Do you want to have the Elf on the Shelf tradition be part of your family’s holiday fun? Need ideas on how to use Elf on the Shelf? Have no fear! We’ve got some easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that you can get started with now!
**UPDATED REGULARLY FOR ELF ON THE SHELF 2020 – new ideas posted at the top of the post (This post is image heavy.)**
We’ve got to keep it simple but fun! If you need some help getting started with easy ideas, check out our favorite Elf on the Shelf accessories! They’re a HUGE help!
50+ EASY ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS
One thing that always had me hesitating when it came to elf ideas is just figuring out where to start!
If you have a favorite Elf idea, please leave a comment on this post! We love to hear about everyone else’s elves!
If you need some easy ideas for the arrival of your Elf on the Shelf, we’ve got you covered! Check out these two posts for our favorite ideas and some FREE printables:
Once you’ve got the first day planned, you’re going to be good to go. I promise! All of you have to do is snag some of the Elf ideas and you’ll be having as much fun as your kids!
BEST ELF OF THE SHELF IDEAS FOR 2020
**SCROLL DOWN FOR BRAND NEW IDEAS UPDATED AS WE DO THEM!**
ELF ON THE SHELF ARRIVAL
One of the easiest ways for your elf to make their arrival is to have them find a shelf! If you’re looking for something special — your elf can always arrive with an elf friend/sibling/spouse in tow!
Everyone loves a good Christmas book!
You can always find affordable little reindeer ornaments at Target, Walmart, and craft stores around the holidays.
With help from our friend Ashley at Lillard Love on YouTube, we’ve got some of the best Elf on the Shelf ideas you can find online today! From cute ideas to funny ideas, there’s something for everyone!
Both Ashley and I are dealing with balancing elf ideas for our boys who are a little bit older (4th grade) and the younger kids. These ideas should work well for kids of all ages!
(Be sure to check out the Lillards on YouTube! They’re such a great family to count as our friends!)
DAY 1 – THE ARRIVAL OF THE ELVES
Keep the arrival of your Elf easy by starting the tradition of them arriving with advent calendars for the kids! It’s simple to plan! Print out an arrival letter (or write your own) and pick up your calendars! Day one is done!
Do you have more than one child and are thinking of having more than one elf? Adding a new Elf on the Shelf doll to the tradition is easy to do! Ashley simply had their original Elf bring his brother and sister along once the younger kids were old enough for an elf. It wasn’t a big deal and it seems to have worked well!
DAY 2 – SNOWBALL FIGHT!
You can use cotton balls as tiny snowballs for the elves. Then think about ordering Indoor Snowballs that your kids can play with for extra fun!
When it comes to cute Elf on the Shelf ideas, this is one of my favorites!
DAY 3 – CHRISTMAS COOKIES
Warning! This can be one of the messiest elf ideas we’ve got. But it’s so cute and it’s so fun that you might want to consider it! Clean up is really easy too since you’re not actually baking or anything.
Ashley got some personalized Elf cookies this year, but I’ve found that the kids pretty much like waking up to any kind of cookies made by the elves (especially if you let them have one for breakfast)!
If you’re worried about leaving the elves like this all day, Ashley recommends you move them using tongs (you can’t touch the Elf on the Shelf) and then clean up the mess.
DAY 4 – NAME STRAWS
The key to easy Elf ideas is balance. Not every day has to be something involved. Having the elves bring a cute little goodie for your kids is a great way to handle things.
You can order personalized name straws on KrazyStraws.com and use them all year long!
DAY 5 – ELVES IN A SNOWGLOBE
If you have a chalkboard door or wall in your house this is one of the most adorable ideas I’ve seen!
The trick to getting the elves to stick isn’t tape — Ashley actually used black string to hang them so they don’t just fall on the floor. We wouldn’t want them to end up on the floor, right?
DAY 6 – ELF SLEEPOVER
Okay, how cute and EASY is this Elf on the Shelf idea?
Find a drawer in your home (or even show boxes) and have your elves hang out with some of your kids’ favorite dolls and action figures! They can have a sleepover and watch Christmas movies!
