[[caption-width-right:157:This kind of thing is exactly why they need a union.]]

->''"Elves should be making toys, not casting spells."''
-->-- '''Zeus''', ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''

SantaClaus's little helpers. They vary from story to story, but they have a tendency to be short. How short and the reason for shortness varies. Some are so short they live in a MouseWorld, or they may just be 3 feet tall. They may simply be dwarfs (of the real life variety, [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame not that kind]]), or they can be slow-aging and resemble children despite being ReallySevenHundredYearsOld. They are cheerful and love working for Santa, and are great with kids. Other times, they are a mischievous and somewhat disgruntled work force griping about the Boss and hiding the beer at work and so on...

They usually dress in bright green and other festive colors, and wear pointed shoes and hats. Despite living in one of the coldest parts of the world, they seem very poorly dressed and are hardly ever seen with coats. Contrast this with [[SantaClaus their boss]], who is hardly ever seen without his large red coat and boots. JustifiedTrope: Santa works outside, in the cold night air; elves work inside, in the warm toy-factory. Although Santa is sometimes described as a 'Jolly Old Elf', or implied to have elven blood.

This trope can extend to other elves who don't [[OurElvesAreBetter follow the typical portrayals of a fantasy elf]].

Interestingly, Christmas Elves aren't actually elves in all countries. For instance, the French version of the Santa Claus mythos calls them "lutins" (the most widespread type of LittlePeople, essentially comparable to {{Leprechaun}}s without the Irish stereotypes), as opposed to "elfes" (the French word for elves). Because of this, some European depictions of the elves, while generally similar to the American version, may exhibit dwarf-like beards that would look out of place on an "elf".

An especially common, consistent version of OurElvesAreBetter. A type of LittlePeople.


* The Keebler elves.
* The Kellogg's Rice Krispies mascots, Snap, Crackle and Pop.
* There is a campaign to popularize something called 'the elf on the shelf'. Parents put an Elf doll on a high shelf in their house and tell their children it's watching them so it can report to Santa if they've been good or bad that year. (Hopefully promoting good behavior and not merely getting the child used to the idea of a SecretPolice.)

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime used the humanlike Jynx Pokemon to substitute for elves in the Christmas episode (likely influenced by "Black Pete", the traditionally-blackface helper of Dutch Santa Claus). Nowadays the place could be filled by Delibird, the [[EverythingsBetterWithPenguins penguins]] inspired directly by Santa Claus.
* ''Anime/GhostSweeperMikami'' revealed in its second Christmas issue that yes, Santa has elves. Thing is...well...[[http://www.onemanga.com/Ghost_Sweeper_Mikami/71/08/ see for yourself.]]

* ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' had a [[BonusMaterial bonus]] sketch of Santa offering tools to Skywise and Cutter, who respond with "You want us to do what?"
** Santa's elves (wearing the traditional Santa Elf gear) are in the background, working happily under a sign that says, 'A Busy Elf is a Happy Elf.'

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* In ''Franchise/HarryPotter'' fanfiction ''Fanfic/TheParselmouthOfGryffindor'', or Christmas in Second Year, Dumbledore has a contingent of Hogwarts House-Elves fulfill the roles of Christmas Elves while he [[CloudCuckooLander dresses up as Santa Claus]].

* Averted in the Creator/DisneyChannel Original Movie, ''The Ultimate Christmas Present'', with the characters of Crumpet and Sparky.
** Technically, they ''are'' elves, but aside from having pointy ears, they're very tall and look like normal humans.
* ''Film/TheSantaClause'' trilogy featured elves played by child actors, though they are ReallySevenHundredYearsOld. (Bernard, Santa's second-in-command, is [[LargeAndInCharge noticeably taller]] and played by a teenager.) After meeting them in his "[[OrWasItADream dream]]," Scott objects to the more "dwarf-like" interpretation of Christmas elves that his advertising company was going to use in a commercial.
* ''Film/{{Elf}}'' plays with the trope. These are the dwarf variety, and they take a human into their numbers. He lacks the elfin magic, sucks at making toys, and isn't quite so cheerful as the other elves. He is still very efficient and cheerful by human standards, though.
** Deconstructed in that same film. As a human, he is unable to keep up with elfin energy, but humans are amazed that he builds things so fast, and only needs two hours of sleep. When he goes back to live with humans, he was so used to elfin naivete that everybody he meets takes advantage of him.
* ''Film/FredClaus'' also has the dwarf variety.
* ''Film/ErnestSavesChristmas'' featured two such elves, one of them played by Creator/PattyMaloney.
* [[HorrorDoesntSettleForSimpleTuesday Christmas Horror]] film ''Elves'' featured the titular creatures in cahoots with [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazis]].
* Rather than use dwarfs, 1985's ''Film/SantaClausTheMovie'' cast performers 5'2" and under as its elves and used terraced sets to make Santa and Mrs. Claus appear taller than them. These elves are friendly immortals and very slow-aging; all of them are adults. One of them, Patch (Dudley Moore), becomes central to the film when his attempt to introduce mechanized mass production of toys to the North Pole goes wrong, and he subsequently travels to the ordinary world to prove to Santa he can still be a great assistant -- and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer (John Lithgow) who intends to use his talents to take over Christmas.
* ''[[Film/ACountryChristmas A Country Christmas]]'' has Eliot, an elf who actually [[spoiler: becomes Santa's successor!]]
* An evil version: the Christmas Elves in ''Film/{{Krampus}}''.
* In ''Film/SantaBaby,'' full-sized actors play the elves, but they're almost all TheDitz, explaining why protagonist Mary (Santa's daughter) has to take over for her father instead of passing the job onto one of them. (Although the sequel features an elf who actually ''does'' want the job.)

