The month of December is exceptionally chaotic in the Stibbs-Wilson household.
Every morning, stepbrothers Dayton, 12, Brayden, 11, Porter, 4, and Keillor, 2, wake up to find something has magically moved, been altered or outright destroyed overnight.
There was once a monster truck sleigh taking off from the coffee table, graffiti all over the bathroom mirror and a massive DJ party with several toys in the living room — all courtesy of the boys’ Christmas elves, Stephen and Orlando.
The two Elf on the Shelf characters come to the boys’ home in Langley from Dec. 1 to 24 each year to watch over them, and many times, pull off some wicked stunts along the way.
“It just happened that we got a really mischievous, nasty little elf,” said dad Sheldon Stibbs, the mastermind behind the elves’ antics.
“And he’s kind of corrupted his sibling Orlando to going over to the dark side.”
For the last four years, Stibbs — who is better known as ‘Sheldon the Bailiff’ from the reality TV show The Liquidator — has spent hours building destructive little scenes that take Elf on the Shelf to a whole new level.
In the game, based on the children’s picture book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, Scout Elves are placed in homes to help Santa make his naughty and nice lists.
These mystical elves fly to the North Pole each night to report back to Santa, and in the morning, sit in a different part of the house to watch over the children.
But in the Stibbs-Wilson home, the elves do far more than that.
“The first day this year they took a whole box of holiday edition Rice Krispies and wrote ‘we’re back’ on the table in gigantic letters and were doing snow angels. Orlando had crawled half in the box, and had just his legs sticking out with stuff all behind him,” Stibbs said.
“One night they were at the clothes steamer and Orlando had the steamer and he was steaming Stephen.
“He had Stephen hanging upside down, a duct tape X on his mouth, hands behind his back.
“But at least Stephen came out wrinkle-free.”
|In anticipation of their big interview, Sheldon Stibbs’ elves Stephen and Orlando were reading a miniature copy of the Langley Times. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times.|
The madness started with just one elf, Stephen, who lived in Stibbs’ home with his son, Brayden. Stephen was very good at causing trouble on his own, so when Stibbs and Brayden moved in with Stibbs’ girlfriend, Holly Wilson, her three young boys and their elf, Orlando, the fun doubled.
“They’re best of friends like stepbrothers and then they hate each other some days like stepbrothers. They love to hate each other,” Wilson said.
The elves have inherited most of their mischief from Stibbs, who is determined to keep Stephen and Orlando a cut above Santa’s other elves.
“I was watching people posting pictures online of the elves moving from here, and then moving over here, and now he’s on top of the Christmas tree, and like, that elf can do way more than that,” he said.
“I didn’t like the fun little regular postings, I want to see what kind of trouble they can get into. Elves are mischievous, and every night when the kids go to bed, they want to see, what have they wrecked? What have they destroyed? What ‘stuffies’ are fighting who? Who are they after?”
Inspiration for an elf scene can come up at any time.
Some nights, Stibbs tweaks something he’s seen on Facebook or Pinterest and is done in five minutes, while other times he’s up at 2 a.m., wandering around the house and rummaging through toy bins to try and come up with an idea. On one occasion, his imagination was sparked by a Ghostbusters pack he saw while shopping.
“The next thing you know, the elves were Ghostbusters that night and they’re (shooting) across the TV with their little lasers,” Wilson laughed.
Another time, food was the catalyst.
“One of my all time favourites was probably the snowball fight with the marshmallow snowmen,” Stibbs said. “I actually went and bought three bunches of fresh, natural carrots. They’ve all got twisted ends on them, and I cut them off and shoved them into the marshmallows, and then used edible markers and pipe cleaner arms. Some of them had swirly eyes (drawn on) because they had been knocked out by the snowballs.”
‘DENY, DENY, DENY’
Stibbs also posts pictures of his elves on his Facebook page, so there’s now an expectation from his kids — and all of his Facebook friends — to create something bigger and better each day.
Many of his elf fans are clients with brain injuries or cerebral palsy from Wilson’s business, Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation, and his posts help “keep their spirits up” through the holiday season, Wilson added.
Despite all of the work involved in maintaining the magic, Stibbs says the excitement from the kids keeps him coming up with new ideas each night.
“First thing they do (in the morning), they come out looking for the elves. ‘Where are they?’ And then they come running into the bedroom, ‘Mom, Dad, you won’t believe what the elves did,’” Stibbs said.
“I think the kids’ reactions, just that they’re so excited to get up. Like our one 12-year-old, he would sleep in all day everyday if you give him the opportunity. But since Dec. 1, as soon as he hears his two little brothers up going, ‘Where are the elves?’ Boom, he’s up out of bed.”
“I think, too, knowing that it’s just throughout December makes it very ‘Christmasy,’” Wilson added. “It’s the Christmas spirit with all of the clients and our kids, it’s really neat, we really enjoy it.”
With all of the antics happening in their home, the two older children have started to catch on. This year Dayton and Brayden have set up cameras and recording devices to try to catch their parents moving the elves, and so far have been unsuccessful.
For other parents facing the same problem, Stibbs has some advice:
“No matter how much the kids think it’s you, deny, deny, deny,” he laughed.
“It’s about having fun at Christmas, whether it’s doing the elves or decorating your tree, putting up lights outside — anything you’re doing.
“It’s about having fun and spending time with your family and enjoying yourselves.”