Does your family have an Elf on the Shelf tradition? We do. It's one of those timeless traditions that never seems to get old – until it suddenly does.
Are you running out of Elf on the Shelf ideas too?
Planning and organizing for the holidays can be stressful. Sprucing up the Elf on the Shelf each year takes a lot of creative energy. The good news is there are lots of ways to give it a new twist. Here are 50+ great Elf on the Shelf ideas that will give your old holiday routine a new breath of life.
What Is Elf on the Shelf?
The Elf on the Shelf has evolved from a children's book into a complete Christmas phenomenon since the story first hit bookshelves in 2005. Written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, it tells the tale of a scout elf who keeps a watchful eye on children in the lead up to Christmas. The elf reports back to Santa Claus about their behavior, telling him who has been naughty or nice.
Introducing your Elf on the Shelf for the first time is a big part of starting this tradition. A friend of mine did a scavenger hunt with clues that lead to her family's elf location.
The clues were winter holiday and Santa-themed, and hid holiday treats throughout the hunt for the kids to collect. The family then named and adopted their elf. This was such an adorable and fun way to introduce the elf to the family – her kids loved it!
This is where the fun begins because the adopted elves find themselves hidden in different locations throughout the home each day. But how they get there is the secret.
The secret is that it's usually left up to mom to figure out unique, amusing locations where the elf sits to watch their kids. Over the years, this has become an added burden to the already stressful holiday preparations.
Thanks to social media and parents who have decided that the Elf on the Shelf will no longer be in control of the holidays, we have seen some pretty outrageous and funny Elf on the Shelf ideas. So here is a list that caters to all ages to keep you motivated for elf season this year.
Classic Elf on the Shelf Ideas.
Classic, family, and kid-friendly. These are your annual Elf on the Shelf staples.
- Elf in the tree – a classic.
- Elf on a sled – candy canes are not only fun to eat or put in your hot chocolate, but why not use them as a sled for your elf?
- Elf on the Shelf capturing the Grinch!
- Elf on the Shelf in a time out – I love this one because even the Elf gets a timeout when he misbehaves!
- Elf on the Shelf is caught red-handed in the cookie jar.
- Elf on the Shelf making snow angels – grab a bit of rice from your pantry, and your Elf will have a field day making snow angels.
- Elf on the Shelf gone fishing – all you need is Goldfish crackers, a wooden stir stick, and a piece of floss, and you've got an awesome elf on the shelf photo op idea.
- Elf on the Shelf ball pit – fill a bowl with your favorite holiday-colored candies, and then throw a couple of Elves into the foray.
- Elf on the Shelf wrapped in tinsel and placed on the tree like an ornament.
- Elf tangled in floss – wrap your Elf in floss and place it in the bathroom so the Elf can watch your kids brush their teeth in the morning and evening.
- Elf on the Shelf Saturday night fever – cover your Elf in glitter and place them under a mini disco ball.
- Movie night Elf on the Shelf.
- Elf on the Shelf on the roof of a gingerbread house.
- Elf on the Shelf hiding in a wreath.
- Elf on the Shelf has a snowball fight with other toys using cotton balls or marshmallows.
Naughty Elf on the Shelf Ideas:
These are the funny, silly Elf on the Shelf ideas that get your kids giggling.
- Elf on the Shelf hiding in your silverware tray. (Not sure who this one might be scarier for, Mom or Dad?)
- Elf on the Shelf drinking its morning brew – plop your elf down on the kitchen counter with a used K-cup of coffee and throw in a straw. (This one will resonate with all exhausted parents.)
- Elf on the Shelf ambushed by Lego – what better way to put the Lego pieces you step on to good use!
- Elf on the Shelf hiding in your kids' beds. Surprise!
- Elf on the Shelf atop the Christmas tree.
- Elf on the Shelf capturing another toy for ransom – all you need is a little duct tape and a silly message asking for ransom funds.
