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I spend all YEAR sorting my Elf on the Shelf pranks – they’ve got more extreme and for one my husband got a tattoo

When a parent signs up to do Elf on the Shelf in the run up to Christmas, they have free reign to be as creative as they like with it.

For this family, they may have taken the festive fun a little too far.

Elf on the Shelf began in 2005 as a behaviour technique for kids.

Christmas magic allows the Elf to fly back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa on the day's adventures, thus keeping the kids in line as they have a spy in the house.

Parents have to come up with 25 new scenes for the elf to be 'found' in, but for mum-of-five Julie Ann Thorn, she spends all year planning the fun scenes.


The mum said: "I have always loved Christmas and making a fuss. When I was young my parents were very over the top with it and I wanted to do the same for my family.

Julie has been doing elf on the shelf for 8 years but now mainly creates the magic for her youngest son, Finley, seven, with some help from her 4 older sons, Liam, 21, Evan, 19, Owen, 17, and Lucas, 15.

Her husband, Graeme, 43 also contributes to the magic, even marking himself permanently, with an elf tattoo.

"I'd seen a friend doing Elf on the Shelf in the US about eight years ago, so I wanted to try it and make it more exciting for the kids." She said.

So far, Julie has filled entire rooms with balloons and polystyrene, built a life-size snow globe in her lounge and even filled her bath with hot chocolate.

She explained that: "Over the years I have just gone more and more extravagant.

"I spend all year planning my ideas and making notes in a book. Some of the ideas take months of preparation.

"For example, I once created a winter wonderland using polystyrene from packaging from our new kitchen. It took so long to get it all into black bags and store in the shed until we were ready to use it at Christmas.

"I even chanced my luck one year and asked Finley's dad if he would get a tattoo of the elf for one of the pranks and on his day off he actually went and got it.

"I couldn't believe it."

Julie said her youngest son Finley was in utter shock and was trying to rub the tattoo off of his dad.

"It was hilarious." She added.

However, her extreme planning has given her added pressure as Julie says that her friends tell her they can't wait to see what she has done.

Seven-year-old Finley gets completely absorbed in the magic of it, so Julie is determined to keep it as fantastical as possible.

She said: "Finley races downstairs every morning to see what the elf has been up to.

"He knows that on the first night of December the elf sneaks into his room and changes his bedding while he is asleep and there are glittery footprints left through the house

Finley's four older brothers get involved too which she says makes it extra special.

As for how she manages it all, Julie admits that she searches for props all year and makes lists to plan ahead for December. She also notes any good ideas on social media too.

Julie said: "I am usually quite organised and have everything sorted in advance, but sometimes I come across things and improvise, for example, I recently managed to get my hands on a cardboard Coca Cola truck that I am going to use.

"I think I am going to fill it with shopping and then Finley can donate it to a local food bank."

Making a snow globe in the living room is one of Julie's most extravagant ideas to date.

The mum bought a paddling pool in the summer to use as the base of the snow globe.

She said that filling rooms with balloons can take days to prepare but it all pays off because it looks really impressive once it's done.

"It's sometimes difficult to find places to hide all of our props, but luckily we have a cellar where we can keep things and Finley wouldn't go down there because he's scared of spiders." She added.

As for what keeps her doing all the preparation and work for it, Julie says: "I love creating such magic for him every day in the build-up to Christmas. I love seeing his face each morning."

For more Christmas stories, check out this mum branded a ‘Christmas icon’ thanks to her ENORMOUS haul of decorations… and tree number three has already gone up

Or this, I bedded my hot boss at my work Christmas party – he lasted two minutes, I was crushed & couldn’t face him after

See why this parenting experts said having a naughty Elf on the Shelf for Christmas is a BAD idea for your kids

Cheeky Glasgow toddler, 2, tells mum Elf on the Shelf has done a 'big s***e' in his potty in viral TikTok video