Santa’s Buddy is Showing Up on the Shelf – and Lots of Other Places

A family tradition has become a global licensing success story.
Jane Neal

December 13, 2021

A line of 'Elf on the Shelf' products including books, wrapping paper, toys and playing cards.
Elf on the Shelf

You better watch out – Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s got a list of who’s naughty and who’s nice. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. But how exactly does he know? Turns out, he has a little help from a sneaky little elf. 

“The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition,” a holiday children’s picture book, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart, was first published in 2005. It’s the story of Santa’s little helper, a magical scout elf, who watches children by day and returns to the North Pole each night to report back on their behavior. When the elf returns to the house the next day, he or she then hides, creating a holiday hide-and-seek that lasts throughout the season. What initially began as a publishing company launching The Elf on the Shelf has led to ubiquitous elf figures displayed in homes and evolved into a global IP company focused not just on consumer products, but entertainment and brand experiences too.  

The licensing success

stories include TV shows, a live musical and even a balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The global children’s brand is owned by The Lumistella Company, a name derived from the Christmas comet. Helen Bransfield, executive director, licensing and Mike Champion, president, The Lumistella Company talk about the growth and successes of The Elf on the Shelf brand. 

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