Yes, we are big Elf on the Shelf fans at our house. We started the tradition last year and had so much fun. We didn't focus so much on the "you better not be naughty, the elf is watching you" as much as thinking of funny ways to set him up each night. He also isn't really getting into shenanigans as much as just playing around the house. Plus, I couldn't justify letting the elf come into our house to do all kinds of naughty things, but tell my daughter she has to be nice or he'll tattle on her to Santa. Why can't we just have fun with it?
My daughter loved waking up each morning to find Ollie doing all kinds of funny things, or just sitting in a new hiding place. I think some days I had more fun making up new scenarios than my daughter did finding him. Today I'm sharing all 27 ideas from last year (we moved him a couple of times on a few days) and they really are pretty easy to do. Nothing too elaborate.
Now, on to my 27 super EASY Elf on the Shelf ideas! (I apologize in advance for some of the not so great photos. I took them all on my cell, late at night. I wasn't originally planning on posting them, but obviously changed my mind)
1. Peeking out of a lamp
Just place the elf on the inside of a lampshade and have him peeking out for the kids to find.
2. Sitting on holiday decor
Just prop the elf on some holiday decor. Ours got comfy on the "V" of my Believe Word Set. I especially love the reflection in the mirror.
3. Sleeping in a tissue box
This one is really easy. Pull out a few tissues and fold them together to make a pillow. Put the elf in the tissue box, then use a few more tissues as a blanket.
4. Have a pony parade around the tree!
Or dinosaur, or any kinds of toys you have, really. We just have a whole lot of ponies at our house, so we put them to good use. This one was probably one of our favorites.
5. Elf in a wreath
Just place the elf in the wreath! Simple as that.
6. Join the Elf club!
This one requires a purchase of some elf slippers (found these at Gymboree). You could always make your own out of felt, crochet, or even find elf shirts to wear. Maybe have the Elf bring an "Elf certificate" or something. Anything to help your child feel like an elf for a day.
7. Elf in a jar
Place the elf in a jar of any kind and put on a shelf or mantel. We also have a reindeer hand puppet, so he got to sit in a jar, too.
8. Elf coloring book
Find a coloring book (or get a brand new Christmas one) and have your elf coloring the picture.
9. Elf on the clock
Just prop your elf on top of the clock!
10. Cookies and milk picnic
Everyone knows that Santa loves a good dose of milk and cookies, so why wouldn't the elves love it, too? I set up the elf, his new friend, Zoe (any toy similar in size will do), and toy glasses of milk and pretend cookies. Any kind of treats/food would work just fine. Or set up a spot for your child to sit with them and use real cookies!
11. Elf on the curtain rod
Just hang the elf from the curtain rod by his little hands!
12. Elf & friends picnic
We put our toy picnic table to good use. Sat Ollie down and surrounded him by friends for a fruit snack picnic breakfast by the tree. They could also sit on a small blanket instead.
13. Elf family movie night
Ollie brought a new Christmas movie (or pick out one you already own), popcorn, and some movie treats and already picked a spot on the couch. He's got the remote, all ready to go!
14. Elf on the tree
Ollie was hanging out with the Christmas tree angel. She already had her arms out, so it was the perfect spot for him to sit. Don't have an angel? Just find a great spot for him to sit in the tree.
15. Super Elf!
Get those tissues back out and tie them around the Elf's neck. Get a string (we used a small bungee cord) and attach him to the ceiling to look like he's flying.
16. Elf in the....dollhouse
We were working on potty training, so it only made sense at the time to show that elves go potty, too. Gave him a folded tag as a magazine and propped him up in the dollhouse bathroom. If you don't like this idea, no problem. Just set him up somewhere else in the dollhouse.
17. Elf in the pantry
We all know an elf's favorite food is syrup. So, we hid him in the pantry guarding the syrup. I knew my daughter would never find him in there herself, so he left a trail of Santa chocolates leading to the pantry door.
18. Elf campout
Set up a tent with a small blanket or washcloth. Place the elf inside, and build a small fire out of leftover candy corn (or draw one on paper). Have him roast a small marshmallow or piece of candy corn over the fire.
19. Snowball fight!
Get out those mini marshmallows, toys, and blocks. We put the elf toys together as a team, girly toys as another team, and paired up some Sidekix and other small stuffed toys as another. Give them all piles of "snowballs" and scatter some around like the fight had been going on for a while before your child found them. Want to get really fun? Lick one end of the marshmallow and stick it to any plastic toys to make it look like they've been hit!
20. Elf puzzle time
Get out a puzzle and let your elf start putting it together. Could also be fun to set up a larger puzzle on a table for the whole family to work on together.
21. Elf bubble bath
Your elf has been working hard, so give him a place to relax! Put your elf in a small container and fill with marshmallow "bubbles". We set up our iPod and earphones so he could relax in the bubble bath with some Christmas tunes on the bathroom counter.
22. Hitching a ride up the refrigerator
We had the elf getting a ride up the fridge with some help from a monkey with magnetic hands and feet. You could also put something fun inside the fridge as a surprise.
23. Elf wagon rides
Get out those trucks, cars, and attach something that could be used as a wagon (we used a toy baby carriage) and attach with a ribbon or string. Put your elf in the drivers seat, another toy in the wagon. Then, make a line out of the rest of the toys and add a sign for where the line starts.
24. Elf in a vase
Have your elf peeking out of a vase. Easy peasy.
25. Elf wrapping presents
As it gets closer to Christmas, wrap a small gift (book, movie, etc) and have it look like your elf wrapped it up. Get out the scissors and tape, scraps of paper on the floor, and just for fun - have your elf get a little tangled up in some paper!
26. Elf ornament
Put your elf in the tree (again), but this time have him hanging on to an ornament. You could also use this as an opportunity to give the kids their new ornament for the year (if you do that tradition).
27. Elf sleigh!
This one took the most work and planning, but was so much fun and perfect for Christmas eve!! We made the sleigh out of a cardboard box and two candy cane treat containers (usually less than $1 a piece and you can find them almost anywhere). Use some string and yoke up some ponies (or dinosaurs, or any animal toys you have on hand). Our "Rudolph" was a brave Sidekix dragon.
This can also be a great time to have the elf write a good-bye note to your child (since he'll ride back home on Santa's sleigh when he comes to pick him up that night), and let your child give the elf a good-bye hug (our elf makes Christmas Eve an exception to the "no touch" rule).
And there you have it!!
The biggest advice I can give to those who feel overwhelmed about the Elf on the Shelf, or are thinking about trying it this year is to just have fun with it. Don't try to do more than you think you can handle. If you forget to move him one night, don't stress out about it. It doesn't have to turn into a big web of lies and something stressful. It might even help to write out a plan so you know what you need to do with the elf before you go to bed. But really, just keep it simple and fun, and enjoy the holiday season as a family.
I've also had a couple of questions from people wondering if they HAVE to buy the original Elf on the Shelf. Personally, I think any elf would work just fine! There are all kinds of elf doll/decorations out there that would be just as much fun as the one in the little red suit. If you're feeling creative, you could even make your own. I think the point is to just be consistent and have fun with it.
I've got all kinds of ideas for this year, so make sure to follow on Instagram to see all the fun!!