For some of us, the run-up to Christmas means 24 days of Elf mischief before the all-important visit from Santa. And while it's a lovely, magical tradition, it can come with its, er, creative challenges. If you're looking for some easy, last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas to keep the elfish antics going until 24th December, you've come to the right place.


We've got some great, time-saving Elf on the Shelf ideas your child will love, created by parents just like you, using household items including toys, food, cleaning products and, of course, more than a smidgen of festive imagination.

Easy, last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas: one a day from 1 to 24 December

December 1st: Elf's arrival

Elf parachuting

Pic: aguidingmother

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, it’s Elf! If you want to make a real splash when Elf first arrives, what a better way to do it than have Elf parachuting into the room? All you need is a regulation paper face mask, and a piece of white thread to hang Elf + parachute from.

December 2nd: The snow-Elf


Pic: Kait Stoeckel

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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: Elf's a bit tied up just now


Pic: Ed_koo

If you've got LEGO figures (or any other small toys), a building base board and some string or ribbon, you can quickly create a scenario where Elf's got all tied up Gulliver's Travels-style by other toys.

Seen these? Best Elf on the Shelf accessories.

Our Elf on the Shelf ideas can be put together with things you’ll probably 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!


Pic: Lyndsey from our Top Testers Club

If your family love watching I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! why not use any little creepy-crawly toys you have lying around – spiders, snakes, anything left over from Halloween – to make it look as though your Elf is making his escape from the jungle? Use straw or shredded-paper packing material, if you have it, to create a jungle-floor look underneath.

December 5th: Elf up the tree


Pic: Bonnie from our Top Testers Club

Dead simple, this one, but winningly silly: just hide Elf among the Christmas decorations. Your kids might take a while to find him but, once they spot him on the tree, they'll be all smiles.

December 6th: Elf finds the nail polish

Elf nail polish

Pic: funnyelfideas

So simple, but so good… Grab any nail polish you can find, paint dad's (or your) toenails and write a cheeky note from Elf confessing to the act.

December 7th: Elf gets into training

Elf on the Shelf idea: weightlifting


Well, obviously, if you're helping Santa with all those presents, you need to be fit. Get Elf workout-ready by popping a marshmallow on either end of a toothpick, lying Elf down on his back, bending his arms and wrapping his hands around the toothpick. If you're feeling extra-creative, you can mark the marshmallows with their 'weight' (eg: 5kg) to show how heavy Elf can bench-press.

December 8th: Elf grates snow


Pic: Sam from our Top Testers Club

We've got a couple of 'grating' ideas in this article – because most people have a grater at home and you can get up to some real fun using it. If you have a cuddly snowman, or another white or pink cuddly toy, put it by the grater and place marshmallows the same colour as your chosen toy's fabric to make it look as though Elf has been grating him.

December 9th: Elf goes climbing


Pic: Gemma from our Top Testers Club

You'll need to grab some string and some drawing pins for this one (unless you already have hooks in the walls) to make it look as though Elf's doing a sneaky, high-level rope traverse across the room. If you have a reindeer you could include, too, so much the better. Just make sure they're wrapped around the strong securely enough (a bit of sticky tape might help here) that there's no chance of them falling off before the kids see them!

December 10th: Elf does red nose day


Pic: Gemma from our Top Testers Club

This is a really fun one. Pop a red 'nose' on your Elf in the form of a small red craft pompom, and give him a sign that says 'clowning around' or similar. Then, when your children are fast asleep, dot their nose with (skin-friendly) red facepaint. They'll be so surprised when they see their face in the mirror in the morning...

December 11th: Elf makes snow angels

Elf on the Shelf idea: snow angels


All you need for this one is a handful of flour. Sprinkle a patch of flour on a worktop or other hard surface, then place Elf on top of it and move his arms (and legs) to make the snow-angel pattern.

December 12th: Elf's been snacking


Pic: Claire from our Top Testers Club

Elf does get the midnight munchies. Smear chocolate spread around Elf's mouth (peanut butter or jam would work just as well) and pose him holding the jar. Just remember to clean him up ready for tomorrow's activities...

December 13th: Elf's egg choir

Musical eggs


Look at this music maestro! Find a pen, some sticky tape, a toothpick and a box of eggs. Draw singing faces onto the eggs with your pen – you can get all creative with the expressions – then tape the toothpick to Elf’s hand and position him in the egg-box lid, ready to conduct his eggy choir. If you don't have eggs in the house, you could use other small, round, smooth-surfaced props, such as mandarins or ping pong balls.

