The Elf on the Shelf is as much a part of Christmas as Father Christmas or fairy lights to many families in the States - and it could be about to catch on in the UK. So just what the heck is it all about?
We've grumbled and groaned our way through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with much bemoaning of 'American nonsense' wreaking retail havoc on our green and pleasant land, but the Yank invasion isn't over yet when it comes to the 'holiday season' (another American import!).
The Elf on the Shelf, for those of you remaining in blissful ignorance, is a Christmas tradition for families which arose from the children's book of the same name.
First published in 2005, the rhyming storybook tells how Santa Claus sends an elf to every home at the beginning of December, to spy on children and report back whether they have been 'naughty' or 'nice'.
Now, here's the key point: the book is sold with an accompanying puppet, so that you can recreate the book's storyline in your own home.
After you name your elf, the game begins. The number one rule is that, while kids are free to chat with their new visitor and reel off their Christmas list, no-one is to touch the elf (good idea - mass-produced puppets aren't exactly renowned for their sturdiness).
If you do touch the elf, the book warns that it will disappear forever, without making a report to Santa (parents with hearts of iron, feel free to cancel Christmas in the event that this happens).
The elf never moves during the daytime, but will change places overnight to pop up somewhere different in the morning.
And yet, it's taken the States by storm over the past few years. Parents waste valuable mince pie eating time wracking their brains thinking of creative poses for their Elf, filling vast Pinterest boards with their most creative efforts.
So, is it only a matter of time before the Elf reaches our shores? To be honest, we can't see it taking off in the UK, where parents are already chafing at the over-commercialisation of Christmas and pushing for a return to simple family fun and Christmas spirit.
Notwithstanding the advantages of being able to cut bad behaviour short simply by pointing at the all-seeing Elf and raising your eyebrows, we can't help but think this may be one Christmas gimmick too many...
What do you think?
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