box from “Say Anything” came from. Thelma and Louise are suspended from our chandelier. The hardest part of this was my hand cramping from all of the magic marker coloring I had to do of the Grand Canyon. Level of difficulty: 8


12. Apocalypse
Happy Doomsday, errabody! This is my personal favorite, as I felt like I was channeling Richard Hamilton and getting to poke a little fun at the crazies to boot. Please note the gun case and the zombie. Barbie’s gas mask is simply a photo printed out on my computer and taped to her face. She’s never looked better. Level of difficulty: 6

Category: Featured, Gawk

Comments (3)

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  1. amy axler says:

    I can’t believe my favorite, “Carrie” didn’t win. You’re so over-protective of your son you probably fixed the vote. Just how long do think you can keep the whole Santa Charade going?????

  2. Stephanie Wilkins says:

    Wow, you must be everyone’s favorite aunt, Amy.