In 2002, a family's decades-old Christmas tradition took the world by storm when Carol Abersold and her daughter, Chana Bell, self-published their book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.
"Each night while you're sleeping/to Santa I'll fly," reads the book. "I'll tell him if you have been good or bad. The news of the day makes him happy or sad... I'll be back at your home before you awake, and then you must find the new spot I will take."
16 years later, millions of families around the world have adopted the quirky idea as part of their Christmastime traditions.
Over time, many people have come up with their own creative takes of the every holiday season, but some of them have proved to be a little dangerous than others.
As we enter this year's holiday season, experts are sounding the alarm about hazardous Elf on the Shelf setups.
One family nearly lost their home after an elf doll caught fire, so the Dublin Fire Brigade is urging people to be extra cautious when choosing where to position the elf.
According to the fire department, the family placed the elf too close to a lamp for about "40 minutes," and if it was there any longer, things could've gone very wrong.
"Close one for this #ElfOnAShelf after she ended up on a lamp," they wrote on Twitter. "The Elf resisted heat for 40 minutes. Keep all decorations away from heat."
Close one for this #ElfOnAShelf after she ended up on a lamp. The householder had done the right thing & purchased one with a CE mark. The Elf resisted heat for 40 minutes. Keep all decorations away from heat pic.twitter.com/t7R3GrQIyD— Dublin Fire Brigade (@DubFireBrigade) December 12, 2017
Sure, some people already know to keep decorations away from heat, but it's also a tip that many of us often don't think about when decking the halls and moving the elf doll around the house.
Be safe by not only keeping the doll away from warm objects, but by also making sure other toys, stockings, blankets, wreaths, and even the Christmas tree aren't beside anything that radiates heat.
Candles are often a big deal during this time of year, and honestly, it's best to avoid using them. However, if you can't resist lighting up that gingerbread-scented candle, just make sure it's placed away from paper products and other decorative items.
There are a ton of Elf on the Shelf ideas that don't involve a doll sitting next to a lamp, here are 15 creative ones to inspire you.