Last year, on a whim, I️ finally caved and got an Elf on the Shelf for our girls. I️ admit that part of me was afraid of starting something “new” that we would have to keep up each year, but I️ also LOVE holiday traditions and coming up with fun Christmas ideas for us to do as a family.
I️ scoured Pinterest for Elf on the Shelf ideas and made a handy spreadsheet to keep track of potential good ones for my girls. All of that research also inspired me to come up with a few unique ideas, and I️ wanted to share all of them with you! I️ know that sometimes brainstorming Elf on the Shelf ideas can be overwhelming, so I️’m going to give you a full list that you can use to guide your elf adventures this holiday season.
1. Welcome – Have your elf write kids’ names in sugar (snow) on the kitchen counter – leave the bag or canister open to make it look like the elf made a mess
2. Sledding – Let the elf slide down your stair bannister – you could use pipe cleaners, floral wire, tape, etc. to attach elf to the bannister.
3. Snowflake Day – Make your elf cut out paper snowflakes – this can lead into a fun activity of the kids making their own paper snowflakes that day!
4. Elf Bubble Bath – put your elf in a clear glass bowl with mini marshmallows (“bubbles”)
5. Baking Day – Have your elf bring baking supplies and make it a fun day to bake treats. We found cute holiday kid aprons at IKEA and they’re going to be a ‘gift’ from our elf on our annual cookie baking day! You can also have your elf “hide” and peek over the edge of a mixing bowl!
6. Playing Video Games – Have your elf sit on the coffee table or on a bookshelf holding the game controller and be sure to leave the video game pulled up on your TV!
7. Gone Fishing – Make a fishing pole out of a straw and some string and have your elf ‘fish’ for Goldfish in a bowl or sink.
8. Snow Angels – Spread sugar out on the counter or a plate and have the elf make snow angels in the sugar.
9. Swinging – Make a swing out of those (coveted) TP rolls and some string and have your elf hang from a light fixture or doorway.
10. Ziplining – Have your elf zipline across a room by holding onto a candy cane. We attached our string from one corner of the room to the top of the Christmas tree for fun.
11. Drinking Coffee – We have mini Starbucks espresso cups and the cute collector ornaments – we had our elf bring the girls a new ornament last Christmas and made it look like the elf was drinking out of the cup!
12. Hide and Seek – This is such a simple idea, and you could totally do this more than once! We just placed the elf in one of our Christmas trees and the girls eventually found it after searching the house.
13. Opening Gifts – Sometimes it’s funny to have the elf do naughty things to get a reaction out of your kids! Have your elf rip open part of a gift (fake gift) under the tree.
14. Reading Books – Have your elf sitting on a shelf reading a book.
15. Eating Candy – Sit your elf in the middle of a pile of holiday candy, making it look like it broke into your candy stash!
16. Riding a Train – If you have a train beneath your Christmas tree, have the elf sit on one of the train cars.
17. Playing Dress Up – Nowadays you can find actual Elf on the Shelf clothing for your elf – we picked up a mermaid outfit after the holidays on clearance last year! But, you can also use Barbie clothing and accessories to outfit your elf for a fun dress-up theme.
18. Rockclimbing – Have your elf ‘climb’ the wall using gift bows attached to the wall.
19. Riding the Reindeer – We have a reindeer figure on our bookshelf and we put the elf on the reindeer’s back at the top of our shelves one day. It took a while for the girls to notice it, but they loved it!
20. Wrapping Gifts – Similar to UNwrapping the gifts, you can have your elf pretend to wrap up some gifts!
21. Cooking – If you have a play kitchen for your kids, have the elf sitting on it pretending to cook something.
22. Dollhouse – We hid the elf in the girls’ dollhouse last year (in their room, while they were sleeping!). It was a fun surprise for them when they realized the elf “snuck” in their room.
23. Playing a Game – We had our elf play a game of Connect 4 with a few stuffed animal friends! You can also use other games, as well.
24. Snowball Fight – Have your elf and other stuffed animals or dolls throwing “snowballs,” aka mini marshmallows, at each other.
25. Gingerbread House – We got the mini gingerbread village last year and had our elf “decorate” one of the houses and left the other 3 for our girls to make that day!
26. Hanging Around – Have your elf hide in a wreath somewhere in your home. We had ours hanging in our kitchen cabinet wreaths one morning!
27. Surprise Gift – We had our elf bring the girls’ matching Christmas jammies one day. We hung the jammies from our kitchen chandelier and sat the elf on the light.
28. Goodbye Until Next Year – On Christmas Eve, after the girls were in bed, we set up a little goodbye note from our elf, along with a message made from mini marshmallows and a tiny gift the elf ‘brought’ for them.
The hardest part about the Elf on the Shelf is definitely that no one is supposed to touch the elf! Some of these ideas were easier said than done since wherever the elf was, we had to leave it there until the girls’ naptime/bedtime or if we were going out, one of us would hang back and put the elf away, so when we got home, it looked like it ‘disappeared’ until the next day! Hopefully you’ll find these Elf on the Shelf ideas helpful this holiday season – and remember, no need to do anything crazy! Keep it simple and your kids will have a lot of fun with it 🙂