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Simple, Sanity-Saving Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Holidays Parenting Just For Fun
Photo Courtesy of Jessie Day: https://www.jessiedaye.com/ Photo Courtesy of Jessie Day: https://www.jessiedaye.com/

Many of us are breaking out the Elf on the Shelf soon (if you haven't already), and the range of emotions runs the gamut from excitement and cautious anticipation to lukewarm apathy and downright hatred with the heat of a thousand suns.

Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum, you're likely in need of some new ideas as, for better or worse, "Elfie" (or whatever yours is named) has likely been there and done that. And hell hath no fury like a kid who is not thoroughly entertained AND has the memory of an elephant.

Read on for some easy and fun Elf on the Shelf Ideas that won't make you want to cry into your eggnog. 

Baby, You're a Star

Elf on the Shelf magazine cover
Photo courtesy of Amy Stossel of Picklehead Soup Blog

Have a magazine in your recycle pile? Hold up. Put it to good use. The kids will get a giggle out of this one, and you'll be doing your part in the reduce, reuse, recycle process.

This Elf Measures Up

Elf on the Shelf baking
Photo Courtesy of Marissa Buttitta Nicholson

Nobody is going to accuse you of being a cookie cutter mom...well, unless it's cookie day. And if it is, get your Elf in on the act. 

Elf, Peas

Elf on the Shelf with peas
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

Is this politically correct? No. Will it get big laughs? YES! This is particularly true if you have boys, as potty humor is their all time fave.

Hot Tubbin'

Elf on the Shelf hot tubbing
Photo Courtesy of Marissa Buttitta Nicholson

These guys and gals work hard; they deserve a soak at the end of a super long day spreading cheer. Got Instant Pot? Here's your instant idea.

We're Toast

Elf on the Shelf toast idea
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

Have bread that's about to go bad and no stuffing to make? Boom! Five minutes and you've got this super easy and ultra creative Elf on the Shelf idea.

Get Crafty With Marshmallows

Elf on the Shelf arts and crafts
Photo Courtesy of Bombshell Bling Blog

If you often long to get your kids' noses out of their tablets and into crafts, this is your chance. Let your Elf on the Shelf get things started. Grab a bag of marshmallows, some glue and construction paper and call it a day.

"Mom, Does Elfie Eat?" "Yep!"

Elf on the Shelf eating
Photo Courtesy of Crystal Johnsen - @littlebitfunky on Instagram

Your kids likely have a lot of questions about your elf, including what he or she eats. Whip up an adorable mini meal like this one, cut a straw in half and your kids will be mesmerized....and maybe even more likely to eat their own food.

Please Pass the Ketchup

Elf on the Shelf Fridge
Photo Courtesy of Snapshots of My Life Blog

It doesn't get much easier than this, and the little towel makes it. Word of warning, though - if your kids are like most kids, they might have trouble finding this even if you point them in the right direction.

Elf on the Shelf Snow, Er, Salt Angel

Elf on the Shelf Snow Angel
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

For the amount of effort you'd need to put into this snow/salt angel, the cute factor is off the charts. And whether your kids can recreate it outside or you live in a warm weather climate, the kiddos will get a kick out of it, too. You can use rice, powdered sugar, kosher salt, or whatever you think might work best (with the least mess!). 

Gone Fishin'

Elf on the Shelf fishing
Photo Courtesy of Crystal Johnsen - @littlebitfunky on Instagram

Do this one just for the halibut. Bad puns aside, this is easy and adorable - a true win/win. This could even extend to other board games you have, like Candy Land or Operation. 

There Goes the Neighborhood

Elf on the Shelf punishment
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

When it comes down to it, the Elf on the Shelf is a snitch, right? So your wee ones might enjoy this bit of revenge on the part of the whole gang...at least for one day.

Turf War? Nah, How About a Nerf War?

Elf on the Shelf nerf war

The kids will love this one, and you'll get a day without having to break up any Nerf Wars between your own littles. Who knew the Nutcracker was so savage?

Elf Stamp of Approval

Elf on the Shelf helping with cards
Photo Courtesy of @janellebechtold on Instagram

This is one of those "Oh, (insert word of your choice here)! I forgot to move the elf!" ideas. You likely already have a table like this going as you get your holiday cards ready to go, and it might even inspire the kids to help, too. Christmas miracles do happen!

This One'll Blow Their Minds

Elf on the Shelf blowing bubbles
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

Don't allow gum in your home? You've gotta make an exception, as the kids will go crazy for this one. Just don't leave this whole setup unsupervised for long.

Roll With This One

Elf on the Shelf on a Swing
Photo Courtesy of My Mommy Style Blog

What do you do with the toilet paper rolls that your other family members refuse to dispose of or change? Now you have your answer! Use the aforementioned TP roll (and bane of your parental existence), some zip ties, and some string and your Elf will be having the day of his life. 

TP the Tree, You Say?

Elf on the Shelf TP tree
Photo Courtesy of Melanie Stofka of The 365 Project

Okay, so this isn't super simple by any means, but the looks on you kids' faces will be worth it. And you don't have to wrap the tree this many times to get the overall effect. 

A Seasonal Sammie, If You Will

Elf on the Shelf hot dogs
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

Looks like someone got himself in a pickle...or perhaps at least adjacent to a pickle. Easy and fun and extra boy bonus points for the "wiener" mention? Check, check and check.

Don't Harsh Your Breakfast "Mallow"

Elf on the Shelf spell breakfast in marshmallows
Photo Courtesy of Melanie Stofka of the Rocking My 365 Project

Still have some leftover tiny marshmallows? Use them again for this easy and fun idea that'll help any kiddos who happened to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

Extreme Elf, Reporting for Duty

Elf on the Shelf rock climbing
Photo Courtesy of Jen Sauser Johnston

When the ease of setting up your Elf on the Shelf is directly proportional to the cool factor, you know you've got a checkmark in the "win" column.

Just Hangin' Around

Elf on the Shelf hanging around
Photo Courtesy of Crystal Johnsen - @littlebitfunky on Instagram

Let's be realistic here, we're going to forget to move the Elf. We're not super human. Because of this, we should have a lot of last-minute placements for the Elf, like this one, that are fast and fun.

For When It's Time to Bid Adieu

Elf on the Shelf goodbye
Photo Courtesy of Amy Stossel of Picklehead Soup Blog

The Elf on the Shelf doesn't last forever (collective parental sigh implied), so make sure you've saved up something special for his last night before heading back to The North Pole.


Don't worry if you haven't gotten your holiday photos taken yet - there's still time! Check out these positively priceless pics for Christmas card inspiration.


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