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20 EASY & FUN Elf on the Shelf Ideas You’ll Want to Steal this Year….

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Whether you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition or have been participating for years, we could all use a little creative inspiration! My favorite ideas take less than 10 minutes and not a lot of materials.

Here are some fun and easy examples from our Elf… and from around the web!

1.) Wrapping Paper Mischief

Elf wraps the toilet with Christmas wrapping paper for a silly prank!

2.) Do you Wanna Build a Snowman?

Elf gets FROZEN with characters from the Disney movie.

3.) Elf Takes a Nap

A box of tissues make a perfect bed for nap-time!

4.) Dogs Rule Elves Drool

Elf gets captured by the dog in this photo from Clumsy Crafter.

5.) All Aboard the Shoe Shoe Train

Elf operates a train of shoes in this fun idea from Weddings by Susan!

6.) Shower Shenanigans

Use an umbrella for this adorable idea from Just a Little Creativity.

7.) Elf School 101

Get this FREE printable backdrop and more at This Momma Loves.

8.) Elf Takes a Bath

Miniature marshmallows make a perfect bath, paired with a tissue paper hair towel!

9.) Elf Plays with Makeup

Elf gets into Mom’s makeup for some silly fun.

10.) Elf Competes in Sack Races

Use lunch bags and toys for this FUN sack race idea by Picklehead Soup.

11.) Glow in the Dark Elf


Glow in the dark bracelets fit perfectly around Elf!

12.) Good Deed Elf

Elf can help kids complete chores with these FREE printable cards at Over the Big Moon.

13. Crossfit Elf

Elf works out with the help of his buddies and large marshmallows!

14.) Elf Hides in Mom’s Jewelry


Cute and easy disguise!

15.) Dog Walking Elf

Use pipe cleaners for this creative idea by Picklehead Soup.

16.) Yoga Elf

Elf stays fit with yoga, complete with mini felt mat and towel.

17.) Date Night with Barbie


Such a fun idea via Lil Blue Boo. Using a child’s toy to set up Elf scenes is always easy and FUN!

18.) Pooping Elf

Elves poop chocolate kisses! lol

19.) Zip Lining Elf

All you need is string and a candy cane for this cute Elf zip line idea from Lori Romano.

20.) Injured Elf

Need Elf to stay still? Use this genius idea to have him on strict NO FLY orders for a few days! 😊

Do you participate in Elf on the Shelf? What are some of your favorite Elf moments?

Written by Lina for Hip2Save. Lina is a proud mom of 2 small kids who loves photography, all holidays, cooking, thrift store makeovers, bargain shopping, and DIY makeovers. Her goal is to create a beautiful life and stylish home on a dime! To see all of Lina’s DIY/Crafts created just for Hip2Save, click here.

Join The Discussion

Comments 50

  1. Arica

    I really want to get an elf on the shelf! Does anyone know the cheapest place to get one this year?

    • Emily

      I ordered mine from Kohls. I had spent money over black friday, and was able to use kohls cash to pay for elf on the shelf!
      It’s great to do it that way, because usually elf on the shelf is excluded from coupons.

      • Emily

        Was also gonna say Kohls! This rarely goes on sale, but you can use Kohl’s Cash to buy it! 🙂

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      I was gonna suggest coupons and Kohl’s cash too! 😀 Or maybe online garage sale app or group?

    • Dawn

      I got ours from dollar tree and he looks way less creepy. Kids named him Buddy!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)


    • Arica

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I actually did what you all suggested and met through Kohl’s. I had totally forgotten I had $15 Kohl’s cash to use as well as $10 in rewards. I ended up only paying $5.33 for the elf on the shelf! I can’t believe it. Can’t wait to try some of these cute ideas!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        That is awesome Arica!!! Enjoy ❤️

    • AB

      I got a simple but cute one at the dollar store last year! My kids didn’t care that he wasn’t the same as this elf, we had fun just the same.

