25 Sneaky Elf on a Shelf Ideas That Your Kids Will Remember Forever

It’s crazy how popular Elf on a Shelf has become over the past few years. It’s a great family activity to capture the excitement of counting down until Christmas day.

Below we found the 25 BEST Elf on a Shelf ideas on the internet. One each day starting December 1st and ending on Christmas morning.

We love these Elf on a Shelf ideas because they are so unique and creative! Some of these took some serious thought and time to set up.

The magic of Christmas day is right around the corner. Make sure you are ready!

Related articles:


What is Elf on a Shelf?

The concept of having a watchful elf in your home is relatively new – as recent as 2005! It’s as simple as this:  get an official Elf on the Shelf elf (you can even choose between boy vs girl!), and let your creative side out hiding it around your house!


How Does Elf on a Shelf work?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to how to do this fun family tradition. Some people keep the elf still, but most prefer to let the elf “come to life” after their kids go to bed, and let the kids discover the elf’s mischief in the morning.

Check out these great ideas below to get your new Christmas tradition started! These easy elf on the shelf ideas are perfect for everyone, from toddler to adult!


Where to Buy Elf on a Shelf?

If you’ve never done Elf on the Shelf, you can get your own Elf on the Shelf kit right on Amazon.


Elf on a Shelf Book and Kit

25 Genius Elf on a Shelf Ideas That Your Kids Will Love This Year

1. Mini Pancakes Elf on a Shelf

elf with mini pancakes on a plate syrup and butter sitting on kitchen table

Found on Home Stories A to Z

Someone is an excellent cook! Those mini pancakes look delicious. This is a great elf on the shelf idea! Can you think of a better way to introduce your elf for the year than having him make breakfast? He’s a keeper!


2. Date Nite Elf on a Shelf

elf and Barbie drinking syrup out of the bottle with straws for date night elf on a shelf idea

Found on Elf on a Shelf Ideas

Aww how cute is this? Looks like they are doing a number on some Aunt Jemima. Creative to bring in other toys to make it a little more interactive and special. If you want to go to the next level, see if there are any toy clothes that your elf can borrow (from Ken, maybe?) to really fit in with his date!


3. Movie Night Elf on a Shelf

elf leaning on blanket sitting on pillows on couch with popcorn bowl and tv remote for movie night elf on a shelf idea

Found on A Small Snippet

The kids would LOVE this one thinking Elf was watching movies all night by himself. I love how they made him look like he was a messy eater too! Let your kids help clean up after Elf by making a popcorn string for the Christmas tree – another great family holiday tradition!


4. Elf Being Elf

elf on kitchen counter eating from plate of spaghetti and candy with syrup and elf movie case

Found on Whip

Being the Elf movie fans that we are there was no way this one would not make the list. That still does not look appetizing haha. Just like Buddy the Elf shows up suddenly and unannounced in the movie, this could be a great way to introduce your Elf on a Shelf to the family!


5. Bungee Jumping Elf on a Shelf

elf hanging upside down from a string bungee jumping for mischievous elf on the shelf idea

Found on Busy Kids Happy Mom

For all the daredevil parents out there, this one is for you! A great Elf on a Shelf idea for a little humor and laughs. Have your elf jumping right over a pile of presents with some ripped paper, for some extra fun!


6. Checking Out the Toy Section

elf looking at store advertisement for shopping elf on the shelf idea

Found on Beaujangles Photos

Elf is just checking out his hard work in the North Pole. Looking at all the Black Friday deals. Nothing like teaching your kids that saving money is cool! For those parents with kids who are tough to shop for, this could be a good way to get them looking at the store ads and making their Christmas lists!


7. Emailing the Boss Elf on a Shelf

elf sitting on laptop writing letter to his boss Santa

Found on Lil Blue Boo

This Elf on a Shelf idea is amazing. So creative! You could come up with some really funny emails to send to Santa. You could use this one in the middle of the month if your kids are being naughty – just tell them the elf will let the big guy know!


8. Hot Buns Elf on a Shelf

elf sitting on copier making copy of butt for elf on the shelf idea for work

Found on Lil Blue Boo

Of course, an Elf on the Shelf list is going to have some “naughty” ideas. This one is hilarious. Might not be for the younger crowd though. Keep this idea in your back pocket if you need a few holiday laughs for work!


9. Ziplining Elf on a Shelf

elf zip lining with candy cane from stair banister for mischievous elf on a shelf idea

Found on Busy Kids Happy Mom

We LOVE this one because we got engaged on a zip line. Elf is an adrenal junkie for sure! Cowabunga baby!


10. Elf Getting His Weight Up

elf holding weight bar made from straw and marshmallows for fitness elf on a shelf idea

Found on Dirty Diaper Laundry

Nothing like getting a quick lift in to stay healthy. Elf has the right idea, keep that holiday weight off. Just make sure he’s dressed the part by finding your elf on a shelf clothes to wear for his workout!


11. Elf Teaching Yoga

elf and other toys doing yoga in front of Christmas tree for fitness elf on a shelf idea

Found on Pickle Head Soup

Let’s stick with the fitness theme here. Elf is doing a great job of teaching this yoga class. Don’t stop there – have Elf teach your kids favorite toys how to do their favorite sport or activity!