This is a great idea to use on a morning when you plan to have a family movie night to watch your favorite Christmas movie!
DAY 7 – ICE CREAM PARTY
Plan an ice cream party with the elves! This could just be a cute setup or you could actually make ice cream sundaes with the kids or take them out to get ice cream!
DAY 8 – DINOSAUR DIG
One of the best ways to use your Elf on the Shelf is to pull from things your kids love and their interests. Rock and dinosaur kits are fun gifts your elves can bring that are easy Elf on the Shelf ideas for boys (and girls too)!
I love elf ideas where they bring an activity for the kids to do because it keeps the kids busy and engaged during a time of year when that can feel challenging!
DAY 9 – ELVES GET CRAFTY
I love what Ashley did with this idea. Having the kids make paper snowflakes is always a fun thing to do with them in December. It’s a great way to disconnect and spend time with the family during the holidays.
Having the elves hang the snowflakes and then bring another craft activity is the way to keep everyone busy all month long! You don’t have to spend a lot on getting supplies. Use the paint, glue, glitter, etc. that you have around the house. Pick up some wooden snowflakes or ornaments at your local craft store and make memories together!
DAY 10 – WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ELF FARTS?
If you need more Elf on the Shelf ideas for boys, here is one you HAVE to plan for your kids!
Both of my kids are obsessed with everything having to do with bodily functions! You can get all of the “fart supplies” for this one on Amazon so it’s super easy to do!
|Farting Magical Creatures Coloring Book||Prime||Buy Now|
|Bag Of Reindeer Farts Cotton Candy||Prime||Buy Now|
DAY 11 – DECORATING THE TREE
Let your elves get involved in your other holiday traditions!
It’s so easy to let them have “helped” by adding some extra ornaments to your Christmas tree!
DAY 12 – LETTERS TO SANTA
Writing letters to Santa is one of our holiday traditions. Having your Elf on the Shelf write one too is a great way to introduce it! If you want to get fancy, have your elf bring cute stationery and a new pen for your child to write with!
DAY 13 – UGLY SWEATER PARTY
This is one of my favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas ever! You know you have dolls and action figures laying around the house. Well, there are some fun doll clothes out there this time of year! Plan your own Elf Ugly Sweater Party!
You could gift your kids their own ugly sweaters or just have fun setting the scene!
Amazon has some sweaters to get you started!
|The Elf on the Shelf Sweater Set - One Sweater with 5 Attachable Decals - Dress Your Girl or Boy Elf 5 Different Ways||Prime||Buy Now|
|Christmas Elf Tacky Sweater & Tidings Set||Prime||Buy Now|
|The Elf on the Shelf Claus Couture Jolly Gingerbread Set||Prime||Buy Now|
Ashley also used a Santa wine bottle cover for Iron Man’s costume. Many of the other sweaters were actually ornaments she found! They fit the dolls and figures wonderfully so watch for these when you’re shopping the after Christmas sales!
Those are the first two weeks of Ashley’s ideas.
But I’ve got plenty of our ideas to share with you! If you like your elf just a little naughty, scroll on! (Trust me, nothing too crazy here! We only do family friendly Elf on the Shelf ideas!)
FUNNY ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS
No matter how good-natured, sometimes that Christmas Elf gets himself into a little bit of trouble!
Have your Elf show up disguised as Santa! Cotton balls are all you need!
If you have some Mistletoe hung around your house, it’s the perfect place to find your elf getting a little smooch. My kids love the song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” so they get a big kick out of our Elf getting a kiss too!
If your child wants to carry your Elf on the Shelf around with them, a jar (especially if you can find the plastic ones) is a perfect solution! Then your elf can go wherever you go this holiday season!
But the jar is also a good place to find your elf getting into some shenanigans!
You can fill the jar with marshmallows (just make sure they aren’t sticky) or with cotton balls to represent snowballs! This is another idea that works great with the snowball fight theme.
Having our elf swing in on some yarn or string is one of my favorite arrival ideas. You can have him hang down on the fireplace, by the front door, or just by a window in your house.
Or if you just need some easy to plan antics, he can be rappelling down the window frame! This one is easy to set up and easy to clean up!
