Top 50 of the BEST Elf on the Shelf ideas – so many fun ideas to do with your Elf leading up to Christmas!
The elf on the shelf is a family tradition that is loved by everyone. As a parent I love that my kids act on their best behavior when their Elf shows up and my kids love to see where he is hiding each day. Each year we have a welcome letter and it’s a fun way to start off the season. We started the this tradition a few years ago and my kids have absolutely LOVED it!
The best part of this tradition is seeing seeing my kids eyes light up in the morning when they find where their elf is hiding. And let’s get real here… he isn’t always creative. Sometimes we’ll actually find him sitting on a shelf or hanging from the Christmas tree. Most of these ideas take only a few minutes to do. It doesn’t have to be hard. My husband and I actually have a good time hiding the elf each night. It’s almost more fun for us. 😉
What is Elf on the Shelf?
The Elf on the Shelf was started by Carol Aebersold, who published the book in 2005. It has become a Christmas tradition for many families all over the world. The Elf usually arrives on December 1st (some families choose to have theirs arrive the day after Thanksgiving) and each night the he returns to the North Pole to report how the children are doing. When he returns in the morning he will move to a new spot, waiting for the children to find him.
Once you get your shelf, the first thing you’ll want to do is name him or her. Here’s a printable with 50 elf names and certificate you can download.
Calendar and checklist to help you plan the month
Download this free planning check list and calendar HERE to help keep you organized with all your ideas for the month. I like to plan it all at once and then keep the supplies hidden in a box, so it’s all ready to go each night.
Welcoming your Elf on the shelf
We’ve found some of the very best ideas online to share with you. You’ll have inspiration for new ideas all month long. Click on the links below each image to be taken to the original post.
North Pole Breakfast
Have the elf show up on the first day North Pole breakfast & note from Santa.
Hot cocoa party
He’s traveled quite a long way to spend the holiday season with you, so have the kids help you plan a welcome hot cocoa party.
Riding in on a parachute
Elf on the Shelf parachute: Great way to have your him arrive for the season!
Christmas count down
We all get a little impatient waiting for Christmas to arrive, so give your little ones a visual of when the big day is with this mini countdown paper chain.
Official Elf name poem
Wondering how to introduce (and name!) your elf? Let your kids help with this cute free printable poem.
Elf kisses printable
Turn regular Hershey’s Kisses into something magical with this fun free printable.
A twine string, some clothespins and a bit of creativity is all you need to recreate this fun zip lining elves scene.
Rolling down the stairs
This little guy is known to get himself into some hilarious hijinks, like rolling down the stairs in a toilet paper roll.
Toilet paper snow man
Here’s another brilliant toilet paper idea! If your children are Frozen fans, they’ll love the elf asking “do you wanna build a snowman?”
Elf on the shelf getting a drink of water
This is one of the easiest ideas! Imagine the delight your child will feel when they find the Elf getting a glass of water to drink.
Swinging from a toilet paper roll
Your child is practically guaranteed to have a great start to their day once they see this swing made from a toilet paper roll.
More easy Elf on the Shelf ideas
It doesn’t have to be complicated. One of my kids favorite placed they found elf was hiding in a blender. Love some of these more creative plans.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…super elf!
Elf taking a shower
If you need a way to convince your kids to bathe, let them see their new friend enjoying the shower.
Sneaking a Hershey kiss
Don’t forget to set aside a few treats so your new friend can be found eating some chocolate.
Here’s another Elf on the Shelf idea. Simply have him color minions onto bananas with a black sharpie. Idea from California Unpublished.
Elf on the shelf in bed
A box of tissues makes a perfect sized bed—don’t forget to give him something to cuddle too.
Surprise your kids with these delicious elf pancakes! The perfect way to add a little sparkle to their mornings during the holiday season.
This is a great idea to try if you order pizza as a family one night. Your kids will love this Elf pizza party scene!
In a bath of marshmallows
Fair warning…your children might be jealous of this awesome marshmallow bath!
Fishing for gold fish
Most parents have an abundance of goldfish crackers lying around. Put them to good use with this Elf on the Shelf fishing idea!
Magic elf seeds
The magic of the season will show when you plant “magic elf seeds” and watch them grow into cookies.
