Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas


When I became a mom, nothing excited me more than being able to start our holiday traditions as a family. Growing up, holidays were always a magical time filled with traditions. From decorating the house with my grandfather’s handmade wooden crafts for every holiday to Alice’s Restaurant blasting in the kitchen while my mom and I watched the Macy’s Parade. We had traditions that I looked forward to yearly that my own children are getting to experience.

When we had our daughter, my husband and I started a yearly tradition of taking the Monday off before Thanksgiving to go holiday shopping. We find a diner for breakfast, buy Christmas gifts for the kids, and enjoy time with the two of us before picking them up from daycare. On our first trip out, we saw the Elf on the Shelf at a store and decided to pick it up. My daughter has a stuffed Elf she is allowed to hold, we read the book, watch the movies, and wake up daily to find the Elf. It has become her favorite December morning activity. Three years later it’s something I still get excited to bring out to start the holiday season!

Mom life is busy and crazy! Moving an Elf and trying to be creative while managing all of the things can be overwhelming. I wanted to share some tips and some of our favorite easy Elf on the shelf ideas that our Elf does or brings to help anyone who may be struggling with ideas.

Elf is Back!

Some people take their elves out after Thanksgiving, but I start December 1. I do this mainly because twenty-four days of things can be hard enough, so if I can save myself a few extra days I will! Our Elf always brings an advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. Last year we had the Disney book advent calendar, and it was the best thing ever! My daughter loves to read, so getting to open a book every day was something we all looked forward to. She would find the envelope for the day before bed (they’re numbered and wrapped for days 1-24), and we’d read that book before bed. It was a nice way to end the day and something she woke up excited for daily!

Elf Quarantine

Cold season is here, so if you know you have some crazy nights maybe your elf needs to quarantine before being in the house! You can decorate a jar with paper snowflakes and write on it “Elf Quarantine” and just move the jar a few times. I haven’t had to use this at home, but I have done it in my classroom a few times.

Easy Activities

Elf in a car

We have a toy bus that Little People, Barbies, and even the Elf can drive around to watch everything happening!

Writing on the mirror/windows

The elf can leave a message on the bathroom mirror with lipstick, dry-erase markers, or even window crayons if you have them! You could write a sweet message to your child or remind them of how many days until the big man himself shows up!

Snowball fight

Our daughter was gifted white pom poms for an indoor snowball fight. Our elf has one and leaves the rest in a pile with a note to have a snowball fight after school! You can use paper balls or cotton balls if you don’t have Pom poms.


Let’s put those goldfish crackers to good use! Find a stick outside and some dental floss tied around the end for an easy fishing pole. This can even be used to fish for toys off a shelf, or in the bathtub to fish for toys (could be in a toy boat with fish-themed bath toys on a non-bath night).

Playing a game

Another super easy Elf on the Shelf idea is to use any of your child’s favorite games and set it up for the elf to play!

Holiday Bucket List

Have the Elf start with the first and only acceptable way to celebrate the holidays by eating holiday cookies or treats! Leave the rest blank and have your child(ren) come up with some fun activities to make sure you complete before the season ends.

Frozen Elf

Place the elf in a plastic bag and then place it in a Tupperware container. Next, fill it with water and let him sit out in the morning! Bonus points if you have an Elsa doll handy that may have frozen him!

Playing with toys

Here the possibilities are endless! The elf can be playing at Barbie’s Malibu house. He can even get stuck in a tower of magnetic tiles or drive down the Hot Wheels tracks! Have fun and be as crazy or lazy as you’d like!

Snow angels

Place sugar on the table/bar/counter of your choosing. Take the elf and place it on top of the sugar, and spread the limbs to make a snow angel. This would be perfect for a snowy day to show your little ones what they can do while home from school!

Matching Pajamas

Our favorite way to end our time with the Elf is to have pajamas left for all of us. These usually go on sale around Thanksgiving. I bought a pair for all of us, dog included, to wear to bed on Christmas Eve. We have multiple stops on Christmas Eve and leave a note with the pajamas out for our children to find when we come home from the last party of the day. I know they won’t want to match forever, but while they let me it’s a fun tradition to have. And the pictures of them with the dog matching are always a fun memory!

Make sure to get your cinnamon sugar ready in case an elf is touched, and have fun this holiday season! Do you have a favorite tradition the elf is now a part of or an easy Elf on the Shelf ideas? Share it with us!



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