Christy Heins, from Illinois, US, said she had forgotten about ‘George Elf’ more times than she could count, what with cleaning up after three kids and a dog.
“I even cut it close a few times trying to sneakily move him after the kids were already awake,” she wrote on Facebook on 3 December.
“Today my pastor’s sermon was all about how advent is supposed to be a season of feeling peaceful and cute, little George wasn’t exactly falling into that category for me.”
Heins explained she didn’t use the elf as a way to improve her kids’ behaviour either, so she wasn’t worried about that.
With that in mind, she crafted a letter that would a) keep the Christmas magic alive and b) mean she wouldn’t have to do Elf On The Shelf again. She left the letter and ‘George Elf’ out for the kids to find.
“Absolutely nothing against this tradition for those who love it,” she added. “This is just a good fit for our family. I hope I’ve found a way (kind of a cheater way) to sort of keep it going, but take a little pressure off at the same time.”
George’s retirement was announced with a letter from Santa himself, explaining that ‘George Elf’ was retiring as he wanted “more than anything” to be played with like a real toy.
“He saw the excitement and happiness in your eyes each morning when you found him,” the letter read. “He wanted you to be able to touch him and play with him just like your other toys.
“He asked me if I could make this wish come true for him this Christmas and I said yes!”
The letter explained that Santa would still be keeping watch on the children.
Parents on Facebook loved having a get-out clause for when they decide to stop doing the elf tradition.
“Amazing, thank you I will be using this next year,” one person wrote.
Another commented: “That’s amazing. You are a thoughtful and wonderful mum. I think you could market this if you wanted. If not, I’m sure your idea has already helped many families.”