For some of us, Christmas means 24 days of Elf mischief as well as a visit from Santa – and if you’re looking for some easy, last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas to keep the magic going until 24th December – you’re in the right place.
We’ve got some great, time-saving Elf on the Shelf ideas your toddler will love, created by our own parents, using things they have lying around the house already, including sweets, toys and arts and crafts items that shouldn’t be too hard to source if you’re looking for easy and last-minute ways to get your Elf looking busy.
Easy Elf on the Shelf ideas for 1 to 24 December
December 1st – Elf’s arrival
Lots of people want to make a real splash when Elf first arrives – but it’s up to you how big you do it.
We love this idea which shows Elf getting ready for a tea party – and the sign that says he’s back!
You can do a smaller version of this, making your own sign and placing a few party poppers and balloons around Elf to show he’s around for 24 days of fun.
But, if you’ve got some party plates and hats handy, we think this is a fun way to kick-off the Elf antics.
December 2nd – Do you wanna build a snow-Elf?
Photo: kaitstoeckel on Instagram
Aww, how cute is this? Grab some toilet rolls and pop your Elf in them to make it look as though he’s hiding out in a snowman costume!
You can draw ‘buttons’ on with black felt pen and stick a bit of orange card on for a nose. Snow good!
December 3rd – LEGO lockdown
Photo: Ed_koo on Instagram
If you’ve got LEGO figures (or any others), a building base board and some string or ribbon why not get Elf tied up ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ style by some other toys?
You can do this one in lots of ways and it won’t take too long – plus we love the fact Elf is still smiling!
Seen these? Best Elf on the Shelf accessories…
Lots of our Elf on the Shelf ideas can be put together with things you’ll hopefully have around the house. But if you’re thinking of buying some extra props we’ve picked some brilliant ones…
December 4th – I’m a celebrity Elf… get me out of here!
If your family have loved watching I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! why not use any rubber creepy crawly toys you have lying around (maybe from Halloween?) to make it look as though your Elf is making his escape from the jungle.
Use straw if you have it to make it extra authentic, otherwise just lie him on the floor and cover him in any lizard/snake toys you can find.
December 5th – KitKat ski lodge
Photo: Jennifer Basa and redcarpetstorunnynoses on Instagram
Woah….this is a bit of a ‘wow factor’ idea but we love it. If you’re up for it, grab some KitKats and ‘build’ a ski lodge for Elf.
Use the KitKats whole, and sprinkle icing sugar on for a full ‘snow’ effect.
And eat later, obviously…
December 6th – it’s a carrot take-over
If you have some veggies lying around, this one’s simple. Draw a happy face on your carrot – and a not-so-happy one on the vegetable you’re going to grate.
Put Elf in position to look as though he’s doing the grating and there you have it. One very happy Elf grating his veggie friend!
December 7th – Frozen fun
Photo: tiffgerling on Instagram
If you’re loving all things Frozen again now Frozen 2 has finally hit our screens, why not bring some icy fun by making it look as though Elsa has frozen Elf?
Pop Elf in a beaker or cup and add a small amount of water. Pop the beaker or cup in the freezer overnight and then set it up in the morning, waking the children before Elf gets too melted And then let your children have fun slowly defrosting chilly Elf.
December 8th – grate snowman fun
We’ll feature ‘grating’ ideas a few times in this article: that’s because most people have one at home and you can get up to some real fun using it.
If you have a big cuddly snowman, or another white or pink cuddly toy, put it by the grater and use marshmallows the same colour as your chosen toy’s fur to make it look as though Elf has been grating him. The possibilities are endless!
December 9th – flying Elf and his reindeer friend
You’ll need to grab some string to do this one and some tacks (unless you already have hooks in the walls) to make it look as though Elf’s doing a spider-crawl. If you have a reindeer you could include too, so much the better.
Just make sure they’re wrapped around securely so there’s no chance of them falling off before the kids see them!
