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Social media fuels Elf-On-The -Shelf mania

(Posted on Dec 24, 2013 at 11:53AM )
When American author Carol Abersold created a small, stuffed doll to accompany her self-published, Elf-on-the-Shelf children’s story book in 2005, Facebook was barely a year old.

Eight short years later, Elf-on-the-Shelf is an explosive holiday tradition, fueled in large part by social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

According to Abersold’s book, the red felted toy is a special scout sent from the North Pole to help Santa manage his naughty and nice list. Read: narc on the children of the family regarding both good and bad behavior.

But over time the little elves have started to dabble with their own naughty side: toilet-papering Christmas trees, gift-wrapping toilet seats shut, drawing mustaches on family portraits, making flour angels on the kitchen counter, breaking out the syrup jug for an old-fashioned gulp. Typical Elf behavior, right?

Kids, of course, love waking up to discover each and every new piece of mischief – almost as much as parents enjoy cooking it up.

Why else would mom and dad get up in the middle of the night to discreetly set up a poker hand between Elfie and the snow people decorations of the house?

No, Elf business is a full-time job not intended for the weak of heart.

With Elf mania rearing its festive head all over the internet, we asked fans of the Macomb Daily Facebook page to share their favorite stories and photos.

Here are some of the ones we received:

Tammy Gottschling of Clinton Township said she “started doing Elf-on-a-Shelf to create fun memories for her eight-year-old nephew Ryan who lives with me. Everyday the Elf is in a different spot and Ryan gets very excited. It’s like having Christmas every morning in December because of the surprise factor.

The scheme that may have received the best reaction was the toilet-papered Christmas Tree, Gottschling said.

“Ryan is always excited to see what the Elf got into the night before,” Tammy said. “And so am I. ”

At first, David Little of Royal Oak did like the Elf-on-the-Shelf concept one bit.

“I can be kinda cynical,” said Little, who thought the “scout” or “spy” concept sounded too “creepy” to expose his kids too.

But when other family members started getting in on the act his heart softened.

“I figured ‘what the heck?’ my nephews and nieces really seemed to get a kick out it.

Now he and his wife Shannon have three elves that roam the house before Christmas Eve.

“My daughter loved the time we had the Elves build a blanket fort – for her,” Little said.

Hope Comerford, also of Clinton Township, loved the Elf concept but not the look of the Elf-on-the-Shelf brand.

“I saw my friends posting pictures of their elves the last couple years on Facebook, but they looked so creepy I knew I didn’t want one at my house,” Comerford said.

Eventually she found, Elves from Catie, a brand that features a boy and girl elf -- just like Comerford’s family – with proceeds supporting pediatric cancer patients and research.

Comerford, an elementary school music teacher and food blogger, was inspired to get creative after seeing fun ideas online.

“A friend of mine was doing some pretty genius things with her elves, so it sparked a bit of competitiveness in me,” said Comerford, who’s elves have done everything from use exercise videos, to read books, to zipline around the living room.

“I come up with my ideas by just looking around the house and thinking outside the box. I try to make them do things I think will make the kids chuckle.....or us chuckle. . As we get closer to Christmas, and I start to run out of ideas, my husband starts helping, Comerford said.

Last year’s snowball fight in the living room, using mini marshmallows, was a highlight, Comerford said.

“The kids couldn’t stop laughing ... and they were shoving marshmallows in their mouths as fast as they could, fearing we would tell them ‘no!’ at 7:30 a.m. “It was pretty fantastic!

And what parent wouldn’t want to impress their friends with that Facebook photo?