What is Elf on the Shelf and why is the Christmas toy so popular?

The viral 'tradition' has spread across the UK with editions of the The Elf on the Shelf on sale in British shops

December has arrived - and with it comes Elf on the Shelf, sent by Father Christmas to check on children across the country.
For those not in the loop, the festive toy began as a children's book in the US in 2005, telling the story of how Santa sends a "scout" elf to check whether your children are being "naughty or nice".
It moved across the pond to the UK in recent years, and grew into other merchandise including a figure of the book’s character.
And now the viral 'tradition' has spread with the UK editions of the The Elf on the Shelf on sale in British shops like John Lewis and Poundland.
The toy has become popular in the UK
The book has an accompanying elf puppet for parents to recreate the story in their own homes,.
Every day in December, once the kids are in bed, parents place the elf in different locations in the house so he pops up somewhere new when they wake up in the morning.Some parents also opt to leave small presents alongside the elf, giving the impression it is rewarding their well behaved offspring with gifts from Santa.
The tradition has gone viral in America with parents taking to Pinterest to post pictures and share ideas of the unusual places they put the puppet in each morning.
Children can chat to the elf but can't touch him otherwise he will 'disappear forever' according to the book.
Parents hide the toy around the house in different places
'Elf on the Shelf' children’s book is now on sale in the UK
The authors are keen that the elves are not "bought" but "adopted", therefore calling the retail outlets selling the toys "adoption centres".
The Elf on the Shelf story was created in 2004 by Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell to commemorate their own family tradition of an elf sent from Santa who came to watch over them at Christmas time.But despite its success, the tradition has been slammed by some as "creepy".
Rachel Foster wrote on Amazon : "Horrible passive aggressive doll that 'watches you' then tells on you to Santa.
"My 4 year old cried and didn't want it in the house."Got sent back to grandma within 24 hrs.
"The mother that invented this is a nasty piece of work.
"Don't be fooled and don't waste your money.
"There is nothing sweet or Christmassy about this.
Some parents are divided about the mischievous elf
"Could be useful in a household of poorly controlled brats I suppose.
"If you actually like your child and have a happy home it's not for you."

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