34 New Things: Leave A Note At The Lake Harriet Elf House

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are easy, some are difficult, some are so ridiculously mundane. You can read about previous adventures here.

I am a total sucker for silly, magical things.  I went to the Denver aquarium specifically to see the mermaids (and the otters) and I love pretty much every form of anthropomorphism that ever happened.

So when a friend told me about the Elf House at Lake Harriet my response was somewhere along the lines of “THAT SOUNDS AMAZING LET’S GO THERE NOW OH IT’S WINTER.”

And I also decided I should wait and go with a friend who has a child because that’s less weird than a 33-year-old woman writing notes to an elf and hiding them in a tree.

The Elf House has been a Lake Harriet fixture for 13 years.  It’s comprised a teeny tiny door at the base of a tree, next to a walking path on the shores of Lake Harriet.  For years children (and now 33-year-old women) have been leaving notes, coins, and tiny gifts for the ‘Elf.’

Every few days the notes and gifts disappear and tiny thank you notes are left in their place.

So last week, my lovely friend Brandy and her daughter Serena joined me for an Elf House adventure.  We parked at the band shell and walked along the path for a mile or so, till we saw the tree with the tiny door, complete with knocker.

We penned a note to Mr. Elf and as we opened the wee door we saw we had some pretty tough competition.  A tiny book, a bag of hard candy, quarters, Crackerjack stickers?  We should have stepped up our game – maybe we could have brought him a tiny hat?  Or some chocolate coins? Or a mixtape?  Elves seem like they’d be into mixtapes, right?

Regardless, Serena had a great time opening and closing the little door and tucking our note inside.  As we headed back, a group of little kids rushed past us to get to the Elf House, each pulling out a little treat to put inside.  It was so sweet!

I’m tempted to go back a second time, with more friends and their kiddos.  This time we’ll bring a better gift. (Which is obviously a Pixies mixtape.)

Does your city have any weird, magical landmarks?  And more important question: what would go on a mixtape for an elf?

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  1. Jenni

    I've read about the Kindred Spirit Mailbox in North Carolina where people leave letters, notes and prayers in notebooks. Elf mail sounds pretty cool. I have also seen the mermaids at the Denver Aquarium. What a fun new thing to celebrate!

  2. valentina.tara

    Ann Arbor, MI has fairy doors (and a goblin door) all throughout the city – it is incredible!

  3. Kate

    I just finished reading "American Gods" – and this magical place is timely. My own magical places are always just around water!

  4. HereBeDragons

    Oh my gosh! This is so cute.
    I love that this exists.

  5. Vanessa

    When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived in Batemans Bay, near Canberra. To get there, you had to drive over this huge mountain. The highlight of the trip came near the top of the mountain. Carved into the rock was a little cave, called Pooh Bear's cave. Someone had made a sign that read Mr Sanders and hung it over the cave, and like the elf house, there was a letter box where you could leave notes for Pooh Bear.

  6. Eileen

    There is totally a magical landmark not even 1/4 mile from my house! One of the people in our neighborhood has made the main tree in their front yard into the "magical neighborhood wishing tree." They have those big outdoor holiday ornaments hung all over the branches all year, and a little many-drawered cabinet with pencils & paper where you can write out your wish and leave it (your choice of drawer) to make your wish come true. Yay!

  7. Meghan

    Um, Serena, could I borrow your helmet sometime?

  8. uncustomary

    This is fantastic. I'm so glad I know about this! In complete agreement about being a sucker for magical things! 🙂

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