Sunday 6 November 2016

Getting YoursELF Ready

It's nearing that time of year again where Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogs will be filled with pictures of Elves getting up to their tricks. In our house we have fully embraced Elf on the Shelf and our Elf, Buddy, has become a huge part of our lives. I would like to share with you how I prepare for our special visitor's arrival and the traditions we have created over the years to keep Buddy's magic alive. 

Buddy arrived with his suitcase in 2013 and the first year was lots of fun. John was only 3 and with a newborn in the house, Buddy was a welcome distraction for him. During the 25 days Buddy and John developed a beautiful friendship but when Buddy left John wasn't really that bothered. It was until the following year that I realised how strong his attachment was to this little stuffed green and red toy. When Buddy appeared under our tree in 2014 John was hugging him tightly and kissing him all over. He ran around the house showing Buddy all the changes there had been in the last year. It broke my heart when he 'sat Buddy down' to break the news that our beloved dog Ruby had passed away since his last visit. When it came to saying goodbye to Buddy at the end of the second year there were tears galore. I felt awful. I had brought Buddy into his life and was now causing him pain by taking him away. Due to this bond and because I am a total sap, I decided that Buddy would visit more regularly in year 3. He delivered chocolatey treats at Easter, joined in on a beach trip in summer, brought John a present on his birthday in August and scared us all with his spooky arrival at Halloween. When he came back in his traditional way in the December I was worried that the impact of his arrival would be lessened by his regular visits but I was wrong. Both John and Jamie were thrilled to see him and  Rudy the Reindeer who was sent as a special friend for Jamie. What I am trying to tell you is that bringing an Elf into your life can be such a beautiful experience. When it's done right, Elf on the Shelf isn't just a tokenistic gesture or a competition between mums for who can be the most creative. Although Buddy has inspired many of my friends to get an elf of their own, we share ideas and love looking at each other's photos around Christmas time. Many of my facebook followers will comment throughout the year about looking forward to Buddy coming back, he has many groupies!

It takes quite a bit of effort to organise your Elf. I should point out that we do not follow Elf on the Shelf rules such as the no touching. We bought our Elf from My Little Elf (this isn't a sponsored post) and he is a cuddly cute elf. I personally didn't like the 'real' Elf on the Shelf elves as I think they look quite scary. The first couple of years I didn't plan what Buddy would be doing, I just thought about it one day at a time. This was quite stressful and often resulted in my husband and I forgetting about it until bedtime then desperately racking our brains late at night for ideas. Last year I decided to plan Buddy's tricks and treats so that I could buy things in advance and as much as possible link him to things that would naturally be happening in our lives. This made life much easier for me. 

We always start Buddy's arrival in the same way each year. 

We have elf doors in both the boys rooms (you can order these online but I bought mine at a craft fair and the lady we bought it from personalised it for me). A few days before December I start sprinkling glitter or leaving chocolate coins outside the door to signal that Buddy will be arriving soon. He arrives on the 1st of December with 24 Christmas books wrapped individually in Christmas paper (a sort of book advent), he also has with him a photobook full of his antics from the previous year. He also delivers the advent calendars and last year he arrived with 2 snuggly christmas blankets and a christmas pillow. We always have Buddy bring our Christmas decorations and usually plan this for the first weekend in December. I try to have a balance of activities for Buddy, some are funny like swinging from the lights or rolling down the stairs in toilet roll, some are crafty such as bringing things to make like Christmas cards or cookies. Sometimes we link it to things that are happening in our lives like Buddy wearing a Christmas jumper when it is Christmas Jumper day at school or bringing chocolates to give to our hairdresser when it is Christmas haircut day. During the 2nd year of elfing we had a kindness elf, Holly, who came each day with random acts of kindness ideas for John to take part in such as giving toys to charity, collecting food for the foodbank and making up a goodie pack to deliver to the homeless in the city centre. 

John really loves the food themed days, especially when Buddy makes breakfast with doughnuts and milkshakes! Planning these activities in advance make them more meaningful and allow you to shop in advance for props. Last year John was really into karate kid so I asked a friend at work who crochets to make me a ninja suit for Buddy. I wouldn't be able to do things like this without thinking about it in November. I even have a Buddy budget when I do my November finances! It may seem crazy but I think that spending a little more on the Buddy experience is much more valuable than yet another visit to a grotto with an unrealistic Santa to get yet another crappy plastic toy. Every year Buddy brings a new tree decoration and it is lovely to look back on these little touches. If you are going to a Christmas party, Santa visit or Christmas fayre day out, your elf can bring things like tickets, new outfits or money to spend. These are all things you would be doing or spending money on anyway. I usually buy special paper or luggage tags to write messages on from Buddy and I always sign it with a holly leaf. A few days before the big day we start to build on the excitement with things like Santa's footprints. 

Our farewell to Buddy is quite the tradition too. On the 24th of December Buddy brings the boys a Christmas Eve box filled with the usual goodies (Christmas film, PJs, hot chocolate, The Night Before Christmas Book, candy canes, chocolate coins, the santa key, christmas scented bubble bath and reindeer dust). We usually visit my grandparents on Christmas Eve, go for a long walk and then go out for dinner. When we come home we go through the usual routines of scattering the reindeer dust and putting out the plate for Santa. Whilst all this is going on, Buddy sneaks upstairs and creates the most wonderful Christmas themed bath with the christmas scented bubble bath, red and green balloons, glitter and fake snow, bubbles, christmas music playing, christmas decorations to play with and christmas lights and candles glowing. This is a very special part of our Christmas routine. After the bath we get into our new PJs and read The Night Before Christmas. The boys then kiss Buddy goodbye and give him a big hug. They put him to bed under the tree and off they pop to bed. Buddy then disappears.The excitement of Christmas usually dulls the pain a little but it's never easy saying goodbye to this little elf who has a piece of all our hearts.

Thanks for letting me share Buddy's magic with you. 
#sharingbuddysmagic - check us out on instagram and keep up to date with the elf antics this festive period. 

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