Do any of you guys have the Elf on the Shelf toy/doll/Looming Figurine of Citizen Reporting? I bought it on a whim and once it arrived I had some misgivings about the concept—basically, the idea is the toy elf creepily watches your kids’ behavior at all times and flies back to Santa each night to tattletale—but we went ahead and read the book to the kids and oh, I wish you could have seen Riley’s face when he came out and found the elf that first morning. I thought he was going to explode with joy and stunned disbelief.

Everything about the holidays is pure wonder this year with Riley. We watched The Polar Express with him last night and he was so, so into it (as was I, I’d never seen it before and I wept RIDICULOUS NEVER-ENDING TEARS at the scene when the parents can’t hear the sleigh bell ring) and it is an indescribable treat to experience everything with him. He’s just completely caught up in the myth and magic and belief of Christmas, and I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure there can be no better age than 5 for all of it.

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We got our tree yesterday and I think this was the first year when no one cried or threw a giant tantrum, not even JB and I when we saw the pricetag. (Noble firs apparently must be grown over a period of thousands of years in a vat of black tar heroin, is all I can figure.) Total success.

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We’ve been going to the same tree farm for years and we love it, but this is the first year I’ve noticed a bouncy castle. Is it just me or does this seem like an . . . odd location for such a thing?
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Do you have your tree yet? Where do you get yours, and how did it go this year?

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Amy
Amy
11 years ago

We got ours today! We go to a 150-acre tree farm with friends and everyone tailgates first. We bring grills, firepits, and booze and the kids run around and jump on hay rides and throw footballs. Then you ride a tractor up into the woods and grab your tree. My daughter’s 3 and her favorite part was the hay ride.

Shannan
Shannan
11 years ago

We just watched Polar Express for the first time with our four year old. Jeez, she was on the edge of her seat, literally. Oh the suspense! Love the start of a holiday tradition.

Victoria
11 years ago

My parents just put up their tree (I don’t do one in my wee apartment) and we have this thing where my Mum hides my favourite ornament around back (I made it in Grade 1) and I complain that the tree’s not properly decorated. Then I find the ornament and place it front and center. It never gets old doing this! We have a fake tree. Something about the same tree joining us year after year makes me happy too. It carries all our Christmas happy!

Maureen
Maureen
11 years ago

We get our tree at a local garden center, and we will pick it up this week. By the way, you look gorgeous in that picture of you and the boys.

I can’t express how much I loved Christmas when my daughter was little, it was truly magical. Her excitement and joy spilled over onto us, and I must say we were a merry band. It helped that we live thousands of miles away from any family, so far away that no one ever expected us to show at Christmas, so it was only us with no stress, just fun.

She is a 16 now, and of course still loves Christmas, but is just is different. I miss little kids!

Dana
11 years ago

Our elf, “Bixbean,” came to live with us four years ago. The first few years, the kids definitely took the threat of him reporting their misbehavior to Santa very seriously. Now, they don’t care and they’ll crack each other over the head with blocks and hard plastic dinosaurs right under his nose. BUT, they jump out of bed every morning to try to be the first to find him which is immensely helpful with getting them out the door on time for school. What did your boys name their elf?

Amanda
11 years ago

We went the way of the dark side and got a fake tree about five years ago. One big whopping expense for the really nice one and that was it. No having to leave your young at the tree lot every year. I miss the smell but happily traded it in for not having to clean up dead tree several times a week.

Susan
Susan
11 years ago

Oh my gosh, we were just there today! Have been going for years, always buy a Noble fir. Ka-ching, but totally worth it. When I suggested that we buy one of the Costco trees this year, my sixteen-year-old boy’s face fell, like I had just told him Christmas was cancelled. Needless to say, we didn’t buy a Costco tree this year.

My oldest is eighteen and we’ve been cutting our own tree every year since she was born. Wonderful, wonderful memories.

Tracy
11 years ago

We got our tree Thursday night so it would have enough time for the branches to fall before trimming it this weekend. We always get ours from this group (the “Optimists”) who do a tree sale to support their work with the area’s youth. We tried going to a tree farm to cut our own a few years ago, but we didn’t see anything we liked (maybe we went too late in the season–there was nothing close to the one you cut). Thursday we showed up 40 minutes before their advertised closing time and they’d already turned the lights off and I was so disappointed. But they are the Optimists, and when they saw us pull up, they cheerfully reopened for us. Yea!

Lena
11 years ago

I laughed out loud when I saw the bouncy house under the electrical wires.

Nichole
11 years ago

I agree: 5 is an awesome age for all things Christmas. We put our tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We got it out of the attic. :)

Courtney
Courtney
11 years ago

My entire life we’ve been going to Christmas tree farms. I live in Southern California (Orange County) and it’s been difficult over the years to continue this tradition but we do.

