Christmas Baby Names: Elf on the Shelf names

Christmas Baby Names: Elf on the Shelf names

By Nick Turner

It’s the holiday season, which means eggnog, carols, twinkling lights and — for millions of American parents — remembering to move that damn elf around the house every night.

Yes, I’m talking about Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas tradition that feels like it’s been going on forever but is less than ten years old. If you’re unacquainted, the idea is to plant an elf doll in your home that serves as a sentry for Santa. It watches your children and reports on their evil deeds. (Somehow this delights kids rather than terrifying them.)

Every night the elf flies to the North Pole to deliver the latest intel, so the next morning he or she has to be in a different spot.

This year there’s also a new Hanukkah version called Mensch on a Bench (similar idea but with a beard and tallit).

When you get one of these elves, you’re asked to name it. For naming geeks, this can be a fun exercise — with lower stakes than permanently branding a baby or pet.

Like babies, the elves even have their own naming data. The Elf on the Shelf website compiles a list of the most popular picks (people register the names with the site, which is how they get the information).

Top 20 Elf on the Shelf names:

1. Buddy2. Elfie3. Jingle4. Snowflake5. Jingles6. Jack7. Charlie8. Fred9. Chippy10. Sparkle11. Elfy12. Holly13. Max14. Twinkle15. Jolly16. Elvis17. Bob18. Clyde19. Peppermint20. Nick

I like that my own name cracked the top 20 (I’m assuming the St. Nick connection gave it a boost).

To make things interesting, I looked at how the elf names ranked for human babies. The most popular was Jack, which was used 8,512 times by American parents last year. That was followed by Max and Charlie.

Number of babies receiving Elf on the Shelf names in 2013:1. Jack (8,512)2. Max (3,511)3. Charlie (2,866)4. Holly (681)5. Clyde (195)6. Elvis (184)7. Nick (171)8. Fred (101)9. Buddy (21)10. Bob (19)11. Sparkle (12)12. Chippy (0)13. Elfie (0)14. Elfy (0)15. Jingle (0)16. Jingles (0)17. Jolly (0)18. Twinkle (0)19. Peppermint (0)20. Snowflake (0)

Nine of the names were not used at all. (More precisely, they were used fewer than five times apiece. The Social Security Administration doesn’t track names below that threshold.)

But Sparkle was used 12 times on actual humans last year. Amazing! (Amazing was actually used 11 times.)

It’s worth noting that 11 girls were named Santa in 2013. That one isn’t so crazy. It’s a feminine name meaning “holy,” and it ranked in the top 1,000 during the 1910s. (Plus, think how fun it would be to sing “Santa Baby” to your baby Santa.)

Anyway, I noticed that there was some overlap between the elf names and a list of top dog names that was recently released by

This got me thinking: Is there a name that can serve people, elves and dogs? One name to rule them all.

Let’s revisit the elf list, but only include the names that rank among the top 100 dog names and were chosen by at least five sets of parents last year.

Here’s the result, with the dog rank in parentheses:

1. Jack (4th)2. Max (1st)3. Charlie (3rd for males, 59th for females)4. Holly (54th)5. Elvis (96th)6. Buddy (2nd)

We can probably eliminate Elvis and Buddy, since they’re pretty uncommon among human offspring these days. (Elvis isn’t that high with dogs either.)

That leaves us with Jack, Max, Charlie and Holly.

Four great names that you can literally give to anything (person, canine, Santa‘s helper). Happy holidays!

About the Author

Nick Turner

Nick Turner

Nick Turner is a writer and editor living in New York City (by way of San Francisco). He and his wife have successfully named three kids. Follow him on Twitter at @SFNick.