If your family has their own elf, or if you have thought about starting the tradition this year, I am sure you have seen the plethora of ideas across social media boards. Honestly, it can be overwhelming. We like to keep things fun and light-hearted in our house. That’s the bottom line when my hubby & I agreed to start the tradition. For us, it is more about finding the fun hiding spots each day and not so much that the elf is here watching my son or waiting to catch him misbehaving.
Most elves fly back from the North Pole between November 27th and December 4th, but each elf is different! A fun rule of thumb could be for your elf to return on the first night that your Christmas tree gets put up and/or decorated. That is what our family likes to do.
Last year, I wanted to make Mr. Elf’s return not only special, but also to make it more of a re-introduction, as my then 3 year old did not entirely remember him from the year before. Thus, I put together a letter from Santa that he brought with him. It basically told him why he sent Mr. Elf to hang out with us until Christmas, that he knew a few toys he wanted, and to remember the REAL reason for the season. We also left the Elf on the Shelf book on table, so we could read it together.
If you like to be organized, like me, you can download this super cute and FREE printable HERE
We’ve put together 21 IDEAS FOR YOUR ELF ON THE SHELF, beginning with his arrival!
- Elf on the Shelf parachute (made from a coffee filter!)
- Balloon arrival (think helium balloon from your local dollar type store!)
- Arrive with a new Christmas ornament
- Red carpet arrival (made from fabric or red wrapping paper!)
- Arrives in Elf rocket ship
- Arrives with a stack of new books to open each night before Christmas
More ideas for any day!
- Write a message spelled out with candy.
- Read a favorite Christmas book.
- Hide in the Christmas tree.
- Color in a coloring book.
- Build a tower out of Legos or blocks.
- Hang from a ceiling fan or lamp.
- Fill sink or bowl with marshmallows for elf “bubble bath”.
- Play with child’s toys.
- Take a nap in box of tissues.
- Play board game with stuffed animals.
- Cover in pieces of ribbon, tape, & wrapping paper from trying to help wrap presents.
- Sit next to the cookie jar or package of cookies….and caught snacking!
- Hide out in the silverware drawer.
- Cover in stickers.
- Hang from the cabinet doors.
Overall, our elf doesn’t get into too much mischief. Again, I like to keep it light-hearted and non-stressful for this mama! Oh, and yes, there are days when we forget to move him. I like to say that the elf is playing a trick on my son to see if he remembers if he was already in that spot. So far, he buys that, so we are lucky. Maybe when he gets a bit older, we will have to be more creative like with the pre-done kits that take all the guesswork out of having an elf!
Occasionally, he may be known to give a small present. Those are always extra exciting mornings! One idea for something fun would be for your elf to bring the kiddos a gingerbread house to decorate or a Christmas movie to watch.
We had such a great time with our elf last year! I can’t wait for him to bring some more smiles into our home this year. Does your family have an elf? When does he or she come back? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Originally published Nov, 2018.
Updated Nov 1, 2022.