  2. Flavia

    I just bought the St. Bernard pet from Barnes and noble that had 15% off and I have the 20% teachers card so I got it for about $16!
    I’m not sure the 15% is still available. Most places exclude the elf on discounts but Barnes and noble allow it. If you could wait for after Christmas target marks them down to 50% and so do other places. If you want one now you may also try bed bath and beyond and use their 20% off.

  3. JA

    My kids are too old for Elf on the Shelf, but a heads up for anyone interested. I saw a birthday set, like a party hat and stuff for Elf on the Shelf at Five Below today. Back in the games section. I’m guessing it’s worth more than $5 typically.

  4. Flavia

    Oh the birthday set is when the elf comes for the kids’ birthdays 🙂

  5. Just Me

    My kids loved the poop in the cup

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Ha yes! 👍

  6. april

    We just started it this year. My son understands that he isn’t supposed to touch the elf, but I don’t trust him to be able to control himself. I’m willing to bet that if I put it anywhere in touching distance, he will grab it. I’m running out of high places to keep the elf!

    • jill

      The kids touched our little elf last yr and we had to write a note to Santa asking to please give him his magic back and that we promised to be extra good. I’m not gonna lie, a cpl days when he’d lost his magic wasn’t all that bad, he just sat and sat – a welcomed break for this momma. =) lol good luck and have fun!!!

    • Paula

      My daughter was determined to touch her elf as well so I set it up where the elf delivered some frozen themed gloves that had “magical powers” like Elsa so she could wear them and touch her for the day. Hope that helps

    • Katie

      Oh yeah. Today our dog mauled ours. So mad at him!!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Oh no! I will have to be careful
        Of that too! Stuffed ornaments have already fallen victim! I guess he does kinda look like a chew toy? I’m sorry that happened!

  7. Niki

    This is my first year doing elf on the shelf with my little ones. Just a heads up the elves are $30 at target but they have ornaments elves in the Christmas section for $3 that look just like the elf on the shelf but don’t bend. If you want them to bend its very easy to insert a undone paper clip so you can pose them. I see it as a $ win especially if you have multiple children that want their own elf to watch over them like mine 🙂

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Good idea!

  8. Colleen D.

    My kids are also to old for elf on a shelf. But it didn’t stop us from having a blast 2 years ago. My kids were 11, 13, 15, 17. The elf arrived with a decorated kitchen and donuts, yogurt, colored milk etc for breakfast one morning. They all complained that they were to old. But they were giggling, loved the treats, etc. We went all out and had a great time. We did a printable elf kissing booth-and filled the kissing booth with Hershey kisses. We did “naughty notes” that the elf was going to take to Santa ( 1 for each child) but luckily Batman got to our Elf first and tied him to the tree, and took the notes. He had s’mores one night with a tissue paper fire. He toilet papered our tree. He made snow angels on the table and tracked in “snow” from outside( baking powder or corn starch) . He decorated with paper snowflakes. He took a marker and drew bushy eyebrows, mustaches, red lips, hearts, and even a pirate patch on the glass of my children’s school pictures, that we have hanging on the wall. One night I forgot and my youngest two weren’t home, my fiancé took over for be and put the Elf on a spiket and was roasting him, which my 15 and 17 yo thought was very funny. One night none of the kids were home and I came down in the morning to find our Elf had gone on a bender, he had little mini alcohol bottles around him and was desperately trying to drink coffee out of a kcup . Our poor elf did come down with a bad cold for a night or two. He was sleeping in our Kleenex box, with a red nose. And had cold medicine and little used tissues around him( small wadded up pieces of tissue. Santa did come and get him the night before Christmas Eve to be sure everything was ready. And he did take off to parts unknown for a night or two to go to the North Pole to check on things and to renew his magic because my youngest tried to create some mischief with the Elf. One night he was up all night and baked cookies but left a huge mess. It was a very silly few weeks before Christmas. And in a home were we have children that suffer from a lot of anxiety and depression( as well as other mental health issues) it was a welcome reprieve from the stress that can come with the holidays.

    • Julie

      Colleen I loved reading this-how fun!!

    • Yar

      Collen D!
      How funny! I really enjoyed reading your fun times with Elf!

