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The BEST Elf On the Shelf Ideas

Posted by  ·  September 20, 2018  ·  Last Updated: November 27, 2018

These Elf on the Shelf ideas will bring your family loads of fun this holiday.  Do you have an elf that visits your house as a family tradition?  Whether you are having an elf come to visit for the first time or this is a regular event at your house, these Elf on the Shelf ideas are sure to wow your kids!

elf on the shelf ideas

If you don’t have an elf on a shelf you can buy one here. (affiliate link)

What’s the point of Elf on a Shelf a Christmas tradition?

The elf in question is a character from a children’s book written by written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell.  The Elf on the Shelf published in 2005, which tells the story of how Santa sent an elf to every home to spy on children and report back whether they had been ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’. To help keep the belief that the Elf is real, each night the elf goes to report to Santa and is found the next morning in a new spot. Each day the elf performs various antics. Don’t worry we have tons of Elf on the shelf ideas. Just keep scrolling to learn more.

What date does the Elf on the Shelf come back?

Your elf can arrive anytime during the holidays, but typically he or she will arrive at the beginning of your family’s holiday celebrations and return to the North Pole with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Santa sends most of his Elves out during Elf Return Week, which runs from November 25 to December 2. These free printable arrival letters are a great way to get the holiday party started.

What does the Elf on the Shelf do?

The Elf on the Shelf gets their magic by being named and being loved by a child. Once the elf is named, the elf receives its special Christmas magic, which allows it to fly to and from the North Pole.

What are some Elf on the Shelf Ideas?

Is your elf naughty or on the nice list?  You can pick with these clever and fun ideas. Santa’s Scout Elves serve as his eyes and ears in homes around the world. What will your Scout Elf be up to?

elf on the shelf ideas

Welcome Elf hot cocoa party

elf hot chocolate party

Is your Elf full of mischief? Use a dry erase marker to add some silly features to family pictures. Photo flair!

naughty elf drawing on family pictures

Elf eating chocolate

elf eating chocolate


Frozen Elf from Staci Mcneil

frozen elf


Let your Elf on the Shelf help your children to be kind this holiday season! Print off these Elf on the Shelf Kindness Cards.

Elf on the Shelf Acts of Kindness Cards

Let your Elf walk the dogs! Love the pipe cleaner leashed. Clever and EASY.

Elf walking dogs

Minion Bananas 

minion elf

Elf makes himself a bed with the tissue box

elf tissue bed

I think these little Elf sized cookies are so clever.  Just use a pastry tip to cut them out. If you have no time to make sugar cookies just use premade pie crust or sugar cookie dough.

elf sized cookies on a tiny white plate

A candy cane and a piece of string make the perfect zip-line for an elf. Too fun!

elf on a zipline

Elf coming out of the box. This is easy to create. Simply grab a cereal box and some scissors.

Elf roasting marshmallows over a fake candle.  You can pull this one of really easy.

Elf in a rocket ship. This year have your elf make a blast of an entrance. He can arrive on a rocket ship!

Elf on a Shelf in a kissing booth. This free printable make the cutest elf kissing booth! You can have a lot of fun with this cute idea!

Cute Random Acts of Kindness Elf Arrival Letter and gift ideas for your Elf on the Shelf. Encourages kids to give back and be Secret Santa.

This simple to make free Christmas printable Gift Holder easily holds a gift card, sticks of gum, notes, Lego Minifigures, stickers and other small flat items.

Elf in a plane. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s your elf.

elf plane

Make a paper chain countdown… too cute.

elf on a shelf countdown

Let you elf do some acrobatic tricks.

best elf on shelf ideas

Taylor Swift Reputation Cover printable

Taylor swift elf idea

Your kids are going to love this elf idea. Just print these jokes and place in your elf’s arms for an easy laugh.

Printable Elf Jokes

elf on the shelf holding printable joke card

It’s Cold in the Fridge 

elf in fridge

This is the perfect time of year to catch someone doing something good and let them know with an official letter from the North Pole. {Free Printable}.

elf on the shelf letter held by elf

Snow ball fight 

elf snow ball fight

Sick Elf…no moving for 3 Days?

sick elf


25 More EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Need a simple last minute idea? These ideas are easy to do especially at the last minute when you might have forgotten to move the elf.

  1. Put your elf’s legs inside to rolls of wrapping paper to make elf on stilts. Stick the wrapping paper rolls inside a pair of boots.
  2. Make a bubble bath with mini marshmallows in the bathroom sink.
  3. Use a dry erase marker to make funny faces on the family portraits.
  4. Set your elf up to play with barbies or other toys.
  5. Make a snow angel in flour or powder sugar.
  6. Hang dirty socks on the Christmas tree.
  7. Toilet paper the Christmas tree.
  8. Trap the elf inside a glass cup with a note that says HELP.
  9. Sit the elf’s backside over the toilet and drop starlight peppermint mints in the toilet.
  10. Make an elf zip line. Simply hang a string across a room and hook the elf on with candy canes.
  11. Put two mini marshmallows on a toothpick and have your elf be lifting weights.
  12. Use washi tape to tape the elf to a door.
  13. Put your Elf to sleep inside a long kleenex box (like a bed).
  14. Put your elf and a few other dolls inside brown lunch sacks and make a paper bag race.
  15. Set the elf up with a straw inside syrup for a sticky treat.
  16. Have your elf use crepe paper to block off a bedroom door.
  17. Have your elf deliver a puzzle and finish half of it.
  18. Watch the weather and have your elf deliver a snowman kit.
  19. Deliver cookie decorating supplies from your elf.
  20. Set up a toy army to capture your elf.
  21. Tuck your elf in the cookie jar.
  22. Set the elf on a date with Barbie in a Barbie car.
  23. Print off these Elf-sized coloring sheets!
  24. So many fun ways to use marshmallows with your elf!
  25. Pour out some sprinkles and make a “snow angel” in sprinkles.

Elf on the shelf rules

There are two main rules when it comes to the official Elf on the Shelf.

  1. The elf is to be secretly moved to a different location in your house every night. This makes the children believe the elf is traveling back to the North Pole to report back to Santa on their behavior.
  2. Second, you need to make sure children never touch the elf, or else he’ll lose his “magic.” If the elf is accidentally touched, they can write an apology letter to Santa. They can leave the letter, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon, next to the elf before they go to bed, so the elf can take Santa the apology note.

You might be asking is there a girl Elf on the Shelf?

YES! After much urging by the elves and Mrs. Claus, there is now The Elf on the Shelf new Girl Elf Edition. It features not only a girl elf but a new version of the classic book, with the same story, only drawn with more girl characters.

two girl elf on a shelf dolls

Here is the BEST Elf on the Shelf tip!

This is BIG. It is so easy to forget about the elf with our busy hectic holiday schedules. Just set a timer on your phone to remind you to move the elf each day! You will be glad you did.

Are these elf antics a Christmas tradition ar your home?

Shopping for Christmas? These stocking stuffer ideas will really help out.

Filed Under: Christmas

Leave a Comment


  1. Laura
    Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
    These elf on the shelf ideas are so helpful! So many easy ideas.
  2. Megan
    Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
    Great ideas! I haven’t seen some of these before. Those cookies are adorable.
  3. Lily
    Monday, November 26th, 2018
    These are so great! Thank you for all of the ideas! I needed some new inspiration!