Elf on the Shelf ideas: funny places to hide your Scout Elf this Christmas - and where to print a return letter

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Quarantine elf has been popular this year as parents make the most of Christmas lockdown rules

Despite the prospect of a Covid Christmas, the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon continues to snowball with ardent fans of the festive season always on the lookout for fresh ideas.

This year's inspiration sweeping across the internet has come in the form of the quarantine elf, as parents embrace the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves living in.

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Welcoming your Scout Elf into the grotto - be it a returning face or a new addition to the family - is no small feat for parents hoping to raise a smile from their kids in the run up to the big day.

The elf quarantine return letter. (Pic: elfontheshelf.com)The elf quarantine return letter. (Pic: elfontheshelf.com)
The elf quarantine return letter. (Pic: elfontheshelf.com)

But what is the Elf on the Shelf tradition, and where should you place your elf?

What is the Elf on the Shelf tradition?

Its origins stem back to 2005 when Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell released a children's picture book titled The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.

It explores the idea of how Santa Claus determines if a child has been naughty or nice by sending his Scout Elves to observe each child in their homes in the run up to Christmas.

Twin sisters Chanda Bell (L) and Christa Pitts (R) celebrate with their mother, The Elf on the Shelf co-author Carol Aebersold. (Pic: Getty)Twin sisters Chanda Bell (L) and Christa Pitts (R) celebrate with their mother, The Elf on the Shelf co-author Carol Aebersold. (Pic: Getty)
Twin sisters Chanda Bell (L) and Christa Pitts (R) celebrate with their mother, The Elf on the Shelf co-author Carol Aebersold. (Pic: Getty)

Parents and children read the book together before the elf's arrival which typically comes in late November or the first week of December.

When is Scout Elf Return Week?

The week of 24 November through to 1 December is officially Scout Elf Return Week. Some parents have taken this a step further and produced a letter announcing the elf’s arrival.

The elves return to the North Pole in the days after Christmas and leave the child a personalised letter following the conclusion of their stay.

Where can I adopt a Scout Elf?

A Scout Elf can be adopted from the official website here. You’ll receive a doll, a copy of the book, a keepsake box and an official adoption certificate.

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There is the choice of which doll to adopt - boy, girl, light tone or dark tone - depending on your preference, and the book is also available in Spanish.

Where else can I buy an Elf on the Shelf?

Scout Elves are available to buy for around £20 from retailers Smyths, Argos, Amazon and The Entertainer.

Where should I place the Elf on the Shelf?

On the book shelf - a classic. Have your Scout Elf sat observing the room between some of your child’s favourite books, or open one up and pretend they’re reading.

Sledding down the stairs - if your Scout Elf is a bit of an adrenaline junkie then get them posing on a candy cane sled on top of the bannister.

Toasting marshmallows - after all that adventure your Scout Elf could be hungry, so go ahead and get them toasting marshmallows by fake candlelight.

Bubble bath - an alternative use for the small marshmallows could be to place them in a cup or bowl and let your Scout Elf enjoy some rest and relaxation time.

Snow angel - let your Scout Elf enjoy a winter tradition of lying on the ground, sprinkled with flour or sugar, and moving their arms and legs up and down.

Train track - if your Scout Elf enjoys lying down then another setting for them could be tied to the train track around the base of your Christmas tree - a truly Western idea.

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Zip line - tie your Scout Elf to a piece of string that stretches from one high corner of the room to the base of the Christmas tree and let them enjoy the ride on a candy cane.

Playing drums - what is Christmas without music? Get your Scout Elf playing the drums on upside down empty tins, using some pipe cleaners as drumsticks.

Playing Santa - Finally, to round the festive experience off nicely, you could have your Scout Elf handing out presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

What is a quarantine elf?

Seasoned parents of the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon have used the Covid pandemic to their advantage by placing Santa’s little helpers in quarantine for 14 days.

Moving the Scout Elves around the home can be an exhausting exercise for any parent during the festive season, with time tight to fit in all the Christmas chores.

That’s why placing your Scout Elf in quarantine could tick one task off your long list of to-dos - and abide by the government’s current coronavirus travel regulations.

Pictures have popped up on social media platforms of parents designing their own ‘Elf Isolation Chambers’ for the Scout Elf to make their home after travelling from the North Pole.

Everyday objects around the home - from cookie jars to shoe boxes - have been transformed into plush pads for the family’s Scout Elf to rest up before the Christmas run-in.

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Others have gone to the extent of including hand sanitizers for their Scout Elf’s seasonal setting and making tiny masks to show children that even our festive friends have to follow protocol.

The movement has reached as far as online retailers with quarantine jars available on Amazon and Etsy, as well as eBay - as parents look to embrace the ‘Covid Christmas’.

Will Santa and his elves be working during the pandemic?

Yet the official word from Santa Claus is that your Scout Elf - like the big man in red - won’t need to quarantine.

Speaking to elfontheshelf.com, Santa said: “All Scout Elves are 100% healthy and remain well at the North Pole. They are excited to return to the human world for a season of excitement and giggles. Since Scout Elves are magical beings from the North Pole, they do not get human sicknesses and do not need to quarantine!”

The Scout Elves follow in the snow trodden footsteps of Father Christmas, who received the medical backing of one of America’s top docs, Dr Anthony Fauci.

“Santa is exempt from this [Covid] because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity,” Dr. Fauci told USA Today.