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Reasons Why Our Elf Forgot to Move

This was first published in 2017, but we still use these ideas today because it’s that time of year again!  Time to reshare our Elf’s Reasons for forgetting to move… again!   Yes, even though the Elf on the Shelf’s Ideas make the kids laugh, he often forgets to move and stays put for two days in a row.   So… every year, I share this post with the reasons why our Elf didn’t move.

I hope that your Elf is less forgetful than ours. 🙂   

Elf on the shelf forgot to move
“MOM!  Gilbert (our elf) forgot to move… again!  He is STILL on the wreath on the door!   Mom?   Mom?” 
To which I now have a good response… 25, in fact.   
 If you don’t have an elf,  scroll to the bottom and you can find my affiliate link to Amazon to find an Elf on the Shelf & more. 

elf on the shelf forgot to move

When the kids wake us up to tell us that our elf forgot to move – we need to be quick on our feet to think of a reason why. Our Elf on the Shelf has great ideas, but sometimes he just sticks with the same one for two days in a row.   On his good days, he does fun things and even changes outfits, but other days… he simply forgets to move.

Here are 25 reasons why our Elf didn’t move: 

1- My friend, Holly, uses the excuse that her Elf was stuck, so they use Kitchen Tongs to move him from his spot, to pry him loose.

2- He heard someone getting out of bed right when he was about to move.   He was afraid that he would be caught, so he had to stay put!  (You have to stay in bed so that he can move!)

3- (If your child had misbehaved) – He saw you crying about ___ yesterday and he decided not to tell Santa, this time, because in this house, we give second chances.

4- He fell asleep waiting for you to go to sleep…

5- I thought that I heard some snoring coming from downstairs.  He must have fallen asleep early last night.

6- I think that I heard the TV last night- I bet he was watching a show and by the time it was over, he heard us waking up and couldn’t move.

7- You woke up too early.  This is why I ask you to stay in bed until 7:00 because he doesn’t get home from the North Pole until just before 7.

8- You’re right, he didn’t move, but I see crumbs on the counter, so I bet that he had a snack and then went back to his spot and forgot that he had already been there!

9- Maybe he thought that if he stayed there today, he would be able to hide better since you wouldn’t look there again!

10- Oh no!  It looks like his leg/arm/tag is stuck.  Let me pry him loose with a spoon.

11- I think that he stayed there because he could see everything really well.

12- “Elf, I’m sorry that we didn’t sleep well last night and you couldn’t move.  Maybe you can move while the kids are at school/lessons today.”

13- I think that sometimes he likes to move in the day because he has a hard time seeing at night.

14- I definitely heard some talking last night,  I think that his Elf friend came here, because it sounded like two elves… I bet they were talking so much that he forgot to move.

15- One year, our Elf made the kids little green pancakes.  When he forgot to move, we decided that it was because he just loved the pancakes too much to move.

16- Oh man!  I think that it was my fault.  I had to come downstairs to get a drink and I saw magic dust in the air.  I bet that he was moving until I came down.  Sorry, guys.

17- You know what?  That glue of Daddy’s was taken out of the garage.  I bet he was playing with it and got stuck.  I’ll pry him loose with a spatula.  (be sure to tell your Elf not to do that again).

18- (if you have a dog) – The dog kept staying by him and wouldn’t leave, so he couldn’t move.

19- He was sick last night  – it looks like he might have a fever.  Can you get a thermometer for me?  I’ll check.

20- Looks like he may have hurt his leg.   Let me see if I can take a look at it for you (get out the Dr. kit and give him a once over, without touching him.


21- “Hey, honey, can you run back to your room and grab a sweatshirt in case it’s cold inside today?”   Or “Can you run upstairs and see if I left my phone/keys/money in there?”  (This will buy you two minutes)

22- We need to all go look together as a family.   Let me run downstairs first to make sure that the blinds are open, first, so we can see him really well.   (Buys you 1-2 minutes).

23- Oh wait- you have to go brush your teeth (or make your bed or get dressed) before you can check on the elf.

24-  Before you look for the elf, can you hurry and make him a card?   I feel like we never make him anything and he always does fun things for us.

25- Oh man!!  What was that noise?  I think he is still moving.  Stay here while I run and check.  Don’t come down until I tell you that its clear because if you see him, he loses his magic!

#26 BONUS:  This one came from a reader & I love it:
Since Elves are used to living in the cold North Pole and our house is so warm, the elf magic disappears when they get warm. In order to recharge the magic, the elf needs to be cold so I use an oven mitt to place him in the freezer for a while.


If your kids are anything like our kids (below), they are counting on the Elf moving every day, so keep these little excuses handy. 😉

Where to get an Elf on the Shelf: 

If you don’t have an Elf or you have never tried it, you can get an Elf on the Shelf here  or you can get a big plush elf (I’ve never seen this until today!
plush elf on the shelf (boy)

More Christmas Posts you might like:  

Stocking Stuffers for Kids50 stocking stuffers the kids will LOVE!
Do you want ELF on the SHELF ideas?
25 funniest elf on the shelf ideas

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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        1. The last time I forgot, I told my daughter that our Elf probably didn’t move because we did not turn off all the lights last night. We left the Christmas tree lights on!

          Now she reminds me to turn off all the lights before we go to bed!

