33 Quick and Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas
Need some Elf on the Shelf ideas and inspiration? After having the Elf on the Shelf for a few years, you might be running out of ideas! With these 25 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas, you’ll be super prepared this year. Best of all, these ideas are quick to set up, taking only about 4-minutes each!
Do you have an Elf on the Shelf for your family? We’ve been doing it for a few years and let me tell you… it’s SO EASY for the Elf to “forget” to move! When he did move, it was usually a rushed attempt, that stressed me out because I needed to be in bed!
This year it’s going to be different! I actually planned ahead, made a calendar, went shopping, and have everything I need neatly tucked away in a box for easy access! Don’t have your elf? Buy one here!
Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas & Planning Guide
Get the Full-Size Pre-Planned Calendar or a blank Countdown to Christmas Calendar you can fill in yourself!
Our Elf on the Shelf shows up on December 1st and stays through Christmas Eve (he catches a ride home with Santa!). So we needed 24 activities. Since my kids like to wake up and find him, I’ll be setting these up before I go to bed, the night before.
We want you to be TOTALLY prepared for this fun Christmas Tradition, so here’s an easy list of everything you need! Download it for free! You can print it out and write all over it to make sure you have everything you need for a stress-free Elf Season!
Day 1: Welcome Back Elf
Our Elf is bringing a Welcome Back gift for the fam! The Lego Advent Calendar is a fun gift for Elf to bring! Christmas PJ’s would be a fun idea too!
Your elf doesn’t really have to bring back anything extravagant or expensive. He could bring back a bouquet of balloons, some hot chocolate, new Elf on the Shelf Accessories, a family Christmas movie, a new Christmas book, or anything you can think of! If this is your first year doing Elf on the Shelf, it’s fun to simply read the book and name your Elf!
Day 2: Attack of the Lego Minifigs
We are going to tie our Elf up with some twine (we’ll use this for several days) and some Lego bricks on a building plate. We may have overdone it a little on the minifigs, but I just couldn’t choose!
Day 3: Decorate the Bathroom
Our Elf on the Shelf is going to help with the Christmas decorating! Snag a cute Christmas Bathroom Set if you don’t already have one. Don’t want to decorate the bathroom? No prob… find a little spot to have the Elf Decorate while the kids are sleeping.
Day 4: Zipline Fun
Grab a candy cane, a piece of twine and some tape, and set up a zip line through a room of your house! Your kids will laugh at their Elf being caught mid-Zipline all day long!
Day 5: Bake Cookies
My kids love to bake! I couldn’t resist this Elf Apron Set when I found it on clearance last year! Add some baking ingredients, near your mixer or a bowl, and you’ve got it made! Need some inspiration on fun cookie ideas? Check out our Cookie Recipes!
Day 6: Build a Fort
Specifically planned on a Saturday so there is lots of time to play in it, turn your kitchen table into a fort with some sheets or blankets and Binder Clips! (you can skip the clips, but they help position your elf so he doesn’t fall off while the fort is in use!)
Day 7: Scavenger hunt
There are a couple of ways you can do this one:
- Have your Elf hold a sign saying something like “I hid 6 Candy Canes in this room. Can you find them in 6 minutes?”
- have your elf hold a clue, and each time you find what you are looking for, there is another clue! It can be written or done with pictures, depending on the age of your kids!
You can print the Candy Cane version or a blank version to write your own!
Day 8: T.P. Roll Swing
Get a piece of twine, an empty toilet paper roll, and a couple of thumb tacks, and set up an Elf swing in a doorway! You can use tape to secure your Elf to the swing, and because of the no touching rule, your kids will never get close enough to see!
We found that it helps to weigh the roll down a bit to keep the elf in his seat. We used green and red sharpies to weigh down the roll.
Note: Make sure to use enough tape. Otherwise, your elf may become a member of the circus!
Day 9: Wrap Pictures
Have your Elf wrap your pictures around the house. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to really dress up a room for Christmas. You can use some twine to make a bow, add bows, or use some of those amazing Ribbon Bows.
Day 10: Sugary Snow Angels
By far one of the messiest of the Elf Adventures, pour some sugar on your countertop (powdered works better than granulated, but either work), and make your Elf do snow angels! You can also use sprinkles, chocolate chips, rice crispy cereal, M&M’s… there are lots of options, and I bet you have something that will work right in your pantry!
A Clean-Up Hint: A baby wipe gets the powdered sugar mess right off your Elf on the Shelf!
