For most parents, the annual Elf of the Shelf tradition involves placing the toy around the house in a different spot every day.
But for 30-year-old Megan Schott from Nashville, Indiana, that tradition is about dressing up her 18-month-old son Forest as the Christmas character, putting him in costume and posing him in different ways every day in December.
The cuteness of the stunt is for a good cause, too: She is using the adorable photos to encourage fans to donate to charity.
What a cutie! A one-and-a-half-year-old toddler has dressed up as Elf on the Shelf throughout December
Up to no good: His mom, Megan Schott, puts him in costume and sets up the scenes
Annual fun: Megan started the tradition last year when the little boy was just six months old
A bit of planning: She decided it was too much work this year and wasn’t going to return to it, but friends and family asked her to
Good cuase: She turned the dress-up game into a fundraiser instead
Smart idea: For her to post new pictures of Forest, someone has to have donated to her charitable fund in the past 24 hours
Megan first started dressing Forest up last year — but even though it was adorable, she decided it required too much effort to return to the dress-up snaps this Christmas season.
‘It was a lot,’ she told ABC News, explaining that each new set of pictures would take an hour.
‘But everyone kept asking, “Hey! Are we going to see Forest as an Elf on the Shelf?” So I said, “Let’s do a fundraiser out of it,”‘ she said.
‘In order for me to post a nightly picture of Forest, someone would have to donate in the past 24 hours. It’s kind of like a pay-per-view.’
So far, Forest has been pictured playing the drums, writing on his dad Devin’s face with permanent marker, and making a mess with Cheerios.
Getting dad involved: She often times the pictures for when her husband is coming home, because she knows she’ll get an easy smile out of her son
Giving back: She set an initial fundraising goal for $500 but quickly surpassed it and has now raised nearly $2,000
Worth it: Each picture takes about an hour to set up and take, as she snaps several frames
Adorable: The donations are being split between the Salvation Army and the Columbus Fireman’s Cheer Fund, which distributes toys to needy kids
In one particularly mischievous snap, he appears to have doused a room in baby powder — which makes it clear Megan wasn’t kidding when she said arranging these pictures was time-consuming.
She also works to time out the photoshoots at the perfect part of the day to make sure to get a smile out of her toddler.
‘I learned the trick was to get him to cooperate was to get him in his outfit when daddy’s coming home and have daddy call me as he’s down the road. because when daddy walks in the door. Forest is like “dada” and super excited,’ she told Fox59 Indianapolis. ‘That’s how I get the pictures of him smiling.’
As for the charitable aspect, things have gone even better than Megan imagined. She’d hoped to raise $500 total during the month of December, but she hit that number in no time. She’s since upper her goal several times and has now raised nearly $2,000.
‘Tis the season: They’ve already made their first drop to the Columbus Fireman’s Cheer Fund
Naughty or nice? Megan said she’s happy she can teach her son the importance of compassion and giving back from a young age
Drop off: Cheer Fund said the donations will help provide gifts for 1,200 kids
More fun to come! The pictures will continue through Christmas Eve, mom said
The donations are being split between the Salvation Army and the Columbus Fireman’s Cheer Fund, which distributes toys to needy kids.
‘Having the community be so involved like Forest and his family is what makes the Cheer Fund succeed each year,’ Cheer Fund co-chairman Jarrad Mullis told ABC News. ‘ Forest’s donation will go toward purchasing new toys, bikes, and stuffed animals for the over 1,200 children we will help this year.’
Megan is happy that she has this opportunity to teach her son about the value of compassion and helping others.
‘I have something to show Forest. I have proof to show him that by showing compassion and promoting compassion, other people will see that and do the same,’ she told WTHR.