December 14th: Elf grates coins


Pic: Lyndsey from our Top Testers Club

You can use actual cash for this one – or toy money from a board game. Or, if you don't mind chocolate at breakfast, some chocolate coins would obviously go down a treat. Make it look as though Elf is turning the notes into coins by getting him to 'hold' the notes and placing the coins around the base of the grater.

December 15th: Elf saddles up


Pic: runjumpscrap

If you have a toy unicorn or horse (or elephant or dinosaur), why not let Elf ride it one morning? If you like the unicorn poo touch in our picture, you can replicate it with a clear plastic bag, filled with marshmallows or other sweets, and big 'unicorn poo' label.

December 16th: Elf has a snack attack


Pic: Hannah from our Top Testers Club

Take a pair of scissors to a Pringles tube (you'll need to pierce holes before you get cutting, as the cardboard's quite tough) and create a big hole in the front and 2 smaller holes at each side. Then pop Elf in the tube and position him so his arms pop out of the side holes and his head beaming out from the hole in the front

December 17th: Elf gets stuck!

Elf stuck in a hoover


We can’t believe we haven’t tried this one before… Stick your Elf into the nozzle of your Hoover, write a little "Help!’ note to go with it – and job done.

December 18th: Elf plays cards

Elf playing cards


Elf playing cards with a few furry friends = genius! You can use real money here but we think it's a nice opportunity for some chocolate money.

December 19th: Elf discovers the toilet roll


Pic: Gemma from our Top Testers Club

This one's a doddle! Simply wrap toilet roll loosely around your tree to show what that naughty Elf has been up to in the night.

December 20th: Elf goes bananas


Pic: mommysmanifesto on Instagram

Make it look as though your Elf has been getting happy with the Sharpies. Draw silly faces and icons on bananas, line them up beside Elf and stick all the Sharpies in his hands. This idea can work with oranges or satsumas too.

December 21st: Elf has a snowball fight


Pic: Lyndsey from our Top Testers Club

Sweets lend themselves brilliantly to Elf on the Shelf props, and marshmallows (big and small) are some of the most versatile (as you can see from our weight-lifting and snow-grating ideas, earlier on). Here, they make a defence wall and snowballs in a festive battle with other toys.

December 22nd: Elf throws a pool party

Elf pool party

Pic: _samanthabull_ on Instagram

Did someone say pool party?! Rustle up all the bath toys and create Elf's very own watery fiesta of fun. We think the more guests and inflatables, the better!

December 23rd: Elf gets tangled up

Elf tangled in fairy lights

Pic: doityourelf

A super-easy idea that just needs fairy lights. Hang them over a door handle with Elf tangled up in them. Classic Elf getting up to his old tricks!

December 24th: Elf decorates the joint on his last day

Elf and paper snowflakes

Pic: _samanthabull_ on Instagram

For a scenic send-off for your Elf, why not set up a pretty Winter Wonderland in his little area, with paper snowflakes and a few extra decorations? You can go to town on this one and make it look as arty, colourful and glitzy as you like. Use a range of hanging decorations, keep it cheap and cheerful with handmade snowflakes or buy pre-made snowflakes to make it a real 'Insta'-worthy farewell.

And if you have more time/more props, here are 5 other Elf on the Shelf ideas to try:

Elf in family photo fun


Pic: Gemma from our Top Testers Club

Print out some pics of everyone in the family, cut out their heads 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.

Elf helps with the Christmas prep


Pic: Bonnie from our Top Testers Club

If you're lucky, your Elf might help with getting those Christmas cards posted: this is one to do if you have a toy postbox. Alternatively, if you have a toy kitchen or shopping basket, you could have Elf cooking or shopping for groceries to show him being helpful as Christmas Day approaches.

Elf gets Frozen

Frozen fun

Pic: tiffgerling

If you're still loving all things Frozen, 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 get it out in the morning for all to see the icy situation Elf's in.

Elf visits a Kit-Kat ski lodge


Pic: Jennifer Basa and redcarpetstorunnynoses

This is a bit of a 'wow factor' idea but we love it. Gab some Kit-Kats 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...

Elf's gone out


Pic: Gemma from our Top Testers Club

Your Elf might not always stay homebound; sometimes they like an outdoor adventure! For this one, pop Elf in the car once the kids are asleep, for them to discover later, and then use spray-on snow to create the silhouette of a disappeared Elf, like in our picture (above, left). You can make a little cut-out Elf from card or paper and spray the snow around it or, if you don't mind a little snow on your Elf, hold him down and spray around him. Then use your finger or the handle of a thin paintbrush to write, "Gone out for a drive" in the snow.

Illustration: Jordan Edmonds-Moore


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