Taking a drink of syrup
Your kids will love watching him enjoy drinking his favorite drink – syrup! Don’t forget, it’s one of the four major elf food groups after all.
Roasting snowman marshmallows by the fireplace and enjoying a ride on a tire swing are both brilliant ideas to add to your list.
Playing connect four
I love this cute idea of playing a game like Connect Four, especially when you involve another beloved doll or stuffed animal.
Wrapped up in the fridge
Here’s a fun idea–hide the elf inside your fridge with a dish towel.
Playing with walkie talkies
Operation Elf on the Shelf is a GO this year. If you don’t already have a walkie talkie, grab an inexpensive one to serve as a bonus Christmas gift.
Swinging from candy canes
It’s likely that you’ll have an abundance of candy canes around – use one of them to put on a fun circus elf performance.
This Elf “kissing booth” is too cute, especially with this free printable.
Most of us could use all the help we can get with encouraging good dental hygiene. Let the elf help encourage brushing for you!
Do a scavenger hunt with hidden candy canes…it’s practically guaranteed to entertain the kids!
Pancake breakfasts just got even more fun thanks to these elf-sized mini pancakes!
Fruit loop chain
Fruit Loops are the perfect size for the elf to make a garland for the Christmas tree.
Elf on the shelf doing laundry
We could all use a bit of encouragement when it comes to doing laundry—the elf makes it look almost effortless.
This is such a cute idea – I love the little Elf Illustrated magazine he’s enjoying while sunbathing.
Put those LEGOS to good use with a fun middle-of-the-night snowball fight.
Spelling with cereal
Spell out your child’s name in alphabet cereal and let the elf blame the mess on your kids!
Searching through catalogs
Your children won’t be the only ones pouring over the catalogs and newspaper inserts this year with this cute idea.
Sending a letter to Santa
Grab a tablet and set it out so an email can be sent to Santa with updates.
Elf getting into trouble
Sometimes my husband likes to have him do pranks throughout the house. The kids get a real kick out of it!
Sledding on the staircase
Need another use for all those tupperware lids? Why not let the elf take a sledding ride.
Elf wrapped in lights
If you need to rope your kids into helping string lights, let the elf show you how it’s done.
Frozen by Queen Elsa
This cute idea from Staci Mcneil shows another fun way to get Elsa from Frozen involved. Stick in a cup with water and set him out early in the morning.
Snowball fight with Barbie
You don’t need snow to have a fun snowball fight at home
Toilet papering the tree
Oops! Your Christmas tree just got TP-ed by that naughty elf!
Angry bird game
Everyone loves a good game of angry birds…even Christmas elves!
Snow angels with flour
If you’re looking for an inexpensive activity for the elf to participate in, try making snow angels in flour on the countertop.
Elves need to shave too—set this up for your kids to find in the morning!
A good rescue mission might be in order here. Set the scene with some army figurines and blue painting tape.
Drawing on this family photo with dry erase marker is certainly one of the elf’s more mischievous tricks.
Buddy was right…this IS a fantastic way to eat spaghetti. 🙂
Dipping cookies in milk
Milk and cookies can be a fun (and messy treat) for the elf to enjoy while everyone is asleep.
Everyone loves watching Christmas movies, especially the elf on a shelf!
Sick elf on the shelf
If your little one catches a cold, help him or her to take their medication easier by sharing with their sick elf friend.
Here’s another fun way to dress up a family photo…with Rudolph-style noses!
Ooops! Your new friend just got caught eating a bag of m&m’s.
Elf on the shelf ideas for service
Help Elf promote good deeds around your home and to help your kids remember the reason for the season.
I love this idea where the Elf brings 30 days of kindness for your family to do for one another.
Baby in a manger
This is one of my favorite ideas—I love how the elf is joining in with the adoration of baby Jesus in the manger.
Good deed cards
Help your kids do good deeds around the house with these little cards.
Letter from Santa
I love the way she explains the relationship between Jesus, Santa, and the elf in this letter.
Heading back to the North Pole
Whenever it’s time for the elf to head back to the north pole make sure he has packed all his gear appropriately.
More Christmas ideas
So who will do being Elf on the Shelf this year? Have fun with it!