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25 Easy Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas

25 easy last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas…inspiration to help you create magical memories!

A Magical Game

Elf on the Shelf is one tradition that both parents and children can have fun with! I’ve posted 75 Elf on the Shelf Ideas on I Heart Naptime but figured I could share some more.

For kids, Elf on the Shelf can be compared to a magical hide n seek game that they play every day with their friendly elf. They anxiously await the moment when it’s their turn to search the home again and see what their elf is up to this time.

Parents can be as creative as they want. Some go all out dressing their elf in mini clothes and staging an elaborate scene with Christmas lights and candies. If this is you, I applaud you! If it’s not, that is totally fine because some of the best Elf on the Shelf ideas require little time and effort. This post will give you 25 easy and fast last minute ideas that don’t take a lot of effort and your kiddos will love!

Elf in the Fridge

The fridge is a great hiding spot for older kids who are better finders. Your elf will feel right at home in temperatures more like the north pole!

Melissa Chrisner

Elf on the Shelf in the Fridge via Melissa Chrisner

Potato Sack Race

Surprise your kids by staging a fun potato sack race! Choose some of your kiddos’ favorite stuffed animals for extra fun!

Jedi Craft Girl

Elf Potato Sack Race via Jedi Craft Girl

Elf on a Swing

Making a toilet paper swing is so creative and won’t take a lot of time! Kids will love seeing their elf swinging high above them.

A Small Snippet

Swinging in the Doorway via A Small Snippet

Candy Cane Ziplining

This is definitely one of my favorite ideas. Simply get some string, a candy cane, and some tape, and have fun!

Carey Pace

Jolly Goes Ziplining via Carey Pace

Playing Board Games

Kids will love seeing their favorite toys competing against the elf in a fun board game. Bonus if after they find the elf, you sit down and play your game as a family!

A Small Snippet

Playing Board Games via A Small Snippet

Snowball fight

This is a classic Elf on the Shelf scene! Just pick any toy for your elf to battle and your child will absolutely love this one.

Melissa Chrisner

Elf Snowball Fight via Melissa Chrisner

Story Time

This scene is not only fun, but it’s also educational! Create a magical self while promoting reading at the same time!

Melissa Chrisner

Elf Story Time via Melissa Chrisner

Paper Planes

If you know how to make a paper plane then you can easily put this together! Your children will love imagining their elf flying through the air.

Elf and Paper Plane in Christmas Tree
Rookie Moms

Elf on the Shelf Emergency Landing Arrival via Rookie Moms

Elf in a Soap Box

I just think this idea is so funny! The elf fits perfectly inside the soap box and it’s a wonderful hiding place.

The No Pressure Life

Elf in a Soap Box via The No Pressure Life


You can create this darling scene if you have s’mores materials and a small candle. This is definitely one your kids will remember!

Madison Mom

Making S’mores via Madison Mom

Favorite Book

I love the idea behind this one! Simply place your elf on the table with a note describing an activity they can do together. This is a wonderful way to engage your little ones!


Elf on the Shelf Printable Notes via Momenvy

Act of Kindness

Here’s another great way to engage your children and teach them prosocial behavior! You can simply write the note yourself, just be sure to switch up your handwriting a little.


Elf on the Shelf Printable Notes via Momenvy

Bath Time

These marshmallow bubbles are adorable! This is a fun one for sure!

California Unpublished

45+ Amazing Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas via California Unpublished

Bow Climbing Wall

Got some leftover Christmas wrapping supplies? This idea is for you! Everyone will love seeing the elf scale the wall of bows.

Frugal Coupon Living

Elf on the Shelf Ideas|Bow Climbing Wall via Frugal Coupon Living

Coloring Activity

This coloring activity is another way to engage kids and give them something festive to do with their elf! You can even write out the note to save time.

Little Learning Club

30 Elf on the Shelf Activity Cards via Little Learning Club

Candy Cane Game

This fun hide n seek game is done with candy canes but if you don’t have any, no problem! Simply use whatever you have in your home. Kids will love the challenge of finding what the elf has hidden.

elf on the tree

Elf on the Shelf Notes

Elf on a Boat

This one makes me laugh. It’s so simple and so good. If you don’t have a toy boat then you can just use a bowl!

My Mommy Style

Elf Floating on a Boat in the Sink via my Mommy Style

Elf on the Chandelier

Place your elf high in the sky with this idea. Your kids will look and look and not even realize that the elf is up above them!

The No Pressure Life

Elf on the Chandelier via The No Pressure Life

Rice Krispies

Did you know your elf fits in perfectly with the characters on the rice krispies box? This idea is so simple is so funny!

Madison Mom

Getting into the Rice Krispies via Madison Mom

Baking Cookies

Surprise your kids with a fun cookie-making activity with their favorite elf! This will create some amazing family bonding time.

California Unpublished

45+ Amazing Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas via California Unpublished

Toilet Paper Roll

Oops! Your elf got into your toilet paper! This is another super easy and funny scene that your kids will love.

California Unpublished

45+ Amazing Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas via California Unpublished

Climbing the Christmas Tree

This is a fun one! Grab some string and make it look like your little elf is climbing up the Christmas tree.

California Unpublished

45+ Amazing Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas via California Unpublished

Where’s Waldo

I call this the where’s waldo idea because your Elf on the Shelf is hidden in a group of many different things. This is also another great idea for older kids because the elf is harder to find!

California Unpublished

45+ Amazing Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas via California Unpublished

Build a Fort

Who doesn’t love forts?! Your little ones will go crazy when they see what you have created for them to play in.

My Mommy Style

Build a Fort with Elf on the Shelf via My Mommy Style


I love this scene because it teaches the true meaning of Christmas! Even the elf understands and is in awe of the little baby Jesus.

A Small Snippet

Rocking Baby Jesus via A Small Snippet

More Elf on the Shelf Fun!

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