Day 11: Bubble Bath Time
Grab a Barbie bathtub, or even a bowl or gravy boat, and fill it with mini marshmallows. Add your elf, and a few strategic marshmallows on top, and voila! Elf bubble bath!
Day 12: Chocolate Coma
Have your Elf crawling into an opened bag of Christmas Candy! M&M’s are fun, and bonus, since you are doing this while your kids are asleep, they totally won’t notice a few missing candy pieces!
Day 13: Hot Chocolate
Have your Elf put some hot chocolate packets (or K-Cups) in some mugs, along with some mini marshmallows (you know you still have some from the bubble bath!) and enjoy a fun time with your kids. Ask them to tell you their favorite Elf Adventure so far, or what they are looking forward to for Christmas, if they have something they haven’t done yet for Christmas that they would like to, etc!
Day 14: Snowball Fight
Use some large marshmallows to build a snow fort wall, and the little ones make great snowballs! Pick a single target, or have your kids’ toys team up (Stuffed animals vs. Action Figures!)
Day 15: Countdown to Christmas Chain
Have your Elf create a Christmas Countdown Chain! You can be REALLY cute, and make it Elf sized, or make it big enough for your kids to play with! And at this point, you only have to keep them from tearing off extra days for 10 more days!
Tip: To make the Elf Sized Countdown Chain, use a crayon to help form the rings!
Day 16: Movie Night
Grab a Popcorn Container, fill it up, put a mini bag of candy next to your Elf, and place the remote control next to him! I love easy Elf projects! Don’t have microwave popcorn? Check out our DIY Microwave Popcorn recipe!
Day 17: Drinking Syrup
As easy as putting a bendy straw in the syrup bottle, and setting your Elf near it! My kids love to have bendy straws around for drinking smoothies in the morning. Got a tall bottle? Use your elf’s arms to keep him standing up by wrapping them around the syrup bottle! Need a bendy straw? Ask for an extra the next time your family goes out to eat! Most places use bendy straws in kids cups to help keep the messes down.
Day 18: Crepe Paper Doorway
Get some crepe paper and tape and “lock” your child in their room with it! You can do a couple of x’s, or really go to town! You are sure to find a good deal on it at your local dollar store!
Day 19: Opening a Present
Have your Elf try to sneak a peek into some wrapped gifts! With Christmas so close, it’s probably a good time to remind kids that if you peak at presents, you ruin the fun and surprise of Christmas morning!
Day 20: “Improve” Pictures
Grab a dry erase marker, and add some fun touches family pictures! Make sure you add your mustaches on the glass, and not on the actual picture!
Day 21: Reading the Bible
Having your Elf remind your kids about the real meaning of Christmas can help get rid of the “I wants.” Our elf gets caught reading Luke 2:1-20, and then we take that opportunity to read the story to our kids. We let them play with our Little People Christmas Nativity so they stay focused on what we are reading.
Day 22: Sack Races
Grab a few disposable lunch sacks, or even some Christmas Gift bags, add some fun friends, and have a sack race across your kitchen counter or dining room table!
Day 23: Color a Picture
Our elf brings a goodbye gift the night BEFORE he leaves. He brings a Christmas coloring book, and new set of crayons (which we grab during Back to School Time), and colors the kids a picture. He usually gets caught mid picture, but the kids don’t mind. 🙂 It was so sweet of him, the crayons are almost as big as he is!
Day 24: Goodbye Letter
On Christmas Eve, when Santa drops off the presents, he picks up our Elf on the shelf and takes him back to the North Pole for the next 11 months! Our Elf on the Shelf writes a letter of goodbye, telling the kids how much he’s enjoyed spending the last few weeks with them, to remember the real reason for Christmas, and to remind them that Santa is always watching, so try to be extra loving to each other over the next year while he is gone!
Day 25: Hide the Elf
When you are setting up for Christmas, don’t forget to hide your Elf on the Shelf away until next year! I found my elf on top of the washing machine several days later! If my kids would have seen it, they would have been so sad! So, remember to hide your Elf 🙂
Don’t have an Elf on the Shelf? Want to start this fun family tradition? You can find one here.
More Quick and Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas:
Want some new ideas? We staged and photographed these 8 Elf on the Shelf scenes in 30 minutes! That’s less than 4 minutes per night! 😀
What are your favorite Elf on the Shelf Ideas?
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Melanie just posted these awesome FREE frozen snowflakes 🙂 May have to have Elf decorate with some of those too!!