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17 Clever Elf On The Shelf Ideas To Get You Through The Next Few Days

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — because you finally got to pack up your Elf on the Shelf and send him back to the North Pole for a year. OK, so you're not quite there yet. But you guys, it's the homestretch. The elf in our house doesn't do much but move around the house (no flour angels here) and even we're looking for clever Elf on the Shelf ideas because we're officially out of them. Also, it's literally almost Christmas. I'm too busy wondering where the hell all my Amazon packages are and trying to figure out if I have enough wrapping paper and tape. (The answer is that there's truly never enough.)

But that doesn't mean your elf can't have a little fun. If you want to keep the magic of everyone's favorite scout elf alive, but not bleed your brain dry of creativity (after all, you're still trying to mentally calculate how many bags of chocolate chips you need for Santa's cookies), there's plenty of inspiration out there. These 17 clever Elf on the Shelf ideas are simple enough to whip up once your kid's asleep, but will still be super impressive in the morning. C'mon guys. We're almost there. We can do this together.


Scrabble It Up

If your family is anything like mine, you've got the board games already set up for Christmas night. Grab that Scrabble board and write out a sweet, simple message. Maybe something like "Santa knows you want a bike" or "You've been good all year long" will do the trick.


Smells Like Marshmallows

One major rule of Elf on the Shelf is that your kid cannot touch the elf. One effective way to protect the scout elf’s magic is to stuff it in a mason jar with a convincing note that promises an awful stench. No kid is going to want to unleash what’s bottled up in there.


An Absolute Wrecking Ball

Miley Cyrus is known to inspire, but she can up your elf's game, too. Grab any ornament lying around or even the chandelier if you're in a pinch and let your elf swing away.


Like Frosty, But Not

You don’t need real snow, or even fake snow, to build a convincing snowman. Just a couple rolls of toilet paper and construction paper will get the job done perfectly. And if you don’t even have construction paper (What kind of monster are you!?) then just color white paper, obvi.


Laundry Day

If your elf has a bunch of accessories like extra sweaters and jerseys, let your kiddos see just how considerate your elf is by putting out his own clothes on the line.


Hot Air Balloons

Busy Philipps’s elf game is so strong. A couple balloons is all you need to make a homemade hot air balloon that your kids are going to get a kick out of finding the next morning. Chances are you have a helium tank in your garage for occasions such as these, but if you don’t, you can just tape the balloons to the wall and it’ll be just as effective.


Put The Elf In SELFie

This elf has mastered the art of the selfie — her last name must be Kardashian. Set the backdrop on all the devices that your kids use, from phones to tablets to computers, with a photo of the elf. Make sure they’re close up though, to give it that authentic #selfie vibe.



This elf is livin’ da life. Make a mock beach scene in the middle of your living room with just a few things you have lying around the house: a hand towel as a beach blanket, a shot glass to represent a tropical drink, and a cupcake liner and stick is all you need to make a really cute umbrella. The passport is impressive, but seriously, who has the time for that right now?


Easy Hammock

Oh, just so happen to have medical masks lying around? They make perfect hammocks for your scout elf to relax in. If you don’t, you can easily fashion one yourself with some fabric (or even a couple layers of paper towels) and some string. Nestle your chill elf somewhere on the Christmas tree where the kids will easily spot it, but high enough that their grubby little hands can’t reach.


Pump You Up

It’s the holiday season, so we know you have some marshmallows lying around. And you have kids, so there is no shortage of straws, either. Turn these two pantry staples into an impressive barbell and weights set that your elf can pump iron with.



Got a pretend medical emergency on your hands? You can fake the elf’s scrubs and sterile operating room scene with any white fabric you can get your hands on (you have toilet paper in your house, don’t you?). Any toy “patient” will do.



Started wrapping already? Take those empty paper tubes and turn them into stilts for your family's elf. They'll be tall enough to stay out of toddler hands, but look really fun standing in the house.


Baking Buddy

The closer it gets to Christmas, the more destroyed my house becomes. If you're going to be baking up a storm, let your elf get in on the action with a bulldozer and some flour. Not digging the mess? They can just hold onto a bottle of sprinkles or vanilla extract to show that they care about Christmas cookies, too.


Enjoying The Main Food Groups

As Buddy the Elf told all of us, elves have to enjoy the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. Let your elf enjoy the last few days of Christmas by indulging in some of those groups. (Just make sure you don't need the syrup for breakfast that morning.)


Practice Good Hygeine

The elf is great for your kids' behavior, but it's also great for their gums. Have the elf hold onto their toothpaste (but maybe make sure there's another tube somewhere for your kid to actually use) and encourage flossing and brushing. Especially after all that candy.


An Elf's Home Is His Castle

You know you've got more than enough cardboard boxes in your house, so why not let your elf create his own home away from home while he's hanging out watching your kids? A pair of scissors and a sharpie should do the trick.


Sprinkle Angels

Flour's a pain in the ass to clean up, but your elf can show just how excited they are that Christmas is almost here with this sprinkle angel. Plus it shouldn't take up too much of your precious counter space for the day.

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