12 Easy & Creative Elf On The Shelf Ideas

This is a collaborative post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Elf On The Shelf is definitely a well ingrained Christmas tradition these days. Whether you love the little guy, or think he’s a bit creepy, there’s no escaping the Elf as soon as December hits. Personally, I love Elf On The Shelf and it’s become one of our Christmas traditions to do each year. I think it’s a brilliant way to keep the magic of Christmas going, and that seems to be more important than ever this year, no thanks to the tough time we’ve all had due to COVID 19.

Sometimes the elves get up to naughty things, but I’m not such a big fan of that. Previously we’ve had 3 elves – Elfo, Elfy and Buddy creeping into our hearts and Instagram accounts – and they’ve all either been a little cheeky or bought about something that will help spread some kindness and Christmas Spirit. In keeping with the positive theme I like my Elf On The Shelf ideas to abide by, I was kindly sent a brand new elf this year to christen our brand new house with. 

elf on the shelf baking

Elvis the elf was sent to us by Design Bundles and has been bringing sheer glee to Luke and Oscar each morning. I’m going to share a whole bunch of Elf On The Shelf ideas that I have set up, all either using fonts and SVGs (scalable vector graphics) from Design Bundles or items from small UK businesses. 

My Top 5 Elf On The Shelf Tips

Just like anything in parenthood, preparation is key! My biggest tips for ensuring that your month of Elf On The Shelf activities run smoothly are:

  1. Make sure you know where your elf is! There’s nothing worse than rummaging around in the attic at 10pm on the last day of November as you frantically try and remember where you put him.
  2. Create a schedule. Make sure you have a plan for each day – I have previously used free -printable calendars that I’ve found on Pinterest to help me keep track of my ideas.
  3. Collect everything you need and pre-bag it. Once you’ve got your schedule down, collect what you need for the day and store it in paper bags or little boxes. Make sure you label the container with the date it’s for so you don’t get confused.
  4. Find inspiration. Surf Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook groups for ideas that suit your budget, abilities and time constraints. Be realistic when planning your month and don’t give yourself too much to do in the evenings – December is stressful enough as it is! 
  5. Don’t take it too seriously. Elf On The Shelf is meant to bring magic to your household, not more stress. If you forget to move the elf one night, don’t sweat it! Elves get tired so sometimes they don’t move, it’s as simple as that. Don’t compare your elves to anyone else’s, it’s not a competition, it’s all just meant to be a bit of Christmas fun.
Elf On The Shelf sewing

Elf In Isolation (Elf On The Shelf 2020 Edition)

This will probably only apply to elves who are visiting during 2020, but who knows what the future might hold. Elvis arrived this year in his isolation jar and was very keen to ensure he followed Boris’ rules about self isolating. We quarantined the poor fellow for 14 days, but we were moving house so it just made it all a bit easier for us. You can of course quarantine your Elf On The Shelf at any point, or for as long as you like.

All you need is a clear jar, like an old sweetie jar or cooking sauce jar. Make sure you label the jar with “Elf Isolation Jar” so the kids know not to disturb your elf. If you have a cricut, Design Bundles have some gorgeous Christmas and Elf themed fonts that look brilliant on the jars. You could also use acrylic paint or even just a permanent marker. 

Elf On The Shelf Idea #1: Baking gingerbread men (or any other type of Christmas cookie!)

First thing’s first when baking – safety! Personalised oven mitts are relatively simple to design using a whole range of Christmassy fonts and SVGs from Design Bundles. Design Bundles have over 200 amazing quality Christmas SVGs for less than £2, so it really is an affordable Elf On The Shelf idea. These can be exported into Cricut Explore, or you simply print them onto iron on transfer paper. 

Elf On The Shelf baking

For our gingerbread men cookies, I used a baking kit from Craft and Crumb and created a series of snowy footprints using flour and a elf footprint stencil from Super Sweet Party.  Of course you can keep costs down further by pre-measuring all the ingredients needed for your bake the night before. 

Elf On The Shelf Idea #2: Christmas themed dress up

2020 was the year of the mask, so it’s only fitting that Elvis arrived with a special sized face covering and a collection of fabrics for Luke and Oscar to make more clothing for him. All you need are a few pieces or spare fabric, some strong glue, scissors and maybe a bit of string. Older children might enjoy sewing new jumpers or cooking aprons for their elves, but strong glue works just as well and it is what we used.

Elf On The Shelf sewing
Elf On The Shelf sewing

Elf On The Shelf Idea #3: Colouring in

Colouring in is a simple, easy and fun idea for your Elf On The Shelf schedule. We used printable Christmas colouring in sheets from Design Bundles, but there are lots of free printables available on Pinterest. Print out some sheets, pop some colouring pencils or pens out and prop your elf up so he’s holding a pen.

