Sure, Elf on a Shelf is a fun little toy, but it does have its limitations.

Jennifer Smith as Elf on a Shelf. Submitted photo

The 10-inch elf, a holiday staple in some homes since the book “Elf on a Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” hit the market in 2005, has been posed in a variety of places and countless photos have been taken of the doll in some bizarre (and hilarious) situations.

A good time was had by all, but the novelty of the elf soon wore off and people began running out of things to do with their kids’ formerly favorite toy.

The end of the line for Elf on a Shelf?

No so fast, Ebenezer. An Auburn woman has found a novel way of putting the fun back in the fading tradition by taking on the role of elf, hiring herself out as Elf on a Shelf.

After all, why settle for a cheap plastic toy when you can have the real thing, live and full-size?

We caught up with Jennifer Smith between photo shoots and random mischief and asked her a few pointed questions about what it’s like being an elf-for-hire.

What inspired you to become a real life elf? I was a retail store manager, and our dress code was pretty bleak — black, bottom to top. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, so my first year with that company approximately seven years ago, I said let’s spice things up a bit and have some fun. From December 1st until Christmas all my employees could wear Christmas colors, (we) had an ugly sweater competition, and as the days went on I just kept finding new fun costumes to wear — either to brighten up my teams’ and customers’ day, or to get them to randomly laugh when they saw me. Life is short, you have to find the fun moments when you can. I’ve always been huge on kindness, and if you have the chance to make people randomly smile and spread cheer when it’s not expected, then do it! The Elf on the Shelf actually stemmed from a day at work (when) I was dressed up as an elf. . . . I had gotten out a ladder to climb on top of the coolers to fix a sign that had fallen. When I was done I was scared to climb back down on the ladder, so I sat on top of the cooler. One of my team members took a picture of me and called me the store’s new Elf on a Shelf — it was so entertaining that we had to make it a tradition. 

Have you already tried on the costume? I have quite a few of them that I’ve acquired through the years and made. I also started dressing up for every other holiday at the request of customers. They would come in specifically on holidays to see what in the world I had come up with this time  

What kind of customers do you expect you’ll get? I’m not really sure, honestly, (I’m) just doing it to have some fun and spread some cheer and holiday spirit and make as many people smile in this rough world as possible. I’ve never met a single person who hasn’t smiled or laughed when seeing me as an elf.  

What’s it like being an elf? It is extremely fun and entertaining, and also has me smiling all day. But boy it’s a lot of tedious work to make all those little toys. Spreading joy and cheer and making others smile makes my heart happy, as corny as that may sound. I learned a long time ago, life is short and tomorrow is never promised! Everybody is fighting battles. If I can make even one person smile who’s having maybe not the best day — then it’s all worth it! 

When you’re not one of Santa’s helpers, what’s going on in your life? I’m a single mom to two wonderful, amazing daughters who also enjoy being the Elf’s helpers. We have tons of amazing family and friends who are family. We love our quality family time and do it as often as possible making memories. I also have a loss prevention consultant business, and currently finishing some renovations to open an at-home bakery with delivery service within the next few weeks. 

The elf-curious can contact Smith at or call 520-7268 for booking and pricing.

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