These easy Elf on the Shelf ideas are perfect for busy parents who want to keep the Christmas tradition alive but are too tired to come up with clever ideas every night.
You’ll put a smile on your child’s face with these 18 simple hang-out spots for your Elf on the Shelf, plus get a free printable calendar at the end of this post with easy elf on the shelf ideas for the whole month of December!
The Halloween decorations are back in the attic and it’s time to defrost the Thanksgiving turkey.
Along with everything else on your to-do list, there’s a certain somewhat creepy red-clad Christmas dude (or dudette) you’re responsible for.
I’m not talking about the BIG GUY.
He’s not that creepy.
Well, he does know when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake, so….
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s that damn elf that seemed like such a great idea when your oldest kid was two and didn’t notice when the elf’s butt stayed firmly on the mantel for the entire month of December.
But now the kids are in that sweet spot between believing that Santa’s real and when some kid at school tells them otherwise.
Now, they have elf expectations.
So what’s a tired parent to do when you’re half-asleep on the couch, about to miss Chip and Joanna reveal the latest fixer-upper, and you haven’t given one teensy thought to where your elf will be in the morning?
Give yourself a break.
Ever since the Elf on the Shelf took off it seems like his shenanigans get more complicated each year.
But as a mom with a full-time job apart from “Chief Elf Officer” I don’t have the brainpower at the end of the day to take more than 10 minutes to position our elf, Jack, somewhere other than a shelf.
Traditions should be fun.
They’re not fun if they cause you to wake up in the middle of the night when you suddenly remember Oh, *&%# I forgot to move the *&#@^$< elf! (Yes, this happened to me.)
So chill out.
Your elf doesn’t have to do anything crazy for your kids to enjoy this silly but cute Christmas tradition.
Make a plan.
With a set of easy Elf on the Shelf ideas, plus the free elf planning calendar you’ll get at the end of this post, your elf will have something simple yet silly to do each night.
The best part: every idea takes less than 10 minutes.
But before you start, make your elf bendy.
Elves are much easier to manipulate if you make their arms and legs bendable:
- Cut four pieces of heavy-gauge picture wire slightly shorter than each limb.
- Find an open spot at the seams on each hand and foot, and jam the wire up the arm or leg. Be careful that the wire is completely inserted.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get started.
18 Incredibly Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas
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1. Perch your elf’s little tush on a shelf, but don’t be basic! Integrate the little guy or gal in your holiday shelf decor. A glass vase filled with extra ornaments is an easy decoration and a great little spot for our elf, Jack.
2. Here’s Jack hanging out in my son’s room with a Harry Potter bookend (Harry’s glasses broke years ago). Jack’s all “Pssst! Do you ever find out if Snape’s really a good guy?”
3. Your kids’ very own Christmas tree is a great hiding spot for mischievous elves! Jack’s hiding so well in here you can’t even see him. Camouflage your elf among the ornaments or have him replace the tree topper for a night.
4. A LEGO snow plow is perfect for your elf to drive! Make snow out of stuffing (as I did here) or cotton balls. Note: This presumes that your kid already assembled the LEGO plow.
5. Your elf’s ready to join Cirque du Santa! Hang him from your dining room chandelier.
6. Elf silliness in the bathroom! The kids’ bathroom is a fun spot for your elf. Stick him in an empty soap box or…
7. … make him go for a ride on a rubber ducky.
8. If your elf on the shelf brings advent calendar gifts like Jack does, why not gift your child with a new Christmas book? This beautifully illustrated version of The Nutcracker is a favorite at our house (for Jack and the kids).
9. Your elf can make a mess of the kids’ art caddy and draw a little picture or write a note.
10. Game night! Jack spent the night playing Bananagrams with Rapunzel, but any game will do.
11. He’s also a fan of puzzles. Use a simple puzzle your child already has, or pick one up in the Target Dollar Spot.
12. Jack sure does love the ladies. First, it’s game night with Rapunzel, then milk and cookies with Elsa using my daughter’s play picnic basket.
13. Then he’s back at it with Rapunzel, eating an elf snack of candy, sprinkles, and Rice Krispies! The bowls are paper mini muffin cups. (Get the cute elf scarf and hat here.)
14. Then he takes Anna to a tea party with real water and tea bags. (My 5-year-old daughter still loves this tea set.)
Dude. Please explain where Anna’s dress is!!
15. Sometimes our elf eats alone. A baby spoon and tiny Gladware container are the perfect size for his breakfast.
16. Occasionally, he likes to bake. (Those are store-bought marshmallow pops, of course!)
17. Naturally, our Elf on the Shelf sings Christmas carols to get in the holiday spirit.
18. Pop your elf in the family command center to remind the kiddos to finish their homework!
A Whole Calendar with Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas!
To avoid fumbling around in the dark at 2 AM to move our elf, I created a calendar for the month of December with 24 simple Elf on the Shelf ideas for kids who still believe in Christmas magic!
This is the exact calendar I’ll use for our elf, and I hope you find it helpful, too.
Keep it Simple
Forget about complicated elf mischief! Who has time for that? With all these easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that you or your spouse can do in less than 10 minutes, there’ll be less holiday stress and more Christmas cheer.
Check out these other ideas!
- 30 Awesome LEGO Gifts For Your Favorite Master Builder
- DIY Ornament Garland You Can Make in 10 Minutes!
- How to Make a DIY Advent Calendar Your Kids Will Love
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