Since his big debut 10 years ago, parents have gone above and beyond to think up cute and clever antics for the Elf on the Shelf to get into. This year, one dad managed to make everyone’s favorite elf even cuter with the help of his 4-month-old baby.
As a blogger and father of six, Alan Lawrence detailed on his blog, That Dad Blog, that this year seemed like the perfect year to bring the impish Elf to life. Lawrence upped the Elf’s cute factor by dressing up his son as the popular Christmas toy named after The Elf on the Shelf book, published in 2004.
As Lawrence explains in his first Instagram post introducing the photo series:
“We woke up this morning to find an elf in our family room. Our neighbors seem to think he is part of the ‘Elf On The Shelf’ program but we are still not sure. He doesn’t talk, just sits around watching us and eats all of our food. I’m just glad he’s wearing a diaper. If anything changes I will let you know.”
Lawrence’s photos capture his youngest son, Rockwell, playing out all of the Elf’s usual tricks that you’d see on Pinterest this time of year: sitting on the mantle, riding in a toy car with Barbies, eating spaghetti and maple syrup (à la the movie Elf), and even TP-ing the Christmas tree.
As Lawrence explained to Babble:
“We have never had an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ in our home, but the idea has always intrigued me: Parents letting elves in their homes to watch their kids and cause mischief. Then one day, someone told us that Rockwell looked like an elf, and an idea came to me. What if a real life elf came to live with us for the holidays, and how would I react in real life to having it show up to live with us? We have always called Rockwell our little elf, so at the first of December when people started posting pictures of their elf, I thought it would be a fun twist to have a ‘real elf’ and have it be our little Rockwell.”
(Spoiler alert: Lawrence later confirmed that Rockwell the Elf may not be as magical as he appears — Photoshop was used to edit out the adult arms holding him up in all of the poses.)
This isn’t the first time Lawrence has included his kids in one of his projects. Lawrence, who works as an art director and web designer by day and a photographer and aspiring videographer in his free time, made headlines earlier this year with another sweet photo project. In April, Lawrence’s Wil Can Fly photo series gained Internet fame as it portrayed the blogger’s fifth son Wil, who was born with Down syndrome, flying through his daily life “without limits.”
Lawrence plans to continue tracking Rockwell the Elf until Christmas, which could give the rest of the Elf-loving parents out there enough time to catch up. Because of Pinterest and creative dads like Lawrence, more and more parents are spending their holidays trying to reinvent the Elf. Just a few weeks ago, we saw a hilarious dad making the rounds on the Internet as he reenacted the Elf poses himself. Another mom’s Elf “hack” went viral this month when she came up with a totally believable explanation for why the Elf forgot to move — he broke his leg and was wearing a cast. Pinterest is full of funny ideas to keep the Elf fresh with each passing year, like the Elf doing yoga, the Elf making snow angels out of flour, or the Elf reenacting a scene from Toy Story.
Amidst a sea of Elf on the Shelf setups, it can be intimidating to try to pick the right idea for your family, but Lawrence’s adorable approach helps bring us back to basics. Just like the original Elf on the Shelf tradition intended, Lawrence’s photos prove he’s just another parent who’s trying to have some fun and make Christmas special for his kids.