Easy Elf On The Shelf Ideas

Over 30 Elf on The Shelf Ideas

Every year millions of parents start December planning to do Elf on The Shelf but it doesn’t take long before they quickly regret that decision and struggle for ideas on what their elves can do each night. Fortunately, I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I absolutely love it! Here are our favourite elf on the shelf ideas kindly demonstrated by our cheeky elves; Buddy & Belle.

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What Is Elf On The Shelf?

Elf on the Shelf is a tradition that many parents take part in each December. The idea is that an Elf comes from the North Pole to keep an eye on the children in the run-up to Christmas so that they can let Santa know who should be on the nice list. They arrive at the home on 1st December and then each night they get up to something different. Sometimes the elves can be a little bit naughty! The elves stay until Christmas Eve when Santa picks them up as he delivers presents.

Bring Advent Calendars

When the elves arrive on 1st December they bring advent calendars with them. We usually have one chocolate one each and the children have a toy one such as Hot Wheels Advent Calendar“>Hot Wheels, Peppa Pig Advent Calendar“>Peppa Pig. If you want something a little more special, the elves could bring a book advent calendar.

Put Up The Decorations

Sometimes our elves sneak in on 30th November after the children have gone to bed and put up all the Christmas decorations. That’s usually a big shock when the children come down in the morning! Sometimes they just bring the decorations so that the children can help put them up.


The elves like to have a little round of golf around the living room. This can be created by cutting scouring pads into greens, using candy canes as golf clubs and I use mint imperials as golf balls. The greens get stored in my Christmas box and come out again every year or if you don’t want to repeat it then they can just be popped under the sink until you need them for cleaning. You could also use paper, card or felt or anything else green that you have laying about.

Elves playing golf with candy canes and mint imperials
Ready to tee off!

TP The Room

Those naughty elves could nip to the bathroom and steal a toilet roll then throw it around the living room. They could even get tangled up in the paper. If you are careful when you throw it and collect it back up again then you can put it back in the bathroom to use later so there’s no waste.

Elves throwing toilet paper all over the room
Naughty elves!

Foil The Tree

Sometimes the Christmas tree just isn’t shiny enough for our elves no matter how many baubles, tinsel and lights we have on there. Our elves like to ‘borrow’ the aluminium foil and make the tree even shiner! As with the toilet roll, if you are careful then you can reuse the foil afterwards, you could even do a Smithy and use it to wrap presents then it can be recycled.

Teach The Toys

Our elves like to play teachers and let all the toys know what is required of them to be a good toy. Or, perhaps the lessons are super-specific and a little niche, like swimming lessons in the bath for the plastic toys, or maybe the big teddy is due for a driving lesson, and they’re found in the car together before the school run! They also like to let the toys know what to look out for to help the children make it onto the good list.

The elves teaching the other toys.
School time!

Read A Book

As an extension of their teaching abilities, the elves could read a story to the other toys. Who doesn’t love storytime?

Everybody loves storytime with the elves!

Wrapping Paper Accident

Another of our favourite and easy elf-on-the-shelf ideas is for the elves to ‘help’ to wrap presents. They usually end up getting in a tangle and wrapping each other up!

Climb Into Bed

Usually, our elves stay downstairs but occasionally they sneak upstairs and into bed with the children. The children are usually delighted by this!

Snack Time

It’s hungry work being an elf so sometimes the elves need to have a midnight snack!

Elf on the shelf ideas: give them a midnight snack
At least they are sharing!

Climb The Curtains

Those elves are a little bit cheeky, send them climbing the curtains to get a better view of the decorations. You could pop a cushion underneath just in case to break their fall, safety first!

Elf on the shelf ideas: have them climbing the curtains
Just chilling on the curtains.

Hide In The Tree

Maybe your elves like to inspect the tree closer or perhaps they love a game of hide and seek? Either way, another of my favourite easy elf on the shelf ideas is to hide them in the Christmas tree.

Elf on the shelf ideas: hide them in the Christmas Tree
Getting up close and personal with the Christmas tree.

Organise A Trip

Christmas is usually time when there are special trips or days out planned so your elves could bring tickets or news of this to your children. Over the years they have brought us tickets to see the Panto, to go and see Santa and one memorable year they ‘arranged’ for us to have a surprise weekend at Butlin’s just before Christmas which coincided with our tenth wedding anniversary.

Elf on the shelf ideas: bring news of an exciting trip or day out
The elves bring news of an exciting trip!

Bring A Paperchain Kit

My children like to get crafty at any time of the year but especially at Christmastime. Our elves know how much they love a craft so they brought along a paper chain kit one year for the children to make. We then hung the decorations they made in the dining room and my office to add some festive cheer.

Elf on the shelf ideas: bring a paper chain kit to entertain the children
They even gave a demo on how to use the kit!

Bring A Note

Sometimes simple really is best and a short note from the elves, or even from Santa himself, can really make the children’s day!

Elf on the shelf ideas: the elves could write a note to the children
A quick check to see if the children will make it onto the nice list.

Snowball Fight

Our elves sometimes miss the North Pole so occasionally they bring a little snow with them to play with! You can get fake snowballs here.

Elf on the shelf ideas: have a snowball fight!
Snowballs at the ready!

Bring Money For The Foodbank

This is my all-time favourite of the elf on the shelf ideas because it helps to prevent the children from being materialistic and reminds them how fortunate they are. If you can afford to then give the elves some money for the children to buy items for the foodbank. Most supermarkets these days have a collection point so you won’t have to go out of your way to donate. The children love to go to the shop and choose their own items to go into the donation point, usually, there is a list that you can pick up or view stating which items, in particular, your local food bank is short of or you can have a look at The Trussell Trust website to find out. This activity has the added bonus of the children experiencing budgeting and the act of handing over money/receiving change. If we do get any change then this goes into the charity pot in the supermarket.

