Ever since it crept up into the hearts and minds of millions back in 2005, the Elf on the Shelf has become a Christmas tradition for many families. It’s everywhere: classrooms, homes, downtown displays, and even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Whether you love the elf, hate it, or are indifferent to its wiles, now is the time of year when people decide if they will play into the charm (or creepiness) of The Elf on the Shelf. If you’re game, then you know it’s work.

Why? Serving as one of Santa’s right-hand spies, kids know the elf is supposed to give daily briefs to his boss before returning to his or her post the next day. The Elf is always watching, popping up in the oddest places to keep tabs on children and their behavior.

That means your puppet-work has to be skillful enough to move your resident watchdog around without giving away that it is you playing the roles of both Santa Claus and The Elf. It can be entertaining, funny, and for some parents, draining.

There are some parents (and teachers) who decide they just can’t keep up with the commitment of repositioning their elf every night. Sometimes it’s by accident and sometimes it’s by choice.

One Scary Mommy author recently shared that she won’t be doing the elf thing this year because she is too lazy. It has nothing to do with her holiday spirit, but more to do with not feeling like squeezing out endless ideas for what to do with Elfie – for years.

There is already the job of staying up at night to wrap and place gifts under the tree, so the thought of spending time propping up the elf just feels too extra for her. She also mentions that while she loves and appreciates seeing the displays of others online, the pressure to compete with, copy, or conceive an idea is all too great.

You’ve seen the posts on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. They’re clever, cute, and hilarious. And they change every single day. I recall one teacher who placed her class’s elf facedown in a pile of broken candy canes and Skittles. He had a candy hangover and the kids found him. That was in the morning and after lunch, it was something new.

Yes, the elf brings cheer and laughter from the kids, which is a great thing. It also brings out the fun side of many adults. But how much time are you willing to invest in the days leading up to Christmas and the days leading up to your child’s discovery that it’s all Mommy and Daddy’s magic?

You’ve got to be in it to win it, folks. The cost? Your time and some brain power. The gain? Cute smiles and chuckles. Perhaps fear too, because we’re sure nobody’s kid wants to get in trouble with Santa and his henchmen.

If you’re going to partner up with the elves for Christmas, just get ready to be in it for the long haul!

Do you do Elf on the Shelf in your home? How long will you keep it up? What are the most outrageous or hilarious things you’ve done with it?