Elf on the Shelf is taking over your home this Christmas?! Don’t worry, we’ve been there and survived this mischievous Christmas tradition. We have all the ideas you can possibly need to keep your Elf busy this holiday. Nothing is more fun than watching your kids get up and scatter excitedly through the house looking for your family Elf on the Shelf.
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What is Elf on the Shelf?
Elf on the Shelf will provide you with years of endless Christmas joy, tons of fun for your kids, and a little terror as a parent when you realize you forgot to move that little bugger. When you adopt an Elf on the Shelf, you are adopting a magical friend who helps Santa prepare for Christmas.
Each night, after everyone is asleep, your Elf on the Shelf will report back to Santa about your holiday spirit, Christmas activities, and your well-behaved kids (nobody wants to be on the Naughty List!) Your Elf on the Shelf can also bring messages back to Santa for special wishes! After reporting back to Santa, your Elf will return to your home to take up his post for the next day – making lots of mischief along the way.
What are the Rules for Elf on the Shelf?
There are a few important rules to know about your Elf on the Shelf!
- NO TOUCHING! If you touch your Elf on the Shelf it uses up all his Christmas magic!
- Your Elf can’t talk, but he’s a great listener!
- Your Elf must return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to help Santa get ready for the next Christmas season.
We have interpreted these rules a little over the years to help our family Elf stay out of trouble.
- Parents are allowed to use tongs or oven mitts to rescue an elf in trouble. (The alternative involved our dogs and an unpleasant end to our elf!)
- Since the Elf can’t talk, our kids like to write them letters. Our Elf is silly and likes to write funny letters back.
- We also love these welcome and goodbye letters from the Elf every year. And there are also naughty and nice reports!
When Does Elf on the Shelf Come Every Year?
The good news is that every Elf on the Shelf is different. Just like every kid is different. Some elves like to come right after Thanksgiving, and some elves wait until December 1st. As long as your Elf on the Shelf arrives sometime between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December, he’s right on time!
If your kids are super eager for the elf to come. Or they don’t understand why a friend’s elf comes sooner than theirs, remind them that the elves all have different jobs in the North Pole. Some help Santa answer letters, some take care of the reindeer, and some pack the sleigh. So your family elf will be there as soon as his work in the North Pole is done!
Oh No! I Touched the Elf! How Do I Restore His Magic?
It is time to channel your inner Buddy the Elf! Sing a Christmas carol loud for all to hear!
Seriously, grab the whole family, you’ll need everyone to bring your elf’s Christmas magic back, but you can do it! If your elf is still without his magic, sprinkle a little cinnamon beside him on the way to bed. It is like medicine for elves. That will fix him right up!
I forgot to Move My Elf!
If you want to make this Elf on the Shelf Season a little easier, go print out the 31 days of Elf Calendar. It will tell you what to do for the whole month so you don’t have to think too hard about it! You can get it digitally or print it if you are worried your kids might find it.
But if you forget to move your elf, know it has happened to the best of us! What to do when you forget to move your Elf on the Shelf? First, don’t panic! There are plenty of reasons your elf is in the same spot!! These are my favorites:
- The elf must have been coming back at the last minute and heard someone moving around. He had to jump back in the same spot so nobody saw him moving.
- He ate too many cookies at the North Pole when reporting back to Santa and now he has a tummy ache.
- Did someone touch the elf?! Maybe his magic is low! Time for Christmas carols to give his magic a boost!
Elf on the Shelf Coloring Pages
This is the cutest Elf on the Shelf Coloring Page! It comes with a small version of the coloring page for your Elf to color too. Want to do something special for your kids? Have your elf color and sign his tiny page and leave the kid-sized pages out with new crayons for your kids to color the next day!
Your elf wants to color with your kids too! Print out this cute Elf on the Shelf Coloring Book for the elf and your kids to enjoy!
Elf on the Shelf Ideas – Enough Elf Shenanigans for the Whole Season!
Brace yourself! We have a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas to share!
- I love this Elf Countdown to Christmas paper chain craft for the first night your family elf returns from the North Pole. Make sure you count the number of days you need in your chain since some elves return on different days. But once the paper chain is delivered by your elf, you can remove a link every day for a fun Christmas countdown. <— free printable Christmas countdown chain links and props!
- Your elf can bake Christmas cookies with this cute elf-sized cookie baking sheet! Don’t forget to sprinkle a little flour around. <— free printable cookies and baking sheet!
- Is your child potty training? So is the elf! Check out this potty training idea that is sure to make your kids laugh!
- Our Elf on the Shelf is a daredevil! Maybe your elf is too? Try this elf ziplining Christmas idea.
- Elf on the Shelf wants to build a snowman! Print out these cute snowman printables that will turn your spare toilet paper into a snowman. (We actually printed several to make sure our elf had lots of friends.) <— free printable props!
- We picked up a Bingo game at the dollar store and then printed these free Bingo game props for the elf. Not only did the kids love that the elf played Bingo with some of their action figures, but we also had a great time playing Bingo as a family the next day. <— free printable props!
- Sometimes our elf is downright silly. He hosts sack races with his doll and action-figure friends every year! Print these cute Christmas labels for the annual sack race! <— free sack race craft.
- Have I mentioned Elf on the Shelf loves to bake cookies? Sometimes he makes so many cookies, he has a bake sale to share his Christmas spirit! Print this free bake sale booth for your elf bake sale! Add a couple of real cookies to delight your kids the next morning with a real Christmas Treat! <— free printable props!
More Elf on the Shelf Ideas (Told You we had a LOT!)
