Imperfect Single Parent | The Alternative Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet – for parents who don’t have time for that ****
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The Alternative Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet – for parents who don’t have time for that ****

Today I read what looked to be an encouraging cheat sheet for anyone wanting to do the whole rigmarole this year, and I figured I’d take a look. I’ve done a few elf things in the past to amuse (mostly myself but also) Rufus.

And, oh, dear lord. This thing isn’t a cheat sheet: it’s another impossible ideal to hold yourself up to and cry into your gin as you fail at.

There are an awful lot of us who really, genuinely don’t have time for that stuff. And others of us who simply can’t summon the energy/willpower/lack of shuddering revulsion at anything cute. So for all of you, I give you the alternative Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet.


1st December – Elf arrives with a naughty and nice list, with your child’s name in red on the naughty list and a note in elf writing saying how close they are and would be on the good list if only they went to bed on time.

2nd December – Elf empties flower in the kitchen and writes in it, “You’d better clear this up, kids, cos your mum is up to her neck with cleaning already.”

3rd December – Elf is inexplicably exactly where he was the day before because it was a busy fecking day.

4th December – Elf is in the car, but it’s hard to tell because the car is so full of rubbish, and your child dumps his bag on him without seeing him on the way to school.

5th December – Elf is humping your son’s giraffe because it seemed funny last night and you forgot to put it back where it was supposed to be.

6th December – Elf has vanished. You have literally no idea where you put it after the giraffe incident and have given up looking.

7th December – Elf catapults off the curtain rail where you realise you’d perched him to look cute, and is now lying on the child’s floor, apparently dead.

8th December – “Elf” has eaten all the chocolate your child’s advent calendar, and accidentally left a glass of gin next to it as well. You explain that elves like gin. And chocolate. And you will get another calendar. Maybe two, in case it happens again.

9th December – Elf is in the laundry room, (because everyone has one of those, right?) and is mostly there because you trod mud on him having forgotten you’d perched him on top of your child’s boot by the front door.

10th December – Elf is watching “Bad Santa” with a notebook and is clearly rethinking this whole elf thing.

11th December – Elf is supposed to be peering into the window in a cute fashion. The reality is that, having taped him to the outside of the window during daylight, you had not taken into account the terrifying sight of a small head peering into the window in the darkness. Your child is now screaming.

12th December – Elf is in the fecking cupboard, under a pile of towels.

14th December – Elf is out on good behaviour. He is currently sitting by the dishes, not washing them because he’s a fecking elf. You wonder why this one was suggested because it sure as hell isn’t encouraging your computer-obsessed child to join in.

15th December – Elf is in your partner’s bed. You’ve drawn lipstick on him in what you really hope is washable pen and dressed him in the smallest thong you could find. You hope your kids don’t go in there before he does.

16th December – Elf is still half-covered in pink. You decide it’s because he’s “got into mummy’s lipstick” and won’t that be funny and a good trigger for an open chat about gender identity oh god I’m too tired for this.

17th December – Elf has written what is supposed to be a cute “Nearly Christmas!” message on the mirror in the bathroom in that lipstick again, but which, when you step back, looks like a threat out of the shining.

18th December – Elf isn’t here today. Mummy has a hangover.

19th December – Elf is on the damn shelf. Hangovers seem to last a couple of days now.

20th December – Elf is on the sofa with a message that says “Only five more days of this ****”, the last three words of which have been turned into something resembling a picture of a train.

21st December – Elf is supposed to be in the Christmas tree but turns out to actually be in the mouth of the dog, and is now missing an arm.

22nd December – Elf is wearing a sling and a very small war hero medal. The arm is sort of loose in the sling but you tell your child not to go too close in case it scares him.

23rd December – Elf is lying just next to Mummy on the sofa, who is asleep, and seems to smell suspiciously of gin.

24th December – Elf gets involved in present wrapping by being in the way every time you try to put a piece of paper anywhere. You eventually inadvertantly wrap the elf because it’s now 2am. You then unwrap five presents to try and find him and discover that his arm is no longer anywhere to be seen.

25th December – One-armed elf is found on Christmas morning having been mauled by a toy lion. You say how it’s a valuable lesson to all of us about being a pain in the ass, and open the gin.

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