Elf on the Shelf — love it, or roll your eyes at the thought — has become a full-on American tradition for millions of people at Christmastime. But how well do you know the mother-daughter team behind the phenomenon?
The story is based on author Carol Aebersol's own family tradition and has caught on like wildfire. But like any popular trend, Elf on the Shelf has attracted its fair share of haters, detractors and comedians.
My SheKnows colleagues have spent plenty of time discussing the pros and cons of the Elf.
And frankly, before I had the chance to interview Elf on the Shelf author Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell, I had my own misgivings. But after hearing them talk about their family tradition and the magic it has brought into their homes, it's easy to get into the spirit. When I ask about their haters and detractors, you can hear them deflate a little.
"I find that people who are negative about the Elf maybe haven't experienced the magic for themselves," Bell says.
What about the comedians out there posing the Elf in the most compromising of positions? Does that bother them? Not in the slightest.
"Elves should match the personality of the family," Aebersol says with a laugh. "It's all about how the Elf is presented. But be careful — if your Elf is a prankster, that's something you're going to have to keep up for 30 years."
Both ladies are charming and talk about how important it is to them to spread their magical tradition around the world. Here are 12 facts about Elf on the Shelf you might not know.
The women behind the huge Elf on the Shelf movement is the mother-daughter team of Carol Aebersold (center), Chanda Bell (right) and Christa Pitts (left).
2015 will mark the 10-year anniversary of The Elf on the Shelf. The first book was published in 2005.
Fox News recently aired a story about a professor who criticized the Elf on the Shelf tradition for conditioning kids to accept a "surveillance state."
The original Elf on the Shelf book has sold more than 7 million copies to date.
Both Carol and Chanda are former teachers and give more than 10,000 free books to teachers every year, which is why it's such a popular classroom activity.
Fisbee was the name of Carol's childhood Elf. She has no idea where the name originally came from.
The Elf on the Shelf is also gaining popularity in the U.K., Ireland, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Elf on the Shelf is expanding its offering to include other products, like the Claus Couture Collection, activity/coloring books, birthday party games and accessories and the new Elf Pets collection.
Elf on the Shelf is a social media powerhouse, with more than 1 million likes on Facebook, 25,000 Twitter followers and nearly 28,000 followers on Instagram.
Elves are back! And tonight they got into my good cake flour! pic.twitter.com/vzucp1S3P0— Busy Philipps (@Busyphilipps25) December 3, 2014
Elf on the Shelf has an extensive celebrity fan base that includes Busy Phillips, Drew Barrymore, Mark Wahlberg, Courteney Cox and more.
The Elf on the Shelf was self-published because Carol couldn't find a publisher willing to take the story.
Carol published the first Elf on the Shelf book in 2005 after her kids all left home and she was suffering from empty nest syndrome, she says. She and Chanda were sitting in her kitchen, drinking tea, talking about her future, when Chanda pointed at the Elf and suggested they share their Christmas tradition with other families.
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