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Elf on the Shelf – Lazy magical tips

Festive spirit is starting to weave its magic and infect everyone and everything in its path.  Shock at the fact that is is nearly December shows on faces as they mentally calculate how many shopping days left.  Black Friday saw hordes of unnecessary, panic purchases made that at least didn’t weigh as heavily on bank balances as another day.

December is making her way around the corner, I can hear her plodding along cheerily, humming away. And she sounds to me like an elf.  I think perhaps December 1st is almost as revered in my house as the 25th. The elf makes her grand annual entrance that morning and will proceed to enthral the children and haunt the adults until Santa himself spirits her away with him.

The elf of the shelf seems like such a magical tradition to welcome.  Santa lets loose an army of scout elves to take up residence in homes all over the world and report back to North Pole HQ on the high-jinx of the children they spy on.  It serves as a cautionary measure to encourage good behaviour but more so as a fun game of “find the elf” each morning.

So as I enter my third year of welcoming the little sprite into our home, I have a few helpful suggestions to other elf-hosts.

  1. If you don’t already have an elf, don’t get one.  Simple as that.  You can thank me later.
  2. If you do already have one, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure the little bugger is stashed safely somewhere you will clearly remember when November 30th rolls around.  Otherwise there will be a panicked phase where you realise you have no idea where to find it, with D-Day quickly approaching.  Putting it with the Christmas decorations in the attic is a sound choice; making sure it is at the very top of the storage box is even better.
  3. Have a lazy elf.  Nobody wants an over-achiever showing off.  If the kids become used to elaborate set ups every morning, you will only have to keep working harder.  Stick him on a different shelf each day.  Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  4. Set a reminder in your phone to make sure you move the pest each night before you go to bed.  Having to drag yourself from a warm bed when you’re half asleep to move a stuffed toy is far from fun.
  5. In my house the elf is under strict instructions to remain downstairs.  This has a two fold benefit – it means I don’t run the risk of the kids waking as I try to perch the damn thing in their bedrooms, and also that they have no expectation of it being found in their room.
  6. While I do regret every starting the elf on the shelf tradition, it’s not all hassle.  I find it’s hard enough to get the kids out of bed on a December morning ordinarily, but the “where will the elf be today?” question has them jumping out without the usual drama.
  7. There are loads of inventive Pinterest type articles which will give ideas of what to do with your elf.  Every year I marvel at them and the time and talent some parents have to put into this.  Don’t dwell too long on these posts, find yourself a “Simple elf on the shelf ideas” post and bookmark it.  If you find one of those calendars which tells you where to move him/her each night to take away any head-scratching, bingo!
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Away with the fairies.

Before you condemn me as an opponent to imagination and creative play, let me stop you in your indignant tracks.  I’m all for fairies and am not about to banish them from my house, but I do fear that I opened my arms too widely when I invited the magical beings into our home.  I should have laid down a few ground rules before just letting them take up residence willy-nilly.

Our resident fairy is called Twinkle Fairy Night and she arrived into our home ceremoniously via a fairy door from the Irish Fairy Door Company.  I don’t think a small painted piece of wood has ever inspired such greatness before.  I have gifted these doors to a few children and I hope each time a fairy found their forever home.

Life with a fairy can be wonderful, the conversations and games which come from this set up is beautiful.  We discovered shortly after Twinkle moved in that her cousin, Tallulah Flower Belle, is the local tooth fairy!  Letters to Santa can also be sent to the North Pole by fairy post.

All this fairy dust is intoxicating, but very quickly your new house-mate can give you a headache.

The fairy and humans can sign a lease agreement which was provided with the door, which is very sweet and entertaining.  However, if you are taking on a magical lodger I would recommend you tag a few extra terms and conditions to the end of that bad boy.  In my experience it is best to get some matters resolved in advance, and save you from magical mayhem.  Nobody wants fairies running riot in their home.

