15 Elf On The Shelf Ideas That Won't Make A Mess

Unless by some Christmas miracle you've escaped the Elf on the Shelf hysteria of the last few years, you know exactly what season it is come December 1st. It's the season when parents scramble around the house at midnight moving that darn elf! Facebook is rife with messy elf escapades from friends around the country, each serving to make you feel just a little bit less creative. We've got you covered though with 15 non-messy Elf on the Shelf ideas and will give your kids a little sense of the magic of the holiday every morning.

Elf on the Shelf is a little stuffed elf that is sent to Santa-believing homes to "scout for Santa" from the North Pole. He likes to take baths in bowls of tiny marshmallows and often gets held up by other figurines who already live in house. Families adopt an elf who bops back and forth to the North Pole every night, reporting back to Santa on how the children behaved that day. When he returns to his forever home, he lands in a different spot around the house every night — proof that he actually did venture outside. It's no surprise, though, that the internet has taken the Elf on the Shelf to new levels, upping the ante of what the Elf could get into each and every day.

The trick of the Elf on the Shelf is that you have to remember to move it every night, otherwise your kids might wise up to the fact that it's not actually paying any attention to their antics. The other trick is that, at least according to social media, your Elf is supposed to act like a tiny adult, roasting tiny marshmallows over a tea light or picking a snowball fight with little pieces of paper, and oftentimes, all your friends will come up with something totally original and impressive. Folks, the competition is real.

Basically, the elf gets into tons of shenanigans upon his return, and often leaves a huge mess that is fun for the kids to wake up to, but not so fun for the adults to have to clean up. And adding a mess, no matter how small, is not our idea of bringing peace during the holidays. Thats where these 15 Elf on the Shelf ideas that won't cause a total mess come in real handy. And don't worry, your kids will still be amused.


Special Delivery

Have your elf make a grand entrance, which will work particularly well if you've only just remembered to dig him out this week!


Tough Spot

It won't take long before your Elf gets himself into trouble with the locals, and cursed by the parents! And disclaimer: We recommend doing this with the stove off.


Where's The Elf?

Hiding the Elf is the quintessential "forgot about the Elf until midnight" play. Get him trapped somewhere in your already existing holiday decor set up and you don't have to worry at all about creating a whole new vignette for him.


Sports Fan

A little bit of eyeliner will get your Elf ready for the big game, whoever your family supports!


Picking A Fight

No glitter involved! Just tiny bits of paper that are easily thrown into the trash can for a mini game of basketball at the end of the fight.


Losing Battle

It doesn't matter if the Elf is bigger, The Hulk will always win.


Late Recovery

This is another great idea if you've forgotten your Elf until just now. Explain it to your kids by saying he's had a bit of a fall on his way back from the North Pole and was only just well enough to travel! A tiny splint fashion from paper or toilet paper makes no mess at all.


Putt Putt Elf

Tiny marshmallows all over your table might seem like a mess, until you remember just how quickly your kids will gobble those up and make the mess disappear. If you don't have a few scraps of fake turf lying around, green construction paper works just as well.


Sweet Tooth

Little candies are another mess that will be swept up into your little kids' — and your — mouths so quickly you won't even see the mess.


Toasty Treat

Full sized marshmallows! And an open fire! Dangerous, but these Elves like to live on the edge. Seriously though, suggest using a battery-operated candle for this setup. Safety first!


Lounge Lady

This spa Elf lady makes me feel relaxed just looking at her! Pop into your bathroom for some hand towels, cotton balls, and toilet paper to fashion the eye-mask, and you've got a fully pampered elf with just about zero mess.


Twin Spa Day

These twins have the right idea. A bowl, a whole bunch of mini marshmallows, and two rubber duckies. What could be easier?


Crime Scene

A tiny crime scene might take a little more time to put together, but for slightly older kids it's a cute way to give the Elf — and the kids — a bit more investigating to do! And really, all you need for this one is a few strips of masking tape.


Toasty Treat (Minus The Fire)

The roasting marshmallow setup strikes again! This time with just one elf, and multiple mallows, because no one ever eats just one. Sidenote: What is it with these elves and sugar?


Ball Pit

This Canadian Elf knows what he's doing! A bag of multi-colored pom poms is all you need to put together a mess-free ball pit for your Elf. Don't be surprised if this results in your little one asking for a trip to a ball pit themselves.


Sleep Deprived

By the second week in December, you'll be feeling like this sleep-deprived Elf! Spread around a few Keurig cups and it'll be clear your Elf needs some caffeine, stat! He has been up all night traveling, so who can really blame him?

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