    • Chrose

      I loved reading these ideas you did. It is harder with older children, but making things fun brings out the best in most. Maybe elf can show up a few days before Christmas just to check in.

    • Tara in TX

      Loved reading this! Mine are 12, 16 & 18 and was thinking “Merry-cal” had his last gig last Christmas. He might get to come back. Totally going to screenshot your ideas! Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  9. Stacy

    Thanks for the heading up on the birthday stuff at five below! Will have to check it out. I just want to say I was pleasantly surprised to read this post and while scrolling through the comments I didn’t read one negative thing! Thank you all for keeping the Christmas spirit alive! I mean honestly I don’t care if people believe in this or not, I just hate reading people’s bashing comments on those parents who do elf on the shelf with their kids. Thanks all. 🎄🎄

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Aww exactly 👍 Thanks Stacy!

  10. CJ

    Elves love “donuts” made from melting a few chocolate chips and putting the chocolate on Cheerios (or just use icing if you have it) then some tiny sprinkles!!! 😉

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh cute!

  11. Courtney

    So what do you do when your elf does pranks like the one where he wrapped the toilet? If you aren’t allowed to touch him to move it then how do you use the toilet. I know this sounds like a dumb question but I have a very smart 7 year old and if I put our elf anywhere that it may need to be moved later in the day she is super suspicious. So do you tell your kids that it’s ok for adults to touch it or just try to move it when they aren’t around? She already asks questions about if Santa really does things or if I do them so I’m trying to keep the spirit alive a while longer. Especially because I just had a baby that’s only 2 months old so we’ll be doing this Santa thing for a while and I would like for her to enjoy it as long as she can.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yes parents can touch!

      • Courtney

        Ok, thanks Lina! I must have missed that information somehow. lol Knowing that Peppermint Patty may be getting more creative with her hiding spots this year.

    • Ann

      We use salad or grill tongs when necessary to move the elf.

      • Amy

        Yes, we use tongs too. My son knows it’s ok for me to move him with the tongs. It’s hilarious when I’m walking around the house holding a stuffed elf with tongs! Sometimes I even trick myself into believing he’s real! Our elf’s name is Buddy too! My son named him. He was too little to have seen or paid attention to the movie, so I’m not sure where he got the idea! We have so much fun with Buddy every year! Buddy arrived last year in a box addressed from the North Pole. I got the printout on hip2save. Have fun!

  12. Deanna

    I laughed way too much at the crossfit elf picture… Too cute!! Lol

  13. Amani

    Out elf is the non pose able one that came in a hid and seek game. It has taken some creativity to work with him but my son still love the idea. I thought at 6 (almost 7) we could move past this idea this year but he is excited for Bling Blingerton to return.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Ha cute name!

    • Shawna

      I was reading through the comments and Niki up above your post had a GREAT idea to put paper clips inside to make it pose. I thought I’d reply to yours in case you missed it. Sounds like a brilliant idea to me

  14. Mary

    Check out the elf on the shelf on Instagram.

  15. ella

    I’ve resisted the last couple years – my oldest kids already know about Santa. I didn’t want to do something for my youngest that my oldest kids didn’t get to experience, but now my youngest is talking about how her friends all have elf on the shelf. I also really didn’t want to add more pressure to be creative with this over the holidays, or spend $30 for the elf. But, now reading some of the fun that even older kids have had, I might reconsider and get one of the Dollar Tree elves and maybe enlist my oldest kids to help with some of the elf fun!

    • Lina D

      I love the idea of order kids helping!

  16. T

    love it

    • Lina D


  17. PiratePrincessMommy

    My daughter came home from school today and told me a friends elf ate about half of the halloween candy that was left… got me thinking that would be a good way to get rid of some of that candy

    • Lina D

      That’s genius!

  18. Summer

    I guess I don’t understand. What is the elf on the shelf???

    • Lina D

      It’s based on a story book. Description —“The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice. It describes elves visiting children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season.”

  19. Shawna

    Thanks for all the fantastic ideas. We will be implementing many of these.

    • Lina D

      Thanks for stopping by Shawna!

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