What to Do When You Forget to Move your Elf on the Shelf


What? It happens! It’s the Holiday Season. There’s so much to do – gift buying, wrapping, decorating, baking, and if you’re lucky, parties. You’re tired from a long day and you forget to move the Elf. The kids are going to be crushed. Now what?

How many of you have snapped awake at 4 a.m. and had to get up to move the Elf? We’ve all been there!

Well, after doing the Elf on the Shelf Family Holiday Tradition for the past 5 years, I’ve done everything wrong you possibly can … and survived. The Elf on the Shelf hide and seek tradition is supposed to be fun after all, not stressful for Mom and Dad. But the “magic” all depends on Mom and Dad, so here are some tips and tricks to recover from “magic” malfunctions.

What to do if you forget to move the Elf:

  • Pretend the Elf was tricky and stayed in the same spot to fool them. I’ve used this excuse at least once almost every year. The kids now expect our Elf to try and trick them by not moving at least one night.
  • Say that the weather near the North Pole was so bad that he couldn’t fly so he stayed put. This works well if the weather is really bad in your area. The kids can “see” that the weather was bad. If it’s not bad by your house, blame it on the Arctic Winds in the North Pole.
  • Guess that the Elf really liked that spot and decided to try it again another night.
  • Tell your kids that you were up all night – couldn’t sleep, too much work before Holidays, sick, etc. – so the Elf couldn’t leave because not everyone was asleep. Santa can’t come if you aren’t sleeping so it should be logical that the Elf can’t fly away if someone is awake. Tell your kids you’ll try to better tonight.

What to do when you forget to move the Elf two nights in a row:

I hope this never happens to you but it did to me once. One year I forgot to move our Elf two nights in a row and my daughter was devastated. “Oh, no! Our Elf is dead!” Hardly the spirit of Christmas, right? So we figured that maybe someone had accidentally touched him and he lost his magic. Here’s how we fixed it after many tears and me being overcome with Elf guilt. Write a letter to Santa. I told my daughter to write the big Man and ask him to give our Elf his magic back. We put the letter in an envelope addressed to Santa at the North Pole and put it in the mailbox.

I then wrote myself a note and set my alarm clock at 11:00 p.m. to go off to remind me to move the Elf before going to bed. That night there was a “Christmas miracle” and the Elf moved, so my daughter was thrilled that Santa got her letter and heard her plea. It actually ended up making her even more invested in the tradition and our Elf’s welfare.

Note: While I don’t really condone lying to my kids, I do want to fill their life with magic and joy, so a little fib here and there to keep everyone smiling is OK in my book.

Any other ideas? What has worked for you when you forget to move the Elf?

You can find your own Elf on the Shelf from our affiliate Amazon.

You May Also Like:

When to Start Elf on the Shelf

8 Ways to Have More Fun with your Elf on the Shelf

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Tags: 25 Days of Christmas Family Fun

25 Comments - Leave a comment

  1. [...] What to Do When You Forget to Move your Elf on the Shelf [...]

    8 Ideas to Have More Fun with Your Elf on the Shelf | Chocolate Cake Moments
    12/8/11

  2. Love love love the article!!! Thank you for the advice!!! Merry Christmas!

    Laura
    12/11/11

  3. Love love love the article!!! Love Elf on a Shelf, and even though it has made us panic a couple of times at 6am, it is So worth it to see the boys find him.
    Thank you for the advice!!! Merry Christmas!

    Laura
    12/11/11

  4. We forgot to move our elf last night! I couldn’t come up with a believable excuse, so thank you for this post! Great ideas!!! I especially like the last one about the elf only being able to leave if everyone’s sleeping. This will work great as we have a 3 week old baby who has been keeping mommy up a bit at night! (which contributes largely to why I forgot to move the elf last nite!)

    Jesica
    12/12/11

  5. Thanks for leaving comments Laura and Jesica. I’m so glad I could help get you out of a Holiday jam. I’ve been there more times than I care to count. Happy Holidays!

    Sue Kirchner
    12/12/11

  6. Great advice!! I listed a few more on my blog, too. It’s all about sharing the wealth and helping each other out this season. Thanks!

    12 Ways to Save Your Butt When Your Elf on the Shelf Forgets to Move
    http://awhineintime.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/twelve-ways-to-save-your-butt-when-your-elf-on-the-shelf-forgets-to-move/

    Stacey
    12/13/11

  7. [...] What to Do When You Forget to Move Your Elf on the Shelf [...]

