Start a new family holiday tradition this year with the Elf on the Shelf - a confidante of Santa Claus who comes to visit your house each evening between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This friendly elf finds a new spot each night to sit and watch the children the next day. A hard-working and diligent spy, the elf then reports his findings back to Santa in the evening, who will base his present decisions on the elf's stories.
Children are absolutely not allowed to touch the elf - who will otherwise lose his magic and his connection to Santa Claus. They are also supposed to give the elf a name so he can be welcomed as part of the family.
Once the tradition gets started, children will wake up each morning and eagerly race to find the elf, who will hopefully have already found his spot for the day. (If not, a creative excuse for the elf remaining in the same position will need to be determined. In our house, the elf either 1) gets too tired to move or 2) believes he has found the perfect spot to watch the children.) The elf is always watching - and can help parents in search of a motivational tool to encourage good behavior.
On Christmas, the elf returns home to the North Pole and Santa brings the presents for the children. And then, when Thanksgiving rolls around the next year, the kids will be asking when the elf will start visiting on behalf of Santa Claus.