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17 Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a Magical Holiday Season

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As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking of fun and creative ways to get your kids in the Christmas spirit – why not bring out the Elf on the Shelf for an extra touch of magic? The beloved holiday tradition has grown in popularity over recent years, and there are plenty of creative activities you can do with your children throughout December that will make the experience even more special.

Here, we have rounded up 20 Elf on the Shelf ideas that will leave your kids beaming with joy and delight. So gather up those Elves and give these festive activities a go – you won’t regret it!

elf on the shelf

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What is the Elf on the Shelf Tradition?

Elf on the Shelf is a popular holiday tradition where an elf figurine is placed in different locations around the house to “watch” children and report back to Santa Claus about their behavior. It is a fun way to celebrate and bring the magic of Christmas to life.

When Does the Elf on the Shelf tradition begin?

The Elf on the Shelf officially starts its yearly mission on Thanksgiving Day! This festive, magical character is said to fly from the North Pole to watch over children and report back to Santa on their behavior.

As the elf lands in his or her new home, families are encouraged to have a special ceremony of sorts to celebrate them coming together for the holiday season. Families can then look forward to all kinds of mischief and surprises that their elf will bring in the weeks leading up to Christmas morning!

If Thanksgiving Day is too early for the Elf on the Shelf to arrive, he can make his first appearance anywhere from November 24th and December 1st!

Items Needed for These Elf-on-the-Shelf Ideas

Here are some of the common items needed for many of the quick elf-on-the-shelf ideas listed below.

Before you go any further, grab our free “whats your elf name game.” These printables are fun for kids of all ages, make a great icebreaker at a holiday gathering, or are perfect for game night! Also, if you haven’t named your elf on the shelf or this is your first year partaking in this event, check out these 80 elf on the shelf names!

17 Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

1. Elf on the Shelf Welcome Back Letter

What a perfect way to welcome back the Elf on the Shelf with this prewritten letter! As your Elf on the Shelf returns from the North Pole, they will be bringing a surprise gift for you and your family. This special letter is just what you need to make sure everyone gets in the holiday spirit!

With this magical message, you can get ready for all the fun that comes with having an Elf on the Shelf visit your home. So, get ready to spread the holiday cheer and welcome your special Elf with open arms!

elf on the shelf welcome letter

Crystal and Comp

2. 54 Elf on the Shelf Letter Board

Are you looking for fun Elf on the Shelf letter board ideas? Here are 54 fun printable Elf on the Shelf letter board sign ideas. You can print them off and use these ideas to create your own Elf on the Shelf letterboard message.

Whether you’re writing a funny message for your kids or a heartfelt note to surprise them, these Elf on the Shelf letterboard sign ideas are sure to make them smile! Get creative with these printable signs and use them to add some extra holiday cheer to your home this Christmas season.

elf on the shelf

Mama’s Buzz

3. Elf on the Shelf Printable Snack Shack

Use this Elf on the Shelf printable to help count down the days until Christmas! Download this free snack shack printable using the link below, and print it out to start the fun. Then, mark off each day until Christmas with a festive snack or surprise! Enjoy!

elf on the shelf with hot cocoa

Saving Dollars and Sense

4. Elf on the Shelf Activities

Ready for some holiday fun? Print and enjoy these 7 Elf on the Shelf printables! These fun activities and games are perfect for getting your family together in the spirit of Christmas. From coloring pages to a letter to the North Pole, these printables are sure to make your holiday season even more magical. Get ready for some laughter and smiles this holiday season!

elf on the shelf ideas

Rock Your Homeschool

Related crafts:

elf name optin

5. Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt

An Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt is one of our personal favorite Elf on the Shelf activities. Try out this fun and creative way to spread the Christmas spirit with your family. Hide your Elf in an unexpected place, then send your little ones on a hunt to find it! You can even give them clues along the way. The possibilities are endless. Have fun! 🎅🤶✨

elf scavenger hunt

Homeschool of 1

6. Elf on the Shelf Arrival Letters

What a fun way to welcome back the Elf on the Shelf than these arrival letters! We’re sure your kids will be delighted to receive a special letter from their beloved elf, letting them know that the Christmas season is here! There are five different variations of these free arrival letters. Pick one out and print it out!

elf on shelf arrival letter

Homeschool of 1

7. Printable Elf on the Shelf Pizza Stand

What a fun way for your Elf on the Shelf to make his grand entrance! This printable pizza stand will be the highlight of your child’s morning. It comes with a printable menu as well!! This is an instant download, so you can print it right away and have your Elf hop right in!

