23 Elf on the Shelf Ideas to Steal This Christmas (Including New 2020 Ideas!)

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masked elf on the shelf on toilet paper

Is your elf ready to cause some magical mischief this December? Are you looking for some creative Elf on the Shelf ideas?

Whether you’re new to the popular Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition or have been participating for years, we could all use a little creative inspiration and tips to keep things fresh and funny!

holding an elf on the shelf by the tree

Fun for all ages!

Even though my kids are now older than they were when we first started this tradition, they actually still get a laugh and think it’s funny if I set up scenes with their elf. Sometimes they even take turns creating the fun for us.

I won’t pretend that this is a daily occurrence for my family because half the time I forget about it! LOL. However,  it’s a fun tradition, and if an elf somehow brings some joy, why not.

Hip Tip: Dollar Tree has cute stuffed plush elves if you’d like a more frugal option. I have even personalized them with iron-on vinyl in the past!

2020 elf on the shelf ideas

Today I’m sharing 23 creative yet EASY Elf on the Shelf ideas anyone can pull off!

I think everyone can agree we all need less stress and more humor- especially this holiday season! There’s even a few light-hearted quarantine related ideas to include this year for 2020! 😆

tiny mask for an elf on the shelf

Trust me, my favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas take less than 10 minutes and not a lot of materials.

Some of these ideas were photographed by a few other talented Hip2Save team members over the years, so I wanted to give them a shout out and special thank you for sharing! 


1. Facemask Elf Hammock

facemask as a hammock elf on the shelf

A facemask doubles as a perfect elf-sized hammock for your elf to relax in. I used some faux branches to hang this hammock, but you could use candlesticks, hooks, or any other simple items to hang.


2. Elf Quarantine Jar

elf with mask covid elf on the shelf idea

Even elves sometimes have to self-quarantine! Set up a jar with some Lysol and hand sanitizer. I made an easy elf face mask by cutting a small piece from a disposable facemask and using a few dabs of hot glue to attach a small piece of the elastic so it would fit around the elf’s face.

You can even decide how long your elf needs to quarantine!


3. Elf “Spare a Square” TP Idea

elf on the shelf with toilet paper covid idea

Toilet paper has been one of the biggest topics of the year, and this elf needs to know if you can spare a square! This is a fun and easy setup using a roll of toilet paper and a paper sign.


4. Wrapping Paper Mischief

elf on the shelf wrapping the toilet

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


5. Do you Wanna Build a Snowman?

elf on the shelf building a snowman

Elf gets FROZEN with characters from the Disney movie.


6. Elf Takes a Nap

elf on the shelf sleeping on tissues

A box of facial tissues makes a perfect bed for nap time! He’s even folded one for a soft pillow to snooze on.


7. Dogs Rule, Elves Drool

dogs rule elves drool elf on the shelf idea

Don’t forget to get the dog involved in your elf tradition! If you have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or mirror this will work great!


8. Elf Refueling Station

elf on the shelf refueling station

Elves need plenty of energy to fly back and forth to the North Pole! This elf clearly doesn’t mess around and gets her caffeine fix straight from the K-cup!

Hip Tip: Did you know they make adorable outfits for Elf on the Shelf now? Last year I couldn’t resist and bought the snowflake skirt and scarf—so cute!


9. Shower Shenanigans

shower shenanigans elf on the shelf

Our elf is hanging from an umbrella that’s balancing on the shower curtain.


10. Toilet Paper Snowman

elf in a toilet paper snowman

This elf stacked three rolls of toilet paper and used marker and ribbon for snowman details! Such a cute idea!


11. Elf Takes a Bath

elf on the shelf taking a bath

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


12. Hot Cocoa Party Elf

hot cocoa elf on the shelf idea

I love when our elf brings fun activities to do from our Christmas bucket list! These CUTE candy cane spoons and hot cocoa mix can be found at the Dollar Tree!

Hip Tip: Print off a Christmas bucket list and there’s even a blank one to create your own!


13. Elf Roasts Mini Marshmallows

elf on the shelf roasting marshmallows

This is a fun and easy scene to set up using a candle, BBQ skewer, and mini marshmallows!


14. Glow in the Dark Elf

elf on the shelf with glow sticks

Glow in the dark bracelets fit perfectly around Elf for a vibrant neon effect at nighttime.


15. Good Deed Elf

good deed elf on the shelf

Elf can help kids complete random acts of kindness with these FREE printable cards at Over the Big Moon.

Hip Tip: Check out more random acts of kindness ideas and grab a free printable list to create on your own with your family to complete throughout the year!


