Return of the Elf! Easy Elf on the Shelf ideas for Advent Fun

1st December. Guess who’s back? Back again? Everyone’s favourite (or maybe not so, dependent on your viewpoint) cheeky elf. Whether it’s a tradition your household partakes in or not, there’s no denying it’s become one of the most popular traditions in the leadup to the Christmas in recent years. Here are some easy elf on the shelf ideas to inspire your elf’s nocturnal adventures.

The Elf

If you haven’t got your elf yet and you want to do it, it’s never too late. With the coronavirus crisis, you can always pretend your elf has been in ‘quarantine’ for 14 days and start mid December, it might buy you a bit more time. Click here to get an elf with quick delivery (and great prices) from amazon. Right. Now you’re elf ready, you just need some ideas (24 of them to be precise). There’s a few more than 24 here, so hopefully you can feel inspired – but we’d love to hear what your elf gets up to as well!

Easy elf on the shelf ideas

Elf Paper Cutting (Life of Spicers)

elf on the shelf paper dolls cutting
Photo Credit: Life of Spicers

Your elf can get busy with the scissors and create some paper dolls! WIll this inspire your child to make some of their own? Perhaps they can colour them in for Christmas (Santas, Gingerbread Men etc) to add to the house decorations?

Elf Cornflakes (Happy Family Hub)

elf on the shelf eating cereal
Photo Credit: Happy Family Hub
It’s morning time and the elf is hungry. Is it any wonder you catch him helping himself to the breakfast cereal?

Elf Snowflakes

elf on the shelf cutting snowflakes
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner

Another scissor disaster artistic effort from Elfie! Paper snowflakes. Even though he (or she) is quite cheeky, they have done a good job and could decorate your windows quite nicely. Just remember you might need to hoover afterwards!

Elf Fruit Caterpillar (Sarah Faulkner)

elf on the shelf fruit choir
You might need a full fruit bowl for this one, and some googly eyes from the craft box, but how about you turn the fruit into a choir singing christmas carols with elf as the conductor? We wish you a berry Christmas!

Elf Sink Bridge

elf on the shelf sink bridge with shark
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
This one always makes me laugh. A few lollipop sticks from the craft box glued together to make a bridge, some blue food colouring and a playmobil shark from the toy box and this makes for a great effect. Your little one will get quite a shock when they go in the bathroom to wash their hands or clean their teeth!

Hanging Around

elf on the shelf hanging off Christmas bunting
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun

Where’s Elf this morning? You know, just hanging around. Off the bunting, off the lampshades, curtainpoles…. anywhere you like!

Elf Dressing Up

elf on the shelf mini mask dressing up
Photo Credit: Single Parent Pessimist
The barbies can dress up, so why can’t Elf? Did you know you can even get mini elf face masks especially for him and similar size dolls? (Yes, really! Or you could make your own too.) You could leave a few offcuts of fabric to design and make a new outfit for him/her too!

Elf Dominoes

elf on the shelf playing dominoes
Photo Credit: Happy Family Hub
How about a good old game of dominoes? Our naughty elf set up a domino trail ready to knock over in the morning!

All Wrapped Up

elf on the shelf wrapped wrapping paper
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
elf on the shelf wrapped wrapping paper
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner

The elf could get busy with the wrapping paper. But why wrap presents when you could wrap other items in the house instead? I know someone who has also done this with cling film and silver foil also (and recycled afterwards). What could be the most funniest thing he/she could wrap up?

Random Acts of Kindness

elf on the shelf random acts of kindness
Photo Credit: Single Parent Pessimist
This is a lovely one! The Elf arrives with a list of random acts of kindness that your child performs during the day. Feed the birds, phone your grandparents, tidy up your room without being asked, tell someone why you love one, draw your friends a picture etc. 

Window Decorating

elf on the shelf decorating the window with stickers
Photo Credit: Single Parent Pessimist
The elf arrives with window decoration stickers and asks your child for help in decorating the window for Christmas!

Elf Balloon Shower

elf on the shelf balloon shower
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
Got a spare couple of packs of balloons? Get pumping, and fill your shower cubicle (or bathtub) with them with the elf at the centre of the action. Naughty elf!

Elf Sweet Cutlery

elf on the shelf sweeties in cutlery drawer
Photo Credit: Happy Family Hub
The elf has been tidying the kitchen and has helped with the cutlery drawer. Isn’t that sweet?

Elf Hair Shave

elf on the shelf shaved hair
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
If you’ve got a willing ‘victim’ in the house, the naughty elf could get up to a bit of DIY barbershop mischief with some hair shaving!

