When Does Elf on the Shelf Leave? Simple Ways to Say Goodbye

Published October 26, 2021
elf in red suit in snow scene

Elf on the Shelf is a fun Christmas tradition that takes place in many households. Having a mischievous elf visitor that moves around the house is a treasured part of the Christmas season. Some parents may start to feel like the elf has moved in permanently after a few days, but that isn't the case. The elf does tend to stick around for at least a few weeks, but eventually has to go back to the North Pole.

When Does Elf on the Shelf Leave?

The Elf on the Shelf provides plenty of merriment throughout the Christmas season. However, like all good things, the elf's visit must eventually come to a close. The elf usually leaves just before or shortly after Christmas Day, but the timing isn't the same in every home.

  • Christmas Eve: In some homes, the elf makes its final appearance on Christmas Eve. After all, once Santa packs the sleigh and heads out, the elf's work is done.
  • Christmas Day: In some places, the elf stays through Christmas Day, to help with or observe all the festivities. This lets the elf see the holiday season come to fruition.
  • After Christmas: In some homes, the elf doesn't leave on or before Christmas. If it's okay with the household decision-makers, the elf can stay on for a little while after December 25th.
    • The elf can make December 25th its last evening with the family, departing after the kiddos go to sleep. In this case, the elf will be gone before the kids wake up the next day.
    • The elf may stay until or through Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas. Keeping the elf around through December 26th can be a fun Boxing Day tradition for kiddos to enjoy!
    • The elf can stick around until the family takes the Christmas tree down, whenever that might be. In this case, the elf will probably magically reappear when the tree goes back up the following year.

Fun Ways for Elf on the Shelf to Go Home

Whenever Elf on the Shelf leaves, the tone should be happy and upbeat. After all, it's only proper for a magical visitor like Elf on the Shelf to leave behind a sweet message. Your elf visitor might use the ideas below to create an unforgettable holiday tradition for kids and their families.

  • Candy note: If there's enough wrapped Christmas candy in the house, the elf can spell out a fun yet edible farewell message on the kitchen table. It could simply say "goodbye" or "farewell." A trendy elf might opt for "elf out" or "laters."
  • Christmas poem: The elf could leave a personalized message for each child that includes a short Christmas poem and a note reminding the kids to be on the lookout for the elf to return next year.
  • New Year card: The elf could use the family computer to print a festive Happy New Year card for each child in the household, signing it with a sentimental goodbye message, or even an elf footprint or handprint!
  • Mirror message: Another creative option is for the elf to write a goodbye message to the family on the bathroom mirror using a wet or dry erase marker, lipstick, or another type of writing tool that's safe for glass.
  • Going away bash: The elf might also want to say goodbye to the dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys. They might all have a party while the kids are asleep, but leave behind a few selfies (elfies?) for the family to enjoy!

Looking Forward to Elf on the Shelf's Next Visit

The departure of Elf on the Shelf should be a merry occasion. After all, Elf on the Shelf isn't meant to be a permanent member of the household, but a fun part of the Christmas season. As with most houseguests, the adults in the household might be glad when it's time for the Elf on the Shelf to leave, but it's important to plan for a memorable elf departure that leaves the kiddos looking forward to the elf's return next holiday season.

When Does Elf on the Shelf Leave? Simple Ways to Say Goodbye