16. Hot Air Balloon Ride

hot air balloon ride elf

Helium balloons and containers from the Dollar Tree can make a fun and frugal hot air balloon ride for elves. Up, up, and away!


17. Elf Hides in Mom’s Jewelry

elf on the shelf hiding in jewelry

A closet jewelry collection can be a great disguise for Elf!

Hip Tip: I actually hung a couple of thread racks to organize my jewelry. It’s still there years later, and works perfectly!


18. Sick Day Elf

sick day elf on the shelf

Even elves get sick sometimes! Luckily there’s always plenty of cold and flu supplies around the house to help him! This lucky guy even has a magical reindeer friend and elf sidekick to help him get well!


19. Yoga Elf

elf on the shelf does yoga

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


20. A Christmas Story Elf

fragile lamp elf on the shelf

If your family needs some laughs, consider building this cute leg lamp award scene from the A Christmas Story movie! You can use a leg lamp ornament or mini leg lamp night light to get in on this fun!


21. Pooping Elf

elf on the shelf poops chocolate kisses

Elves poop chocolate kisses! Don’t forget he may need some reading material too! 😂


22. Zip Lining Elves

ziplining elves on a christmas tree

These lively elves have tied a string from the Christmas tree to the fireplace and are ziplining like they’re on a jungle vacation!


23. Injured Elf

elf on the shelf gets injured idea

Does your Elf need to stay still? Use this genius cast idea to have him on strict NO FLY orders for a few days! It’s even signed by all Santa’s reindeer. 😊


elf on the shelf book and girl elf

Do you participate in Elf on the Shelf?

What are some of your favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas? Share with us in the comments so we can all collect more fun ideas! 


Print your free Christmas bucket list to create with your family this year! 

Join The Discussion

Comments 21

  1. Katie

    This is our first year doing Elf on a Shelf! Thanks for some great ideas!!

    • Ana

      Mine too, I have never done it before.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh have fun!

    • Karri

      Tawnya thanks you those are so very cute masks

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh how fun 🤩 thanks for sharing!

  2. JES

    Not an idea, but just a tip that has helped me over the past few years…set an alarm on your phone to remind you to move your elf. Mine goes off at 9pm, because there have been times I have fallen asleep or forgotten to move our elf and have to think up something quickly as to why he didn’t move.

    • Ap927

      This is what I do too. Set it as a daily alarm so it goes off every night.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes, so smart!

  3. Melanie

    Thank you for the ideas! I struggle with new things to do when I am half asleep in bed and suddenly remember I have to come up with something! Gonna have to set an alarm like you JES 😁

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Sure! Yes, an alarm is a great idea!!

  4. briem

    I bought a kit off of Etsy that has ALL the days all ready to go! Now I can enjoy my Aldi wine advent calendar and not stress out about being creative with Vart(our elf)!

  5. Kat4312

    For stress free elf-ing this year, I download a free planning calendar. I planned what I wanted to do each night and hung it in the basement where my kids aren’t allowed to be. I took one day last week and shopped for any supplies I needed and printed/cut out any printables I wanted to use. Now al I have to do is check the calendar and grab my supplies. Much easier than scrambling at 10pm or 6am trying to do things quietly so my kids don’t hear!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow so organized and impressive! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Kayladan04

      I started this a few years ago! Less stress!

  6. ksteele293327

    Love these ideas! We do a “kindness elf” in our classroom where the elf leaves a different kindness challenge each day. Sometimes when I’m out of the room with the kids, I have other teachers to move it and I’ll do the same. It’s so much fun watching their faces!

  7. Rishy

    I make elf kits so other parents don’t have to stress about it! Some awesome ideas here!

  8. Nicole

    I did most of these last year. The kids enjoyed when he was a face popping out of the rice krispies box, I put water, some sticks and a carrot in a dish and said he brought a snowman from the north pole, he also climbed the walled using bows as stepping stone. We did an elf kissing booth.

  9. Marinova

    Never been able to bring myself to be an elf on the shelfer. I knew right away it was too much work for me. But I found something the other day that is right up my alley and in theory should be NEGATIVE work…if any other mamas are interested…it’s called The Giving Manger 😀

  10. kate-1

    I love doing Elf on the shelf. My kids talk about “Clark W. Griswaldo III” lol ALLL year long. He’s starting to look pretty shabby now (his hat is taped on, mittens are rather tan, & most of his clothes are pulled up from being stuck to various things) but we love our silly lil elf! Thanks for the new ideas! We are going to focus on kindness this year!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Aw I love that! Thanks for sharing ❤️

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