ideas for elf on the shelf

Crazy for Couponing

8. Elf on the Shelf Candy Cane Hunt

Are you looking for a low-prep Elf on the Shelf Candy Cane game? Grab this free printable and try out this fun Elf on the Shelf candy cane hunt!

elf on shelf

Paper Heart Family

9. Free Printable Twister Game (Elf on the Shelf Addition)

Have you ever played Twister with an Elf? This Elf on the Shelf makes for a great game idea that will have your kids jumping with joy as they play a game with their elf!

elf on the shelf playing twister

The Gingerbread House

10. Elf on the Shelf Playing Cards

These Elf on the Shelf playing cards will provide fun for the whole family. These printable elf cards each feature Santa’s magical elves on the back. These cards can be used for all kinds of games. From Go Fish to Memory Match, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this festive set of playing cards. Let your imagination take you on a magical adventure with your own Elf on the Shelf playing cards.

elf playing cards

3 Boys and a Dog

11. Elf on the Shelf Super Hero Costumes

Are you looking for a last-minute Elf on the Shelf idea? Try out one of these free printable Super Hero Costumes. They’re easy to print and assemble, and your kids will love them!

elf costumes

Mom Hacks 101

12. Elf on the Shelf Notes

Need some cute notes to set out with your Elf on the Shelf! Try one of these free printable Elf on the Shelf notes to bring a little extra magic into your home this holiday season. Whether you’re using an Elf on the Shelf for the first time or just need to give your elf some fresh ideas, these notes are sure to spark creativity and bring lots of smiles. Print them off and leave them out with your elf – they make for a great surprise and fun activity!

elf on the shelf notes

Mom Hacks 101

13. Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Trying to find 25 different Elf on the Shelf ideas is hard work! Here are 35 must-try Elf on the Shelf ideas! These ideas are beyond adorable and yet easy to recreate! Simply grab your Elf on the Shelf and try one of these neat ideas.

elf on the shelf idea

Minimalist Mama

14. Elf on the Shelf Notes

These creative notes are so fun to leave out when the elf is in town! Print out these creative Elf on the Shelf notes and bring this fun tradition to life! With these notes, your child will never miss out on the magic of the holiday season. From funny jokes to helpful tips, there’s something for everyone!

Don’t forget – Elf on the Shelf isn’t just about finding new places to hide. Make each day count with these fun Elf on the Shelf Notes.

elf on the shelf notes

Minimalist Mama

15. Elf on the Shelf Joke Cards

It’s true, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Make it even better with these fun Elf on the Shelf joke cards. These joke cards consist of 165 different jokes. Place them around the house, in your child’s lunch box, or under their pillow.

elf on the shelf jokes

Lil Tigers

16. Elf on the Shelf Names

Are you just starting out with Elf on the Shelf? Well, now is the perfect time to name your Elf! There are so many great ideas that will get you started. From traditional names like Candy Cane or Snowflake to more creative ones like Twinkle Toes or Mistletoe, there’s a name out there just waiting for you to discover it! Let your child pick one that speaks to him/her, and get ready to spread the Christmas cheer!

elf names

My Motherhood Made Easy

17. Elf on the Shelf Message Decoder

Looking to create a secret message that only your child can decode? Then be sure to grab this fun Elf on the Shelf printable!

elf on the shelf message

24 Hour Family

Must Read Elf Books

The fun doesn’t have to end yet! Grab one of these BEST elf books and keep the holiday spirit alive all year round, from stories about mischievous elves to adventures with Santa and his reindeer.

The Elf on the Shelf: The Night Before Christmas

The Elf on the Shelf tries to make it back to the North Pole before Christmas. However, things don’t go as planned. Follow this elf’s journey to see what happens next!

How to Catch an Elf

This makes for such a cute Christmas book for kids! Follow this with this mischievous elf as he hides around your home on Christmas Eve.

This makes for the perfect winter story, stocking stuffer, or even Christmas gift!

The Littlest Elf

Follow along with the littlest elf and see what role he plays in Santa’s workshop! This

Good Elf on the Shelf Ideas – Summary

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to think outside the box when it comes to coming up with Elf on the Shelf ideas. This post has highlighted twenty ideas for you to try out this December. From creating a holiday-themed obstacle course to creating a fun scavenger hunt for your kids, these ideas can make the most of your Elf’s visit this holiday season.

The range of ideas will make sure that every kid is excited and engaged no matter what their age or interest level. Don’t be afraid to let your children use their imaginations when it comes to making elf magic in your home this year!

So gather some supplies, get creative, and enjoy all the fun of Elf-on-the-Shelf ideas for kids.

Make sure to follow us on Pinterest for more kid’s craft ideas!

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