Over the past few years, the Christmas tradition of Elf on the Shelf has exploded in popularity thanks to a 2005 book titled Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coë Steinwart.
The book tells, in rhyme, how Santa knows who has been naughty and who has been nice - and it’s thanks to his elves that visit homes from the end of November to Christmas Eve before reporting back to the North Pole.
Now, parents conspire to have their Elf causing mayhem each day in the run up to Christmas.
Where can I buy an Elf on the Shelf?
The original Elf on the Shelf is available from its official website for £21.99, with the option of different skin tones, eye colours and either a boy elf or a girl elf.
It comes with an elf, an illustrated storybook, a keepsake box and an official adoption certificate. You can also register your elf to receive a personalised letter from Santa and an official family Adoption Certificate.
Alternatively, you can buy an Elf on the Shelf from Amazon for £11.99.
Elf on the Shelf ideas
Here are some Elf on the Shelf ideas to get you through to Christmas Eve.
Elf on the Shelf eating mince pies
Mark the arrival of your Elf on the Shelf by having Santa’s cheeky little helper tuck into your supplies of Christmas treats.
Place the Elf next to a plate of half eaten mince pies, or any other popular Christmas food and drinks.
Elf on the Shelf wrapped up in toilet paper
A classic Elf on the Shelf scene has the mischievous elf getting all tangled up in toilet paper.
Create havoc by throwing toilet paper around a room, with the Elf placed in the centre of it all.
Elf on the Shelf gone climbing
Using those stick-on present ribbons, creating a climbing wall on a door or wall or any other vertical surface. Have your Elf get his climbing shoes on and scale the ribbons.
Elf on the Shelf doing laundry
Have your little Elf make himself at home by doing his laundry and hanging it up next to the family.
Use small items of clothing made for dolls to act as the Elf’s tiny wardrobe and place him next to where your family hangs up their washing to dry.
Elf on the Shelf meets other toys
Get your children’s toys involved in the Christmas tradition - make a scene using your kids favourite toys.
Elf on the Shelf candy cane garden
Have your Elf demonstrate his gardening skills with an appropriately festive candy cane garden.
Place crushed up chocolate biscuits in a bowl as the fake soil, and stick your candy canes in to stand up straight, with your Elf nearby with a watering can.
Elf on the Shelf sledding
Now that his candy cane garden has flourished, why not take the Elf sledding?
Join three or four candy canes together to create a sled for the Elf and place him somewhere in your house that has a slope.
Elf on the Shelf movie night
Now that we’re officially in December, what better way to kick off the countdown to Christmas than with a festive movie night?
Put your favourite Christmas film on the TV and have the Elf sitting next to the remote, with various treats for snacking on, of course.
Elf on the Shelf paper snowflakes
Get the kids crafting by placing your Elf next to a pair of scissors, paper and some pre-cut paper snowflakes.
There are loads of tutorials online for how to make paper snowflakes, with varying levels of patterns and difficulties.
Elf on the Shelf bungee jump
If your Elf is an adrenaline junkie, then you should take him bungee jumping.
Tie some elastic string to his feet, secure the other end somewhere high up and send him flying.
Elf on the Shelf snow angel
If you don’t mind getting a bit messy, then an Elf on the Shelf snow angel is a great idea.
Sprinkle some flour on your floor or a counter top, create a snow angel shape and add your little Elf.
Elf on the Shelf wanted poster
Print out a mugshot of your Elf in the style of a wanted poster - you can include his “crimes” like eating all the mince pies or opening presents too early.
Hang up your posters around the house and tell your kids to keep an eye out for the Elf.
Elf on the Shelf hide and seek
You can follow up on the wanted poster by having the Elf vandalise them by writing “You’ll never find me!”.
Hide your Elf somewhere in your house, leave some clues and tell your kids to get their detective hats on.
Elf on the Shelf climbing the tree
If you’ve got your Christmas tree up and ready to go, hide your Elf in the branches somewhere.
Elf on the Shelf making breakfast
Whip up some miniature pancakes and pop your Elf next to the plate.
Elf on the Shelf washing his hands
It’s important that children (and adults!) remember to wash their hands frequently due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Pop your Elf next to some hand soap and a sink with warm water, and a note that says: “Wash your hands for the length of time it takes to sing jingle bells!”
Elf on the Shelf library
Set up a Christmas Elf on the Shelf library space by surrounding your little Elf with Christmas books and stories.
Prop one open to make it look like the Elf is reading from it, and set up some other toys to act as his captive audience.
Elf on the Shelf bushtucker trial
If your kids love watching I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! then take some inspiration from the ITV show.
Set up your Elf with a variety of challenging foods to eat - the brave amongst us can go for actual critters that you can buy from pet shops, but the rest of us can stick with the fake variety.
Alternatively you can go for popping the Elf in a jar filled with gummy worms.
Elf on the Shelf stealing chocolates
Have your kids catch Elf in the act of stealing some chocolates - pop open the lid of whatever chocolates you have and have the Elf with his hands in the box. Scatter around some empty wrappers for extra effect.
Elf on the Shelf fridge prank
Have your sneaky Elf pull a prank on the family by dying the milk (or anything else!) a funky colour, like pink or blue.
Leave the Elf next to the victim of his prank clutching a bottle of food colouring.
Elf on the Shelf and Stranger Things crossover
If your kids love Netflix’s Stranger Things, Christmas is the perfect time to pay homage to the first season of the sci-fi show - with Christmas lights.
Set up Christmas lights and write the alphabet with each letter corresponding to one light, and set your Elf up next to it.
Elf on the Shelf snowball fight
Pit the Elf against other toys in a snowball fight, using mini-marshmallows as their tiny snowballs.
Elf on the Shelf gingerbread house
Show off your creative skills by constructing a gingerbread house for your Elf.
You can even get the kids involved with decorating it.
Elf on the Shelf candy cane golfing
Set your Elf up for some golfing by using an upside down candy cane as a golf club, and a mini marshmallow as the golf ball.
Elf on the Shelf helping kids in need
Have your Elf and children team up together to do a good deed for children in need.
Set up the Elf next to a box with a message that reads: “Donate any toys you no longer play with - I’ll take them back to the North Pole to give to children in need!”
You can help your children decide which toys they do and don’t want any more and add them to the box. You can then take the box to donate to a charity of your choice.
Best Elf names
If you’re not sure what name to give your Elf, these are some ideas to get you started:
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