Note I said I love the idea: the family interaction it provides along with the establishment of a new tradition in a modern world that includes far too little. The basic concept is that a parent puts out a doll at the beginning of December, explaining that the little guy or girl is Santa's helper, there to watch and observe and report back to the jolly old elf with news of how things are going in the household. The parents can move the little elven doll around the house as the doll investigates new areas, and the kids can enjoy trying to find all the new spots he/she may appear.
I just can't, however, get personally enthusiastic about the cutesey Kewpie Doll appearance of the official doll. No offense intended if you love the wee guy, but I was raised on Wendy Froud elves and goblins and trolls, and he just doesn't quite look like my idea of a faerie messenger.
Christmas is, however, a time when we can embrace the child in all of us, and contains some of the few rituals we have left, as I already lamented, in modern society. So why eliminate the perfect opportunity for a new whimsical tradition simply because the official doll looks like it belongs in a jack-in-the-box?
Not to mention, once again, my bias for supporting small businesses over large ones: Elf on the Shelf has become a money-maker. Why not create your own similar tradition, using a doll or figure crafted by an artist in the Mythic Arts community? You could even expand on the tradition, suggesting the kids (or the big kids, if your family is like mine and consists of two grown-ups and a furry cat-child) leave out a trinket or small snack each night to make Santa's little messenger feel welcome. It could be the perfect opportunity to tell your children about the folklore traditions of leaving out milk and bread for the Good Folk each night, and could act as a sort of advent calendar alternative.
So here are a few alternate faerie creatures to the Elf on the Shelf, just waiting to join your family in spreading Yuletide cheer. (And perhaps a little mischief)
Goblin Road, seen at Faeriecon every year, creates adorable stuffed Goblins for your wee ones. I've wanted one for years but have yet to spring for my own. And as far as similarity to the original Elf on a Shelf...well, the original offers an adoption program, and these little cuties come with their own adoption papers. Perfect!
If you can find them (and if you do, don't let me know or I'll die of jealousy since I've been looking for Bimble for years now), the rare FAO Schwarz Froudian plush Goblins would be a dream for this purpose.
Fuego Fatuo on Etsy offers beautiful dolls as well. I'm just in love with the Stray Sod pictured second.
Secrets of Urchynwood features wonderful goblins, imps, and other such creatures. Seen below, Slumburr and Tanglenott.
A creature from The Goblin Bazaar
Okay, so her sculptures MIGHT be a little scary for wee ones, but I can't resist including Amanda Louise Spayd here, since I adore her unique little faerie creatures. I love that her creations are whimsical, yet with an edge of Unseelie to them. Personally, whenever I can get my hands one one of her little tooth faeries, I think this will be our Nuth Family shelf sitting holiday creature.
And of course if you really want to splurge, you can try to get your hands on a Wendy Froud original, full of the magic of the Devon countryside. (all photos c. Wendy Froud) I've heard rumors her creatures are able to...
|Enjoy the food after...|
|And share in the bounty of every season|