If you’re looking for the Elf on the Shelf ideas, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got you covered, whether you need funny ideas for your family’s humorous elf, or you’re looking for Elf on the Shelf games your whole family will enjoy. The most important part is that these activities will keep your family on its best behavior.
For those who are just starting their family’s Elf on the Shelf traditions ($29.95, Amazon), there’s a lot you need to know. This popular Christmas activity starts with a scout elf that Santa sends to your house to monitor your behavior. The family must name the elf so he or she can gain powers and be able to fly back to Santa. Once everyone in the house falls asleep, the elf returns to the North Pole to give Santa an update as to whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Then, he or she flies back to your house and hides before anyone wakes up. Each morning, you’ll find the elf in hidden locations or comical positions.
The most important rule of the Elf on the Shelf is that no one is allowed to touch the elf. Doing so could cause to elf to lose his or her magic, which means Santa won’t get any more progress reports.
A child’s joy when he or she discovers an elf’s hiding spot is contagious and is what makes this tradition so worth it. Of course, finding new and creative activities for your elf can be downright tiring — which is why we’ve rounded up our favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas for inspiration. Keep scrolling to see our top picks that are sure to keep your kids entertained all winter.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Gingerbread House
Build a gingerbread house.
Leave behind a punny surprise for the kids, like Instagram user @fitmom_fitbritt's elves did. Guess we're having toast for breakfast!
Elf On The Shelf Jar of Nutella
Get into a jar of Nutella.
This hilarious Elf on the Shelf idea shared by Instagram user @jennbriar makes us feel better about never being able to resist a jar of Nutella. Seriously, how can you get mad at that face?
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Drawing on the Eggs
Draw on the eggs.
Show off your egg-squisite artwork, like Instagram user @catlady0818, by giving the eggs a Sharpie makeover. These pens are non-toxic, so your eggs should still be fine — but keep an eye out for symptoms.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Do You Want to Build a Snowman
Build a snowman.
Do you want to build a snowman? That's the all-important question this time of year — and it's hard to say no after seeing this adorable setup shared by Instagram user @kristinwhyder.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Roasting Marshmallows
Instagram user @aaamyrothman shared a cute photo of her elf roasting marshmallows for s'mores — and it's got tummies rumbling. This is one of our favorite cold-weather activites, so it's not surprising that elves like it, too! We're totally impressed by how perfectly toasted this marshmallow is.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Banana Drawings
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Coloring Book
Instagram user @kimsomers6's bowling idea is a total strike. We especially love the attention to detail with the candy cane bumpers and festive Christmas sweater!
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Candy Crazed
Take a (marshmallow) bubble bath.
Instagram user @sindcindcolo captured a photo of Pearl the elf living her best life, and we're so jealous! Raise your hand if you could also use a nice relaxing soak.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Super Hero Costume
Share a bag of popcorn with one of Santa's reindeer.
Popcorn is the perfect late-night snack — so why not share it with a friend. Instagram user @caitiefinnx posted a sweet snap of Wreck-It-Ralph the elf and his reindeer nomming on popcorn, although it looks like things got a little crazy in the microwave!
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Fun Winter Snacks
Turn the milk green.
Turning the milk green — like Instagram user @autumn_adalynn's elves — might be the secret to getting your kids to drink their calcium. Don't worry, this milk isn't spoiled! All you need is a few drops of green food coloring to give the milk a grinchy glow.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Gingerbread House
Take a sick day.
Everyone knows the number one rule when it comes to the Elf on the Shelf is don't touch the elf. What happens if you do? Well, your poor elf gets sick, just like Instagram user @ddubya3187's elf, Spike.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Treasure Hunt
Get in a pickle — literally.
"Kevin the elf loves a good pun... and a good sandwich," Instagram user @calliejo4 wrote. So do we, Kevin. So do we.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Swing
Chow down on the Reese's — in secret.
If you walk into the kitchen after midnight, you might find us doing the same thing as Instagram user @djcarlucci23's elf. We love Reese's and we don't like sharing.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Sprinkles
Make a glittery mess.
You're going to hate yourself the next day when you start finding glitter everywhere, but for now we're just going to appreciate this beautiful mess, shared by Instagram user @classof.mrsmoukahal. Elfie is bound to get into some mischief anyway, isn't she?
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Small Presents
Hide in the water bottles.
If you look closely at Instagram user @chellycgala, you'll notice one of these bottles is not like the other. Let your elf quench his thirst, just make sure you poke a few holes so he can breathe.
Elf On The Shelf In Jar
Go for a ride in a hot air balloon.
It's no surprise that Santa's little helpers arrive in style — just like the big man himself. Instagram user @kyrieanne19's elf, Elfred, makes a grand entrance in a hot air balloon, and we can't help wondering if there's room for us, too!
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Mirror Notes
See how you measure up.
If your family likes to keep track of everyone's height, why not include the elves? Instagram user @my.intentional.life shared a sweet photo of her elves measuring each other (although we think the boy elf may be cheating!).
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Legos
Bring Christmas gifts early.
Instagram user @wax2melt shared an adorable pair of Christmas underwear Buddy the thoughtful elf brought for her son. Guess not all elves are up to no good!
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Notes From Santa
Play a game of Connect Four.
Elves have to spend a lot of time waiting for people to go to bed until they can return to the North Pole and report on our behavior — so it's not surprising that they get bored sometimes. Instagram user @hinchcliffandy captured a photo of his elves playing a friendly game of Connect Four after bad weather kept them indoors all day.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Climbing Tree
Hide in plain sight.
How perfect is this hiding job by Instagram user @charlieblaikie? This probably wasn't what Pringles had in mind when they promised a free present with every can.
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Wrapped Lunch
Make a break for it.
Looks like Instagram user @minamunns' elf is all Christmassed out. Have hope, little guy!
Elf On The Shelf Balloon Surprise
It looks like Instagram user @kristinwhyder's elf is a crafty little guy! Who else loved painting Christmas ornaments as a family when they were kids?
Elf On The Shelf Ideas Tissue Box
Start a game of find the elf.
We almost missed the elf in Instagram user @jennbriar's post. Set up an adorable game of hide-and-seek with your kids and watch them search the house up and down for the missing elf.