It’s that time of year! It’s Christmas time! If you haven’t started the tradition of Elf on the Shelf with your children, start now. I will admit sometimes the Elf of the Shelf gives me a little anxiety. I’ll either forget to move and wake up at 3 AM saying to myself “the elf” or I’ll run out of ideas on what to do with it. But, when I see the look on my children’s faces when they look for the elf in the morning. I realize it is so worth it. In this article, you will find 24 days of Elf on the Shelf ideas for kids!
This article will be updated each day leading up to Christmas. For the next 24 days a new Elf on the Shelf idea will be posted, so be sure to check back each day.
What is the Elf on the Shelf Tradition?
The Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas tradition. The tradition states that the elf comes from the North Pole straight into your home. When your elf arrives for the first time he or she is packaged with a book. You can read the Elf on the Shelf a Family Tradition story with your child and then name your elf. The elf watches over your children during the day and each night while your child is sleeping he/she returns to the North Pole with a full report on your child’s behavior for Santa. If your child is misbehaving, the elf may leave a note letting your child know that their bad behavior has been noted more fun ideas on that later).
There are a couple of rules with the Elf on the Shelf. First, the elf can hear you if your child talks to it, but it won’t talk back. Sometimes the elf can leave a note to respond to what your child asked them. Second and this is very important. You cannot touch the elf. If you touch the elf, the elf loses its magic. So be sure to put your elf somewhere, where your child won’t be tempted to touch it.
Elf on the Shelf Ideas
Moms are busy people, I myself have slacked on the elf. I have had those nights at 2-3 AM where I wake up and realize I forgot all about the elf and I have no plan for the elf so I just stick it somewhere. This year I decided to do some research and put real thought into the elf. After all, it’s been a hard year for everyone so I wanted to put some real magic into Christmas this year. Here are some of the best Elf on the Shelf Ideas!
December 1st Day 1 of Elf on the Shelf: The Crepe Paper Room Surprise
Materials: Crepe Paper, tape
For this Elf on the Shelf idea, you must be really quiet. While the children are sleeping block off their door with crepe paper. I used red and green on each door. With my daughter’s door, I finished off with the red paper and with my son the green paper. I brought the leftover paper from each door together to finish the rest. I walked down the stairs leaving a trail of the paper behind me. When I got downstairs I wrapped some of the leftover paper around our Christmas tree. Then used the rest of the paper to meet our elf who was sitting on top of the shelf. When my children woke up they had to break free from their room. Then they had to follow the paper to find the elf.
This was a hit! My children loved breaking out of their room and then following the paper to get to the elf.
December 2nd Day 2 of Elf on the Shelf: Dinosaurs Feeding Dinosaurs
Materials: marshmallows, bowl, little dinosaurs, and optional dinosaur costume
My three-year-old son is obsessed with dinosaurs. He only wears dinosaur clothing, his shoes have dinosaurs, he usually eats only dinosaur nuggets so I knew that our elf had to do something with dinosaurs. I found a cute dinosaur costume on Etsy. I purchased it from the shop Made with Creations or MWLC3. The costume was adorable. I was extremely happy with my purchase. The outfit was made with great quality, and it was fast shipping. I highly recommend this shop.
Once I received the dinosaur costume which came with the sweater that says ROAR, a face mask, and a tail I dressed up our elf. Then I placed a bowl of marshmallows on the shelf, next to the elf. I placed some of my son’s little dinosaurs on the counter. I had our elf drop some marshmallows on the counter to look like he was feeding the dinosaurs.
My son absolutely loved this! He couldn’t believe that our elf was dressed like a dinosaur and was feeding marshmallows to his dinosaurs. At this moment my three-year-old became interested in the Elf on the Shelf. Before this, he didn’t really care to look for the elf. My daughter was more into it but, now every morning he gets up to look for the elf.
December 3rd Day 3 of Elf on the Shelf: Elf Plays Dress-up
Materials: doll clothes, dolls
Day 2 of Elf on the Shelf was an awesome day for my son, but my daughter was kinda upset. She didn’t like the fact that our elf was only feeding her brother’s dinosaurs but did feed her LOL or Barbie dolls. I knew I had to make up for this so on day 3 the elf played dress up.
The first thing I did was put a Barbie dress on the Elf on the Shelf, to my surprise it actually fit. I sat the dressed up elf on the shelf next to my daughter’s dollhouses. Then I put some Barbie dresses and some of her LOL dolls on the shelf so it looked like they were watching the elf play dress up. I also sat some Barbies on the shelf. Last, using Canva I made a note that said I love to play dress-up.
