Elf on the shelf is very marmite isn't it? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, then it's a fairly common tradition now, that seems to be picking up more popularity year after year. A little elf visits your house usually on the first of December, right the way through up until Christmas eve when he flies back to the North Pole to let Santa know whether the little ones have deserved a place on the nice list. Of course during those few weeks it's entirely up to you how you use the elf, so many just have him watching carefully, others make him get up to naughty tricks which there are plenty of inspiration on Instagram. We're an Elf household, we love it, it works fantastic and I can't see the harm in a little bit of extra Christmas magic during December. But I know that as much as we love it, there are so many out there that really don't see the point, they don't quite 'get it' or simply think it's a waste of time.

We're almost at the time of year when elves are invading households, and a little chat with a friend recently got me thinking about why I enjoy doing it so much. Sure it's a lot of hassle and by day seven I'm usually running around the house at midnight trying to set up some elaborate situation for the boys to discover in the morning, but, we do still enjoy it. So I wanted to share with you my top reasons on why we love Elf on the shelf and think it's a great idea.

1. The most obvious reason, and probably the biggest in terms of why we do it, is for the Christmas magic. I am such a big fan of Christmas as I'm sure you'll know if you read here often and anything extra we can do to build up the excitement early is a winner in my eyes. Christmas really is only one day I know, but it's also a mini season too and I like to make the most out of it, which I feel Elf on the shelf definitely encourages, so for that reason every year we welcome our Elf buddy back into our home. The boys feel that magic straight away, Noah is already talking about when he might arrive, unaware yet of the pattern in the date he makes his first appearance and I too already can't wait to see their faces when he's laying in wait for them that first December morning.

(image by the lovely Kate, who has 34 fantastic Elf on the Shelf ideas)

2. The watchful eye of Santa is always an amazing excuse to dissuade bad behaviour. I'm sure there will be people out there tutting away and thinking bribery isn't the way to go, but I don't see anything wrong with a little gentle reminder that the big guy is watching and you need to be on your best behaviour. Don't get me wrong the boys are far from bad, but there is always times when the words of Mum and Dad just aren't enough whereas the thought of a lump of coal on Christmas morning is pretty hard hitting when you're four and two. We have songs dedicated to not misbehaving 'You better watch out, you better not cry...' so I don't entirely grasp the concept of an elf being a small reminder, suddenly seeming to be a step to far as I know many people deem it to be. It's playful and it works a treat.

3. It's fun, me and John even have a good old laugh between ourselves as we're setting the Elf up each night. We vary between letting him get up to mischief, and then having simple watching days so that it's not too overwhelming and we don't set our bar too high for future years. Pinterest is an absolute hive of ideas and we both really enjoy setting it up for the boys each night. Of course, Noah absolutely adores it as talks about the things Buddy gets up to for days on end afterwards.

4. During December we like our Elf every now and then to give a few little gifts, it varies from their advent calendars to begin the month off with, little treats here and there, to crafty supplies and Christmas Pyjamas. I think it's nice for the boys to have little extras in the build up, however I don't really want to give them the impression so young that the bank of Mum and Dad is endless, firstly because it most definitely isn't and secondly I don't want them to think we're always going to be giving them gifts. Somehow, doing that through the elf feels a little more appropriate and we can give them little extras without feeling like we're going over the top or creating mini monsters in the process.

5. Finally and another really special reason is that it's become our tradition now. It's one I never did with my parents nor did John with his, so it feels really nice that we now have our own one with the boys that we've set up together. When I was growing up we'd always get to open one small present on Christmas eve, it's something we still do now at my parents and something we'll always do I think - so it feels lovely to have one that when the boys grow up they will remember too and hopefully carry on with their little ones if the have children.

I know Elf on the shelf isn't for everyone, and I can completely understand peoples reasons for not doing it, but I wanted to share just exactly why we choose to welcome little Buddy each year. I'll be sharing over on Instagram stories again this year what our elf is getting up to each day, so be sure to check me out over there if you want to have a nosy.

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