This post has recently been updated with new Elf on the Shelf Ideas (the best ever!) We first posted this several years ago with our favorite ideas, and now it has even more funny, easy, and new ideas that are perfect for the holiday season. These daily elf ideas are great— unless your elf is like ours… sometimes our elf forgets to move at night. 😉
We have found everything from elf on a shelf ideas for toddlers to teenagers because the fun never has to end! Your teen can help your elf plan ideas for younger siblings).
“When is Gilbert coming?” (Gilbert is the name our toddler gave our elf when he first came to our house.) The questions begin as soon as Halloween ends. Luckily, our elf comes early (in November), and he comes prepared with many easy Elf ideas. All that and I have to do is be prepared to take funny Elf on the shelf pictures (like when we caught our elf flying!)
Where do I hide my elf on the shelf?
There are so many great options, and I’m happy to give you over 40 of them here! Most of these easy elf on the shelf ideas are geared towards our sons because our daughter wasn’t old enough to “get it” until after I put them together.
First up, though, if you don’t have one already, you need to get your Elf on the Shelf!
Where do I get an Elf on the Shelf?
They’re in stores all over around Christmas time. Or, if you want to plan ahead, you can have one at your house in no time when you’ve purchased through our links on Amazon here. (I’ll also include affiliate links for Elf accessories below). Once you get your Elf, it’s time to start letting your elf have fun.
First up is to figure out how to welcome your elf – or how to welcome it back!
Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas
When we first welcomed our elf to the family, it was with a lot of anticipation from us… and a bit of confusion from the kids. One morning he was just there (with his book), and although we tried to explain his presence, it still was a bit confusing. Luckily, the book helped a lot!
However, looking back now, I wish we would have had a welcome letter to introduce him to our kids.
What is an Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter?
The Elf Welcome Letter is a friendly note from your elf explaining who he is, why he’s there, and what the kids can expect. I’ve seen some notes that emphasize how the elf is watching all the time and reporting back to Santa. Personally, I find that a bit creepy, and I know my kids would be a little bit freaked out about it. Who wants to think the elf is staring at them all day and night?!
Instead, I think a welcome letter should be warm and encouraging. After all, the holiday is about love and family – not tattling!
Ten Elf on the Shelf Welcome Back Ideas
Including a welcome back letter when the elf arrives to visit your family for the holidays can be a great way to re-introduce him to your family’s routine. Even a simple note saying, “I’m back!” is a great idea if he’s been there in previous years.
Here are some other Welcoming Ideas.
- Have your elf arrive in a package from “The North Pole” and turn up in the mailbox or via “EPS” – that’s Elf Parcel Service, in case you’re wondering!
- Tape your elf to the outside of the front window with a sign that says, “I’m back!”
- Let him hang out in the breakfast cupboard so that when your kids open it to get their cereal, he’s right there waiting.
- Play a hide-and-seek game to find him somewhere in the house.
- Let your elf “cook” a big breakfast and be waiting for everyone when they come downstairs in the morning.
- Although your elf may be waiting in the family room for everyone to wake up, it just might be possible to see the reindeer hoof prints outside from when he arrived.
- Have your elf zip line across the room to signal his return.
- Create a welcome-back video starring the elf as himself.
- When your kids pull back the curtains, have the elf “bungee jumping” from the curtain rod!
- Have him hiding in the fridge next to the milk while holding hot cocoa packets and a sweet note.
Since our Elf Arrival, our kids have LOVED waking up each morning to find their elf and to see what he was doing that day! Our elf even left some kid stocking stuffers this year!
This year will be fun with these new Elf on Shelf ideas! It’s a super fun Christmas tradition for kids that we get to have fun with, too! Plus, it’s inexpensive, depending on the ideas that your elf comes up with… once you have the elf, the rest is up to you (no frugal coupon living needed to save on this activity!)
40+ Funny Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- Give him a lightsaber and have him light up the room!
- Let the Shelf Elf announce his return with M&M’s spelling out I’m Back
- Set out new family Christmas pajamas!
- Sully’s food truck from Homeschooling Fun with Lynda.
- Ride on a “Shoe-Shoe Train!” (source unknown)
- Let him shave like Daddy… that’s always funny to see (& to clean!) A little shaving cream on his face and a razor without the blade will do the trick nicely for an elf!
