It's a pretty cutesy and magical thing to do with your kids. Part of the lure of Christmas time for me is the crazy imaginative stuff that goes with it.
Santa's watching? Best behaviour monitor ever. You should see my youngest get a grip and behave himself when I mention those two very magical words; 'Santa's watching.'
I have had amazing shows of kindness, empathy and love from these kids because of Christmas - they make cards for Santa 'because Santa never gets any cards, mummy, and that's not fair!', they have thought very carefully about what people would like for Christmas, and they have also had a thought for other children who might not have so much, making sure we donate to foodbanks and baby banks.
I also love the challenge of creating magic for them - it goes from the mystery of what's behind the advent calendar door, to visiting Santa in his grotto, to helping them make special decorations for the tree which become keepsakes. I really, really love it.
Elf on the Shelf has crept up in my newsfeed gradually every year, starting as a novelty thing one friend brought back from America one year, and now, suddenly, everyone is at it, my newsfeed filled with everyone's really funny and cheerful Elf on the Shelf antics.
It's the kind of thing that really grips me; the idea of making something every night for my kids to find in the morning. The perfect mix of magic and naughtiness. When I was wee, I sincerely believed that my toys had feelings and came alive at night, and I know my kids share the same healthy imagination, so I would have loved to have done it this year.
But yet again, it was just another thing that fell by the wayside as we budgeted for Christmas - an Elf on the Shelf, although awesome is a pricey piece of equipment. I just couldn't justify that amount of money for a Christmas decoration, albeit a really cool memory-making one.
Turns out though, you don't need a real Elf on the Shelf to freak your kids out. When your imagination is as wild as my boys', you can pretty much get away with magic thoughts alone.
And we have.
You can't see Jimmy. He only comes when everyone is in bed, and he is really, really naughty. Very silly indeed. He plays tricks on everyone in the middle of the night. He doesn't come every night either, only on the nights where me or Dave actually remember to do something silly. So far, Jimmy has done various naughty things.
He wrapped toilet roll around the television.
He put pants on the Christmas tree (this one in particular got a lot of laughs).
He made the Lego alarm clocks hang by their bums from the top of the television (can you see where my children's focus is first thing in the morning?)
He left a crazy mess on the table.
He took apart Ethan's carefully constructed Mr Potato Heads.
He also gets blamed when things go wrong, which is actually working wonders for Ethan and his crazy tantrums.
For example, Ethan, at the moment, has a thing about wearing gloves when we go out. Nobody else bothers, but he is very insistent. The trouble is, he never takes them both off together or leaves them both in the same place, so more often than not, one always goes astray, which leads to all kinds of morning stresses and dilemmas.
|Don't mess with the glubs!|
The other morning, he found both of his mickey mouse mittens. Brilliant - no drama!
How wrong I was.
They were a glove from each of the two sets we own; both were left handers.
'Mummy! My glubs! My glubs are not working!'
'Aw Ethan, you've got two the same, honey!'
And then, magically, without me doing a thing...
'Mummy, it must be Jimmy that did it! Jimmy swapped my glubs! Jimmy!!!'
I still can't find that dratted other glove, but Ethan is very happy to turn the other upside down and wear them anyway, because Jimmy did it.
(I bought him new glubs for Christmas, don't worry!)
I might have taken the whole thing too far though, when I downloaded an app on my phone called Santa Spy Cam. It lets you use the camera on your phone to superimpose animations of elves doing silly things, so it looks like they are in your house. I made a few up; one of Jimmy peeking out of my wardrobe and going back in, one of Jimmy driving his car along the unit and disappearing into the TV, one of Jimmy dancing on my bed with my knees on it. It looked really good.
The boys were quite amused, but admittedly, a lot more freaked out than I thought they would be.
Thomas refused to go through to the other room to get dressed without accompaniment.
Ethan kept asking if he would be going into his room, like he'd gone into mine.
It all ended with a phone call to Santa, to see what Jimmy was up to and if Santa would have a wee word with Jimmy - it's not good to drive cars in the house apparently, and especially not into TVs. He shouldn't bounce on the bed either.
Making Jimmy a 'reality' was one step too far, apparently.
Jimmy has got them some gifts as a thanks for having him. He might do something a bit daft tonight as a last hurrah before Christmas Eve.
The power of imagination is a wonderful thing.
And we didn't need an Elf on the Shelf to do it!