22 November 2021 (updated)

Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

The holidays are swiftly approaching! Your Elf on the Shelf is likely soon to begin his annual shenanigans.

Do you ever feel the pressure mounting over what new and crazy mischief you must plan for your elf this year? Read more to find some creative, easy, and funny Elf on the Shelf ideas!

What Is an Elf on the Shelf?

According to the Elf on the Shelf tradition, once adopted and given a name, a scout elf receives his "Christmas magic" and flies each night to the North Pole to report to Santa Claus on the day's adventures. Each morning, the scout elf returns to its family and perches in a different place. The Tale of The Elf on the Shelf is a great way to teach children about generosity and kindness and make the holidays more about sharing rather than about wanting and getting. Check out the storybook that tells the tale of the magical elf! Along with the book, you can purchase all different kinds of elf plush figures in a variety of skin tones and eye colors! If you haven't bought one yet, it may just become one of your family's new favorite Christmas traditions.

Finding Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

The best part about Elf on the Shelf is the creativity parents can use to put their scout elf in silly places or doing fun and mischievous things. He or she is known to hide in creative places, and finding the elf together each morning is a fun family activity.

We know the holidays are a busy time. You've got a lot more on your plate than just cookies for Santa. But not to worry, there are plenty of parents who have shared their ideas online, and we've got some creative and easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that will make this year one to remember.

The Adventurous Elf on the Shelf

Climbing the Christmas Tree

Maybe he's been taking notes on the cat's mischief? Get a little rope made out of yarn and he can be scaling the Christmas tree! If your elf is particularly a daredevil, maybe he can be climbing without gear!

Candy Cane Sleigh Ride

You elf probably does quite a bit of sledding up at the north pole, so why not bring the fun to your house, even without snow? Your elf can be sliding down the banister! Make him or her a little sled using some tied-together candy canes.

Photo by @alibrug

Mission Impossible Elves

*Cue spy music* These sneaky elves have to be pretty crafty considering all the hijinks they get into. They might even give Tom Cruise a run for his money. Set up some string from higher places in your home and have your elf (or elves) ziplining via candy cane to various spots in the house!

Elf on the Shelf-Sized Dinner Table Mini Golf

You can never have too many marshmallow ideas. Grab some green paper or felt to simulate a putting green, draw some holes, and have your elf putting with a candy cane. Little toothpicks with flags to mark the holes is a fun little detail. He'll be mid-game when your kids wake up to find him!


If your kids are big super Marvel fans, then they'll love this homage to America's favorite spidey-teen. Pose him or her just like Peter Parker, or even use dental floss to create a web to swing from!

The Mischievous Elf on the Shelf

Melted Snowman

Looks like this elf got a hold of mom's hairdryer and wreaked havoc on the friendly snowman! Use whatever you have around the house (carrots, stones, grapes, etc.) for the snowman's features and a glass of milk for his melted remains.

Putting Toilet Paper on...Just About Anything.

Remember when those teenage neighbors (or maybe even you as a teenager) thought that covering things, especially trees, in toilet paper was comedy gold? That sounds about on par with an elf's humor, and probably your kids' too.

The Scanner Elf

Who doesn't love a good scanner prank? Your Elf on the Shelf had little self-control when it comes to a machine that he can use to photocopy himself. Print a couple of copies and post them in silly places around the house!

Photo by: @elf_advent

Frozen Shelf Elf

Elsa has a knack for freezing things. You're most likely already well-aware of that. It looks like your elf may find himself in a chilly predicament, frozen in a cup of ice water.

Minion Banana Shenanigans

Are your kids obsessed with Minions? Despicable Me and Minions took the nation by storm, and for some reason, those little yellow creatures liked to talk about bananas quite a bit. This is a quick, easy little project that your minion-loving kids are sure to appreciate!

Donut You Want to Build a Snowman?

We love this idea because it incorporates a fun activity for the kiddos to assemble and a delicious snack treat! Your little ones will be so excited that they get to build a snowman with their elf. All you need is some mini powdered donuts, candy corn, and mini chocolate chips. You could also include pretzel sticks for arms! This parent was brave to reference Frozen, though, as it may have prompted that song to get stuck in everyone's heads for the rest of the day.

The Vandal

This is a classic prank that never gets old. If you've got lots of pictures of your kids around the house, it's a simple way for your elves to wreak their havoc on your home. Just make sure you use dry-erase markers! Another idea: Have the elf replace all the pictures with himself (bonus points if he re-creates the poses in the pictures).

elf on the shelf ideas

photo by @iamjoegaudet

The Elf Vandal

Use dry-erase markers to make an elf outfit in the mirror, so when your little one goes to brush their teeth, they'll find out what they would look like as an elf!

Elf Trapped in the TV

Okay, for this one you'll set up this YouTube video on your TV a few minutes before they wake up. When the kids get out of bed, spend just a couple of minutes looking for your elf, but with no success. Accidentally “turn” the channel and show them where your elf is stuck! Make sure to turn it off or switch the channel within that ten minutes or another video may autoplay.