[[folder:Film, Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer'' had an elf who wanted to be a dentist instead of a toy maker.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SantaClausIsCominToTown'', SantaClaus was a DoorstopBaby raised by a family of elves called the Kringles, who named him Kris. They all look like short men with beards, except for [[TheSmurfettePrinciple their matriarch]], Tanta Kringle. Kris was about as tall as them as a child and is about twice their height as an adult.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheStoryOfSantaClaus'' has them living at the North Pole before [[SantaClaus Nicholas Claus]] and [[MrsClaus his wife Gretchen]] arrive. They save the life of an elf child and get a wish; Nicholas wishes for his dream to deliver toys to every child in one night, and the rest of the special is him working with the elves trying to achieve it. ([[MagicAIsMagicA If they can't, they lose their magic, and Nicholas can't take the wish back once he realizes how hard it is]].) The story ends with the two humans granted "honorary elf status" and the group deciding to do this every year.
* ''WesternAnimation/ArthurChristmas'' has dwarf-type elves with pointy ears that stick out. They're very good at what they do and comprise Santa's special forces-like batallions. The teaser shows three elves from the wrapping batallion wrap a living (and angry) polar bear.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas'' naturally has some elves in Christmastown. Hilariously, many fans consider the elves [[UncannyValley freakier]] that the six-foot-tall skeleton running around. Or anyone in HalloweenTown, for that matter.
* The 2009 Creator/{{Disney}} animated special ''WesternAnimation/PrepAndLanding'' is about a team of elves who go ahead of Santa to prepare each house for his arrival. The main character has gotten cynical after 200-plus years without a promotion, and when a boy asks if he's a baby elf because he's smaller than the elves at the mall, he indignantly points out that he has a pension.
* The villain of ''The Santa Claus Brothers'' is a corrupt elf (you can tell because he wears black instead of green) who wants to take over as Santa, replace the other elves with machinery, and sell toys at Christmas instead of giving them away.
* The elves in the movie ''WesternAnimation/{{Spike}}'' are very modern. They have a special school to be Santa's helpers, and use modern technology such as the internet. (They also feel that Santa hardly does any work himself anymore.) Spike's cousin, a female Elf, wants to be a TV news reporter instead.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePolarExpress'' features very small elves, who can, among other things, perform parachute and bungee-jumping stunts.
* Notably, the short, dimwitted elves in ''WesternAnimation/RiseOfTheGuardians'' don't actually make toys (that duty falls to the [[BigfootSasquatchAndYeti Yetis]]) and are generally pretty useless. North (i.e. SantaClaus) just seem to keep them around out of pity.