Now that I’m out on my own I still go to the same farm with my parents and they pick out their tree and I pick out mine. We go on opening day (which is now the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving eek!!!) to get the best ones :) A few weeks later my dad will go get the tree cut down and bring it to me and help me set it up. It’s such a great tradition and I really treasure it!

He totally brought me my tree today too! :)

ste
ste
11 years ago

Tree is in the attic in a box. My brother-in-law’s family did the elf thing for years and my sister was so excited to carry on the tradition with her kids. I’m assuming it was a good memory for my BIL if they carried it on with their kids.

Maggie
11 years ago

We got our tree this year too! However, I feel like we cheated since we got it at a lot down the street from us. We just didn’t have time with everything else to go out and cut it down. Which makes me super sad, but at least we have a tree so I’m not that bummed. Definitely looking forward to cutting our tree next year though!

Ali
Ali
11 years ago

We are total dorks, and get our tree at Lowe’s. But, in our defense, we live in FL, so chopping down your own tree only pertains to palm trees, and the neighbors seem to have a problem with us approaching them with saws…

Our family tradition is for all of us to get the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my husband was out at sea this year, so I enlisted my brother and his wife to be the Christmas elves that helped bring the tree.

After a morning of mimosas and bloody mary’s, we trekked that damn tree back home and set him up and named him Steve. Best Tree Day ever.

Maggie
11 years ago

Dammit – today, I meant we got our tree today. Sheesh, I guess drinking wine during the Seahawks game is NOT conducive to writing correctly.

Alley
Alley
11 years ago

If we had kids, I’d totally do that elf thing. It appeals to my sense of weirdly creepy.

We’re total losers that live in a townhouse that’s incredibly difficult to get the *groceries* into, so we have a pre-lit artificial tree. Also, I kill anything that requires regular watering, so a real tree would quickly become an enormous, dry fire hazard in this house. I put said fake tree up last Sunday and just finished decorating it yesterday (it’s not that elaborate; I’m just being incredibly lazy about it this year, so I’d hang a box of balls on it one day, and then put some candy canes on it the next, etc.). I’m going to buy a wreath at the supermarket this week, though, to bring the smell of fresh balsam in here.

Liz
Liz
11 years ago

we just came home with our tree half an hour ago. Living in Manhattan with no car makes cutting our own impractical so we just walked to the tree stand four blocks away and carried one home. I am very impressed with us for getting the tree so relatively early–usually we’re buying it on the 20th or so. On the other hand I am due with Kid #1 on Wednesday so you could argue that we are cutting it close as usual. We’re looking forward to a lot of happy Christmases with the kiddo.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
11 years ago

We have a fake tree, a very nice fake tree though.
Isn’t The Polar Express awesome? We took Eric to see it in 3-D when he was 4 and it was so cool.

Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
11 years ago

I totally miss having a real tree, but my oldest son is allergic to all trees! So, we have a fake one, :0(

Okay, you totally have to do the Portal North Pole: http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/home

We just did this for my 7 year old and I thought he was going to pee his pants. After you secretly fill out all the information they ask for and up load a picture of your son, then Santa emails your child from the north pole. It’s a video and Santa says the child’s name and opens his books to see if they have been good. Willem has been talking about it all week. When Santa first said his name his eyes just about popped out of his head! Your boys will love it! Just make sure to video tape them!

Books
11 years ago

My MIL bought us the elf and book…maybe the year our son was a newborn or even before that. Either way, not really age appropriate still. My husband and I think it is the creepiest looking mfing thing ever. We take turns hiding it to scare the shit out of each other.

First time out this year (because he wasn’t expecting it) I think he might have pooped himself a little.

Daren
11 years ago

My daughter is also 5 this year and I agree, this is the best age for the Christmas Magic…so far, anyway. I’m pretty sure the trees are grown in pure diamond soil, too. My other daughter is 3, which is also a fun age. We have an elf too, and they spend lots of time each morning trying to locate him. I can’t wait for Christmas morning! Merry Christmas!

transientxpress
11 years ago

LOVE Polar Express. Watch it every year and I’m 30 years old. With no kids. Or nieces, or nephews. Sadly, our tree is of the boxed variety, but kitty loves climbing it as if it were real.

Therese
Therese
11 years ago

No experience with Elf on a Shelf or the Polar Express yet as my oldest is only 18 months and my youngest is still in the womb. I think it’s funny that you mentioned both of these things in the same post though because my OB was raving about both on Friday at my last appointment. Apparently his son (and he) also loves Polar Express and the Elf is a good disciplinary tool…

As for the tree, we cut ours last weekend from a local tree farm. Every tree on the property, no matter size or type, is only $28! The owner goes to our church and I tell him I feel like we’re stealing the tree but that’s all he charges (everyone, not just fellow church members). We had lots of fun. I also found out that I can run pretty fast for a 20 week pregnant woman when my Mom stepped in a big hole and fell down a hill. We can laugh now but it (litteraly) scared the pee out of me at the time. She thankfully was not hurt!