December 10th – red nose day for Elf and the kids
This is a really fun one you can do while the kids are sleeping. Pop a red ‘nose’ on your Elf in the form of a little red craft pom-pom, and give him a sign that says ‘clowning around’ or similar.
While your children sleep, dot their noses with red facepaint (make sure it’s a skin-friendly facepaint so they don’t come out in a rash). And ensure you’re there when your kids look at themselves in the mirror in the morning!
December 11th – family photo fun
This one will take a bit more time but we think it’s lovely. Cut out the heads of everyone in the family and make simple Elf bodies using red and white card.
Then stick them on shelf and pop your Elf next to them so he looks like part of the family.
December 12th – it’s an Elf outing!
Be warned… your Elf might not always stay homebound… sometimes they like an outdoor adventure! If you’re into decorating the house at Christmas, you might just have some spray-on snow around.
Make a little cut-out Elf on card or paper and spray the snow around it. Alternatively, hold Elf in place and spray, to create a great silhouette. You can then put him in the car so it looks like he went for a drive.
December 13th – hot chocolate shop!
OK, we know this one probably isn’t as quick and easy as some here, but, if you have everything at home to make delicious hot chocolate over Christmas, why not turn it into a hot choc bar run by your Elf?
Everything’s been put out here – including marshmallow toppers, of course – and the kids (and you) will love a warm drink after saying good morning to your Elf!
December 14th – magic coin maker
You can use hard-earned cash for this one – or toy money from a board game or, for a more popular effect, chocolate coins.
Make it look as though Elf is turning notes into coins by getting him to ‘hold’ the notes and place gold coins around the grater.
December 15th – unicorn ride
Photo: runjumpscrap on Instagram
Have a unicorn cuddly toy or ornament handy? If you do, why not let Elf ride in on him one morning? We love the unicorn poo touch here, too.
If you don’t have ‘real’ unicorn poo – just fill a clear plastic bag with marshmallows or other sweets and write a label that says what it is.
December 16th – cereal morning wake-up call
If you don’t mind making a mess of your cereal box and you’ve got some scissors handy, this idea will make the children laugh in the morning.
Cut a hole in the cereal box and pop Elf’s head through it – simple as that.
December 17th – more carrot fun
We love this, because it reminds us that the reindeer (and Santa!) will soon be on their way. If you don’t have a big fluffy carrot like the one in the picture, just use orange and green tissue paper to wrap your Elf up to look like a carrot.
Then dot some carrots around the kitchen for full effect.
December 18th – Busking elf
How about making Elf a busking musician? If you have a toy instrument handy – it could be a guitar, or keyboard – pop Elf under the tree to make it look as though he’s collecting tips.
We love the little guitar case in this photo, but if you don’t have anything like that, just grab a small bowl or a plastic bottle lid and write a sign that says ‘tips’.
December 19th – It’s Spider-elf!
Photo: aneverendingbook on Instagram
If your little ones are Spiderman fans, why not recreate that scene in the movie by popping a spider mask (you can draw your own) on one of your Elves, or you can use another doll if you don’t have a spare Elf.
We love the added touch of Olaf and the reindeer watching on for a Frozen touch!
December 20th – fruity faces
Photo: mommysmanifesto on Instagram
Another simple but brilliantly effective idea. Make it look as though your Elf has been drawing faces on bananas by drawing characters on the fruit and getting Elf to ‘hold’ the pens.
It can work with oranges or satsumas too.
December 21st – snowball fight
Sweets lend themselves brilliantly to Elf on the Shelf props, and marshmallows (big and small) are some of the most versatile – they can be seats, building blocks or, here, snowballs and a defence wall.
For this snowy battle, use other toys, such as this PJ Masks Crew, to pit themselves against the Elf.
December 22nd – Elf day out
If, by this time, your child has become really fond of their Elf, you might want to offer a way of taking him out for the day. This particular pic shows him in a clear bauble, but you could pop him in a small festive bag or box (with air holes!) too.
