When to Start the Elf on the Shelf Tradition

One of the questions that I get asked the most about the Elf on the Shelf tradition is “When should we start?” So, for the first tip in my Elf on the Shelf Busy Parents Survival Guide I’ll give you some ideas on what date the Elf should make his or her first appearance of the Season.

The answer is … it’s totally up to you. Every family does it differently and here are some things to consider before the Elf makes his or her first appearance of the year.

When Does the Holiday Season Officially Start for Your Family?

When does the Christmas season officially start in your house? The day after Thanksgiving? The 1st of December? Christmas Eve? When do you get your Christmas tree? In our house, the Elf makes his first appearance the day after Thanksgiving. It has been a tradition in our house to get out the decorations and go get our live tree the day or weekend after Thanksgiving, so it made sense for the Elf to show up at the same time. (Also, the kids drive us nuts asking where the Elf is way before Thanksgiving. While their constant queries can be annoying, I love that they are so excited about a tradition! We start as early as we can.) However, you can tell the kids that the Elf doesn’t show up until the decorations go up because he can only visit a decorated house. Whatever rationale works for you or helps you remember when to start, go for it.

Key Dates Can Help You Remember
It’s easy to remember when to start this tradition if you tie the Elf’s first appearance to another key date in December. Start on December 1st when all of the advent calendars kick in. Or, a friend of mine starts her Elf on the Shelf fun on December 6th, which is St. Nicholas Day. Someone else told me they start December 13th because it is 12 days before Christmas.

What is Your Level of Enthusiasm?
I’ve had some friends say that they just can’t remember to hide the Elf or come up with a new hiding place every day for a month. It adds stress to an already stressful time of year. If that is the way you feel, start 5 or 10 nights before Christmas so the tradition doesn’t become overwhelming for you. This is why I started my Elf on Shelf Busy Parent Survival Guide series, to help give you ideas and inspiration on those crazy busy days when you just can’t think anymore.

Bottomline, there is no right or wrong answer on when to start the Elf on the Shelf tradition. Have Ziggy or Petunia or Mr. Twinkle Toes come out when you are ready for some Holiday family fun. If the kids are excited about the tradition then give them a date to look forward to. Anticipation makes it more fun!

When do you start your family’s Elf on the Shelf tradition?


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Tags: 25 Days of Christmas Family Fun

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