Beth
Beth
11 years ago

My twins are 6 and we started Elf on the Shelf a couple of years ago. I was a little dubious, but that first morning was crazy. They just totally and completely BOUGHT IT. It was awesome. They also love Polar Express. Speaking of introducing kids to movies – I had one of the best parenting moments ever the other weekend. We rented E.T. – which I had not seen in over twenty years. I was in high school when it came out. My kids LOVED it. Throughout the whole movie they would both just spontaneously shout “I love this movie! I love this part!” I was smiling through the whole thing. I don’t know if we caught them at the precisely best age to see it or what. Just incredible.

Cara
Cara
11 years ago

We got our tree yesterday at Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest. They do it up right – hay rides, a campfire (with hotdogs and marshmallows to roast), petting farm, Mr & Mrs. Claus, hay maze, horse rides and new this year – ‘reindeer rides’ (a train of adorable reindeers made out of barrels and pulled by a small tractor) and a zipline. Awesome. We had a great time with our five month old and dreamt about the years to come when she can really get in to all of it.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

My kids are 6 and 7 and they LOVE the Elf on the Shelf. Every morning, it’s so much excitement. I really love it, especially as (with the 7 year old especially) we seem to be on the waning edge of the Santa years. (sob.) We haven’t gotten our tree yet. This week, my husband has promised.

Savanna
11 years ago

We got our tree last weekend. We found a tree farm just a few miles from our house and picked one out there. I really wanted to cut down our own tree this year, but by the time we got out the door to go it was dark out and I was too impatient to wait another day!

Amber Baumbach
11 years ago

Did you arrange your books by color? Awesome:)

We have the Elf on the Shelf. It’s creepy. My three-year-old seems to like him though.

Stubblejumpin'Gal
11 years ago

I have a lovely memory of being about 3 years old, arriving with my parents at my grandparents’ home at the edge of my tiny hometown village on Christmas Eve, and seeing a blinking red light in the sky (Rudolph’s nose, of course) and hearing sleighbells before we went inside.

Francesca
11 years ago

Apparently when I was Riley’s age, whenever I was bad around the holidays my mom use to look just over my head at the window and say (in dramatic fashion), “Oh, was that Santa in the window? I really hope he didn’t see you doing that…” And — stricken with fear — I would shape up pretty quick. Mom and Dad ain’t got nothing on Santa’s wrath…

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

We buy a tree cutting permit for five bucks and head up to the mountains. We go to a Forest Service area near a small ski resort. There is a nice free sledding hill. We find our tree, cut it down and put it in the truck. Then we sled until it gets dark. On our way down the mountain we stop at a house that has a huge crazy light display. They have a Santa and a real camel that you can feed carrots to. They we head out for dinner that always starts with hot chocolate. I love it and I don’t ever plan on doing anything any different!

Meredith
11 years ago

I was feeling sorry for myself because my autistic son’s fear of “different or new” means we can’t do Christmas and I lOVE tinsel and festive crap….but then I saw the picture of the jumping castle and nearly wet myself laughing. I am not a laugh out loud person but that picture sure tickled my fancy!! Thanks for the bipolar read

John
John
11 years ago

Don’t worry you’ll weep those same ridiculous never ending tears next year when you watch it too. I wept for the 3rd year in a row the same night you and Riley must have watched it on ABCFam.

Kristin
11 years ago

Looks like you had a lovely time. Our tree cutting experience was less than ideal this year

Shawna
Shawna
11 years ago

Holy moley, I cannot believe how lightly dressed you all are!

We got our tree today at a tree farm that has hot chocolate and no-shit-real-live reindeer! And my dad came out with us. It was snowing huge, puffy clumps of flakes. I and both kids were wearing snow pants.

Voila: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnac/5236442996/

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

We had a Christmas spectacular day yesterday. Holiday concert in a gorgeous church. Visit to a kind Santa who read son a book. Dinner. Then we stopped at a tree lot in the dark and picked a tiny 3 footer under their lights. :)

The funniest part was wondering who would pay $435 for a 13 foot silver fir. It was a magnificent tree — tall and skinny with perfect spacing for ornaments — but dude almost $500 for a dead tree??? And it was sitting there waiting to be delivered. There were ten more trees like it in the same price range and we wondered how long they took to grow to justify the cost. Gorgeous if you can afford it.

jill
jill
11 years ago

If you can swing a random trip to Hood River OR they do the POlar Express train ride and it is MAGICAL! We made the trip up from So. Oregon last year and it was great!