Elves Egg-cited for Santa

We love the idea that these little elves have a knack for doodling. Fortunately, with eggs, they can't do any permanent damage. Draw cute little faces on the eggs so it looks like the elves have been up to no good with the sharpies.

Taco Tuesday Elf

You may have a very hungry little scout with all that traveling he does. This is the perfect way to answer that ever-lingering "what's for dinner?" question before there's a chance it's been uttered.

Mingling With the Other Toys

If your child has some other toys or figurines, surely your elf would like a friend or two to engage in his or her shenanigans. Barbie, Ken, G.I. Joe, Polly Pocket, or any kind of mini-sized friends would work to set up a silly scene. Have them doing yoga, making cookies, or singing karaoke.

Marshmallow Snowball Fight

Grab another doll or toy, set up some marshmallow forts (or just have them hide behind objects), and have a marshmallow snowball war! May the best elf win!

A Case of the Christmas Pox

Luckily, this illness only has one symptom--extra Christmas spirit! Use sticky dots to give your elf (or group of elves) a spotty sickness that gives everyone some much-needed holiday cheer.

A Case of Confusion

Remember when all of our kids did the floss dance? Everywhere? At all times? After being featured on Fortnite, it seemed like kids just couldn't stop themselves from popping those hips back and forth between their swinging arms. They probably don't have Fortnite up in the North Pole, or perhaps the elves are too busy making the toys to play video games. Either way, this confused elf is sure to make your kids giggle.

Elf in the ER

Uh-oh! With all the stunts he does, he could easily have an elf accident and end up in the ER! Use a piece of paper or a napkin to fashion a hospital robe. Use bandages to wrap up any sustained injuries, and get him hooked up to an IV so he can be on a speedy road to recovery! Poor guy!

Playing Reindeer Games

Set up a fun little elf-sized game, like poker, and have him play with some friends! Twister is a fun idea, and you can make a mini-twister mat out of a piece of paper and colored markers.

Treat Yours-ELF

Elf on the Shelf Spa Day

Your scout is quite the busy little elf and could probably use a little pampering. Fill the sink, a bowl, or a crockpot with mini-marshmallows as "bubbles." Give him or her a charcoal face mask, cucumbers (cut from the very tip of the cucumber) a mini magazine to read, or a little turban or shower cap (made out of toilet paper)!

Elf Movie Night

Set your elf up with a movie, remote, and some popcorn or candy! Maybe it's a Christmas movie you and your family can watch together that night. Maybe they can miscalculate how much popcorn they need, just like this guy.

Elf Makeover

Mom's makeup can be very tempting. All those fun colors, powders, lipsticks, how could an elf resist? Have your elf get into mom's makeup bag...results need not be attractive.

The Big List

  • Paints a self-portrait
  • On strike (you may need a little break)
  • Home is under Elf Surveillance
  • Saves Sporky (Toy Story) from the Trash
  • Stuck in a balloon
  • Takes a "bath" in a cereal bowl filled with marshmallows
  • Sets s(ELF)ie as the home screen on a phone
  • Vandalizes family pics with elf or Santa hats, mustaches, or googly eyes
  • Roasts marshmallows over a candle
  • Toilet paper hammock
  • Mistakes the dog food/treats for cookies
  • Gets a checkup from Doc McStuffins
  • Camping in a toilet paper or paper bag tent
  • Weightlifting with marshmallow barbells
  • Wraps himself in wrapping paper
  • Stuck in the washing machine
  • Shaving
  • Cooking in the kitchen (with candy, of course)

How Do I Get My Elf on the Shelf to Pose?

Elf on the Shelf is a soft doll with no internal support that would make it stand up or stay posed without external means. If you're a creative person, this can be frustrating. Here's a DIY method of making your elf on the shelf posable. This could help you slightly modify your elf so it's a little more versatile.

Find Something Meaningful

Still didn't find the Elf on the Shelf ideas you were looking for? Maybe you'd like something a little more specific to your family. What are your kids' favorite sports teams? Deck your elf out in their team's gear and have him watching game highlights on YouTube. Does your child play the drums? Make an elf-sized tin-can drum set for your elf to play! Does he or she dance? Play a sport? Love an actor or movie? Use these as starting points for making your Elf on the Shelf ideas a memorable and meaningful experience for your child. They'll be delighted that their favorite elf shares common interests!

Making the Most of your Elf on the Shelf Tradition

We know it's a lot to come up with a new idea every night of December, especially with gifts to buy, food to make, cards to send, places to go, and activities to do. It can be overwhelming. The important part of this tradition is making meaningful memories and having fun, not stressing about it. That's the beauty of Christmas magic. The elf itself is a source of wonder and magic, so what he does is secondary to that. Keep that in mind as you celebrate the Christmas season with your family. Tag us on Instagram @getfamilyapp with favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas!

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