My daughter loved this one! She was so excited that the elf played with her Barbie clothes. If do this Elf on the Shelf idea or something similar, I do not recommend putting the elf in the dollhouse or somewhere where exactly where your child plays or they may accidentally touch the elf.
December 4th Day 4 of Elf on the Shelf: Elf Plays with Blocks
Materials: blocks optional little toy figurines
My children love Legos so I thought it would be nice if our elf placed with blocks too. I attempted to make have the elf build a Christmas Tree out of Legos. I will admit, I had to rush this one. Again, I had one of those mom moments where I forgot about the elf and I had to wake up and build my tree with little time. Even though my tree could have been a little better, the kids loved it.
Our elf had a little help from Bob the Builder. My kids really were happy that their elf tried building a Christmas tree.
December 5th Day 5 of Elf on the Shelf: Magic Eggs
Materials: Bowl, eggs (1 per child), glitter, note
Day 5 and day 6 are going to go together. This is a plus because I only have to move the elf once and she will stay there for 2 days. For this Elf on the Shelf idea, you will need eggs. You will need 1 egg per child in your household. Place your Elf on the Shelf on the counter next to or behind a bowl. In the bowl, you are going to place your eggs. I have two children so I put two eggs in the bowl. Next to the bowl, you will need a little bit of glitter. The glitter will be magical North Pole dust. next, you are going to leave a note telling the children what to do. Here is what my note said:
Hi Justin and Janelle! I brought you a little magic from the North Pole. Please sprinkle my magic elf dust over these eggs and in 1 night’s sleep you will awake to a special surprise”
My children were very excited to see this. My daughter read the note and each of them sprinkled some magical elf dust on the eggs. All-day they were wondering what was going to happen with the eggs. They woke up extra early the next morning to find out.
December 6th Day 6 of Elf on the Shelf: What happened to the eggs?
Materials: Kinder Joy Eggs
My children were very excited to wake up and find out what happened to the eggs that their elf had left them the day before. The best thing about this Elf on the Shelf idea was that the elf didn’t move. My children woke up to find Kinder Joy Eggs in place of where their eggs were. My children love Kinder Eggs, they were super excited to see the surprise. The downside of this was they wanted candy for breakfast. I was able to hold them off till lunchtime, however, it was a struggle. If you do not want to use candy you can use something that hatches from an egg such as a chick stuffed animal, or a small reptile toy such as a dinosaur.
December 7th Day 7 of Elf on the Elf: Hanging out by the Fire
Materials: Purchased Elf on the Shelf elf scene
I have never purchased Elf on the Shelf accessories before, but this year I thought I I try it out. The scene I purchased was at Walmart for $10. It was the Cozy Storytime Scene and came with a paper scene that included a functional rocking chair, fireplace, Christmas tree, tiny Elf on the Shelf book, a blanket, and accessories that you can hang from the fireplace. I popped out all the pieces and put everything together, it took me about 10 minutes. I set up the scene in my daughter’s room by her tiny Christmas tree. She loved it. She asked her elf to please leave the rocking chair and Christmas tree to use for her dolls.
December 8th Day 8 of Elf on the Shelf: Brr it’s cold in here
This one I never tried before but thought it was really cute and easy.
materials: paper, toothpick, doll blanket, or washcloth
Wrap your elf in a doll blanket or washcloth and place it in the refrigerator, preferably somewhere inside at their eye level. The best part of this is how long it took them to find it. They were looking everywhere with no luck, then my son wanted a cup of milk, and wouldn’t you know there was their elf sitting right next to the whipped cream! The elf was holding a sign that read Brr it’s cold in here! I typed the phrase on paper, cut it out, and tapped it to a toothpick. My kids thought this was so funny. My daughter who is just learning how to read loves when the elf leaves her little notes. This Elf on the Shelf idea was so easy and cute, definitely give it a try.
December 9th Day 9 of Elf on the Shelf: It’s an Elf Breakfast!
This is one of my favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas and one that I look forward to every year. The day the Elf on the Shelf makes breakfast for the kids. I always make the elf breakfast on December 9th because it is my daughter’s birthday, so I want to make it extra special every year.
Materials: Elf on the shelf or Christmas themed tablecloth, plates, and napkins. I also purchased small elves from the dollar store, candy canes, little candies, Elf on the Shelf cereal, and hot chocolate flavored cinnamon rolls. I used the leftover red and green crepe paper from day 1 of Elf on the shelf to decorate.
This was super fun to set up. First I put out the tablecloth and Elf on the Shelf table decoration. I placed the elf on the table holding a spoon so it would look like she was eating cereal, then I used some tape to keep the spoon in place. A box of Elf on the Shelf cereal and my kid’s cereal bowls were set out on the table. I placed the elves I purchased for them on the table holding candy canes. In the morning I made the hot chocolate flavored cinnamon rolls and put them out on the table. I finished off the scene decorating the kitchen using the crepe paper. This was a hit, especially with my 3-year-old. He was so excited, he really couldn’t believe it, It kept saying wow look.