- Does your elf ride around on toy Dinosaurs? Ours does!
- Let him Fish for Cookies (our elf likes to hang from our light fixture in our kitchen after my cookie exchange every year)
- Is your Elf the Hero that catches the Grinch & changes his heart? Such a cute idea to have the stuffed Grinch caught in a glass jar!
- Help your Elf make this adorable car & tree ornament for your kids!
- Let him build a snowman in your freezer out of crushed ice, and use felt as a scarf for the snowman & himself! (Keep it on a plate so you can bring it to kid-level in the morning)
- Watch out that your kids’ toys don’t tape your elf to the wall with painter’s tape!
Funny Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Boys!
- Elves love to play instruments… did you know they are awesome guitar players? Yep- they can play the drums, too.
- Sometimes they like to hide… they hide in Silverware drawers, and you don’t even find them until you get your silverware for breakfast!
- Hiding is a Lego! (they can build a Lego fort and be inside with just their head, arms & legs sticking out!) …
- They even hide in Toilet Paper rolls! Be sure that you can see their heads and tell your elf to write a little message on the toilet paper roll “I like to play Hide & Seek”
- Make your elf a spiderman!
- Does your elf love science…maybe a little too much? Create a mad scientist lab!
- Let your elf use your son’s car slipper like a real car (who knows … maybe it becomes a real car at night?)
- Let them be one of the Ninja Turtles. A friend recently saw this on Facebook & sent it to me … and I think it fits right in!
Funny Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Girls!
- Create your own version of The Nutcracker by letting your elf and her friends recreate the show.
- Even elves love to go to the spa! Cut up some cucumber eye masks and lounge in spa slippers and a robe.
- Roller skating is so much fun, and your elf may agree! Strap on some mini-skates and let her roll!
- Have you ever tried a zip line? It might be one of your elf’s favorite things to do! You might need to help your elf for this one- Hook your elf up to a DIY elf harness and let her zip line across the room.
- Have a cookie-baking contest between your elf and some of her favorite pint-sized pals!
- If Amelia Earhart is one of her heroes, your elf will love dressing up in a puffy parka jacket and flying through the house in a toy airplane.
- Your elf might be mischievous, but she has a soft side for animals. Let her be a vet for the night and care for the (stuffed) animals in the house.
- Let Elsa freeze your Elf, like this photo posted to Imgur.
Best Elf on the Shelf Ideas
And yes, sometimes our elf forgets to move, but when he remembers, he sure makes the kids laugh!
But there’s more to an Elf on the Shelf than just moving him around! You need to name your elf, and you can also play dress-up with your elf! Check out the following fun ideas.
Elf on the Shelf Names
Naming your elf on the shelf is fun! Whether your elf is named after your child’s favorite Christmas movie, Christmas book, or favorite person— we can help! Do you need help finding a fun name? Here are 20 of our favorite elf names!
Pro-Parenting Tip: If your kids disagree about the elf’s name, write each name on a slip of paper and put them into a hat. Let mom or dad pick the name!
Girl Elf on the Shelf Names
- Scout Elf
- Glitter Elf
- naughty or nice
Boy Elf on the Shelf Names
Elf on the Shelf Clothes
Elf life is great, but elves definitely like the latest fashions! If your elf is still in his original clothes, you might want to think about giving his wardrobe an update with these fun elf on the shelf clothes. They’re designed to fit your elf just right and are sure to be a hit.
Elf on the Shelf Clothes for Girls
Elf on the Shelf Clothes for Boys
More Ideas for the Holiday Season:
- 50 Non-Toy Gifts for Kids. Kids receive so many toys during the holiday and in this post, I give you a bunch of ideas to give something besides toys.
- 50 Stocking Stuffers for Kids. Stocking stuffers can be difficult to find, but this list will help fill your kid’s stocking up. And maybe has a note attached from your elf!
Meaningful Gifts for YOUR parents
I teamed up on this post with Jamie of Totally the Bomb and Jodi of Meaningful Mama. Click on their Elf on the Shelf pictures to find their adorable & fun ideas below!
25 Super Girly Elf on the Shelf Ideas
Elf on the Shelf Nice List Ideas