20 Last Minute Elf On The Shelf Ideas

Elf on the shelf is such a fun tradition made both for children and adults to have fun and lasting memories throughout the days leading to Christmas. After Christmas, the elf is expected to go back to the North Pole where they’ll be reunited with Santa Claus.

This means you’ll need as many ideas as you could think of because the elf will be moving every day and your kids will search the house for them, just like a special version of hiding and seek.

We made a list of some of the easiest ways to “hide” your elf that will surely engage your little ones’ attention and excitement.

20 easy elf on the shelf ideas

1. Elf on the fridge

Place your elf in the fridge as if he’s chilling at the North Pole, this idea is particularly good for older kids who could open the fridge on their own to find snacks or drinks.

2. Elf on a swing

Using an empty toilet paper roll as the swing and hanging it using two strings with your elf on in, making it look like he’s swinging.

You can hang it on the window sill, on any Christmas decorations, or even on your front door.

3. Elf playing board game

Make your elf part of the family favorites by placing him and your child’s favorite toys (bunny, dog, cat, bear stuffed toys, etc.) around your family’s favorite board game as if they are playing.

4. Elf on snowball fight

Create a scene where your elf and another toy are on two sides of “snow walls” (white marshmallows stacked up like a brick wall) and position them in the middle of a battle by making each toy hold a snowball (white marshmallow).

5. Elf the story-teller

This one is one of the easiest yet can be so memorable for your little one, by making your elf sit down in any visible corner in your home holding and looks like reading your child’s favorite book after they found the elf you could continue and read the book for them and turn it into little reading session.

6. Elf wants to play

You can use this idea a couple of times just by changing the game or activity you want them to play.

Place a card in your elf’s hand with a note that says: “I have plenty of time before Christmas, do you mind if we draw and color together?” as an example, it’s completely up to you at this point whatever activity you think would be fun for you child.

7. Elf with good deeds

In your elf’s card, instead of a game, you could write something to make your child do a “good deed” or a simple chore around the house that they can do.

One example would be: “It’s fun to play, but so as helping your mom/dad to clean up your toys!”.

Again, this is completely up to you but this is a great opportunity to encourage them with chores that they usually find fun.

8. Elf on the tree

The elf on the shelf toy is sitting on a Christmas tree

What better way to make these activities memorable if not by making the Christmas decors involved? Position your elf in the Christmas tree as if he’s trying to climb up, it’s simple yet could lead to so much story.

9. Elf and his sweet tooth

Put your elf in a bowl of candies and even add a smudge of chocolate in his mouth and around his cheeks.

This idea will take you less than 5 minutes but would surely make your child laugh.

10. Elf taking a nap

Your elf fits perfectly inside a Kleenex box, you can make it look like they are sleeping if you put them inside and fold a few plies and make it look like their pillow.

11. Elf in trouble

Make it look like your elf got into a little tight situation, roll him in a toilet paper and leave a trail on the stairs. Making it look like he rolled off the stairs from the top.

It’s simple yet funny. Your child might also try to help your self, so that’s your dose of cuteness.

12. Elf making a snow angel

Pour a good amount of baby powder or powdered sugar on a plate on your counter and make it look like your elf is making a snow angel using the powder.

It’s so satisfying to set this up!

13. Elf gift shopping

Place your elf in front of a laptop that displays Amazon or the checkout page to make it look like he is online shopping, you can even put credit cards beside him to make it more realistic.

14. Elf checking your gifts

A toy elf is made to look like he's checking the gifts under the Christmas tree

You can make it look like your elf is doing his day job by putting him beside the gifts and making it look like he is holding a list and a pen, telling your kids that your elf is making sure everyone is going to receive their gifts by Christmas.

15. Elf the star catcher

It could be Christmas light shaped like a star, the star on the top of your Christmas tree, or a star ornament, whichever suits your taste better, you could make it look like your elf is holding or “catching” the star but sticking his hands to the star.

16. Elf watching a movie

A good idea is that you make it look like your elf is watching your family’s favorite movie, or you can even make them watch Netflix if that’s where your family’s shows are.

Complete the vibe by giving your elf popcorn or chips while sitting in front of the television.

17. Elf your coffee maker

If you have a coffee maker, place your elf on the side of the machine and make it look like they are trying to push a button, or if your machine uses coffee pods, you can place the elf looking like they are picking up a coffee pod to make a coffee.

18. Elf’s art time

In your child’s playroom or art stuff, place your elf and make them hold a crayon or brush to appear as if they are drawing or painting something.

They could be drawing Santa, Christmas tree, or whatever you think would make your kid relate to.

19. Elf on the sled

You don’t need a sled the size of your elf, you can just use a Tupperware lid, put your elf on top of it and tape it on the top of the staircase handrail to make it look like your elf is about to slide in his sled.

20. Elf looking for snacks

Stick your elf in front of the fridge and make it look like he is climbing to grab the handle and open it.

Just exactly how your kids would do when they are looking for snacks or drinks.


How do you say goodbye to your elf on the shelf on the last day?

You and your children could come up with how you want to bid farewell to your elf, but in general, it’s always a good idea to make it personal.

One popular way is by leaving a not from your elf to your little one, telling them that this year has been fun, but it’s time to go back and help Santa in the North Pole, but he will return next year!

At what age do you stop doing elf on the shelf?

It depends on your child’s interest in the tradition.

There is no hard rule to follow here. As long as your kids are interested in looking for the elf on the shelf, then you can continue the tradition.

The tradition was said to be made for ages between 36 months to 15 years old, but it depends on your child’s interest.


Christmas traditions are amazing, and believe me when I say it stays in you, with you, and you pass the magic on to the next generation.

During these times when everything for our children is confusing and mostly almost a blur, it’s worth every second of work and effort just for them to have a memory of their childhood when they feel seen, loved, appreciated, and celebrated.

Not every parent will have an hour to spare because of work, or other responsibilities, so I shared some ideas that would take 5-10 minutes to make these lasting memories with your kids!

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Currently located in the Philippines. Mother of an active curly boy whose energy rarely runs out. When I am not busy keeping up with my son, you'll find me reading, cooking, or most of the time keeping the house clean.

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