Elf on the shelf ideas: bring money to buy items for the Trussell Trust food bank
Our elves like us to help the Trussell Trust at Christmas.

Candy Cane Trail

There are so many ways you could incorporate this elf activity into your festivities. The elves could leave a line of candy canes leading up to something special or just hide them to keep them occupied for a while.

Elf on the shelf ideas: hide candy canes for the children to find
Can your children find the candy canes?

Decorate The Car

This is such a fun and different one! I got some magnetic and reflective fairy lights to stick on the outside of the car along with tinsel on the dashboard and parcel shelf, reindeer antlers and a red nose and then a waving elf to go in the back window. I did this for our surprise trip to Butlin’s the weekend before Christmas and the children absolutely loved it!

Toast Marshmallows

Why should the people get all the fun? Sometimes our elves like to sit in the lounge and toast mini marshmallows on cocktail sticks over a battery operated tea light.

Elf on the shelf ideas: toast mini marshmallows on cocktail sticks over a battery operated tea light
It’s marshmallow time!

Ride The Trucks

Those naughty elves have gone joyriding on the children’s cars and trucks! I hope they don’t run over any of the toys!

Write Christmas Cards

Sometimes the elves miss their friends at the North Pole or want to remind the children (and Mummy and Daddy) that we need to do our Christmas cards.

Elf on the shelf ideas: write Christmas cards
Don’t forget to write your Christmas cards!

Bring An Activity

To stop the children from getting bored, especially at the weekends or once the school holidays have started, the elves like to bring some festive activities to keep them entertained.

Sit In The Wreath

It’s hard work being an elf so occasionally it’s nice to just sit down and see what everyone is getting up to.

Elf on the shelf ideas: sit in the wreath
Just chilling out and keeping an eye on things.

Play A Game

Your elves could deliver a new festive game such as Christmas Monopoly“>Christmas Monopoly or Elf on the shelf ideas: play a game

Games night with the elves!

Make A Playground

You can pick up some nice little elf accessories like this swing to create a little playground for your elves. Alternatively, you could create play equipment with toys you already have.

Elf on the shelf ideas: make a playground
It’s playtime!

Steal the Woolies

The weather will probably be quite chilly in the run-up to Christmas (depending on where in the world you are) so the elves might need to wrap up warm with the children’s woolies.

Elf on the shelf ideas: wear the children's winter woolies.
Baby, it’s cold outside!

Christmas Light Safari

I love this one as it incorporates a longstanding family tradition of going to see the lights. Every year we either go to our nearest city to see their Christmas lights or we have a drive or walk around our local area to see the Christmas lights that people have on their houses. Our elves decided to make this into a game and gave us a Christmas bingo sheet so that we can mark off all the different types of lights that we see. You could also use it to play a game of bingo if you are looking for an indoor activity. Click the button below to get our printable Christmas Lights Bingo sheet. (This will sign you up for our mailing list. We promise not to spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time).

Elf on the shelf ideas: Christmas Lights Safari with our free printable

Bring A North Pole Breakfast

One day either on a weekend or when the holidays have started, our elves like to bring us a North Pole Breakfast which is a very special, festive-themed breakfast that usually has a lot of sugary treats and extra special decorations. Read my North Pole Breakfast article here to find out how you can do your own.

Dangle From The Lights

Those elves like to see the decorations from all angles and they do like to get themselves in some precarious positions!

Elf on the shelf ideas: dangle from the light
Don’t fall, Buddy!

Shoe Train

The elves could line up the families shoes, ours were clever enough to do it in age & size order!

Elf on the shelf ideas: line up all the shoes into a train
Choo choo! All aboard the shoe train!

Encourage Kindness

Sometimes the festive season can be a bit a of a ‘me, me, me’ time so it is always nice to encourage your children to think of others. I absolutely love this idea from my friend, Jenna Newman.

Don’t Forget To Move Them!

We’ve all done it, you slide into bed at the end of a long day only to realise with horror that you’ve forgotten to move the elves! Lynda Pepper (Pepper Social) has a simple solution. Set an alarm to remind you.

This is also a great idea if you forget where you put them every year, add a reminder to your calendar to alert you on 30th November where you have hidden them.

Set an alarm to remind you to move the elves
An easy way to remember to move the elves.

Bring Some Fake Snow

Our elves have a magic door so that they can easily pop back and forth to the North Pole, you can tell when they have been home because there is a sprinkling of snow (flour) by the door. They could even bring back some magic fake snow that you mix with water.

Another alternative is to create snow by grating a snowman like Jenna Newman. This is probably not a good idea for young children but the older ones will love it!.

Sit In The Tree

Our elves, Buddy & Belle, absolutely love all things Christmas and cannot get enough of sparkle. Every so often they like to sit in the tree so they can get up close and personal with the sparkles.

The elves sitting in the tree
Sitting in the tree because it is just so sparkly!

Bring The Christmas Eve Box

At the end of advent, our elves like to deliver a Christmas Eve box with everything we need to make Christmas Eve extra special. When Santa comes that night, he picks the elves up and takes them back to the North Pole with him.

Elf on the shelf ideas: bring the Christmas Eve box
Happy Christmas!

Do you do any of these Elf on The Shelf activities? Which are your favourites that aren’t on this list? Let me know in the comments.

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