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Creative Elf on the Shelf ideas to bring extra Christmas magic into your home in December… minus the last minute panic! The Elf on the Shelf craze has exploded every December, with many parents working hard to come up with creative Elf on the Shelf ideas each night, ready for the kids to come looking in the morning.
This is not always an easy task, and I’m the first to admit I have forgotten to move the Elf. These Elf ideas will help you come up with a fun new scenario for each day in December!
Plus plenty of extra ideas if you need more creative inspiration for years to come!
What Is Elf On The Shelf?
The concept behind Elf on the Shelf is to enhance the Christmas magic for kids, encouraging them to keep believing. It also helps with keeping them more nice than naughty through December.
After all, the elf does pop back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa all that has happened each day.
The idea is to create a fun festive experience for your children in the lead up to Christmas, with the naughty elf getting into mischief each night while they sleep.
We have had an annual elf visitor in our home for many Christmas seasons now. The first year, our then 3-year-old was quite uneasy.
Now, the kids talk about him through the year and wonder when he will be back. Our elf is affectionately named Bo which was what my then 3-year-old named him when he first arrived. Easy to remember.
This article was first published in 2014 and updated for 2020.
Staying Organised With Elf On The Shelf
I’m no super mum when it comes to coming up with totally awesome Elf ideas each night. I have a few favourites that I reserve for those busy days when I eagerly await the kids to go to sleep so I can move him and head to bed myself.
In fact, I won’t even tell you how many times I got into bed then remembered I hadn’t moved the elf. Usually just after I get comfortable!
Or there was once or twice when I completely forgot to move the elf. We had to make up a story about how he didn’t move because the kids had been ratbags and it was his way of telling them so! It was effective!
This is a big reason why I had to create my own Elf on the Shelf planner. Otherwise, that first year had many late-night Pinterest searches, looking for some quick inspiration!
You can download this bundle for FREE including my Elf on the Shelf planner, idea list and return letter:
My top tips for staying organised:
- Plan your Elf scenarios in advance
- Have your props ready
- Keep it simple
- Set a nightly reminder on your phone
- And be prepared in case you forget
CREATIVE ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS
I have some seriously creative friends who have allowed me to share a few of their Elf on the Shelf ideas. Others are easy Elf inspiration we have done ourselves at home with our scout elf Bo.
I have put each idea as a new day in December so you can do the same, or pick your favourites and add them to your Elf planner!
Dec 1 – Welcome back Elf Arrival Letter
A letter from your Elf on 1 December is a fun way to get the kids excited right from the start and a good way to remind them that Santa knows if they are naughty or nice!
You can also grab my free printable elf return letter and find more return ideas over here.
Dec 2 -Kissing Booth
Save a box, such as a tissue box to make your own Elf on the Shelf kissing booth.
Dec 3 – Wrapped Christmas Tree
This one is very impressive. That is a lot of effort. Well done Jess. If you do this early in the month, you can reuse the paper to do your gift wrapping if it isn’t too crinkled.
I recommend having a tall helper to do this because two sets of arms make it much easier.
Dec 4 – Say Cheese
Line up some of your children’s favourite toys for a bit of Elf photography. Or instead of a photography session, perhaps it’s a wild west hold up with Toy Story!
Dec 5 – All Rolled Up
If you need a really easy option that takes almost no planning or prep, this toilet roll scenario is perfect. This takes less than a minute and will have the kids giggling.
Dec 6 – Taco Tuesday
This one was a bit of fun. We love tacos in our house so there are always wraps on hand for a quick Elf idea. A perfect option for a Tuesday!
Dec 7 – Balloon Time
This Elf in a balloon will amaze the little ones as they try and work out how the Elf got inside.
Take care not to pop the balloon in the process though because you don’t want kids waking with a fright late at night and coming to investigate.
Dec 8 – Candy Cane Thief
Sometimes you need to give the little people a friendly Elf reminder to be nice instead of naughty.
Dec 9 – Sack Races
This super cute idea is great if you have more than one Elf or if you want to get some other toys involved.
Dec 10 – Bath Time
Bath time is important, even if you are an Elf. Use cotton balls to give the look of a bubble bath. Our Barbie bath was the perfect size.
Similar to the cotton ball bubble bath, this bauble bath is a fun festive twist.
Dec 11 – Hanging With The Angel
Just hanging about and making friends with the other festive character in the house. A quick and easy last-minute Elf on the Shelf idea.
Dec 12 – Balloon Ride
This Elf balloon ride may require a couple of extra props you may not already have lying around. Jess did a brilliant job with hers. See below for my much quicker, lazier version of the Elf balloon idea.
Here is a simple Elf swing tutorial if you want to try this.