- More Elf games! Sometimes the elf collects his favorite action figure or doll friend for a game of elf tic-tac-toe. <— free printable game board.
- Does your child love baseball? Set up a fun baseball game between the elf and his friends! <— free baseball game props for your Elf on the Shelf!
- Play candy cane hide-and-seek! Your elf will hide 8 candy canes around the house and leave your kids this cute, printable card with directions to play! <— free printable game card!
- Need to wash down all those Christmas cookies? Your elf is hosting a lemonade stand! Grab the free, printable props and leave some lemonade and glasses for your kids as a special treat! <— free printable lemonade stand props!
- Your Elf on the Shelf understands holiday balance. Sometimes we eat cookies, and sometimes we work out! Position your elf in his best pushup position and leave his list of exercises beside him. <— free printable elf workout routine.
- It’s the Elfie 500! That’s right, your elf is a race car driver too! Print this cute Elf on the Shelf race track prop complete with finish line and checkered flag! <— free printable elf race track!
- Our elf likes to get lots of exercise to balance all his Chrimstas cookie eating. He is a basketball star too! Print this Elf on the Shelf Basketball game prop. We wanted our elf to have an actual basketball to play the game, so we used black and orange Sharpies to color a ping pong ball. <— free printable Elf on the Shelf basketball game prop!
- The Elf on the Shelf loves to learn! And to teach kids about Christmas! Print these school props for a Christmas classroom. Want to give your kids a special book? Now is a perfect time to leave them in the elf classroom. <— free printable elf school props.
- Time for mustache mischief! Cut out these cute mustaches for your elf and all his friends. This is the easiest elf craft ever but my kids think it is hysterical. <— free printable mustaches for your elf!
So Many Elf Ideas! (Have You Noticed Most are FREE!)
- It is an elf Christmas Treasure Hunt! Print the free treasure map and sit your elf on a pile of treasure! Not sure what to use for treasure? How about a pile of chocolate coins? Or a pile of monopoly money. <— free printable Christmas treasure map!
- Sleepovers are always fun. Make this elf sleeping bag for a perfect night of popcorn and movies! <— free printable sleeping bag craft!
- Who doesn’t love a ball pit! Grab some mini pom poms and print these elf ball pit signs for a fun frolic! <— free printable ball pit props.
- Play paper dolls with your Elf on the Shelf! Print these castle paper dolls and their castle home! <— free printable paper dolls and castle.
- Our favorite elf is the Mad Scientist Elf! Time for a little science with these mad scientist props. If your kid is a budding scientist, this is a great time to leave a new science kit as a little gift. <— free mad scientist props!
- Everyone wants to be a superhero, including your Elf on the Shelf! Grab his printable cape and mask! This might be a good idea to combine with the ziplining idea above! <— free superhero props for your elf.
- Time for Elf Yoga! Position your elf in his best yoga post and leave the instructions for elf yoga beside him. Join him for a morning stretch. <— free printable yoga cards.
- Cold weather making you weary? Your elf is dreaming of warmer weather. Print his beach trip props and point a lamp in his direction. <— free printable beach props.
- Grab your elf’s best doll and action figure friends and print out these photo booth props for a fun night of elf mischief. <— free printable photo booth props.
- Grab your elf’s friends for a game of mini golf! <— free printable mini golf props.
Elf on the Shelf Recipes
- Elf on the Shelf loves to share his favorite recipes! Print out these mini recipe cards for Elf Kindness Cookies so your elf can share his favorite Christmas cookie recipe. You can actually make the cookies together the next day! <— free printable recipe cards!
- Nothing is better than snuggling up with a cup of hot cocoa! Your elf is sharing his favorite cocoa recipes. Set up your elf with the printable recipe cards and a hot cocoa bar for a morning Christmas treat with your family. <— free printable recipe cards.
Fun Elf on the Shelf Products to Try
Elf on the Shelf is such a fun tradition for the Christmas holiday. We’re sharing a few of the products we have in our own home that you might like too.
Countdown to Christmas with this Elf on the Shelf Advent Calendar. There are so many cute surprises for every day!
Pancake breakfast is extra special with this Elf on the Shelf Pancake Skillet Set!
Does your elf like to bring little treats? These Elf on the Shelf Cake Bites are delicious, individually wrapped, and have a space for your family elf to leave a little message for your kids.
This Elf on the Shelf Magic Portal Door is literally the greatest idea ever! It is a magic portal where your Elf can travel back and forth to the North Pole to report to Santa every night!
Elf on the Shelf Activities for the Whole Family
Does your family like puzzles? I love them and my kids tolerate them but they always show up around Christmas time for family games and puzzles. This Elf on the Shelf puzzle pack is perfect for younger kids too since there are 4 puzzles included and only have 100 pieces each.
Our whole family loves games! We have regular games nights that include all sorts of card games and board games. But this Elf on the Shelf card game always appears during the holidays. It is perfect for younger kids.
Elf on the Shelf Movies, Shows, and Videos To Watch
Did you know Elf on the Shelf has his own YouTube Channel? There are lots of videos, songs, and shorts with Elf on the Shelf and all of his friends!
Elf on the Shelf has his own movie called “An Elf’s Story.” You can stream it for free if you have Netflix or Apple TV. Or you can watch on other streaming services like Prime Video for a small fee. Or you can grab the DVD of “An Elf’s Story!”
Need More Elf on the Shelf Ideas?
Is your Elf on the Shelf always getting into trouble? These funny Elf on the Shelf ideas are for the family that loves a little mess, a smidge of trouble, and some occasional toilet humor (literally!)
Feel like you messed up with the Elf this year? You will never mess up as badly as these parents — and it is hysterical!