elf on the shelf
Kate Miller

14 Ways To End Your Elf On The Shelf For Good

The time has come to say goodbye...

Originally Published: 

My two daughters are young, so I know I'll be doing Elf on the Shelf for many, many years to come. But I have friends with older children who've already started plotting how to end Elf on the Shelf for good, once this season is through. They're ready to officially retire their little red-suited buddy, and I get it. Elf on the Shelf may be magical for kids, but the whole premise is kind of torturous for parents. I mean, trying to remember to move it for 24 consecutive nights, on top of all the other holiday activities you're juggling — it can all start to feel absurd.

So, whether your kids are on the cusp of growing out of the Elf on the Shelf idea or you've just had it "up to here" with the constant moving, you need a a rock solid strategy for offing your Elf. Fortunately, there are some ingenious ways to permanently say adieu to Santa's little helper.

Below you'll find 14 glorious ways to ship off your Elf on a Shelf once this holiday season draws to a close. So go ahead, do a little happy dance, because you're about to free yourself from the shackles of Elf-dom for good.


Wedding Bells


Your little Elf has been flying back to the North Pole (almost) every night, and he just happened to fall in love with an elf while he was there. They're planning a wedding and will be starting a family of their own, so this will be the last year your Elf on the Shelf will be visiting your home.

To really sell the idea, stage a photo like this photo like this one, and have it arrive in the mail sometime after Christmas.


"The Polar Express"

This is the perfect excuse if you want your Elf to take an immediate hike.

Explain to your child that your special Elf has been summoned by Santa to jump on The Polar Express, and get back to the North Pole stat.

If you have a train set, put Elf on board, and chugga chugga choo choo, off he goes.


Promotion Time

Your kids might think that their Elf on the Shelf has the best job in the world, but actually the most prestigious Elf role is working in Santa's office.

Tell your kiddo that your Elf got a big-time promotion and will be staying at the North Pole from here on out to work on the administrative side of things!



All that flying to the North Pole is hard work. No Elf can keep up that pace forever. Tell your kiddos that your Elf has reached the age of retirement and this will be his last year of service.


Naughty Elf

This is the perfect excuse to use if your Elf has been a little too mischievous this year. Tell your kiddo that your Elf has been suspended indefinitely for being a little too wily.


Permanent Vacation


Not all Elves love flying to the North Pole every night. (It's freezing there, after all.) Tell your kiddo that your little Elf prefers warmer climates and has decided to move to the tropics.

Sell in the idea by sending them a tropical "postcard" from Elf.


Naughty Dog

If you have a dog that loves to eat everything, it might just be time to stage an Elf meal. Leave just a little bit of red felt on the ground and say that the dog, well, ate Elf.

Sure, this might be a little traumatic, but it is believable.


The Elf Is Needed

Explain to your kiddo that there are only a finite amount of elves in the world and that when a new baby is born, the elves need to move on to a new home. At the end of the holiday season, have your kid write a letter to the new kid introducing their Elf, how they got their name, etc.



You've probably seen the Elf on the Shelf ideas that have the other toys ganging up on Elf. Take this idea a step further and claim that the other toys banned Elf from your home because he was getting all the attention. You can leave a clever note from the "toys" explaining their actions.


Wild Imagination

Ask your kid where the elf is this year. Because kid-logic is amazing, you’re bound to get some creative replies. Agree with whatever they come up with, whether the elf has gone to live at the zoo or decided to become an astronaut. It takes all the pressure off of you to come up with an explanation, at any rate.


Breakup Letter


Have your elf pen a final farewell letter to your kid, saying that they’ve aged out of the elfing phase. Already reaching for ideas? There’s an Elf on the Shelf Break-Up Letter from Sunshine & Hurricanes that’s very sweet, and you can use it as a template.


Traffic Jam

Maybe there was a severe reindeer pile-up at the North Pole, and your Elf just hasn’t been able to move. Who knows how long he’ll be stuck in traffic? Maybe until your kid becomes a teenager.


Career Change

Explain that your elf has found a new line of work. Maybe he’s training to become a gingerbread house architect, or a master toy-maker. Whatever the case, the elf’s days of watching over your kid have come to an end.


Send Elfie On Tour

Outfit your elf with a tiny guitar and some cool shades and tell your little one they joined a rock band and are heading out on tour. If you want to get really creative, stage a performance before you say goodbye.


Head To The Post Office

Usually elves travel by more magical means, but for a more official goodbye, pack up your elf in a box, write “To the North Pole” on it, and slap every stamp you can find on there. You don’t actually have to send it anywhere, just make it seem like he’s going on a trip to a very cold and faraway place.


Come Clean

Okay, this one might be the hardest strategy of all, but it's one that you can feel good about in the end. Explain to your child that you've been the one moving Elf all along. If you explain your intentions — that it was all about the magic of the season — your kiddo might just take it better than you think.