One day you realize it. You’re in too deep. For a few years your family delighted in the Christmas tradition of waking up each morning in December to find where your resident elf had hidden after his nightly flight to the North Pole to report your misdeeds to the big man. Now the routine is growing tiresome. Many nights the elf forgets to move and you’re running out of excuses for him. Sounds like it’s time to send your elf packing. Here are a few tactful, and some not-so-tactful ways to off your elf.

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18 Creative Ways to Ditch Your Elf on the Shelf Tradition

#1: Duty Calls

01 Ways to Off Your Elf

Turns out elves are fiercely loyal, and not just to Santa! Though he never thought his name would be called, turns out he’s been drafted and is proudly serving his country in the armed forces. Hopefully he will send you a copy of his draft papers if he’s off to serve his country this year.

#2: Maternity/Paternity Leave

02 Ways to Off Your Elf

A lot can happen in the 11 months between when your elf leaves your family and his/her triumphant return the following year. Perhaps your elf has welcomed a bundle of joy recently and is taking some time off to bond with the new little one.

#3: Rehab

05 Ways to Off Your Elf

It’s been said that elves eat primarily candy, candy canes, candy corns, and chocolate. Sugar addiction much? Be sure to express how proud you are of the elf for taking his addictions seriously and taking proper action to curb his bad habits.

#4: Education

04 Ways to Off Your Elf

It’s admirable, really. Your elf had progressed as far as anyone with an associates degree could. But with the support of Santa, the other elves, and your family, he’s decided to pursue higher education. He’s up to his eyeballs studying for finals and just couldn’t pull it all together to be visiting your family, too.

#5: Jury Duty

12 Ways to Off Your Elf

It was only a matter of time before your elf got summoned, they all do eventually. He tried everything in his power to get out of it. He really did.

#6: Shift Change

16 Ways to Off Your Elf

Bet you didn’t know that there are elves that visit houses only at night and report back to Santa during the day. Well, there are, and unfortunately your elf just got switched to nights. He’s still around, but has to leave in the wee morning hours before anyone wakes up.

#7: Sabbatical

08 Ways to Off Your Elf

Certainly your kids will buy into the idea of an elf sabbatical. It goes without saying that Santa is one of the best bosses around and I could totally see him offering a month long sabbatical to his employees every other year. How unfortunate that his sabbatical directly overlaps with Christmas time this year, darn!

#8: Doing Time

09 Ways to Off Your Elf

Hey, it happens to the best of us. A small lapse in judgement can leave even model citizens spending a little time behind bars. Hopefully he will make parole for next year.

#9 Telecommuting

10 Ways to Off Your Elf

The technology advancement in recent years has made elfing a much more streamlined process. None of this back and forth business, the elves can now carefully and strategically place mini cameras around and watch your family from the comfort of their homes.

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Kristi is a frizzy-haired mother of four, living the dream in Austin, TX. When she is not writing, she can most likely be found exploring the hiking trails in Austin, or pursuing her other life passion . . . tacos.