Elf on the Shelf returns! Here are 5 easy arrival ideas to bring your elves back

If you're here, you probably know about the little Christmas tradition called "Elf on the Shelf."

Yes, the scouting little elves keep your kids in check during the holiday season, but at the expense of parents' precious time to find Instagram-worthy hiding spots throughout the house.

It all started with the 2005 book authored by mother-daughter duo Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.

As the story goes, elves arrive around Thanksgiving and keep watch of children up until Christmas Eve. Every night during this time, elves fly to the North Pole to report to the big guy, ya know, Santa, about the kids' naughty or niceness, then return to a new spot each morning.

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When does 'Elf on the Shelf' return?

The season's "Scout Elf Return Week," as they call it, runs from Nov. 24 through Dec. 1.

Parents choose different dates to bring back their elves depending on their own holiday traditions and creative endurance.

Here are some ways to kick off the magic in your house. And don't worry if it's a week into December and you are just now reading this. There are plenty of excuses below.

Keep it simple

Grab a little card or piece of scrap paper and write "I'm back!" Or use a dry-erase maker to write "Did you miss me?" on a mirror. Plop that little elf in front of it and ignore it until your kids discover that their elf has magically returned.

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Write a letter

If you are the overachieving type of parent, you can write a letter to your little ones from their elves. Elves can explain to the kids that they are on a mission from Santa and that they will be reporting back to him. Don't forget to remind them that they can't touch the elves or they will lose their magic!

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Spell it out

Grab some marshmallows or M&Ms and spell out "Guess who's back?" Or grab that old Scrabble game to create a little "I'm back" sign. Or you probably have some of those alphabet magnets lying around, right? Set it next to your elf and done. Easy peasy.

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Plane ride

Incoming!!!! Elves can make an entrance by having them ride in on balloons or land on your Christmas tree. Attach balloons to a little bucket and place the elf inside. Or make a paper airplane that says, "We've landed."

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Excuses, excuses

Soooo your elf showed up a little bit later this year or your just need a break. What's up with that? Here are some ideas: The elf was doing some important elf training, he was devouring Mrs. Claus' sweets, she was on vacation or was stuck in a snowstorm. Or maybe elf just got some boo-boos and needs to rest before starting his elf duties.

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Happy efl'ing!

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Elf on the Shelf arrival ideas: 5 easy ways to mark their return