Elf On The Shelf colouring

Elf On The Shelf Idea #4: Creating Christmas Cards

Creating Christmas cards is something that we usually do every year anyway as a fun festive activity, so why not add it to the list of Elf On The Shelf activities? Your kids can use pens and pencils, stickers, and anything else to design some lovely Christmas cards and then, if they’re old enough, they can write special messages to friends and family.

Elf On The Shelf christmas card making

Prop your elf up holding a little elf sized Christmas card addressed to your child(ren) and lay out some crafting materials and some blank paper and envelopes. 

Elf On The Shelf christmas card making

Elf On The Shelf Idea #5: Homemade Christmas Tree decorations

Decorating the Christmas tree is such a special family tradition for us, so I thought that having Elvis supply a fun Christmas bauble as a blank canvas would be a really fun and exciting activity for the kids. Elvis provided the kids with a clear fillable bauble, some fake snow, some stickers and a cute little bauble filler. We used stickers to decorate the bauble, however Design Bundles have lots of cheap SVGs and fonts that would make amazing additions to the Christmas tree decorations. 

Elf On The Shelf making homemade baubles

Elf On The Shelf Idea: #6: A Scavenger Hunt

A great way of getting the kids outdoors during the winter months is to start a scavenger hunt with the help of your elf. I set Elvis up on the doormat next to my youngest son’s wellies with a printable Scavenger Hunt checklist from Design Bundles. Get outside and explore – you could even take the elf with you and take some silly photos of your elf and the scavenger hunt items! If you want to make your own scavenger hunt, there are lots of free designs and resources on Design Bundles that are suited brilliantly for this type of project.

Elf On The Shelf Idea #7: Letters to Santa

Writing letters to Santa is another classic activity that most of us do during December, so why not turn it into an Elf On The Shelf activity? It’s good to do this one towards the beginning of the month so that your children have time to write and post their letters – plus you also get a good insight into what they want for Christmas!

Elf On The Shelf writing a letter to santa

We were sent this amazing Christmas themed pen from The Pensnickety Co Etsy store as part of our Design Bundle goodies and, I have to say, I have definitely claimed it as my own. Our letter to Santa template came from Design Bundles, where there are so many printable Christmas goodies for sale at cheap prices.

Elf On The Shelf Idea #8: Create your own winter window display

Creating a little winter scene window display is such a lovely way to spread some Christmas cheer. All your neighbours and the hardworking delivery drivers and postal workers will love seeing the cheerful, homemade Christmas decorations that the children have made. They can even write little notes to display in the windows thanking those who are working so hard at the moment! Sticker Scape sell these stunning window display stickers, and Design Bundles have tonnes of SVGs that would make great window displays with the help of a printer or Cricut. 

Elf On The Shelf window display

I stuck the stickers to the window with Elvis the elf sat in front of them. Then I scattered some Christmas paper squares for the children to use, popped some bluetak down and put out a few colouring pens and some scissors.

Elf On The Shelf Idea #9: The joy of gift giving

I think it’s important to teach children that gift giving is a joyful and wholesome activity that is so fulfilling. We were sent a little cardboard box that had a few chocolate coins in it – nothing extravagant – and coloured paper. I set Elvis up with the box on his lap, the paper and some pens scattered around him and encouraged the kids to draw and create some magical wrapping paper. Then they wrapped the little gift up and even created a gift tag with a lovely message on. 

Elf On The Shelf gift giving

Elf On The Shelf Idea #10: Act Of Kindness

I’m all for my elves bringing a bit of kindness to my house, so this act of kindness printable that Design Bundles sent me made a fantastic Elf On The Shelf idea. It’s such an easy one to set up and can be put just about anywhere – the bedroom, dining table, kitchen counter etc. If you want to jazz it up a bit, you can always use some bio-degradable confetti or create elf angels using flour as the snow.

Elf On The Shelf acts of kindness

Elf On The Shelf Idea #11: Christmas tables place settings

Creating table places is another practical, helpful and easy idea for your Elf On The Shelf schedule. Using some thick paper, cut it down to size so that your kids can create name places for everyone who’s going to be spending Christmas with you. Position your elf with the card, a marker pen and any other crafty items you think might look nice and then let your children’s imaginations run wild.

Elf On The Shelf place names

Elf On The Shelf Idea #12: Christmas present wrapping

One of my favourite Christmas activities is sitting in front of the telly with a good festive movie and a box of popcorn while I get some wrapping done! It stands to reason therefore that Elvis should enjoy doing the same! This is a great Christmas eve idea as it’s nice and festive, plus, let’s face it, who isn’t cramming in last minute gift wrapping on the 24th? Set your elf up with a good old container of popcorn – these can be downloaded and printed out – and set out some gift wrapping, some eco-friendly washi tape and sit your elf in front of the telly. 

Elf On The Shelf present wrapping

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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