    More Fun with Your Elf on the Shelf | Chocolate Cake Moments
    12/24/11

  8. our elf was forgotten a few nights, I tell me kids he needs to be ‘reset’, so we read the book again and hope for the best.

    Lori-anne
    11/23/12

  9. Hi Lori-anne, That’s a good idea. Thanks for sharing that one. Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    11/23/12

  10. [...] the same shelf for days as elf fatigue kicked in. Don’t worry. There are websites for you, too: What to Do When You Forget to Move your Elf on the Shelf (no offense intended to http://www.chocolatecakemoments.com/, a happy and useful parenting [...]

    I’m Not A Scrooge, But That Elf on the Shelf Sounds Like a Chore | howilearned.net
    12/7/12

  11. Thank you for sharing! I woke up this morning in a panic realizing I forgot about our elf because I had a migraine last night!! Your blog was the first to pop up! Lifesaver!

    Dana
    12/8/12

  12. Thank you for sharing! I woke up this morning in a panic realizing I forgot about our elf because I had a migraine last night!! Your blog was the first to pop up! Lifesaver!
    I’m going with he liked that spot this mornin!

    Dana
    12/8/12

  13. Dana,

    I’m glad I could help! Hope your migraine is gone and have fun with your kids and the Elf. Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    12/8/12

  14. Oh bless your heart Sue! I feel like the worst parent in the world right now! My daughter is already at the stage where she was starting to question things and getting our elf this year really lifted her spirits. I hope I haven’t done too much damage. Thank you so much for this post!

    Jenny Cazares
    12/9/12

  15. Last night we forgot to move our elf! Mommy took our grandson out for a while and when he returned Grandpa had wrote a note to our grandson saying while he was waiting for us all to go to sleep he too feel asleep but since met with santa to give a great report! We put the note where the elf last was and then moved him to a new location! This is really effective if you write in your childs favorite color crayon!

    jo anne
    12/9/12

  16. Jo Anne – That is a great idea. Thank you for sharing and adding to our list. Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    12/10/12

  17. Jenny -

    I hear you about the guilt but don’t beat yourself up! It’s supposed to be fun for everyone. I find that as long as I am creative with the “excuses” we are all still having fun. Thanks for reading and I hope you have plenty of Chocolate Cake Moments with your family during the Holidays. Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    12/10/12

  18. I have just discovered the ELF. I am a first time grandma (two weeks ago) and want my grandson to have the experience. I wish I had known about it before I retired from the classroom and when my son was little.

    Having senior moments, I use post-its. A coded note that says, “help kids find elf” in the bathroom mirror would help.
    Excuse– I accidentally touched him when cleaning yesterday and messed up the magic! Sorry!
    He made such a mess the other day, and I fussed at him. Must have hurt his feelings.
    I saw the cat/dog trying to get him and I think it scared him.
    Quickly mess up another room, drawer, etc. and say he was hiding from his mess!
    For the lady who said she didn’t have time to clean up mess, just a small amount would do and let kids help!!!!

    Jennie lunsford
    12/11/12

  19. Jennie,

    I love these ideas! Happy Holidays and enjoy your first Christmas as a Grandma. Take lots of pictures.

    Sue

    Sue Kirchner
    12/13/12

  20. [...] the same shelf for days as elf fatigue kicked in. Don’t worry. There are websites for you, too: What to Do When You Forget to Move your Elf on the Shelf (no offense intended to http://www.chocolatecakemoments.com/, a happy and useful parenting [...]

    I’m Not A Scrooge, But That Elf on the Shelf Sounds Like a Chore « www.kmosullivan.com
    2/5/13

  21. OMG! I just did the worst possibel and forgot to move our elf, Buckey 2 night sin a row!! My 7 yr. old son is devastated and thinks his little brother touched him. Of course he didn’t and I don’t want my son to blame him. I was thinking of going home after work before I pick my kids up and hiding Buckey and leave a note that the weather has been soo bad that he hasn’t been able to get back to Santa for 2 nights so he left during the day while there was a break in the weather since everyone was gone. Think that will work?? I feel like the worst Mom ever!! I need to set a reminder on my phone every night that reminds me but that my son won’t know what it is…maybe “The Buck stops here” :) Any suggestions would be great!

    Lisa Young
    12/3/13

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