* Okay Creator/JRRTolkien used to write Letters from Santa (and occasionally, his elves) each Christmas to his children. There, he used his elven script and language. And given that Literature/MiddleEarth is supposed to be mythic past of our Earth, it means that the only surviving Firstborn are now living around the North Pole.
** It makes more sense in the context of his contemporary version of ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'' (''Literature/TheBookOfLostTales'') in which the little fairies of popular legend were inspired by the wasted remnant spirits of Elves who had been left behind (not by choice) and diminished over time due to the rule of Men.
* The romance novel ''Literature/ChristmasElf'' by Tielle St. Clare. They're more or less human height, are very perky and have pointed ears. They have some magic, and they can grant Christmas wishes, but seem to lack the ability to materialize anything from thin air.
* The tie-in storybook based on ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars}}'' called ''Mater Saves Christmas'' features elf microcars.
* In ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'', the [[MallSanta Department Store Hogfather]] has "Little Helpers" running around, and the myth is said to include elves who make the presents. However, as Albert points out, Literature/{{Discworld}}'s Elves are [[TheFairFolk very much not the cheery helpful sort]]; "You'd have to be a maniac to even think of giving an elf a chisel, less'n you want their initials carved on your forehead." Calling them "pixies" isn't much better, as the setting's pixies are tiny blue {{Violent Glaswegian}}s more famous for stealing things than delivering them.
* Santa's elves in ''Literature/TheGuardiansOfChildhood'' are what remains of the former bandit's gang. When North and his men first entered the forest hiding [[HiddenElfVillage Santoff Clausen]], the forest spirit guarding the village only deemed North pure of heart and turned the rest of his gang to small stone figures. After the dust has settled after defeating Pitch soundly, North and the spirits restore the stony men to organic form, but they lost their height in the process. The elves don't actually build the toys, only testing them with Yetis being North's primary workforce.
* In the 1880s, Margaret T. Canby speculated that Santa got his elves one year when so many children had been good that he just couldn't do everything himself. They normally lived underground in winter and mined for treasure like Tolkien dwarves, but this group was getting bored with that and wanted to see the world. This is in ''Birdie and his Fairy Friends''.

[[folder:Live-Action Television]]
* Also subverted in a ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' sketch in which Alec Baldwin plays a high-ranking Christmas elf who is eerily similar to Baldwin's character from ''Theatre/GlengarryGlenRoss''.
** '''ABC''': '''A'''lways '''B'''e '''C'''obbling!
** There was another sketch in which a son "comes out" as an elf to his father, who then confesses that he too is an elf.
* Subverted in an early ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'' episode, where all of Santa's elves are regular human-sized except one.
-->'''Elf:''' We're Santa's elves!
-->'''Sabrina:''' But you're huge!
-->'''Elf:''' Yeah, guess who always gets in the pictures...
** This, however, was ignored in a later episode when the aunts hire a couple of short elves.
* In the ChristmasEpisode of ''Series/PairOfKings'', Brady and Boomer learned some of Santa's elves reside in the island. Much to their surprise, while the elves wear the famous green clothes, they're normal-sized humans.
* A minor RunningGag on ''Series/TheDailyShowWithTrevorNoah'' is comparing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to one of these.

* Music/BarenakedLadies' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qixiv080feg "Elf's Lament"]], a song about how Santa's elves are mistreated and how they want to unionize.
* "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg4sZZaf3Gg Celtic Carol]]" shows Music/LindseyStirling in a Christmas workshop being one of Santa's elves, sometimes with her violin and sometimes not. She has pointed ears and is mischievous, playing jump-rope with tinsel.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'' has Crimbo elves. In general, they follow the standard definition of Christmas elves, in that they're shorter than most, toil away making toys, and live with Uncle Crimbo in his toy factory (in whatever incarnation both are in that year). The fact that they fought for union rights against Uncle Crimbo's strikebusting reindeer, took over Halloween once, were turned into half-cyborg creatures, were horribly mutated by lunar radiation, combined into a gargantuan monstrosity, were enslaved by the Penguin Mafia, were reduced to living as hobos with Uncle Crimbo, and were hired as miserable office workers for a soulless megacorporation are just minor details.
* Christmas elves are a staple of ''Website/GaiaOnline'' Christmas celebrations.
* ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice 201: Ice Station Santa'', set in Santa's workshop, naturally features a pair of them. They mention that they come from an "elf factory", but this just means they worked there. [[spoiler:The factory still produced elves, though.]]
** They're kind of terrifying, too. Both in terms of physical appearance, and the fact that the one trying to water the tree with his tears is too damn cheerful to cry, in spite of the fact that he's under literal fire from an extremely paranoid Santa Claus.
** The third season reveals that Santa's evil ancestor Nicholas St. Kringle originally ran a sweatshop with humans, but later switched to elves, who worked for much cheaper. One of the elves was also bitten by an unknown creature and became a vampire.
*** It should be noted that Santa himself, usually described as a "jolly old elf", subverts the trope; he's a cantankerous old sod who despises children. He even points out the FridgeLogic of assuming he likes children with his usual setup: He lives in the one place on Earth where there are no children, doing a job where he's only exposed to children one day out of the year, and they're not allowed to see him.
* ''VideoGame/{{CarnEvil}}'' has twisted, demented ones fought on the "Slay Ride" roller coaster.
* ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}'' has an army of elves in the Frost Moon event. Some know archery, others ride helicopters shooting a [[GatlingGood Gatling gun]] at you, and there's even [[NonHumanUndead a zombie variation]].
* ''VideoGame/ThemsFightinHerds'' has characters who evoke this trope surrounding the Reindeer character in her [[http://manesixdev.tumblr.com/image/120646298700 concept art]], although they look more like a mix of TheFairFolk with TheGreys.