- Elf on the Shelf photocopying themselves.
- Elf on the Shelf covered in stickers.
- Elf on the Shelf dressed as a ninja.
- Elf on the Shelf in a marshmallow hot tub.
- Elf on the Shelf going downstairs wrapped up in a slinky toy.
- Elf on the Shelf with a dry-erase marker – drawing funny mustaches or adding pimples to a framed family picture. (The dry-erase marker is ingenious because it will wipe right off!)
- Elf on the Shelf playing spin the bottle with stuffies.
- Elf on the Shelf taking ‘elfy selfies.'
- Elf on the Shelf Raver – flashing strobe lights, glow sticks, and house music all day long!
- Elf on the Shelf wrapped in toilet paper and leaving a trail down the stairs.
Get You on the Naughty List Elf on the Shelf Ideas:
These ideas are for the older kids in your family or the adults that are still young at heart.
- Elf on the Shelf jewelry heist.
- Elf on the Shelf online shopping with mom's credit card.
- Elf on the Shelf finding the frozen peas and spelling out words
- Elf on the Shelf surrounded by empty mini liquor bottles.
- Elf on the Shelf tampering with your kids' Oreos using toothpaste.
- Elf on the Shelf wrapping the toilet in Christmas wrap.
- Elf on the Shelf eating the Advent calendar chocolates.
- Kissing booth Elf on the Shelf.
- Elf on the Shelf and the melted snowman.
- Elf on the Shelf flirting with Barbie.
- Elf on the Shelf squatting and leaving a trail of delicious treats shaped like chocolate kisses – if you catch my drift!
- Elf on the Shelf has a hot tub party.
- Elf on the Shelf after writing a message on your kids' forehead while sleeping.
Elf on the Shelf returns ideas:
What better way to return than by making an entrance.
- Elf on the Shelf special delivery addressed to your kids.
- Elf on the Shelf prepares for landing! Place your Elf on the Shelf in a mini basket attached to a balloon and hang it up by the doorway.
- “I'm back” spelled out in candy and your Elf on the Shelf holding a note that says, “Santa says hi!”
- Elf on the Shelf footprints in a little bit of flour or powdered sugar leading to the first spot the Elf is hiding in.
- Elf on the Shelf beside a plate of toast covered in icing and sprinkles with a sign saying, “I made you breakfast!”
- Elf on the Shelf in a bowl of popcorn with kernels surrounding the bowl – making a mess their first day back!
Goodbye, Elf on the Shelf Ideas:
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and your Elf must return to the North Pole with Santa and his reindeer.
Most of us will pack our Elf up on Christmas Eve after the kids are tucked into bed. However, your Elf deserves a memorable bon voyage.
So, make the goodbye just as fun as the arrival or return of your Elf!
- Elf on the Shelf leaves a disposable camera and a goodbye letter telling the kids to continue making memories while they are gone.
- Tape your Elf on the Shelf to a clock with a note saying it's time to say goodbye!
- Surround your Elf on the Shelf with crumpled up tissue as if they've been crying with a goodbye letter addressed to the kids.
- Elf on the Shelf riding on their candy cane sleigh towing their luggage.
- Sitting on top of an empty roll of toilet paper with the words “The end is here” written on it.
- Print off an Elf Recall Letter from Santa. (There are so many fun and free printable recall letters all over the internet.)
- Make a photo book of pictures you took of the Elf in various hiding spots in your home and leave it under the tree for the kids to unwrap.
The holidays bring smiles to children's faces because of the delight of traditions like Elf on the Shelf. Kids love figuring out where their elf is hiding, and the sillier the hiding spots, the better for them! Funtimes with the elf can create priceless memories and keep the magic and spirit of Santa Claus alive year after year.
This tradition adds to the sparkle and joy of the holiday season, even if it can sometimes feel tedious.
Although your elf must return to the North Pole, remind your kids that they will return every year to bring magic and cheer to the holiday season.