Toilet Roll Snowman

elf on the shelf toilet roll snowman
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Do you want to build a snowman? Well build your very own snow-laf inspired creation with three toilet rolls and whatever you can find from the craft box and there you have it.

Elf Gingerbread House

elf on the shelf gingerbread
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
What could be more Christmassy than Gingerbread? The elf could leave some gingerbread decorating items for the kids to get busy with to make their own tasty creations.

Elf Tissue Paper

elf on the shelf toilet paper fun
Photo Credit: Happy Family Hub
That naughty elf has toilet papered the tree / table / advent calendars / toys / made a mess in general. Oh no!

Magic Beans

elf on the shelf with magic beans
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun – Part 1: Planting the Magic Beans
elf on the shelf with magic beans turned to candy canes
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun. Part 2 – Results of the Magic Bean Planting!
This is a two-parter. On the first day, ask your child to plant some magic ‘beans’. These could be jelly beans planted in a bowl full of sugar. On the second day, the elf reveals what has grown – in this case, candy canes! I’ve also seen this done with magic eggs. The elf puts down two eggs and asks the child to sprinkle ‘magic dust’ (e.g. sugar) on top. Next day the eggs have ‘hatched’ into something different, e.g. a small toy or a kinder egg or similar.

Elf Fruit Choir

elf on the shelf fruit choir
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
Roll up, roll up for the fruit choir! Watch elf conduct the contents of the fruit bowl, complete with googly eyes to make them come alive. We wish you a berry Christmas!

Elf Twister

elf on the shelf elf twister
Photo Credit: The Gingerbread House
Isn’t Elf clever? As part of his toymaking experience in Santa’s workshop, he has bought down from the North Pole one of his mini games for your child’s toys – Elf Twister. You can find the printable game from The Gingerbread House website.

Bannister Slide

elf on the shelf bannister slide
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Looks a bit dangerous, but the Elf is light enough to get away with it! Why not get some comrades to join the fun?


Elf Photos

elf on the shelf photocopies and photos
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
The elf has photocopied himself quite a few times and popped his mugshot around the house. Naughty elf. If you’re doing this one, make sure you re-use the paper by using the other side as colouring paper!

Snowball Fight

elf on the shelf with snowball
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Elves love snow, especially snowball fights. Find anything white. Ping pong balls, cotton wool balls, white felt, or even screwed up pieces of paper. You may even have that fake snow stuff tucked away from last year that you could use.

Elf Grated Carrots

elf on the shelf grated carrot
Photo Credit: Sarah Faulkner
Poor Kevin the Carrot. He always gets a raw deal. It must really grate on him at times.

Tree Climbing

elf on the shelf climbing up the Christmas tree
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Easy as pie this one. Who wouldn’t want to scale the Christmas tree? It’s just so tempting with all those twinkly decorations!

Letters to Santa

elf on the shelf and letters to Santa
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Has your child written their letter to Santa yet? The elf would like to help them do so! Grown ups be aware that there is a special address for Santa and Royal Mail do their best to ensure it is delivered to him before the big day! The last posting date for 2021 is Friday 10th December 2021 and the address is: Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ.

Elf Swing

elf on the shelf on a swing
Photo Credit: Big Family, Big Fun
Everyone likes the swings at the playground, even Elfie. He could have his own swing in the house to have fun on one morning. How relaxing!

More easy elf on the shelf ideas

Wow, there are enough to keep anyone going there! Remember, there are no hard and fast rules, you can keep it as simple or go as crazy as you like. Some other easy elf on the shelf ideas that you can easily do with items hanging around the house are:
  • a teddy bear’s picnic – with a teaset or plates and cups laid out and the elf sitting with some soft toys or barbie dolls/marvel figures
  • pretend your elf is toasting mini marshmellows over a LED candle set
  • set up any sort of scene like a school classroom, shop, hospital with any role-play situation and make elf the star of the ‘show’
  • ‘fry’ up mini haribo eggs in a toy frying pan for breakfast
  • have elf arrive with a behaviour progress report for the lead up to Christmas – has your child been naughty or nice?
  • set out a game of Elf playing Jenga with the other toys
  • have Elf bring out a craft activity half done that your child has to finish

Easy elf on the shelf ideas – done!

So there you have it, I am exhausted just writing all of these down now! Personally, I think this tradition is sweet and easy to do to bring a joy into our children’s lives (if they like the concept that is). You can be as flashy or as low maintenance as you like, and best of all, you can mostly use what you’ve got around the house already. Big thank you to The Life of Spicers, The Gingerbread House, Big Family, Big Fun, Single Parent Pessimist and Sarah Faulkner for your contributions to this post!

Do let us know what you’re up to by leaving a comment below or joining the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Happy Elfing!

(Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links however all views and opinions are my own.)

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