December 10th Day 10 of Elf on the Shelf: Arts and Crafts
I love arts and crafts so this one was fun for me.
Materials: paper, scissors, crayons, tape
Setting up this arts and crafts scene did take a little time, but it was worth it. The first thing I did was cut out tiny snowflakes. I had to make them small enough so it looked like it came from the elf. Next, I drew little holiday scenes on tiny pieces of paper. I made a Christmas tree on one and a snowman on the other one. To make it look like the elf was coloring a picture, I taped a crayon to her hand. I stuck her other hand through one of the holes of the scissors to look like the elf was cutting out the snowflakes. Lastly, I threw some crayons and the scrap paper leftover from the snowflakes on the table. My children were amazed, they asked their elf if they could keep the snowflakes. I let my daughter pick one up from the table and put it in her lunchbox to show her friends.
December 11th Day 11 of Elf on the Shelf: Tangled in Lights
This is a simple Elf on the Shelf idea and it is also one of my favorites. This idea does not take much planning and is great to do on a work/school day.
Materials: Christmas Lights
For this Elf on the Shelf idea, all you have to do is twist your elf up in the Christmas lights so it is hanging down. It makes it extra special you can purchase a string of Christmas lights and hang them up where there were no lights. This was it looks like the elf was trying to hang up lights when it got tangled. If you have extra time, you can make a sign for the elf that says HELP!
December 12th Day 12 of Elf on the Shelf: Do you want to go on a candy hunt?
This is a perfect weekend Elf on the Shelf activity. You do not want to do this one when you have to rush in the morning.
Materials: Candy Canes, paper, and crayons
I had so much fun with this Elf on the Shelf idea. First, I placed our elf in our Christmas tree, then I made a note that said: “Do you want to go on a candy hunt?” The last thing I did was hide 12 candy canes around the house. I hid them in fun spots like my son’s stuffed dinosaur as pictured above. They were scattered all over the house including in the bathtub, in my daughter’s dollhouse, laundry room, etc… My kids loved this one. the only problem I have now is that my daughter asked the elf if she can hide more stuff another day. I guess I will have to figure something else out.
December 13th Day 13 of Elf on the Shelf: Bathroom Party!
I had a lot of fun doing this Elf on the Shelf activity and my kids loved it.
Materials: toilet paper
For this Elf on the Shelf activity, I toilet papered the bathroom and stuck our elf in a roll of toilet paper. My kids thought this was hysterical. They also told their elf that you are not supposed to leave the bathroom a mess, then they cleaned up the bathroom. So easy and so fun, I’ll be sure to do it again next year!
December 14th Day 14 of Elf on the Shelf: Time to call Santa Claus
This is the first time I tried the call Santa Elf on the Shelf activity. I thought it was a cute and easy idea that was perfect for the workweek.
Materials: paper and marker, Santa hotline number
For this activity, I stuck our elf next to the phone and write a note that said: “call the North Pole and leave a message for Santa Claus.” If you have your child call 1-951-262-3062 they will hear a message from Santa. It’s really cute and totally free. After my children found their elf today, they called the number 3-4 times before school.
December 15th Day 15 of Elf on the Shelf: Do you want a S’more?
I did this for the first time this year and it has been my children’s favorite so far. They absolutely loved this idea. My daughter couldn’t wait to tell all of her friends at the bus stop this morning.
Materials: marshmallows, graham cracker, chocolate, skewers, tape, figurines, candle or battery-operated tea-light candle, optional brown paper and lighter
Making this Elf on the Shelf scene was so much fun. First, I placed the elf and some of my children’s favorite toys around the battery-operated tea-light candle. Later, I went back and covered the candle with brown construction paper. Next, I taped the figurines to the counter so they wouldn’t tip over. I also, cut the BBQ skewer into 4 pieces and taped them to the hands of the figurines. Then, I prepared the Smores. I cut a graham cracker and a piece of chocolate into 4 pieces and set them next to the figurines. The last thing I did was cut a large marshmallow into 4 pieces and placed them on the skewers and toasted them with a lighter. Small marshmallows would be better but I used what I had at home. I definitely suggest you try this one if you haven’t already. This was my children’s favorite so far this season. My children were so excited that their elf made them SMores, they were even more excited to eat one!
December 16th Day 16 of Elf on the Shelf: Oh No, you haven’t kept your room clean
My daughter has trouble cleaning up her toys. Day after day it’s a constant battle for her to clean up. I thought our elf could help with that.
