When did Elf on the Shelf start in 2021? Arrival letter ideas, elf names and where to buy Christmas toy

Different types of Elves are available in shops - including the naughty elf

Elf on the Shelf makes an appearance every festive season, with the toy popping up around people’s houses during the Christmas period.

But when did Elf on the Shelf begin, when does it end each and where can you get one from?

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Elf on the Shelf?

Elf on the Shelf is Santa’s little helper who is sent from the North Pole to encourage children to be good and kind.

The little Elf arrives in people’s homes to watch the behaviour of children every day and night in the days leading up to Christmas.

The Elf then can make a decision who should be on the nice and who should be on the naughty list.

The Elf on the Shelf website said: “This beloved family tradition has captured the hearts of children everywhere who embrace the magic of having a Scout Elf who reports to Santa each night during the holidays.

“The magical Scout Elves help Santa manage his nice list by taking note of a family’s Christmas adventures and reporting back to Santa at the North Pole nightly. Each morning, the Scout Elf returns to its family and perches in a new spot, waiting for someone to spot them. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their Scout Elf each morning.”

Santa’s Scout Elves wear a red jumpsuit and come with their very own storybook called The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.

Kids can also write a letter to Santa, which will be delivered by your Elf on the Shelf, or you can also send your Christmas wish list or a virtual message straight to the North Pole on the Elf on the Shelf Write to Santa page for kids.

Arrival ideas for Elf on the Shelf

Many people have started sharing their elf adventures on social media, especially when they arrive, with the elves getting up to all sorts of activities around the house, including doing laundry, washing up, hanging out with other toys and hiding in the Christmas tree.

Other arrival ideas includes putting the naughty elves on plates of half-eaten mince pies or other popular Christmas treats, hiding them amongst candy canes or have them intruding upon the nativity scene.

You can also hide them around the house and create clues for your kids to try and guess where they are hidden, making a Christmas-themed treasure hunt.

What are popular elf names?

You can name your elf whatever you like, with many opting for Christmas-themed names such as Noel and Holly or those of Santa’s reindeers, and you can also create a fun arrival letter noting where the elf has come from, their name and why they’re here.

Other popular elf names include:

  • Kreacher
  • Gimbel
  • Buddy
  • Dobby
  • Bernard,
  • Hermey
  • Bing
  • Jingles
  • Sparkle
  • Holly
  • Twinkle.
  • Peppermint.
  • Sparkles.
  • Ginger.

When did Elf on the Shelf start this year?

According to the Elf on the Shelf website, people are encouraged to start the Christmas tradition between 24 November and 1 December every year.

This period is known as the Scout Elf Return week, when Santa’s helpers leave the North Pole to spend time with families.

However, some elves are said to make their first appearances at Thanksgiving in the United States, which took place on 25 November this year.

When does Elf on the Shelf leave?

Elf on the Shelf usually leaves on Christmas Eve - 24 December - just before Christmas Day.

The Elf on the Shelf watches children’s behaviour up to Christmas before heading back to the North Pole after Santa finishes giving out presents on Christmas Eve.

Where can I buy one from?

You can buy an Elf on the Shelf from Amazon for £11.99.

You can also get the original Elf on the Shelf from the official website for £21.99. You can choose between the boy or the girl elf, and the the book is also available in French.

The boxed set includes:

  • One Scout Elf
  • An artfully illustrated storybook
  • A Keepsake box
  • An official adoption certificate

You can also register your Scout Elf to receive a personalised letter from Santa and official family Adoption Certificate.