      1. My ex-wife and I had a very bitter custody fight. I was able to get two weeks in the summer with my daughter Afan, (10) and son, Walt (8). When I picked them up, my son was holding his Elf On A Shelf. I had never heard of this Elf.

        My son proceeded to tell me this strange story about what his Elf does when everyone falls asleep. He went on to tell me that NOBODY should ever touch his Elf. I made several comments about how I didn’t believe in magical Elves. I also told him his Elf creeped me out. For the next several days, I would act like I was very nervous whenever Walt brought the Elf in the room.

        One day toward the end of the two weeks, I had made plans to take my kids to their friend’s house to play. I told my kids I was going to drop them off and spend the next several hours running errands around town. I made it clear I wouldn’t return home while they were gone.

        After I dropped them off, I ran a couple of errands and then I went home. At this time in my life, I was hosting a weekly poker tournament for a bunch of my friends. I had several nice wooden cases that held 500 poker chips each. When I got home, I “staged” Walt’s Elf at the top of the stairs with two poker chip cases opened … and one thousand chips spilled down the stairs.

        After I picked up my kids, we returned home. When we walked in the house and Walt discovered his Elf, the open cases and all the spilled chips … he was jubilant! He was vindicated! I made him take his creepy Elf to his room and I had him clean up the mess his Elf made. He smiled the entire time.

        He proceeded to tell everyone we saw for the rest of the trip about what his Elf did … and that his Dad was scared of his Elf. It’s one of the happiest memories of my life.

        FS, Knoxville, TN

      2. Our elf forgets ALOT, makes me feel so bad, this weekend he stayed in the same spot 🙁 #momfail #sorry #TryToRememberToMoveElfie

  1. I told the kids the first time I forgot to move the elf that since they are used to living in the cold North Pole and our house is so warm, the elf magic disappears. In order to recharge the magic, the elf needs to be cold so I use and oven mitt to place him in the freezer for a while. When the kids aren’t looking, I move him to a new spot. Now, if I forget, the kids yell “mom, stick him in the freezer!” Works like a charm

  2. I told my kids that he must be hungry and have no energy to move. That night we left out elf sized chocolate chip pancakes to give him enough energy to make it. (That is what we ate, also acceptable would be just a few chocolate chips. Elves like sweets.)

  3. Our elf stayed in her spot on our undecorated tree for two days. We were late getting decorations up that year so my husband told our daughter our elf was staying there in protest because our house was not ready for Christmas.

  4. Luckily for this forgetful Momma, we’ve had bad fog….we tell our little boy that he couldn’t fly out in the fog so he stayed put!!! LOL hey he buys it so I will keep hoping for foggy forecasts and keep using that excuse!!!

    1. Oh that is HILARIOUS- I totally should have used that one this morning! 😉 (its foggy here, too!) He ended up moving during nap time & put on our son’s spiderman mask… silly little Elf!

  5. I noticed that lots of people move their elves using things. My younger daughter got upset at our elf today because he was sitting on her “My Little Pony” Pinkie Pie, and they were watching her show. Jaden, my daughter, cried because she didn’t want Sparkles, our elf, to be sitting on Pinkie Pie. So I told her that I would call Santa and get his permission to move Sparkles because it upset her. Worked like a charm. I was able to move him with my hands, and he was able to keep his magic….this time, but Santa did say that he was going to speak to him about upsetting Jaden by using her toys as props to sit on.

  6. Last year, we woke up and noticed our Elf hadn’t moved! Luckily, it was a very snowy night and I told our daughter it probably wasn’t safe for him to fly in the storm so Santa wanted him to stay put for a night!

  7. If I know there’s a storm or drop on Temps, I tell my daughter that the 2 elves couldn’t fly because it was too windy or too cold or stormy. It works every single time and it gets my 9 year old thinking at meteorology. 🙂

  8. Forgot to move the elf this morning and told the little guy that the elf must have slept in today! The honey is home so the elf will be sure to find a new spot before school is out!

  9. I forgot to move Jessica one night and my daughter was upset because she thought one of her friends might have touched her. I moved her that night and wrote a note saying that she was just messing with her and she was sorry that she had upset Catherine.

  10. I told my daughter that I saw on the weather channel that there was a huge storm at the north pole and it was too dangerous for the elf to leave. She moved once she went to school!

  11. We have one of those window bird feeders that suctions to the window and is clear. Our elf had to spend the night in that bird feeder two nights ago because the darned tooth fairy locked him out! Apparently there is a little rivalry between the two of them!

  12. I told my daughter that only mommies know how to touch “Smelf the Elf” without him loosing his magic, so I can touch him without a fit.
    Also we put a pinch of cinnamon by him every night to help him get to the North Pole. (It is his vitamins). So if he forgets to move I tell her he must not of taken his vitamins.

    1. Oh my goodness- that is the most adorable thing (the cinnamon). 🙂

  13. This year our elf is bring “mission possible tasks. One day the kids accused another sibling it was her fault because she wrinkled up the envelope. The next day he was still there, it took a while for him to get his magic back because you have to show respect to him and what he brings from the North Pole. The next time was because he had given them the assignment to do their rooms of responsibility and they hadn’t so he was just waiting until they fulfilled their mission possible. Hopefully he doesn’t forget to move anymore.

  14. I always tell my girls they must’ve been really good since snowflake didn’t have to report to Santa last NIGHT! She looks pretty comfy, I bet she was excited she didn’t have to go out in the cold to give a naughty report. 🙂