By Katherine Wright 

I didn’t have a traditional experience during my one-time gig as a Christmas mall elf, if there even is such a thing. 

There wasn’t a life-size Gingerbread house in the middle of the mall decorated with fake snow and reindeer to supplement an intimidating Santa sitting in a deluxe armchair. Nothing like that. 

It was a free event shoved into an obscure corner of the mall and included a few craft tables, a photo booth, a very small arrangement of snacks and a DJ playing classic Christmas jams. As an elf, my job was to roam around and entertain the guests, subtly building excitement for Santa’s arrival — without spoiling the surprise, of course. 

“Oh, I think I heard one of the elves whispering that Santa is on his way,” I said as a six year old’s eyes lit up with overwhelming excitement. I could practically see a Christmas wish list forming in her anticipating eyes. 

While the families showed only mild interest in my elf ears and peppermint-colored dress, Santa’s arrival sparked chaos. 

Someone shoved a bowl of mini candy canes in my hand, told me to follow the guy with the fuzzy red suit and white beard — who was very demanding, I might add — and to try my best to keep the conversations to a minimum. There were a lot of kids to get through and Santa was on a strict schedule. It’s a busy time for him, I can imagine. 

I may not have had a typical experience as a Christmas mall elf, but I can say with some certainty that the thought process of any one of us goes something like this: 


  1. Smile and laugh, then ask that kid what she wants for Christmas. Or do I wait for Santa to do that?
  2. This outfit is way too small. 
  3. Kids are terrible at art. 
  4. So no one wants to talk to the Christmas elf, but the second Santa gets here, kids are trampling each other to get a look at him? Greedy little phonies. 
  5. I can tell I’m not the first person to wear this too-small outfit. 
  6. There’s a chain-of-command here and Santa is acting like he’s better than all of us. 
  7. I never thought I’d be dressed in an elf costume dancing alone to Ashley Tisdale’s rendition of “Last Christmas.” 
  8. What a magical time of year. 
  9. Okay, Santa, but who’s the one holding the bowl of candy canes? You heard me. 
  10.  I think I could be a Christmas DJ. Yep. I definitely could.