The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a 2005 children’s picture book, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and nice. It describes elves visiting children from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features a hardbound picture book and a small scout elf. The authors say the story is from a family tradition started by Carol Aebersold for her twin daughters, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts in Georgia, USA.
Even though the history above is stated to be the origins of Elf on the Shelf I don’t think it is entirely true. Why? Well, because Sean’s family has been placing an elf on the shelf since the 70’s. It wasn’t the overly priced and commercialize version you see today, it was a simple elf placed in the corner of the living room on a shelf, or window sill.
Unlike today’s elf, that you can buy outfits for and are encouraged to pose, their elf just sat on a shelf and watched over them. Sean’s mother even told them that it was to see if they were good or not.
In reality this tradition is much older than the authors of the modern Elf on the Shelf book would like you to think and it wasn’t just their tradition. Families all over have had a cute little elf watching over them since before the 60’s. Which the current elf was undoubtedly modeled after. Some of the older ones are a little… lets say scary looking.
In the end the history of the Elf on the Shelf is unknown, even if someone claims to be the creator.