  1.  Clearly defined visitation schedule – put it in writing that the fairy can only visit on certain days and those days only.  It does no good for weary adults to discover that unbeknownst to them the child left a note out for fairy which the fairy never came to collect.  Nobody likes tears first thing in the morning before they even get a sniff of coffee.  To prevent this, make sure the child and fairy are clear on the days notes and gifts can be exchanged.
  2. A deposit box – in order to ensure that no notes or gifts are missed, have your child create a little box to leave them in.  This can be decorated to their hearts content.  This is closely related to point 1, and means that when you think that that scrap of paper lying there is just rubbish your error is quickly corrected.  If it’s in the little box, it’s for the fairy.
  3. Weight limits – a fairy can only carry so much at a time.  It is not reasonable for a little fairy to be expected to collect 3 notes, a pair of barbie shoes, a conker, paper flower and sticky jewel all in one visit.  And if by some feat of strength that little fairy manages to carry it all, there can be no expectation that she returns something that same day.
  4. Tit for tat – follows point 3, you don’t just give to receive.  A good life lesson!  This means no whining because the fairy hasn’t left anything for your enthusiastic fairy fan despite all the junk gifts they left out for their winged pal.
  5. Parental approval – fairies don’t have space for an awful lot in their little fairy homes.  Parents have a good understanding of what a fairy family can or cannot cope with.  Therefore, final approval must be sought before the brand new toy that Nana bought is left out to be taken away with the fairies.  The same goes for objects the child is trying to get rid of – homework, uneaten vegetables and so on.

I know it’s only April now, and Christmas is a long way away yet.  But a word of warning – one regular fairy is enough to keep a family busy.  Stand firm and resist the lure of Elf on the Shelf when December rolls around.  Ben and Holly might show fairies and elves living in harmony but in my house it was a disaster.  Take it from me.  Nobody has time for that much magic.

This post first appeared on the lovely M Word site.

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The Giant Bunny in the corner…

I am a self-confessed chocolate addict, I have stashes of chocolate hidden everywhere for emergency purposes.  You just never know when or where the need for a Toffee Crisp will strike so I find it prudent to make sure there is always one on hand.  I am a hoarder of all things chocolate.  We moved home last year, and the confectionery hauls that were discovered were impressive, even I had forgotten what was where!  From memory I believe that approximately 6 Easter Eggs from last year were located (I have to hide them from my daughter’s line of sight and ration them out, of course like any good mother I help protect her from herself and do my duty and eat a couple), I must start keeping an inventory.

Easter bunny2

So it’s fair to say I’m on board with Easter.  What’s not to like?  Chocolate abounds and it is socially acceptable to enjoy it in more than moderate quantities.  I am also very partial to the occassional Cadbury’s Creme Egg and the seasonal availability of these stresses me, so I always have a couple stored with the “For emergencies only” supplies all year round.

Clearly that’s a thumbs up for Easter eggs from me, but there is an elephant in the room.  Or rather a giant bunny.  It appears my 5 year old really does think a giant bunny hops around leaving little chocolate eggs all over the place for her to find.  I am not quite sure how this belief has crept in and am unsure what to do with it.  I usually encourage any magical thoughts as childhood is fleeting and the joy is so pure.  But the Easter Bunny was not part of my childhood, or anyone else’s in Ireland from a quick straw poll.  We all knew the American’s had him bouncing about the place, but we were content that he stay that side of the Atlantic.  It wasn’t like we didn’t get any chocolate without him.

Easter bunny1

But somehow his enormous furry presence is now casting its shadow over our emerald isle.  I blame our parental delight in creating little egg hunts so we can watch welly-booted toddlers clamour around damp gardens on Easter Sunday with baskets…. I think I have helped create this problem, by trying to only take on board half of the tradition without fully realising how small minds connect the dots. What do I?  If I start laying down the facts and gently directing her towards the truth I am afraid that will open a can of worms and her inquisitive little mind will start putting two and two together and questioning the magic I am happy to support.   On the other hand I am slow to start encouraging the notion as it’s a step too far for me.  So what do you do?  Does the Easter Bunny pay a visit?  Do you have an egg hunt but no bunny talk?  Or is it clear that it’s family and friends that bestow the giant Easter egg mountain on your children?

In the meantime, Tesco now have 3 medium Easter Eggs for €4.50 and rumour has it Dunnes Stores has the same deal for €4.00!  So bunny or not, it’s a good time to stock up.