20 Realistic Elf on the Shelf Ideas To Create Christmas Magic

Are you searching for Elf on the Shelf ideas for Christmas that are realistic but fun and cute? Me too! Every year my social feeds are flooded with adorable Christmas Scout elves in ridiculous setups. 

Perfect for pictures, but not ideal when running an entire household, working from home, and doing all the other extras that come with the holidays. 

Of course, there are easy staple setups such as the gingerbread house, snowball fight, tic tac toe, ball pit, and a scavenger hunt. 

Another popular setup is movie night with popcorn and the remote. The stocking stuffer, hot chocolate, and marshmallow setup are cute, but it's been done. 

In addition, there are loads of funny Elf and naughty Elf on the shelf ideas. However, I've kept this list clean and simple for you and the kids. 

So, here are some of the cutest Elf on the Shelf ideas that moms like you and I can arrange with little time and without breaking the bank this holiday season.

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Idea

The Very Hungry Caterpillar idea is perfect for toddlers and super simple to create. All you need are apples, toothpicks, marshmallows, and googly eyes. 

Alternatively, you can draw the eyes in with a Sharpee. If you don't have the book, I bet your library does. Regardless, it is such a cute idea for this Christmas tradition.

2. The Streamer Booby Trap Idea

Okay, this kid's face is priceless. Are you ready to capture your own little one's expression as they walk face first into red-and-green streamers? I am! 

This Elf on the Shelf idea requires dollar store streamers, scotch tape, and a camera. 

3. The Minions Bananas Idea

One of the simplest Elf on the Shelf ideas includes bananas and a permanent marker. You don't have to be Picasso to scribble on these tiny Minion faces and watch your munchkin’s face light up.  

4. The Bow Climb Elf on the Shelf Idea

This idea is by far one of my favorites. It's easy to construct, and it's Christmas decor fun. Take cute Christmas bows and stick them up the wall. 

Then, place the Scout elf within the bows. You may need to use tape, tinsel, or a little wire (pipe cleaner) to secure your little buddy. 

5. The Fishing Elf Idea

Fishing Elf on the Shelf takes two minutes to set up. First, you need some dollar store sea life and an elf-sized fishing pole. 

You can use a coffee stirrer, or a wooden match with thread, as an elf pole. Maybe even a miniature candy cane. 

Lastly, fill the sink to create a pond and toss the sea life inside before positioning the fishing elf. You can also use rubber duckies.


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6. The Toilet Paper Snowman Idea

Toilet Paper Snowman is an adorable Elf on the Shelf setup. To create this look, you need three rolls of toilet paper, felt markers, and whatever you choose to dress the snowman up. 

First, unroll the toilet paper to draw the face and buttons. Next, the original poster (OP) instructs to dab the felt tip markers because the ink spreads quickly. 

7. The Snow Angel Elf on the Shelf Idea

Snow Angel Elf is as easy as tossing your preferred “snow” on the counter, creating an angel appearance, and placing the elf in the snow. 

Sugar is the preferred substance, but alternatives include puffed rice cereal, marshmallows, popcorn kernels, sprinkles, and flour. 

However, flour sticks to the elf. The Instagrammer posted a warning not to clean the elf with water, as it creates a messy paste.

8. The Scrabble Elf Idea

Do you have a Scrabble board? If so, this is a piece of cake. Position your elf and spell out words. 

I love how they chose to highlight Christmas words. However, you could also leave a cute message. 

9. The Kit Kat Jenga Idea

Don't play Scrabble? How about Jenga? The Jenga elf is a cute and delicious surprise for your little one to discover with their elf friend. 

You can create the chocolate Jenga bars with any chocolate-covered biscuit or Kit Kats for the win.

10. The Astronaut Elf Idea

Does your little one love space? Perfect! The astronaut Elf on the Shelf idea is for you. All you need is tin foil and some clear string. 

Alternatively, any thread or dental floss would suffice. First, wrap your elf hat and then the elf in tin foil. If you have access to a printer, print and cut out a NASA logo and tape it on. 

Lastly, hang the elf. If you have space-themed toys, you could dress this up, but it's a stand-alone hit even without. 

11. The Snowflake Toilet Paper Roll Idea

Another easy idea involves a pair of scissors and a roll of toilet paper. First, fold the sheets individually and stack them on top of each other.  Then, cut fun shapes in the toilet paper with scissors, unfold, and voila! 