Materials: paper and something to write with or you can print something from the computer
We have a second living room that we use as a playroom. It is constantly a mess with toys spread out everywhere. Today, our elf clean up the entire room with her magical elf dust but left a warning letter. After all, Santa cannot bring new toys to children who don’t take care of the toys they already had. My daughter is sensitive, but I wanted the letter to serve as a warning, so I sat at the table and came up with this
I am sorry to say
I am unhappy you left your room this way,
I used my magical elf cleaning dust
Because a cleanroom is a must!
Next time it is a mess,
To Santa, I must confess!
Please clean up every day
So new Christmas toys can be delivered your way!”
When my daughter saw the warning letter, she became very upset and was worried that Santa wasn’t going to deliver her gifts. As I said, she is a very sensitive child. We discussed the importance of picking up toys and put them away after playing with them. We will find out if it works.
December 17th Day 17 of Elf on the Shelf: Let it snow
A snowstorm was in the forecast, it is going to be the first snow of the season, so I knew the elf needed to do something with snow.
Materials: snow (use can use flour, baking soda, cornstarch), any cold-weather accessories
I had purchased an Elf on the Shelf cold weather accessory kit. The kit came with fake snow, a scarf, a snow shovel, a cardboard snowman, and a mat. It also came with skis and goggles but Ill use those another day. I added cotton balls and a note that said: “Do you want to build a snowman?” The kids loved this, then they wanted to go outside a build a snowman at 6:30 AM this morning. I was able to hold them off until 10 AM.
December 19th Day 19 of Elf on the Shelf: Let’s Play Hide and Seek
My children love playing hide and seek, so I thought it would be fun to have the elf play.
Materials: Paper and something to write with or a computer and printer to print out a note.
What I did for this idea was, write out a note in my best elf handwriting asking my children to play Hide and Seek. I stuff the note to my daughter’s bedroom door so that she would see it when she woke up in the morning.
Next, I find a great hiding spot for our elf. The kicks got a kick out of this one. It took them about 1/2 hour to find it. This was a quick and easy idea that was a big it!
December 20th Day 20 of Elf on the Shelf: Magical Donut Seeds
This is a two day Elf on the Shelf idea.
Materials: Cheerios, plastic snack bag, paper, or something to use to write a note
Inside the snack bag were 6 magical donut seeds (Cheerios). The note attached to the bag read: “Hi Janelle and Justin, I brought you these magical donut seeds from the North Pole. Place 3 in each glass of milk and in one night’s sleep you will awake to a special surprise!
Before bed I had my children plant their donut seeds. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
December 21st Day 21 of Elf on the Self: Magical Donut Seeds Part 2
I kind of did two activities in one. I did the second part of the magical donut seeds and also moved the elf into a new location.
Materials: For the donut seed activity I used two glasses of milk, two skewers, 6 small donuts (3 for each glass of milk) and sprinkles
For the elf idea, I used bows and tape.
December 22nd Day 22 of Elf on the Shelf: ZipliningThrough the Kitchen
On Day 22nd our elf made an appearance in her dinosaur costume again. She was found ziplining through the kitchen.
Materials: Tape, Ribbon, scissors
This was a cute idea. To achieve a zipline, I cut a long piece of ribbon (I measured it out first) and tied one end of the ribbon to my blinds and the other to a sign I had above my kitchen cabinets. The next thing I did was tape the elf’s hand together so that she would stay on the zipline.
December 23rd the Final Day of Elf on the Shelf: The Good-Bye
The last day our elf comes to visit is bittersweet. On one hand, it’s easier to not have to think of daily ideas on the other I feel sad that the holiday season is coming to an end. I also have to explain to my daughter that the elf will come back next year and wipe away her tears. There are always a lot of tears.
Materials: a note from the elf, 12 printable little elves
Our elf hid in our Christmas tree. Next to the elf were two letters. A good-bye letter and a final game.
The good-bye letter
Our good-bye letter read:
Janelle and Justin,
Santa reported you both made the good list this year,
So, tonight he will come and spread holiday cheer!
It’s been fun watching over both of you
I hope you had fun with me too!
Now it’s time to say good-bye
But don’t worry. I’ll be back in a blink of an eye!
Remember this year while we are apart
Be kind, friendly, and follow your heart!
Love, Princess Cupcake
Princess cupcake also left a final game. She hid 12 little paper elves around the house for the children to find. It was a fun end for the elf.
The elf even left a little elf and a present from Santa in each of their rooms.
It was so much fun planning these Elf on the Shelf activites. I hope you enjoyed reading about them. Check back next year for a new list of Elf on the Shelf ideas. Merry Christmas and have a safe and Happy New Year!
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