As I've stated before Santa doesn't come to our house. Ace of course knows who he is, he's seen him in the mall, he squeals when he sees giant inflatable ones on Christmas tree lots. We just never informed him that Santa delivers him presents. Ace knows that presents come from mom and dad. So we haven't specifically spelled out to him that Santa is a fictional character, etc.. so really Santa still remains a part of Christmas and exists still about the same as Mickey Mouse. With that said that also means that we do not participate in leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, or writing Santa letters, or other traditions that go along with him (which does make this mommy a tiny bit sad, because I have fond memories of those things.) However, I still wanted him and Mae to have some festive fun and merriment that comes when one believes and that's where I thought of the elf on the shelf. If you're unfamiliar here is a good synopsis.
I decided that I didn't want to lie to him and give the elf magical powers - saying that the elf moves in the night like the story says. Since there is no reason for the elf to report back to Santa since Santa is not a factor in Ace's motivation to stay naught or nice. Ace has been taught Jesus is the reason we should stay nice and not be naughty and Jesus doesn't need a elf to help Him establish that fact or not. So we just make it an exciting game of hide and seek each morning. Every night when he goes to bed, I go and hid the elf in some new place. In the morning when he wakes up he gets to go find the elf, but he's not allowed to touch it until mom or dad find it with him later. Mostly because I didn't want him scaling great heights when I put the elf on the fridge or something. He absolutely loves it - and very excitedly comes in each morning saying he's found the elf. Or one morning, very disturbed being unable to locate the elf anywhere! (She was hanging from the shower curtain... that sounds more dark than the actual situation, see picture below.)
Now of course Ace's imagination is a good one and so it's still fun to make it seem like the little elf has been busy playing, reading, or having fun while everyone sleeps. We let Ace's imagination dictate what he observes, rather than us telling him. So while I don't see anything wrong with others telling the tales and creating the magic in Christmas, we simply go a different route. I do know Ace is approaching an age where we're going to have to explain to him that other kids believe something different and he won't be able to spoil it for them. At this point he doesn't realize there is anything to spoil. I suspect that conundrum will be coming next holiday season. :) For now - we are happily making memories of hiding a silly elf that we picked up at Target on November 30th and that we named Holly. Here's a few places that she's been.