Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WTF Wednesday - The "Thanks For Ruining Christmas" Edition


Warning Parents: Please do not make the same reckless mistake I made - Like the lazy, heathen mom I am, I allowed my son to read a toy catalog. Gasp!

Yes, I know, it sounds harmless enough. I've done it dozens of times. However, this last one might have ruined Christmas forever. Yes, I'm being way overly dramatic, but I'm pissed at a stupid toy company. A toy company with a sloppy marketing team.

And we all know how much I love writing blog posts when I'm fired up. 

Last week, a catalog came in the mail from a toy catalog company that I'm not naming (although this post has already published, I'm now thinking better of it). Now, I've never even heard of this company, but after flipping through the catalog for a few seconds, I noticed that it had some really wonderful, unique and educational toys. Note: I did not read it cover-to-cover. Awesome! I'm always looking for non-crap gifts to get the kids because they have way too much stuff as it is.

This thought literally went through my mind: "I love this catalog. I plan to buy every single present from it." No joke.

So what did I do? I tossed the catalog over to Ryan, an 8-year-old who believes in ALL the magic of Christmas. But recently, he's been asking some logical questions thanks to the jackball 5th graders on the bus.

"Here Ryan! Look at this. Start thinking about what you want to ask Santa for." Remember when we were kids how exciting it was when the Sears catalog with all the toys in it came before Christmas? How we'd sit there with a marker circling all of the stuff we wanted? Why wouldn't I give a toy catalog to him?

Two minutes later my husband walks in and says "I had to throw away that catalog that you gave Ryan."

What??? The coolest toy catalog ever? The one with science toys in it? You damn Grinch.

"Yes, he was reading about how the Elf on the Shelf is $39. I took it from him, but I'm pretty sure he saw it."

I grabbed it out of the recycle bin, sure enough, there on page 20 was the white version of our ethnic Elf (a story for another time) with the low, low price of $39. I tore out the offending page, but kept the I can write this blog post (and still get gift ideas.)

OK Catalog Company - WTF is wrong with you??? Did it not occur to you that your TOY CATALOG might fall into the hands of a child? Perhaps one of the millions of children who already have an Elf on the Shelf?

Just so you know, Catalog Company, the Elf that has visited our family for the last two years is named Phineas. He looks exactly like the one you are selling in your catalog, but in our case, Santa sent him here to look over our kids during the Christmas season. He was not purchased from a catalog. Phineas decorates our children's rooms while they are at school. Our Elf is a REAL Elf from the North Pole. We all know the rules about how we don't touch Phineas - just like it says in the book that SANTA sent with him the first time. He certainly does not come in a box, like yours and if he did come in a box it would be hidden deep in the garage and not even stored with the other Christmas items so nobody would ever see this non-existent box.

Yes, I have also avoided certain book stores at Christmas because I know they sell elves that look similar to our very real Elf sent from Santa.

And I know what you're thinking: You have to sell these things somehow, right? Well, that certainly is a bit of a dilemma with you and me on polar opposite ends of the opinion spectrum on this one.

It does not sit well with me, Catalog Company, that my son has now seen your suggestion of "Starting a Family Tradition" by purchasing a $39 stuffed elf in a box that comes with the same book our family has - an elf that clearly the parents have to buy. An elf that is in a catalog in which (as far as I can tell) every single other item is a TOY. Sure, you can blame me for not noticing the one non-toy, Christmas deal-breaker if you want. It would have been like finding a needle in a haystack.

My son saw this. My son found the needle in your catalog of a haystack. My son is not stupid. You are. And thanks for putting yet another doubt into the mind of a smart kid. Yes, I had already considered this might be our last year with this him still enjoying all the magic of Christmas like he has since he was little. Add this to his list of proof points.

You're just as bad as a 5th grader on the bus.

I hope you sell a lot of Elves.



  1. I've actually never heard of an elf on the shelf but I might be looking into it! Can you send me the page You ripped out?! ; )

  2. I'd make a joke about the blossoming of a skeptic, but that cuddly picture on the couch almost induced phantom letdown.

    A big brother with doubts might take on the role of a 5th grader on the bus unless, at some point, he is brought into the circle of knowledge and told that he is being trusted not to spoil it for younger siblings.

    Don't worry--they're even more fun as they mature.

  3. A huge WTF to the toy company! Of course that kids read the toy catalogs...why wouldn't they? They are just trying to rip off those families who weren't special enough to receive their elf directly from the North Pole!

  4. Not gonna lie...Elf on a Shelf scares the crap out of me. If Santa sends us one, he or she will get a Viking farewell.

    However, that was ASININE of that toy company. Seriously.

  5. Cheers to the mental giants who did the layout on this one. Why didn't they just pepper it with the F Bomb and sell special shoes for making fake Easter Bunny tracks while they were at it? Cool Toy Company: We Specialize In Crushing The Tender, Magical Illusions of Small Children.

  6. Mollie Molumby - PR Manager for Elf on the ShelfOctober 19, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Hi Ali:
    Thank you for taking the time to share your concern about the catalog. I found your posting through twitter. We certainly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, sentiments, and feelings with us concerning Santa's helper and his place in toy catalogs and on TV.

    As you can imagine, we are a company that LOVES Christmas! We love everything about it, especially the magic it brings to families. Nothing could upset us more than reading a post like yours in which the disappointment was palpable--- for that, we are truly sorry.

