Look, being a mom is a hectic job, and sometimes you just forget to do things — like moving your Elf on the Shelf every single night in December.
If you’ve ever had that “oh shit” moment when you woke up in the morning and realized you didn’t pick a clever way to pose your kids’ Elf on the Shelf, you’re not alone. Should it ever happen again, we’ve come up with some viable excuses you can give that are totally believable — but won’t break your children’s’ little Christmas-spirit-filled hearts.
Here are a few things you can say to your small humans to explain away the fact that your elf is uncreatively resting on the top of the bookcase for yet another night.
1. The elf didn’t move because you were making too much noise and wouldn’t go to sleep. If you stay up too long having whispered arguments about “who farted,” well… your elf might just fall asleep.
2. He caught the flu. Santa is sending some emergency “elf-o-tussin.” In the meantime, he’s just gonna crash right here. Everyone has to be very very quiet.
3. He’s teleworking.
This is most effective when you score a Barbie-sized iPad and throw it in the general direction of the elf. This is extremely plausible. With all the technology at our fingertips, why does the elf have to fly back to the North Pole every night in person? Doesn’t Santa have Skype?
4. Of course he moved. Maybe just a little bit but he’s definitely in a different spot.
Channel your inner authoritative parent and bust out the “because I said so.” You might even convince yourself the elf moved.
5. He was really tired and fell asleep before you did.
Yes, mommy knows his eyes are open. He’s really sleeping. It’s an elf thing.
6. Your dad accidentally touched the elf so he’s lost his magic for 24 hours. #BlameDaddy
7. Thunderstorms made it unsafe to fly so the FAA grounded all elves.
8. He liked this spot so much he wanted to come back to it. He’ll probably keep coming back to this spot again and again.
This is you taking care of you, mamas… but try not to take advantage.
9. The elf must have picked this spot because it’s got such a great view of the TV. The elf really likes to watch OITNB, you know.
10. The elf stayed up late drinking Chardonnay with mommy and decided to stay in… because flying to the North Pole when you’re tipsy is irresponsible.
11. It was too warm in our house last night. The optimal temperature for elf travel is 67.5 degrees. I’ll ask your dad to adjust the thermostat. #BlameDaddy
12. He forgot his keys to the North Pole and is waiting on Santa to FedEx them.
13. The elf has a bellyache because he ate too much candy… and let that be a lesson to you, young man.
14. You’re right, he didn’t move. The elf is messing with us to see if we’re paying attention. We are! Yay us!
15. Freeze tag?
16. Maybe he forgot he’s been to that spot three nights in a row. Elves have a lot on their minds.
17. Is that really our elf? Look closely. Maybe this is a pretend decoy elf and the real elf is hiding? We better be on our extra good behavior!
18. Santa’s really busy this week so the elves are only flying to the North Pole every other night.
19. Maybe he’s resting and saving his magic to give you a really cool surprise tomorrow…
If you bust this one out, for the love of Kris Kringle, follow through.
20. Maybe he’s stuck…
Yes, I realize some of these defy logic a little. OK, fine, a lot. But if your kids are old enough to smell the B.S. on some of these elf-cuses, they’re probably on to the fact that you’re the one moving the elf around the house anyway.
Here’s wishing you a successful season of elfing. And if you forget, you now have 20 great excuses in your back pocket.
Originally published December 2015. Updated December 2016.