Belfast Telegraph

Glamorous Belfast granny Alison Campbell is a hilarious Instagram sensation as real-life Elf on the Shelf

Belfast woman Alison Campbell in her elf outfit
Belfast woman Alison Campbell in her elf outfit
Alison at the Titanic centre
Alison ‘driving’ a bus

By Erin Cardiff

A glamorous Northern Ireland grandmother is setting Instagram a-jingle with hilarious festive photos of herself larking about as a real-life Elf on the Shelf.

Alison Campbell is seen dressed as one of Santa's little helpers, doing everything from pulling pints to relaxing at a posh spa.

For 11 months of the year, the Belfast woman (57) is a regular mum-of-two, juggling family life with a sensible job as an enforcement officer with the city council.

But, inspired by her daughter's decision to play the Elf on the Shelf game with her own little ones - where parents can hide an elf figurine around the house for their children to find every morning leading up to Christmas - Alison went one better by donning fancy dress and becoming a flesh and blood version of the impish creature.

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Alison at the Titanic centre

Now from December 1 to 24 each year, she pulls on a Primark elf costume and is snapped wearing it to complete a variety of challenges from bus driving to bar work - much to the amusement of friends, family and strangers.

Alison, who even had her eyebrows waxed dressed as an elf, laughed: "My family think I'm bonkers, but the reaction is very funny. Everyone always laughs when they see me in my costume and nobody has ever been negative.

"It can be tricky to think of different funny places to go and take the photos, but I'm going to keep going this year. My family and friends have all been saying they can't wait to see what I do."

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After seeing her daughter, who she does not wish to name, buy the game based on a best-selling book in 2016, inspiration struck when Alison spotted an adult elf costume while out Christmas shopping.

She said: "I thought, 'Why don't I do it for real and bring this game to life'?"

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Alison in the off licence in December 2016 (PA Real Life/Collect)

So, in December 2016, Alison posted her first Elf on the Shelf snap to Instagram - showing her sipping a glass of port.

Buoyed by the positive comments from her family and friends, she continued the next day, and the next, and the next.

Over the course of December, she uploaded photos of herself doing everything from enjoying a glass of fizz in a bath filled with empty wine bottles, to shoving as many marshmallows as she could into her mouth, running around the park and pulling a pint behind the bar of her local pub.

"I decided to be an adult Elf on the Shelf," she laughed. "Not in a rude way, though, just in a silly way. "For example, I was a bad elf in the off license, taking photos of myself pretending to down a bottle of wine.

The security guard actually came over to see what I was doing - I think he was surprised to find me in full elf costume.

"He still remembers me now, and will give me a wave whenever I go in."

Alison also dressed as an elf to stroll along the aisles of her local Tesco, to muck about in the play area of the ice rink and to climb up on to her roof to string up some fairy lights.

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Alison in a city council road sweeper in December 2018 (PA Real Life/Collect)

And, when she went for a spa break later in the month, the costume came in her suitcase.

She said: "I had a picture taken in the fire and ice room of the spa. Everyone else was in their nice fluffy dressing gowns, then there's me dressed as an elf."

Originally, Alison had only planned her Elf stunt as a one-off, but family and friends love her photos so much that they have convinced her to dust off her costume every year.

And in 2017, came her unforgettable fire station stint.

"Those pictures make me smile every time," she said. "They let me have photos taken in the fire engine, sliding down the pole and even spraying the big pressure hose - which was so powerful I almost knocked myself off my feet.

"People are always happy to get involved and to let me take the photos. They think it's funny."

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Alison ‘driving’ a bus

With December 2018 came yet more adventures for Alison and her elf costume.

She continued: "One of the funniest moments was at a big Christmas display they had in Belfast city centre, which included this huge slide.

"I'm not great with heights, so asked if I could just have a photo at the top. The man running it insisted I went on the slide.

"I had to say to him, 'Yes but look what I'm wearing', and opened my coat to reveal my elf outfit. He absolutely laughed his head off, and somehow managed to convince me to slide down.

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Alison pulling a pint in December 2016 (PA Real Life/Collect)

"There I was, squealing away with this big crowd gathered."

She has also posted photos taken at a busy bus depot, where she pretended to drive, at Stormont Estate and at Strangford Lough.

The elf costume has even travelled outside Northern Ireland, as Alison took it with her to visit family in the north east of England.

And even now, with her left arm in plaster following recent surgery for issues with her tendon, Alison is ignoring 'Elf and safety' and donning her trademark green costume to spread some 2019 Christmas cheer.

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