Holidays

Elf on the Shelf expands Christmas duties ... to birthdays 

Oct. 24, 2013 at 2:57 PM ET

Video: Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb talk to the mother and twin daughters behind “The Elf on the Shelf: A Birthday Tradition,” a new children’s book coming out this Christmas. The book serves as a sequel to the original work that started the tradition, which involves a special elf that helps Santa Claus manage his lists.

It’s not easy for Santa to keep track of every boy or girl who is naughty or nice. But since the 2005 publication of the book, “The Elf on the Shelf,” children have known that the Elf on the Shelf helps, watching over them during the holiday season. Well, the Elf will be getting a bit busier — the Elf on the Shelf will now celebrate birthdays.

The authors of the book, Carol Aebersold and her daughters Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts, introduced a new role for the Elf — the birthday Elf. The child’s personal Elf, who was already invited into the home for Christmas, returns to help the child celebrate his or her birthday. His expanded duties are detailed in the new book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Birthday Tradition,” which is available in bookstores now.

“[Santa] gives special birthday magic to the Elf for 24 hours only to come in … And the Elf flies in, completely gets dressed, decorates and has a wonderful time. And then watches all the festivities. That evening it flies back to the North Pole,” Aebersold told Hoda and Kathy Lee on TODAY.

And why would Santa dispatch one of his helpers for an extra day?

“Santa loves birthdays, too, right? Because if you're a child, what's better than Christmas? Your own holiday,” Pitts told TODAY.

The Elf featured in Bell and Pitts childhoods and the original book was a way for the family to share their fond memories with others. Before the book, the Elf was invisible, seen only in their minds, but when writing, he took a more tangible form.

“This was a tradition that we grew up with, so when we were little Santa used to send an elf to our home,” Bell told TODAY.

“We did, too. We had one named Barnaby — only my mom could see him,” said Kathy Lee.

While the Elf on the Shelf will help children enjoy birthdays and Christmas, his reach will extend much farther.  

“A dollar from every book is going to charity water,” said Pitts. “Santa wants to make sure birthdays across the world are celebrated.” 

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