All you need is some yarn or string and a craft stick to make your own DIY Elf Swing! Then he can swing from any place you can hang him. You could even do an entire month of Elf on the Shelf ideas with him swinging from different places in your home!
Talk about easy Elf on the Shelf ideas!
Maybe your Elf missing the North Pole or maybe he’s bringing your kids a sweet treat (peppermint ice cream, anyone?). Either way, the kids are also entertained when the elf somehow gets himself trapped in the freezer!
It’s one of the last places my kids think to look and it always has them laughing!
The bathroom seems to be a favorite place for those naughty elves. I’ve seen some elaborate set ups from parents who are far more detailed than I am! But let me tell you a secret.
All you have to do is have your elf anywhere near the toilet seat and the kids will be hysterical. There’s just something about toilets, I guess.
If you’re looking to let your Christmas Elf make a bit of a mess but also want it to be easy to clean up, let him roll a spool of ribbon down the stairs!
Stock up on a cheap spool of ribbon after Christmas and you’ll be ready for next year! Plus you can use it to wrap gifts once your elf is done playing!
If you live in the South as we do, there are days where it doesn’t quite feel like winter. It’s the perfect excuse to take your Elf on the Shelf outside!
Grab some chalk (we always have a bucket in the garage) and have him invite the kids to play a little hopscotch!
One of the easiest Elf on the Shelf ideas came to me once when I had forgotten to move the elf.
It happens to the best of us.
If you forget to move the elf, there are tons of things you can do. But I found that one of the easiest was to tell the kids that I think he was trying to trick them and had a surprise up his sleeve.
When they got home from school, our elf had a treat for them! Milkshakes for all!
The kids weren’t disappointed at all!
We’re lucky enough that Weston’s GT teacher at school was willing to share some her fun ideas with us too! How cute (and how easy) is this fun idea. If you have a shower and an umbrella, you’ve got one day of your elf antics covered!
What happens when your elf comes to visit and it’s Tuesday?
TACO TUESDAY, of course!
This is a fun idea for any Tuesday during December. We suggest that you have tacos for dinner on this night!
Here’s another take on the Elf on the Shelf in the bathroom. The kids love it every single time.
Come on, it’s kind of cute, isn’t it?
Another easy bathroom related Elf on the Shelf idea is to have your elf take a shower while the kids sleep.
All you need is a little washcloth or another piece of fabric to turn into a turban or a towel! It’s another very simple idea!
Here’s an idea that always brings some giggles out.
Tucked into bed?
I thought they said tucked into BREAD!
If you’ve got a loaf of bread, this elf idea is a great one to keep in mind!
If your kids are into science then this Elf Magic experiment is one they should enjoy!
All you need is a bag of Skittles. Arrange them in a circle to do this Skittles science experiment. Your elf can leave it set up for the kids. Then all you do is have your kids pour water in the middle of the plate until it reaches the candy. Then have them wait and see what happens!
It’s Elf Magic!
Here’s another idea for a little elf mischief that isn’t too naughty!
It’s actually kind of fun as the parent too! If you have an older child helping you with your Elf on the Shelf, this is a great way to get them involved in helping surprise their siblings!
Do you have Nerf guns laying around the house? If you’re like my kids then the answer is yes. Or if Weston can’t find any of his, he’s always trying to buy a new one.
Why not set up a little battle between your elf and one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals?
If you’re the type who has your Elf bring little gifts for the kids, the small Nerf guns are usually pretty cheap. On Amazon, this one usually ends up being $4-$6 if you watch it for a little while. Click here to use our affiliate link to order yours!
It’s fashion show time! Elf on the Shelf ideas for girls are great if you’re trying to do things that you know they’ll love.
Gather up all of their favorite dolls, dress them all up, and set up a little show for your daughter to wake up to! It’s a super easy idea and you can even buy a new outfit for your Elf on the Shelf to wear in the show!
Check out this cute Party Dress you can order on Amazon!
In 2019 we welcomed some new elves into our lives. Before this year, we only had one elf from when my son was younger. This year the kids asked Santa if he would send an elf for both of them. He’s such a nice guy that he did just that! So we welcome our new elves and got to have fun naming them again!