    Please let me take a moment to share a bit of our history with you. Since our inception in 2005, we have been offered in a wide variety of toy stores, toy catalogs, specialty boutiques, and book stores across the country. In fact, last season many Borders and Barnes & Noble stores carried “The Elf on the Shelf.” As you can imagine, Santa wanted to share his secret with all of the families who wanted to adopt an elf. His solution was to set-up adoption centers across the country. As with adopting an animal, families can go to a store and pick-out their very own elf... the one they wish to adopt! The story does not indicate how Santa gets them to a family. As you can imagine, this became even more important as Santa received phone calls and letters from families all over the country - who wanted to adopt an elf.

    In addition, Santa (in his great wisdom) allowed for elves to hibernate until they receive their name. As the book says "the first time I come to the place you call home, you quickly must give me a name of my own, once you are finished my mission can start, what will you call me ..." Thus, an elf does not receive its magic until it has been named.

    In closing, I believe this may have been a misunderstanding. I know Santa would be happy to send a letter to your family which could explain the situation--- if you like. If not, we certainly understand and wish you and your family the very best this holiday season.

    Thank you so much!

    Warmest wishes,
    Mollie Molumby
    PR Manager

  7. What is Elf on the Shelf?

    (the expression on your face in that picture is pretty cute, Ali.)

  8. I was about 8-years-old when I learned about it. It seems more devastating for parents, no?

  9. I appreciate the concern from Mollie, The Elf on the Shelf's PR Manager. And, we love 'Jack,' our Elf who was brought into question the first year we invited him into our home. Our oldest son who was 6 or 7 at the time asked if the book was lying. Allowing my child's imagination to flow positively is one thing but when lying is concerned I had to tell the truth. He continues to add to the illusion & excitement, knowing all along that it's mom & dad who move Jack around. He also still believes in Santa but knows that Jack is something I wanted to do to make the holiday even more special.

    As for placing this product in a children's brings into question the intentions of the company & the catalog. It doesn't make a lick of sense for a toy catalog company to market The Elf on the Shelf to children. First, kids are not stupid. Second, selling the product completely contradicts the explanation given in the book that we own...just saying. Advertise it in Parent's magazine or Oprah or something a mom will read. NOT what the children will read (or dads for that matter). Adoption or not, I believe the process can be very confusing causing doubt in a child's mind, as it did in my oldest son at the wee age of 6 or 7. In my opinion adding the price to the product as this toy catalog has done, speaks volumes about their intentions. Ali, I'm sorry that this has happened. If it were me, I would again, let the oldest in on the secret & allow the fun to continue! Merry Christmas! WT? I just said that BEFORE Halloween!

  10. Totaloly an epic fail on thier part! What in the world were they thinking?? I mean can't they advertise that in a DECOR magazine so that there is less of risk that little kids who still believe in the magic. Pshhhht

  11. I didn't have an Elf on the Shelf growing up and I thought this would be a great idea for my daughter.
    NOW I'm reconsidering because I'm worried that she'll see him in a catalogue.
    This really annoys me.

  12. I love that Mollie took the time to read and comment on your post, and the story behind the elf's "adoption" is cool...but kids aren't stupid. They know when you're backpedalling, and at 8, your son may be on his last Santa legs. :( I don't look forward to that day. But hopefully you can hold onto it for a little bit longer!

  13. I'm really surprised that someone from the company commented back with a thoughtful comment.

  14. I'm kind of impressed the company responded to you, too.

    Our elf came from Borders, and my kids were there when we bought (adopted) him. They thought the magic started once he was out of the box and named, so it wasn't too bad, but it was definitely hard to remember to move our elf French Fry every day. Now neither of my girls believe in Santa so I'm wondering if we're going to go through the fun of moving the elf this year anyway.

  15. Was that a real comment from the people at the toy catalog?? That's so crazy if that's real!! Your WTF moment has been somewhat totally have to do another WTF update about this ;)

  16. Lol! Jessica from left me a link to your post. I posted about the exact same thing yesterday. I tried to cover, which seemed to work, but I think it depends on the kids. Hopefully you get that personal letter from Santa. :)

  17. You could totally spin it by saying Santa made the toy catalog for families and the $39 is paying for travel expenses or something.

    At least he didn't see Santa suits for sale. That would have really thrown up a red flag.

  18. Impressed that the company contacted you and responded to this! We've yet to introduce the Elf, but when we do, I have an antique one from my grandmother! Very excited to start that tradition.

  19. Just read the comment from Mollie and wow, I'm impressed she responded. I'm not all that familiar with Elf on the Shelf, so I admit I'm a little confused by this. Enlighten me, oh wise one. ;)

  20. Holy Crap. The Elf on a Shelf people contacted you? You are powerful. I bow before you, sensei.

  21. hello power of The Internet! That's awesome, I'd take the letter from santa!

    I'm all about lying to my kids (especially with Chink, or elf) to make them behave.

  22. Yes we want an update on this situation!

  23. I have the same gripe about STOCKING STUFFERS.. walk into Target today and their $1dollar spot has stocking stuffers above it advertized.... WTF? Stockigns are stuffed exclusively by SANTA. Why oh why would anyone need to buy something for one? You screwed me Target. Damn!

  24. I personally think PR Manager Mollie's idea is a good one, even if it does sort of make Santa sound like an elf trafficker.