12. The Spider-Elf Idea 

Spider-Elf is my favorite new superhero. I've seen Spider-Elf demonstrated in several ways and think it's as simple as needing double-sided tape and thread, string, or dental floss. 

If you can print a Spider-Man face, that's ideal. But, you can also draw one. Then use double-sided tape to stick it to Spider-Elf's face. Lastly, tie cotton or string around his feet and hang him. 

13. The Hot Air Balloon Idea

The Hot Air Balloon Elf on the Shelf idea can be down one of two ways. First, blow up a balloon and secure it to the ceiling with tape. 

Or, you can go to the dollar store, get helium in the balloon, and let it fly. Regardless, the next step involves your elf friend sitting in a paper cup strung around the balloon. 

And it's as easy as one, two, three. Of course, you can complicate it by coloring a basket weave on the cup or a design on the ballon, but it's unnecessary. 


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A post shared by Morrison Family (@kidsplaytime.diy)

14. The Paper Airplane Idea

Do you know how to fold a paper airplane? I didn't, but I know how to watch YouTube video instructions, and it's simple. 

You'll need paper and either double-sided tape or staples to hold the crease together with your elf inside. After you fold the plane, you can write the North pole Airways on it and secure it to the ceiling with thread string. 

15. The Elf on a Swing Idea

All you need to create the elf swing is a toilet paper roll, thread sting, or a shoelace. You can use an empty roll or a half-used roll of toilet paper. 

I prefer the half-used cushioned look. Hang the toilet paper swing on a door handle, Christmas tree, window suctioned hook, or doorframe with a thumbtack or pin.

16. The Campfire Elf on the Shelf Idea

I've seen this setup several times, but this one was the cutest because it included the little S'more pieces on the plate. 

There are some images where they lit the candle, but I'm not sure if it was for the picture's aesthetics or if these people don't have cats. Regardless, use cautionary discretion when arranging your campfire scene. 

17. The Refrigerator Chimney Idea

Are you fortunate enough to have a fancy fridge with a water and ice dispenser? Then, this Elf on the Shelf idea is perfect for you. 

Sometimes it's fun to create little notes and leave them with your elf friend. In this case, the elf joked, “Oops, this isn't a chimney!” Easy Peasy!


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A post shared by Jennifer Armstead (@helponashelf)

18. The Upside Down Glass Idea

One of the easiest ways to hide the Elf on the Shelf is in a glass turned upside down. It's cute and fun. 

Of course, you can also use a glass jar. Sometimes people include a little note that reads, “Help Me,” with this elf setup. 

19. The Skiing Elf

The skiing elf is an adorable and quick setup that will paint a smile on your kiddo's face. All you need are popsicle sticks, marshmallows, confectioners, sugar, and tape. 

Of course, you can add things to the scene if you have them, such as Christmas villages, trees, or even building a marshmallow snowman. You could set up a little ski resort. But none of that is necessary to please your munchkin. 

20. The Hidden Treats Idea

The Hidden Treats idea is a fun way to give your little one the excitement of finding more than the elf. Use paper cups and flip them on top of whatever treats you choose. 

Some ideas are mini candies like Hershey's kisses. Alternatively, stickers, bouncy balls, or coins for their piggy banks light little faces up. 


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A post shared by Rakita Julien (@keyjulz)

Inclusive Elf on the Shelf

Abilities_expo shared a video captioned, “A mom demonstrates how she uses a Barbie wheelchair and other materials to create an inclusive elf on the shelf for her daughter who uses a purple wheelchair and pink AFOs.”

I think it is spectacular and find it necessary to add to this list of fabulous Elf on the Shelf ideas. 


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A post shared by Abilities Expo (@abilities_expo)

Fun Ways To Dress up the Elf Scene

Using items from the Christmas season is a way to add cheerfulness to your elf setups and hiding places. For example, candy canes, ornaments, Christmas lights, sparkles, bows, jingle bells, and wrapping paper. 

Also, hide elves in stockings, wreaths, Christmas trees, a village sleigh, or your Nativity scene. These Elf on the Shelf ideas will fill your home with Christmas magic and holiday cheer for the little ones. 

I always set our Scout elves up with the kid's Advent calendars to start the Christmas traditions on the first day of December. 

And he sits by Santa Claus' milk and cookies on Christmas-Eve, before returning to the North Pole Christmas Day. 

Here are fifty other Elf on the Shelf ideas to rekindle Christmas cheer, including a kissing booth and good-bye Elf on the Shelf ideas when your Scout elf gets ready to return to the North Pole. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks