The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a 2005 children's picture book, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and nice. It describes elves visiting children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features a hardbound picture book and a small soft toy in the form of a pixie scout elf.

History with the Macy's Parade

In early 2012, twins Christa Pitts and Chanda Bell and their mom Carol Aebersold wanted to see the North Pole scout from Elf on the Shelf become the first storybook character selected from an independent publisher fly in the Parade since Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit (self-published in 1901) sailed down Sixth Avenue on the way to Herald Square.

“When we got together at that time to discuss our dream for the brand, seeing the Elf in the parade was the pinnacle,” recalls Christa Pitts, a former on-air host for QVC. The trio would work closely with Macy's throughout 2012 to ensure that the Elf on the Shelf balloon would be a sure crowd-pleaser during its debut.

After months of hard work, a 64-foot long Elf on the Shelf balloon would take its first test flight in early November 2012, alongside fellow newcomers Hello Kitty and Papa Smurf, to much fanfare. Since the balloon's debut, he has become a modern-day Parade staple, having made eight consecutive appearances as of 2019.

The scout elf's presence in the Parade would once again grow with the addition of a float based on the franchise spin-off, Elf Pets. A costumed character of the the Elf on the Shelf, also known as Chippy, appears on the float alongside his female counterpart, Snowflake.


  • Chippey, alongside Moishe, are the only balloons whose official titles are based on their franchise name, and not their actual names.


  • Due to the record-breaking temperatures during the 2018 Parade, the brim of Chippy's hat was marginally deflated.
  • In 2019, pressure from the balloon's handling lines caused Chippey's right knee and sole to deflate.

See also

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