EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Oh the Elf! I think it’s a love hate relationship with the Elf on the shelf for most of us! My kids get so excited with the magic of the Elf that I can’t help but like the tradition…. but also, who likes waking up in the middle of the night and remembering that you forgot to move the Elf? I think anyone with an Elf can relate and if you can’t, please share your secrets!

I’ve had the idea for this post the whole holiday season but things have been so busy that I never got around to writing it. I also needed to take some of the necessary photos for it…. so here we are days before Christmas and I’m possibly sharing it a little too late. Then again, maybe at this point in the game this post comes in handy since we’re only a few sleeps away from Christmas and we are all running out of ideas at this point!

If your Elf makes elaborate messes and is super creative, this may not be the post for you. We do not go nuts on this tradition given that 9 out of 10 times I’m half asleep when I remember to move the Elf. I have a really bad habit of falling asleep on the couch daily. If you are looking for EASY ideas though I figured I would share some of our very simple ideas in case they may help anyone.

  • I’ll start with our usual tradition of the Elf appearing with our Christmas tree. Our special black Friday tradition is to stay far away from the malls and put up our Christmas tree and Christmas décor. I know some elves arrive before Thanksgiving and some arrive on December 1st but ours always shows up the Saturday after Black Friday because this is when officially declare it Christmas time in our home! Usually the Elf appears in our Christmas tree. We also have a tradition of the Elf leaving in the Christmas tree so if you were to come by on December 24th, you will always find the Elf in our tree.
  • This year Natalia did change up our tradition a bit. As the kids have gotten older we have added more traditions to our Black Friday Christmas decorating. One of these is to bake cookies. Again, I am very practical about all of this. We buy the premade cookie dough. Our favorite is Sweet Loren’s! Not only are these all made with clean ingredients but these are the best tasting! We easily make them and then I’ll give the kids frosting, icing, sprinkles etc. so they can decorate their cookies. This year Natalia decided that maybe if we left the cookies out the Elf would want to eat them and choose a different spot to appear in on the first Saturday of the holiday season. She was right!
  • Every holiday season I am likely going to get the kids Christmas pajamas. They already have enough toys and will get enough toys from Santa and family on Christmas so the idea here is definitely NOT to add to that or to spend extra money. The Christmas pajamas though are something I am going to get anyway so a couple of years ago I decided to have the Elf bring Pajamas for the kids. This is more exciting for them than if I just give the pajamas to them and it gives us an idea of something the Elf can do that is fun but not overly complicated. I only did pajamas this year but another idea is to have the Elf deliver hot cocoa (my cousin did this) or I’d considered having the Elf deliver gingerbread houses to decorate… although I decided to take the credit for the ginger bread house myself this year!
  • This one is the obvious…. just move the Elf around the house! Some ideas of places our Elf has showed up include hanging on our chandelier, in our fruit basket, in our bar area amidst the glasses, riding the Christmas train and one of the kid’s favorites in the fridge! To be honest, this is what is happening most nights and we definitely had more spots than this. I am just sharing a few!
  • Another one the kids love is the Elf showing up in the bathroom in a toilet paper roll. We started this one because we were potty training Natalia and even at that young age, they thought it was so funny that we have kept doing it. Sprinkles will show up here at least once a year!
  • Finally, this was our most elaborate one. There was a night we totally forgot to move the elf. Natalia was in tears because she thought the elf had lost it’s magic. We felt so bad so while the kids were at school we created a treasure hunt for them! This happened when the Elf was hanging from the chandelier. If you notice in the photo, we put a little Christmas tree under it. This was usually in Peter’s room so when they got home from school we asked why he’d moved it there. It was ultimately decided that the Elf must have done this! The Christmas tree was a clue leading to…. you guessed it! The Christmas tree! On the Christmas tree was a treasure map with clues indicating that there was another clue to be found in Sunny’s stocking. Sunny was our dog and our first baby but he was not good with the kids. Fortunately he was able to go live with my brother but we still have a stocking for him. In Sunny’s stocking was yet another clue leading to the playroom where we’d made a tunnel with Christmas pajamas to be found at the end. Fortunately I had not used up all the pajamas I bought! We usually don’t go this far but I have to admit that it was really fun and I loved experiencing the MAGIC through their eyes! While it was more work than just moving the Elf it was worth doing. I would not make it a habit every night but I think we will continue to do this at least once or twice in the season.

In summary- I think this is a really nice tradition to have over the holiday season and I think it can still be fun and magical for the kids without going through too much trouble or making too many messes if that is not something you want to do.

If you’ve got any equally easy and simple ideas for me please do share!

Thanks for visiting!


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