Julie
11 years ago

On Friday, somewhere around 2 PM, I answered to phone to hear, “Hi, this is your son’s teacher!” I immediately had a heart attack, as one does when one receives a call from the teacher in the middle of the day. But she was actually calling because Sammy was having a great day and she needed a favor. The class had found their elf on a shelf that day, and were really into it, to the point where they collectively lost their 6 year old minds worrying about what the elf would do when he came back from the North Pole Saturday and couldn’t get into the classroom. So she’s quickly determined her contingency plan would be to ask a parent if the elf could visit for the weekend. No problem.

The funny thing is that, just that morning, I’d bought our own Elf on a Shelf. And so it came to pass that the class elf came to hang out with us over the weekend, and tomorrow morning, my kids will discover that the class elf brought his cousin elf back from the Pole to stay with us. I can’t wait to watch them blow their little minds.

aimee @ smilingmama
11 years ago

I am fascinated/scared of that Elf on a Shelf, too! Lucas is just a little younger than Riley, though, so maybe he’ll love it. Or, maybe he’ll never sleep again :)

We have an insane 11mo this year so we got the cutest little 3.5 foot tree and we have it on top of our liquor cabinet. I let the 5yo pretty much decorate it and so it is totally not perfect but I just adore it!

Shannon
Shannon
11 years ago

Just got ours today! We went to Carnation, WA to the tree farm. Unfortunately, they were low on the kind of tree I like, Grand Fir. We walked and walked (with an 18 month old which wasn’t far or much) but couldn’t find one to cut down. We ended up buying one that was already cut. Oh well it’s still beautiful. My daughter saw Santa and she was in awe which was sweet.

Christine
11 years ago

The elf on the shelf thing really just presses all the wrong buttons for me. I’m trying to go low-key on Santa, which is hard enough to begin with, and I don’t like the idea of large-scale adult-sanctioned deception to get good behaviour. But that’s just me.

On a different note, I was excited to see you say “bouncy castle” because that’s what we (in Ireland) say, but I’ve not before met an American who calls them that. Is it a regionalism, do you think?

I was also bemused to see where they put it. Did all the kids get electrocuted?

Kim
Kim
11 years ago

My granddaughter is five, and I agree, this has been the Best. Christmas. Ever. for her. And because of that, for us.

This is our second year with Twinkle, our elf on the shelf. She’s very good at behavior modification We toyed with leaving her out all year last year!

Maggie
Maggie
11 years ago

We have Elf on the Shelf (named Elvis) for the 3rd year in a row. I don’t take responsibility because my (evil) mother bestowed it upon us. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have said as we are drifting off to sleep “Shit, did you move Elvis?”

Also, my youngest is terrified/fascinated with him. When he is around, she is afraid to go anywhere in the house by herself. I can hardly blame her, he is kind of creepy.

cindy
cindy
11 years ago

If you liked Polar Express you need to head on down to Williams, Arizona. They put on a train ride based on the book. It is really great for kids and adults. You get to board the train, drink hot chocolate, meet Santa, get a sleigh bell. It is the best thing ever.

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

I am dying over the bouncy house location…that is insanely hilarious to me!!

kalisa
11 years ago

Wait…you paid that much AND you had to cut it down yourself? I call shenanigans.

MRW
MRW
11 years ago

I am incredibly spoiled living in the Pac NW – when I moved here 18 years ago I discovered I could cut my own lovely Noble Fir for $15. Craaaaazy. Then I met my husband (a native NW’er) and he revealed we could get a $5 permit from the USFS and cut own own tree. Even crazier! Did that for a few years then we started buying a tree from my son’s school as part of their fund raising efforts. Far more convenient and for a good cause, but every year find myself mildly horrified by the prices.

KKF
KKF
11 years ago

Hopefully we’ll get our little 3-foot tree from the local garden center this year. In the mean time I have a great (growing) collection of crystal/metal snowflake ornaments and I made a “tree” for them specifically this year. Went out to the twisty ol’ snowball bush, hacked out some reasonably sized limbs, cut off all the insubstantial twiggy bits, tied it all together on one end, dropped it in a clear vase full o’ marbles and BAM – instant holiday cheer. Looks so pretty and sparkly with the ornaments dripping off it like that. Can’t wait for brother christmas tree to come and join the fun (and hold the normal ornaments, the balls and the lights which we must. not. go. without.!!!) Yay Holiday! Yay season of sparkles and mulled wine!

Erin
11 years ago

I think people are looking at me strange because I just laughed out loud over the bouncy house – how is that not some sort of safety hazard being under power lines? This brightened my day – serving on jury duty right now and I can use a laugh!

Deb
Deb
11 years ago

We got our tree from Ye Merry Olde K-Mart parking lot.

*sigh*