12. Trouble Maker Elf on a Shelf

elf holding marker near defaced family photo for naughty elf on a shelf idea

Found on Mandie with Multiples

Elf pulling off some harmless pranks. This elf on a shelf idea you could use multiple times on different pictures. Try using the old idea of “takes one to know one” and have your naughty elf draw on the person who’s at risk of making Santa’s naughty list!


13. Wrapped Up the Wrong Way

elf wrapped in toilet paper for elf on a shelf idea for kids

Found on Mandie with Multiples

Elf was trying to do some gift wrapping and it all went wrong. Badly wrong. This elf on the shelf idea is sure to make the kids giggle. It’s not just gifts that might need wrapping – check out some of these amazing DIY Christmas decorations that your elf could help make!


14. Teacher Elf on a Shelf

elf pointing to chalkboard to teach stuffed toys sitting on floor for elf on a shelf idea for teachers

Found on A Small Snippet

Since I am a teacher, of course, this is on our list of Elf on a Shelf ideas. Super cute and many ways to pull this one off. This one is perfect for a classroom setting, too!


15. The Great Getaway…Almost

elf stuck under closed door with open wallet and money nearby for naughty elf on a shelf idea

Found on A Small Snippet

Seriously this one is way too funny! Is Elf a thief? You could use candy as well with this one. Maybe your Elf is naughty and on his way out to the store – write a little elf on a shelf shopping list of candy and sweets for a planned (but failed) grocery trip!


16. Snowball Fight Elf on a Shelf

elf and Barbie with marshmallow stacks having a snowball fight for elf on a shelf idea for kids

Found on A Small Snippet

If you are rushing to get Elf out for the next morning this is a quick and easy one to pull off. Any elf on the shelf ideas with marshmallows make life easier – one bag of marshmallows will last a long time! Definitely use your kids’ favorite toys for this one to make it extra special!


17. Brush Your Teeth!

elf holding toothpaste near toothbrush on bathroom counter with words written in toothpaste

Found on The Yummy Factory

You might as well use Elf on a shelf for your benefit as well. Encourage your children the importance of brushing their teeth. This is a great elf on a shelf idea for toddlers – have elf help teach them the alphabet while they brush! Your elf may be naughty, but he can be helpful, too!


18. Angry Birds Attack

elf playing real life angry birds with angry birds toys for elf on a shelf idea for kids

Found on Sweet Shop Designs

Everyone likes angry birds. If you have some laying around your house use them with Elf this year! So creative! Expand on this elf on a shelf idea by having Elf reenact scenes from your kids’ favorite movies, like Peter Pan or Harry Potter!


19. Trying to Put Up the Lights

elf trapped upside down in string of colored mini Christmas lights for naughty elf on a shelf idea

Found on Sweet Shoppe Designs

Anyone who has ever hung up Christmas lights can relate to the struggle. This one is SUPER easy to do last minute. Add a fun (and extra naughty) twist by having your elf tangled in the lights he tried removing from the Christmas tree!


20. The True Meaning of Christmas

elf sitting in a nativity scene for elf on a shelf idea

Found on Sweet Shoppe Designs

With all the excitement of Christmas, the true meaning can sometimes be lost. It’s important to always remind your children the true reason we celebrate Christmas. It’s Jesus’ birthday!


21. Snow Angel Elf on a Shelf

elf making a snow angel in spilled flour for naughty elf on a shelf idea

Found on Indulgy

Another really simple Elf on a Shelf idea! Bust out the flour or sugar on the counter and you’re basically done. This is a great idea for a few days before Christmas, when your elf can “help” make the cookies for Santa! Check out these amazing cookies if you need some inspiration!


22. Kiss Me Elf on a Shelfelf in a cardboard sleeve that says elf kissing booth for elf on a shelf idea

Found on LivingLocurto

Super cute kissing booth! Using candy as a prop the options are endless. Very creative on this one.


23. Handrail Sledding Elf on a Shelf!

elf sledding down banister for naughty elf on a shelf idea

Found on CrazyLou

“Watch out below, here I come!” It’s always Dad who lets kids do the dangerous things in the house, right? This is a perfect elf on the shelf idea for dads! Just make sure he’s got a pile of cotton ball “snow” at the bottom!


24. Marshmellow Chillin Elf on a Shelf

elf under pile of marshmallows next to tiny Christmas tree

Found on Living Locurto

Buddy is just chilling in a bowl full of marshmallows. Looks really comfortable actually! Place your elf on a shelf in the bathroom for an elf version of a bubble bath!


25. See You Next Year! 

elf driving toy truck with toy toilet and boxes tied to the truck for elf on a shelf leaving going back to North Pole

Found on Little Bit Funky

Saved the best for last. What a better way to say goodbye to buddy than seeing him with all of his belongings heading back to the North Pole. Don’t forget to have a going away party!

Hope you enjoyed our roundup of the best Elf on a Shelf ideas on the internet. Have an incredibly magical Christmas this year!

Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest to never miss other awesome Christmas ideas!