Word of warning: if you take him out for the day, don’t leave him anywhere or you’ll be stuck for the next few days…
December 23rd – Crafty Elf
Photo: thefitteachingmomma on Instagram
If you’re crafters, and happen to have jars of beads, buttons or other craft bits, why not get Elf to hide out in one?
If you’ve got time you could even make a little badge or drawing with your child’s initial on from Elf, so it looks as though he’s given them a really thoughtful homemade gift.
December 24th – Christmas Eve tableaux
For a beautiful send-off for your Elf, why not set up a pretty final scene in front of the Christmas tree with toys and particularly any other Christmas characters you have to hand?
You can go to town on this one and make it look as arty, colourful and glitzy as you like using any of the Christmas decorations you have around to make it a real ‘Insta’-worthy farewell.
More Elf on the Shelf ideas you can try
We know this might not be the simplest one we’ve included, but we do love it! Get your Elf escaping a lava flow floor by attaching him to your front door in a bid to escape.
There are some pretty impressive lava shapes here – but if you want to make it slightly easier, just scrunch up red, yellow and orange tissue paper around the door to look like a lava flow.
Now, if you have a tree and loo roll… this one’s a doddle! Simply wrap toilet roll around your tree to show what that Elf has been up to in the night.
Super quick – and super effective.
A really nice (and simple!) idea is to get Elf looking as though he’s in the middle of a game or puzzle with his toy friends. Just arrange them in the lounge or even your child’s bedroom once they’ve gone to bed (if you can be quiet enough…)
This cute idea shows him having a pool party in a big bowl of water, surrounded by other toys on ‘loungers’ and all the open Advent calendars to show his work is nearly done and he’ll soon be off to report back to Santa.
For added sparkle, you could lay some tinsel around if you have any spare or a few shiny Christmas tree decorations.
Help with the Christmas post
If you’re lucky, your Elf might help with getting those Christmas cards posted: this is one to do if you fancy using a few toy props.
Here Elf is helping post letters, but if you have a toy kitchen or shopping basket you could have him cooking or putting groceries in a cart to show him being helpful as Christmas Day approaches.
This is a nice one to do if your child has a few dolls. Sit Elf down (you can prop a little book between his hands for extra effect) gather some character toys around (teddies or LEGO figures would work too) and it will look just like the reading time your child may do at nursery or in reception.
If you have a doll’s bed handy, pop your Elf into it halfway through December and say he’s having a half-term break! The kids will totally get it.
If you didn’t get time to make the Frozen blocks – why not do a little fashion session for Elf instead, if you have the Anna and Elsa dolls?
Here you can see mum’s simply popped Elsa’s cape around Elf and sat him in between the Arundel princesses. Easy!
Christmas tree climb
If you want to keep it really simple, a nice idea is to hide Elf among the Christmas decorations one night. Your kids might take a while to find him, but once they spot him on the tree it will (hopefully) make them smile.
Sweet snack attack
If in doubt, there’s always something you can do with Elf in the kitchen. We love this idea which shows Elf with chocolate spread around his mouth, though of course peanut butter or jam would work just as well.
Just remember to clean him up ready for the next day’s activities…
If you’re ready to start giving the children some pre-Christmas sweets (or you’re buying them in for friends) why not let your Elf bring them in one morning? Pop them into a toy trolley or shopping basked if you have one, or just pile them up next to Elf.
Your kids will be double happy to see this one: Elf up to things again AND sweets!
Crisp treat invasion
If your kids liked the cereal box idea, why not re-visit the kitchen and look for a savoury snack your Elf could get into?
This idea shows Elf’s head and arms coming out of a nice sturdy Pringles tube (so Elf can stand up). You’ll need a bit of welly to make holes in the tough cardboard, but it’s do-able and looks hilarious.