I don't know about anyone else but I'm so excited for Thanksgiving to get here. Mainly because the day after Thanksgiving is when our holiday season starts! I was always taught that when Santa comes in his sleigh in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, that marks the official start of the season.
Most people start their Christmas season with the norm. Christmas shopping, baking, putting up decorations, and all the other fun and festive traditions. I do all that too, don't get me wrong. But one of the most fun parts of the season for me is when our Elf on the Shelf (Harry) comes back.
If you have been either (A) living under a rock (B) have kids that are grown or (C) don't have any kids yet, you might not be familiar with the Elf on the Shelf tradition. You can read about it HERE. Basically, you adopt a little elf and after he receives his Christmas magic, he flies to the North Pole every night to tell Santa all about the day. He returns and lands in a different spot each day so the kids have to find where he is (or what he's up to) everyday. It's a really cute tradition that I look forward to each year and I try to top my prior year. It's actually a sick obsession for me.
Last year I decided to join in on the fun I was seeing around all over Pinterest and have our elf Harry make a North Pole Breakfast for the kids to surprise them with his return. It was a huge hit! So this year, we plan on doing the same tradition. While I know what to do for the first day of our little Harry's return, the other 26 days can be a challenge. The first year we had him, I walked around each night with this elf flopping around in my hands thinking to myself "where the heck am I going to put this thing?". I found myself running out of places and the tradition became more of a hassle than an enjoyment.
I knew I had to change around the way I was doing things, so the following year I made a calendar and planned each day out. I've been doing that every year, ever since.
I know. You're probably looking at the screen right now with one eyebrow up thinking "Is she serious?". YES! I know it might sound strange but it works. And the more time I have to plan, the better ideas I come up with. And honestly, sometimes my ideas need a few props that I need to work on. Again. Yes. I'm serious.
I'm all about making this tradition as fun as I possibly can because one day my kids will be grown. So to enjoy this time as much as I can, I have to plan ahead.
And if you're all about making this a joyous experience for your kids and YOU, I recommend you plan, plan, plan! When your eyes bug out of your head at 10pm and you realize your forgot to move your elf, the energy and the time just isn't there. This should be fun for you, not stressful. The holidays are hectic enough. We don't need anymore on our plate, right?
I've created this calendar and would love to share it with all of you (for free) to help make this season a fun one. And to help make your Elf on the Shelf planning a little bit easier. :)
You can download it below.
For an UPDATED 2015 planning calendar, click HERE
Here are my six tips to planning for the best (and stress free) Elf on the Shelf experience:
1. Download and print my FREE ELF ON THE SHELF PLANNING CALENDAR 2014
2. Spend some time on websites like Pinterest or even do some Google searches and collect ideas that appeal to you. Think of your own creative ideas that you'd like to try and jot them all down on a piece of paper and save any pictures for future reference. (For some ideas you can check out my Elf on the Shelf board on Pinterest.)
3. If you have a busy schedule for December, decide on the "easiest" elf tactics out of all the ones you've written down and mark those down on the calendar on those busy days first.
4. Fill in the remaining days on the calendar with the ideas you found or that you've come up with.
5. Make a list of things you may need to buy, collect, make, and/or create for any "props" you may need to make your elf invisions come to life.
6. Create or gather all those things and begin working on them as soon as you can so that they're ready for the holiday season. And you'll be ready too!
And there you have it. All that's left to do is create your "scenes" or elf shenanigans and every night when you finish setting up your elf, just cross the day off. You'll be pleasantly surprised with how easy this tradition becomes and how much more enjoyable it is for you. And the look on your kids faces when they wake up and see your Elf doing something funny, silly, or sometimes even a little naughty makes this completely worth it.
So sit back, plan, relax, and smile through the season and through it all. Remember. He's watching!