* The ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' elves are split between these and [[BrandX Neebler elves]], which are pretty much the same, but they make cookies. The Christmas version has a black ops division (to find out who's naughty and who's nice)
* The webcomic ''[[http://iperyys.net/ssos/ Otter Soldiers]]'' has the Finnish version of Santa [[spoiler: dead for some decades before the comic begins]] living in Lappland, and his Elves are anything but nice. Nowadays they mainly plot world domination with crows [[spoiler: and they killed one protagonist's sister for not wanting anything. So they put her in a box without any air in it.]] There are also killer raisins, evil worms and [[OurFairiesAreDifferent horse spirits]] who are mostly out to keep the world from going to shit, not so much for helping humans.
* ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' toys with the trope; the elves are the standard [[CantArgueWithElves high-fantasy elves]], but Thief belongs to the Khee'bler tribe, which has long been at war with the Sa'nta tribe.
* [[http://www.egscomics.com/sketchbook/?date=2012-12-24 This]] ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' holiday sketchbook strip features Nanase and Ellen fighting elves like they're {{Mooks}} for no apparent reason except maybe the RuleOfCool.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'''s first ChristmasEpisode, two elves show up in Danville to investigate when the entire town is inexplicably declared Naughty (due to [[MadScientist Doofenshmirtz]]'s [[ThemeNaming Naughty-inator]] messing up their readings). Notably, the first few scenes of them were at the North Pole without any humans around, so the fact that they're only a few inches high was used as a humorous [[TheReveal Reveal]].
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' has Brian and Stewie travel to the North Pole to kill Santa. They arrive to a massive factory spewing toxic waste, and the elves are all suffering from mutation and inbreeding, resulting in creatures that can barely do anything and who don't even notice when a body part has been removed. Turns out the problem is the modern kids wanting too much with Santa desperately trying to meet the demand.
* According to the [[WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past]], elves are actually [[UnreliableNarrator Martians]] enslaved by the primitive man-ape Santa Claws to fashion toys for him. Then they tried to unionize, so he replaced them with robots, leading to a war between the machines and the martians/elves that may have wiped out the martians/elves entirely...
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'': The Underpants Gnomes spend two months of the year helping Santa. They spend the rest of the year in their [[MissingStepsPlan quest for profit]].
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' features Billy getting caught in an ongoing war between tree-dwelling cookie-making Elves (clearly modelled after the Keebler Elves) and cave-dwelling mushroom farming [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame Dwarves]]. In the end they make peace and start producing mushroom-flavoured cookies together.
** They also do a Christmas special where Grim takes them to the North Pole to prove Santa's real. It turns out he's been turned into vampires by [[spoiler: Mrs. Claus, who just wanted a break]]. They're short, cute and make toys, but mostly stay in the background...until they're transformed into batlike {{Mook}}s.
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': [[BadSanta Robot Santa]] has his headquarters on the polar ice caps of Neptune, and has enslaved the Neptunians, forcing them to work in his weapons factory. They're malnourished, thus their growth is stunted -- making them LittlePeople compared to the human-sized Neptunians seen elsewhere in the series. They aren't happy at all, they live in horrible conditions, and they hate Robot Santa as much as everybody else does. They also all [[AmbiguouslyGay seem to be gay]] for no specific reason.
* A rather creepy example in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'' involves [[spoiler:children being magically transformed into these]].
* The ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' episode "Operation: N.A.U.G.H.T.Y." featured elf versions of the Franchise/XMen, complete with a Wolverine CaptainErsatz with candy cane claws.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/OhYeahCartoons'' era of ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'', there was one episode where one of Santa's elves acted as a stand-in for Cosmo and Wanda. To Timmy's dismay, the elf couldn't grant any wish other than toys.
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' used a Santa disguise to make the humans drop their guard on Christmas. He dressed his [[MechaMooks Lawn Gnome Sentries]] like Santa's Robot Elves. "Just like in the stories!"
-->'''[[OnlySaneMan Dib]]:''' [[LampshadeHanging What stories had robot elves?]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' Christmas special 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas' focused mostly on the girls' journey to the North Pole. But toward the beginning, when Princess originally breaks into Santa's workshop to see whether she's on the naughty or nice list, she has to evade the elves to prevent being discovered. They're short and wear bright colors, but act more like people than mindless Christmas spirits. Two even have a water-cooler conversation about whittling.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' themselves fulfill this role in a Christmas special.
* Santa's Elves are small green PointyEars aliens working for Santa Claus in ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack''.