Dec 13 – Sleigh Ride
Dashing through the snow, with a bunch of My Little Pony friends… Or make use of your festive decorations with simple scenarios like this one. These reindeer have featured in many an Elf encounter over the years.
Dec 14 – Nutcracker
A regal outfit for your Elf while he hangs out with some of the other decorations. This idea adds an extra challenge for your kids when they try and find the Elf well camouflaged with the other decorations around the house.
Dec 15 – Festive Baking
A messy but fun idea is to write your Elf’s name in flour on the bench. Make sure you time it on a day you don’t need the kitchen much.
Getting into the Nutella or other baking supplies works well too.
Dec 16 – Stolen Underwear
This one was my kid’s favourite Elf day in 2018. Stolen a pair of everyone’s undies and hung them on the tree. They could not stop giggling every time they passed the tree. Especially my eldest daughter when she realised the Elf was wearing her Frozen undies.
Dec 16 – Elf Portrait
Create an Elfie (elf selfie) with this fun self-portrait idea using a small canvas. Or if you want to keep it really easy, use pens and a piece of paper for your elf portrait scenario. You can also create a LEGO Elf for this idea.
Dec 17 – Elf Rainbow Experiment
Set up an exciting rainbow experiment for your kids with Skittles candy and warm water. You can incorporate learning into their daily Elf scenario with this one.
Dec 18 – Give To Get
This is my personal favourite. We always encourage our children to give away some of their existing toys and clothes before every Christmas or birthday. During December, we put out a washing basket for each of them and a note for them to fill the baskets. They are only young so even a few items added to the basket is a win for me.
This is also a great way to encourage them to be more giving during the Christmas season, by starting a new family tradition of donating items they no longer need each year.
Dec 19 – Toilet Paper Tree
When the little prankster decides to let loose with a roll of toilet paper, no tree is safe!
Dec 20 – Balloon Bubble Bath
This one was inspired by my daughter’s birthday with balloons adding a bit of celebration to the cheeky elf and his bubble bath!
Or if you don’t have a bathtub at home, you can do similar with the shower as my friend Sam did with her 3 Elf visitors:
Dec 21 – Decorate The Toilet
Expand on the toilet humour with a Christmas decorated toilet area – you can get festive toilet decorating sets if you want to go all out like the idea below:
Dec 22 – Find the Treat
Hide a treat under the cups for your child to wake up and find. This is a great one for the weekend if you are willing to allow a pre-breakfast treat and hopefully get to sleep in a little longer.
It totally did not work for us. They still asked if they could have their treat first!
Dec 23 – Dog Treats “Don’t Give Santa These Cookies”
If you have a pet dog or cat, have your Elves get into the pet dry food with a sign “Yuck! Don’t give these cookies to Santa” as a funny reminder that Santa will be arriving soon.
24 December – A Goodbye Hug
It’s sad for kids when the day comes for them to say goodbye to their Elf. A beautiful Elf goodbye idea is to allow your kids a special hug goodbye.
You can have a letter from their elf telling them on this day it is okay to have a hug because Santa will be collecting your Elf in his sleigh as he makes his way to all the children’s homes on Christmas Eve.
For a printable letter template, check out my mega Elf planning bundle.
Kids are taught that touching their elf will take away the magic and the elf won’t be able to fly home each night to report to Santa.
Most kids understand this, but some younger children especially may struggle with this. If that is the case in your home, either create Elf scenes that are out of reach.
Or get a pair of Elf Gloves so they have permission to touch the elves without destroying the magic.
Your Elf may also leave a Christmas Eve box with a few special surprises for the whole family to enjoy on the night before Christmas as part of his or her departure gift!
More Easy Elf On The Shelf Ideas
If those ideas weren’t enough, here are some more easy Elf ideas to add to your monthly planner that the kids are sure to love!
Bananas With Faces
This one is ready in under a minute!
Bead Self Portrait
Warning… this one takes a long time to set up but it’s very fun!
Star Wars Elf on the Shelf Idea
For Star Wars loving kids, give your Elf a galactic theme. I drew a really terrible Yoda face and Lightsaber on paper for ours. Use what you already have at home though otherwise!
Toilet Paper Christmas Tree
Egg Magic Trick
This is a 2 day idea that kids love! Add sprinkles or glitter over raw eggs and the next day they magically become Kinder Surprises or another fun treat.
A big thank you to Jess and Sam for letting me share several of these fun Christmas elf ideas. I will be adding even more of my own Elf on the shelf inspiration each year too!
Time to get that Christmas preparation started!
Check out more Christmas inspiration:
Grab my Santa Tag freebie for a cute gift tag for your children’s gifts this Christmas. And if you’re stuck on inspiration, or looking for a budget-friendly idea, these handmade gifts are easy and thoughtful ideas.
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf visiting your household?