Little Man's family does do Santa. I told K about "Elf on a Shelf" and she loved the idea. So we started the tradition for Little Man.... a little late, but what can you do?! :)
You can order it on Amazon or pick it up at select stores. Here's what it is:
It comes in a cute little box that then opens up into this...
(sorry... I had already taken the elf out!)
The left side is a book explaining it to the kids and the right side is where your elf sits.
You can choose what kind of elf you want (based on your family)
Then you read the book to your child. It's written from the elf's perspective. It asks if you ever wondered how Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice. Then it says that he sends his elves out to watch for him. You have to name the elf. It also states that you cannot touch the elf or he will lose his Christmas magic. You can talk to the elf, but he has been given strict instructions by Santa that he cannot talk back.
The elf finds a cool place to hang out in your house (to watch for good behavior!)...
Then at night, when you sleep, he uses his Christmas magic and flies to Santa. He spends the night with Santa telling him if you've been good or bad, and then he comes back in the morning. Moms and dads have to move the elf to a new place each night.
The book also explains that word gets around, so even if you are away from home, the elf will hear from others how you behaved.
I have heard some people have mischievous elves... like they spill a little dirt out of the flower pot they are sitting in... or leave a half eaten cookie with cookie crumbs. It's up to you how creative you want to be.
I gave Little Man some pretty cool name suggestions... Dudley, Wilson, Henry (and on and on). He chose to name his elf "Peanut". Yeah, that was not one of my suggestions! I have also heard that some moms make up a name list and include it in the book. Then the child has to pick from the list. If I were to do it over, that's what I'd have done. Although, it was sort of a rush deal when we got it, so I just wasn't thinking.
Most people start this on December 1st, but you can do it whenever you want. Once your Christmas decorations are up... December 1st... two weeks before Christmas... the tradition is yours to make!
Little Man is loving it. He has about a thousand questions about it, but he loves it. He gets so excited to find where the elf has moved to!