Elf on the shelf is SOLD OUT | What To Do


What to do when Elf on the Shelf is sold out and why we started this tradition even though the kids are older.

what to do when elf on the shelf is sold out

When our daughter was little, we were gifted an elf on the shelf. She wasn’t very interested in it and honestly the entire thing sounded a little creepy. This guy hangs around the house and reports back to Santa?

Since it wasn’t a Christmas tradition when my husband and I were growing up, we were more than fine giving this creepy elf away.

Fast forward six years and now the elf is in the classroom.

Son of a candy cane…

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why we started elf on the shelf when our kids are older

It was 8 days into December and the questions started coming.

  • Why don’t we have an elf?
  • School has an elf
  • My friend has an elf
  • Why did Santa forget about us?

We dodged the questions with

  • Maybe he’s hiding
  • You’ve been good
  • The dog will eat him like she ate the stuffed duck

Then… our daughter said she drew him a picture. Looking over to chalk board there was a picture of Santa’s workshop, with a whole bunch of elves with cute curled shoes and floppy hats.

My husband and I caught each others eye and we knew were were getting an elf.

We could have come up with a thousand reasons we didn’t need one but this is becoming their generation’s Christmas tradition.


That night we got on the computer only to find that Amazon was sold out! Other stores were sold out, but one store in the area had them for pickup only.

I changed into adult clothes that didn’t have draw strings, and headed to the store. After searching for 45 minutes and asking three people for help, they said the website must be wrong.

How can I still make this work? Everyone has an elf. How are they out of elves?!

Hmm… everyone has an elf…

I text my good friend and told her I had a crazy idea, but sneakily did NOT tell her what until she responded. I told her about the drawing and the store and then asked… If I could borrow her elf for a few hours.

Surprisingly she said yes!

We did the elf exchange the next day at the Sonic parking lot. Through the passenger window she slipping a pink bag on my front seat and said “I’ve got the goods.”


I went home and started an elf photoshoot. If I worked quickly I could have them printed at Walgreens before I picked the kids up from school.

These photos needed to look like he took them at night since he’s hiding from us. So I kept the lights off, shades closed and grabbed a flashlight to highlight him.

elf hiding on top of cupboards saying his name is Blizzard
The elf saying he's going to keep hiding but he'll send pictures

That night they found these 4 photos in each of our stocking on the mantel. Their eyes lit up with pure magic and wonder and as much as I didn’t want an elf, I want to hang on to this excitement they have.

Our Elf Rules

  • Each night we’ll put a new photo in their stocking
  • We won’t be saying the elf is watching
  • We won’t use it against them.
  • The elf isn’t about punishment or reporting back every night
  • We will let them draw their own conclusions
elf running from dog
elf doing snow angels from cut up wrapping paper
elf hanging out with barbie
elf in a tractor
elf squeezing tooth paste
elf doing yoga
elf in toilet paper
elf in a stocking

Even though Elf on the shelf was sold out, we were still able to start this new tradition by borrowing an elf, having a photo shoot and getting it printed all before they came home from school.

So you don’t have to be an elf family to have an elf. It’s about having fun and maybe being ok with a new tradition, because it might not be important to you, but it might feel very important to them.

*Update- At 3am I woke up in a dead panic! I had forgotten to put a new photo in the kids Christmas stocking, and now I know the love hate relationship of the Elf on the shelf.

Best Wishes this Holiday season!


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