Remember back when we were kids, and all our parents had to do to make us behave during the weeks leading up to Christmas was to drop the occasional "Santa's watching" threat? Thanks to the advent of Elf on the Shelf, the holiday season is now a lot more stressful for moms and dads — particularly for those looking to stand out on social media. Of course, it can be just as stressful for those of us who are just interested only in easy and cheap Elf on the Shelf ideas, because if it can really take a toll on our the bank accounts. What started out as a relatively simple concept (the elf was supposed to just sit on the shelf, remember?) has turned into a highly competitive craze requiring parents to make regular visits to the craft store and stage intricate overnight scenarios for their kiddos to discover in the morning. What if you're not into creating elaborate vignettes worthy of an Academy Award for set design?
With a little ingenuity and the willingness to incorporate items you probably already have lying around the house, it's definitely possible to come up with winning Elf on the Shelf poses that won't cost you a dime (or, hopefully, your sanity). And lucky for you, there are already plenty of ideas out there to borrow and call your very own — your kids will never know the difference! Some of our favorites are even celebrity approved.
So if you're in the market for some inexpensive, creative elf on the shelf ideas, look no further than the list below.
1. Hanging Around
Got a hanging holiday card display on hand? Then this one couldn't be easier! Clip your elf right up there in between that pic from your cousin and the greeting from your college roommate and you're good to go.
2. The Pampered Elf
We're not sure if okra slices actually do anything for puffy eyes, but they still look really, really cute on this chilled-out Elf. Extra points for the creative use of gauze as a towel turban!
3. Bubble Trouble
Since the odds are good you have a package of mini marshmallows in the cupboard (it is hot chocolate season, you know) and a couple of rubber duckies to boot, this "bubble bath" is a no-brainer!
4. Gone Fishin'
You're probably thinking that this one only works if you have a fish tank, but some clever parents have been known to achieve similar results with a bowl of goldfish crackers!
5. Story Time
What kid doesn't have a plethora of storybooks and stuffed animals around? Spend 30 seconds after your little one falls asleep setting up this story time and voila!
6. Do the Twist
With those long arms and legs, the Elf is bound to be a Twister champ. This one is for you if you've been looking for an excuse to get into your kid's art supplies.
7. To the Letter
This one works best if your kid can read, but it's still a super easy and quick option either way. You can even personalize your holiday message or use it as a directive, as in "Pick up your toys" or "Brush your teeth."
8. Climb the Walls
Turn your wall into the North Pole's version of a climbing gym with a handful of stick-on bows and a string! Just don't be surprised if your kid wants to follow suit.
9. Bathroom Break
If your child is obsessed with the poop emoji — aren't they all? — this one is sure to be a hit.
10. That's a Wrap
It's not immediately apparent if this Elf is trying her hand at fashion design or trying to gift herself to someone, but your kid will still get a kick out of the attempt.
11. Piano Man
You don't need a set of Beatles dolls like Alyssa Milano to stage this scene — any old dolls will do. And even a toy piano could work!
12. Cirque du Light Fixture
Tori Spelling's Elf has some serious acrobatic skills, not to mention a very brave reindeer companion.
13. Cookie Monster
Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton's Elf has been up to no good, we see. The coolest thing about this gingerbread house is that it's made out of graham crackers (easy, cheap, no baking involved!). You can probably even pick up an affordable pre-made one at your local supermarket if you don't have the time to whip one up yourself.
14. Glam Squad
If you're willing to share your beauty product stash with a plastic doll like Sarah Michelle Gellar did, this is a cheeky way to show off your Elf's mischievous side.
15. Angels in the 'Snow'
Tori Spelling has so many good Elf-related ideas, we had to share one more! It looks like the "snow" in this pic might be sprinkles, but you could also use glitter, salt, or sugar.
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