The popular Elf on the Shelf toy has a new rival: Reindeer in Here. The alternative toy, created by a children’s book author and dad, is a direct attack on the menacing, big-eyed doll that spies on kids and reports their naughtiness back to Santa. Reindeer in Here just wants to be their friend.

The 2005 children’s book The Elf on the Shelf introduced a so-called “fun-filled Christmas tradtion” into American homes.The book, written by Chanda Bell and Carol Aebersold, came with a stuffed elf, whose bendable limbs allowed the doll to perch on a hearth, providing the room with 24-hour surveillance. Millions of parents went along with an idea that was frankly creepy.

Damn, reindeer, drag the elf to filth! REINDEER IN HERE

Reindeer in Here doesn’t want to narc on your kids; he just wants to tag along until Christmas, taking notes on their likes and dislikes. According to the toy reindeer’s promotional ads, Reindeer in Here “writes notes” back to Santa every evening, telling the great toy giver in the North that Emily in Manhattan, for instance, doesn’t need any more Sailor Moon collectibles; what she really needs is Tupperware and an electric mixer.

For years, psychologists have suggested that Elf on the Shelf was a damaging parenting tool, yet the toy still flies off shelves every December. The promotional language is, frankly, ominous: “The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, what you say and what you do. The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, each and every Christmas.” Why, one might ask, would you want to send that message to a child?

What did the elf do to deserve a black bar over his eyes? REINDEER IN HERE

Children’s author Adam Reed, the creator of Reindeer in Here, pulls no punches on his website, calling Elf on the Shelf “intimidating” and “stressful for parents.” Children, he says, “are scared of it.” His website, which calls November and December #ShelfTheElf months, invites photos and social media posts from families deciding to  “finally put their elf to rest.” In the funny ads accompanying the campaign, the elf’s face is blurred, or his eyes are covered with a black band, making the character look like a convicted predator.

Reindeer in Here—the book and the plush toy—can be bought in stores and online on Black Friday.

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