If you need help naming your elf, we’ve got a guide to Elf on the Shelf names to help you!
Meet Mr. H and Nora Laura Cora. The boy is named after Houston and I’m not sure about Nora!
This was our simple Elf on the Shelf arrival idea for this year. We picked up cute little houses in the dollar spot at Target and added a bit of fake snow and some bottle brush trees! This set up was easy and the kids loved it!
I loved this idea. Next year I might have the kids make little craft Gingerbread houses to leave out to welcome the elves.
If you’re looking for some supplies to make Elf antics easier, here are some basics that we’ve got in our supplies.
MORE CUTE ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS
Some of my blogging friends have more amazing Elf on the Shelf Ideas to try this year!
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids on a weekend, trying making Elf Munch! It’s an easy recipe my friend Jana put together! Learn how to make Elf Munch and try it this weekend!
Need a new accessory for your Elf? Or maybe you need to change your boy elf into a girl elf!
Try this Elf Tutu tutorial from Madame Deals! It’s so easy to make and SO CUTE!
Mom on the Side has another one of my favorite Elf ideas! It’s an easy scavenger hunt! I love it because it’s another activity to keep kids having fun this holiday season!
She has a free printable which makes it so simple to plan. Check out her Elf on the Shelf Scavenger hunt and plan yours today! You’ll love it! I promise!
Printable Elf on the Shelf Hats
Want to have your elf do something fun with those family photos you have hung around the house? My friend Jen at The Suburban Mom has printable Elf on the Shelf hats you can have your Elf use to turn your family into his or her family!
How cute are these?
PRINTABLE ELF ON THE SHELF CHEAT SHEET
For those of you who really want to have an Elf but even easy ideas feel like a lot of work, I’ve made a printable cheat sheet for you! You can print it out and stash it away. Each day has a simple idea to do.
Sometimes the Elf is just hiding or your elf might hang out with some other toys. None of the ideas require a ton of supplies. It’s definitely the simple way to start your tradition!
EVEN MORE ELF IDEAS!
If these ideas aren’t enough for your Christmas Elf, have no fear! We have a lot of other Elf on the Shelf ideas that I’ve used over the years! You can click here to see them all or check out the links below.
Oh, and if you need help naming a new Elf (or want to find out what your Elf name would be), check out our Ultimate Guide to Elf on the Shelf names!
Here are some of our ideas from the past. These are some of the easiest ideas you’ll find!
- A Week of Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas (many work great for toddlers and younger kids)
- Another Week of Elf on the Shelf
- Elf on the Shelf Bedtime Story
- Elf Hugs
- Elf Working Overtime
- Elf’s Got a Brand New Car
- Stuffed Animal Karaoke Party
- Elf Block Party
- Elf Princess Dreams (Book Idea)
- Mirror Messages
- Toilet Paper Roll
- The Elf Gets Crafty
- Gingerbread House
- Elf Gets Cooking
- Breakfast Cereal Messages
- Elf Manicure (this is one of our most popular Elf on the Shelf ideas!)
WHICH IDEA IS YOUR FAVORITE?
We love hearing about what different families like to do with the elves.
Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite Elf on the Shelf tradition!
Is your elf a bit naughty or sweet as can be?
WHERE TO BUY
It’s never too late to get in on the best Elf on the Shelf ideas! Most local stores have Elf on the Shelf Kits that you can pick up when you’re out shopping.
We prefer the convenience of Amazon! They have a variety of different Elf on the Shelf kits to choose from! So get yours today if you still need one or are looking for an addition to your Elf Crew!
The Elf on the ShelfElf on the Shelf: blue-eyed girlThe Elf on the Shelf: Girl Elf Bonus Party SKirtsElf On The Shelf: Boy with Customizable Christmas Sweater SetThe Elf on the Shelf: Girl Elf (Brown Eyed) with Snowflake Skirt & ScarfThe Elf on the Shelf: Boy Elf (Brown Eyed) with Totally Tubular Snow Set
Get yours and get started on the fun this year. Or get ready for next year! It’s never too late to start an Elf on the Shelf tradition!
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