Mum spends all year on extreme Elf on the Shelf pranks – including real tattoo

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Mum-of-five Julie Ann Thorn is Elf on the Shelf obsessed. She first started participating in the tradition eight years ago, but her festive scenes have only gotten bigger and better

Julie with her sons L-R Evan, Lucas, Finley, Owen and husband Graeme)
Julie Ann loves seeing her sons’ faces light up when they see the elves

Elf on the Shelf is the unlikely Christmas tradition that has taken over in recent years.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Elf on the Shelf was created to encourage good behaviour in the run-up to Christmas.

The premise behind it is that you tell your children that the elf will report back to Santa Claus each night to say who has been naughty or nice, returning in the morning to a new spot in the house.

But coming up with 25 different locations for your elf can be quite a tough task.

This is why one mum spends all year getting ready for the naughty elf’s antics.

Mum-of-five Julie Ann Thorn has been doing elf on the shelf for the past eight years and spends months preparing and collecting props for her extravagant scenes.

She spends months organising Elf on the Shelf
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

The elves in a decorated pair of shoes
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

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From filling entire rooms with balloons and polystyrene to building a huge snow globe in her lounge and even asking her son’s dad to get a tattoo of the elf as part of one of the pranks, Julie Ann has really thought of it all.

Julie now mainly creates the magic for her youngest son, youngest son, Finley, seven, with the help of her older sons, Liam, 21, Evan, 19, Owen, 17, and Lucas, 15 and her husband, Graeme, 43.

Julie 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.

“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.

Julie’s plans have only got more elaborate over the years
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

“And 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.”

The bathtub full of hot chocolate
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

“Finley was in utter shock and was trying to rub the tattoo off of his dad. It was hilarious.”

Julie says that she feels a lot of pressure to perform with the elf on the shelf as friends tell her they can’t wait to see what she has created.

Her youngest, Finley, is completely absorbed in the magic of it, so Julie is determined to keep it alive and spends 12 months planning and looking for amazing ideas.

She added: “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.

The elves having broken through the ceiling
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

The Grinch visiting Julie’s son Finley
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

“All of his brothers get involved too which makes it extra special.

“I look for props all year round and I make lists in the back of my notebook to plan ahead for December. I like to keep a note of any good ideas on social media too.

“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 the most extravagant ideas I have done so far this year.

Julie’s living room, filled with balloons
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Julie Ann Thorn / CATERS NEWS)

“I bought a paddling pool in the summer to use as the base.

“And filling rooms with balloons takes quite a lot of days to prepare because of blowing up the balloons. It looks really impressive too.

“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.

“I love creating such magic for him every day in the build-up to Christmas. I love seeing his face each morning.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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