Michael Loccisano/Getty Images News/Getty Images
28 Elf On The Shelf Ideas Using Food, Because You've Got Plenty Of It

by Lindsay E. Mack

Coming up with new ideas for your family's elf on the shelf can lead to some serious brain-racking, but there's one prop that always seems to go over well, and that is food. These elf on the shelf ideas using food are sure to delight your kids, because pretty much everyone can relate to his love of snacking. In addition, you can use whatever foods you have on hand to set these scenes, making the whole thing even easier.

If it seems like you and every other parent are caught up in the elf posing craze, you're right. The little scout elf is wildly popular. Since its launch in 2005, over 11 million Elf on the Shelf books and dolls have been sold, according to CNN money. That's a lot of parents coming up with ideas for elf scenes every night. After all, the fun part comes when your kid finds the elf in his new spot each morning, adding to their excited belief that he really does spring to life every evening.

So if you're running low on ideas in the days leading up to December 25, look no further than your own pantry for inspiration. Cereal boxes, candies, and marshmallows can all make for some pretty festive elf scenes. Read on to see what food-based adventures your elf can enjoy with these elf on the shelf using food.


Snack Attack

This idea is simple but fun. Your kid can enjoy the surprise of finding the elf amongst a bunch of snack mixes, and then take a baggie of snacks to school that day. Everyone wins.



If you're running low on time, just stick the elf in the fridge. You can argue that he misses the weather back home on the North Pole, and the kids will definitely be caught by surprise when you nonchalantly ask them to grab the milk in the morning.



If you have sort of candy dish or container, consider letting your elf move in. Hey, I can think of worse ways to spend a chilly winter night.


Pancake Party

Wouldn't your kid love waking up to some reindeer pancakes, all courtesy of your scout elf? Come to think of it, most adults would appreciate a tiny creature who cooks breakfast for them every morning, too.


Message On A Table

Use a bunch of candies, raisins, or any other tiny food to spell out a holiday message — from silly to creepy — for your kid. You can literally use anything from your pantry from M&Ms, to Cheerios, to grains of rice. Anything would be a hit.


Mini Servings

Do you have any tiny single-serving containers of jelly, Nutella, ketchup, or other condiments on hand? They're the perfect size for posing with the elf and a butter knife.


Marshmallow Igloo

Few foods are as festive as marshmallows. You can use them to make igloos, snowmen, or simply scatter them around the elf to pose as fake snow balls.


Syrup Fan

If the movie Elf starring Will Ferrel is any indication, elves certainly love their syrup. Let your scout elf pose with a near-empty syrup bottle and let the kids think he gulped it all down.


Extreme Syrup Fan

For a more extreme spin on the syrup idea, pose your elf doing some type of Mission Impossible-like stunt above the bottle with a straw. He'll look like a little bat and the kids will think it's a real hoot.


Pantry Guard

Hiding your elf in the pantry is another simple but fun idea. Your kid won't expect it when reaching for the cereal box.


Cereal Box

Speaking of surprises in the cereal box, integrate your elf into the box's design. Many cereal characters are perfectly elf-sized so this might be easier than you think.


Candy Raid

Surround your elf with candy wrappers to make it look like he's enjoyed a sugar feast. I mean, this may involve eating some of the candy yourself, but sometimes you must make sacrifices for the sake of realism.


Candy Cane Stunts

OK, this idea is pretty cool. Have your elf dangle from a candy cane chain from high above.


Freezer Friends

Maybe your elf decides to camp out in the freezer near the ice cream with one of Santa's trusty reindeers — wait, is that how he travels to and fro?


'Frozen' Fan

Here the elf asks, "Do you want to build a snowman?" using marshmallows, toothpicks, and nutella — all of which we're sure are pantry staples. Throw in a bit of Frozen for good measure.


Hot Chocolate Maker

Pose the elf beside ingredients to make a cup of hot chocolate and let your kid and the elf enjoy a cup later that day.


Candy Pit

Here the elf looks like he's swimming in a Christmas-themed ball pit, but really it's just a bowl of M&Ms.


Candy Dive

Posing the elf in the middle of a candy feast is always hilarious. Any bag of candy would work for this scenario.


Surprise Breakfast

Throw together breakfast before the kids rise and let the elf take all the credit. Sounds like a lot of work, but it's something you'd be doing anyways, so in the end, it's actually pretty efficient.


Candy Cane Garden

This setup is a little more elaborate, but it's definitely cute. Have your elf plant candy cane seeds (AKA peppermints) into the soil (AKA brown sugar).


Snack Attack

Not every pose needs to be super complicated. Even a quick stop for crackers and peanut butter (or your kid's favorite snack) is an adorable way to pose the elf. You can even explain to the kids that the elf was making these snacks for them.


Milk & Cookies Time

It only makes sense that the elf would enjoy milk and cookies as much as Santa. It's the boss's favorite treat, after all.


Orange You Happy?

Hey, it doesn't have to be all about candy and other sweets. Maybe your elf has a taste for oranges or baby carrots? Hopefully this encourages your kids to want to eat their fruits and vegetables too.


Egg-cellent Idea

Hide your elf with the eggs. For an extra step, decorate or draw on the eggs to make them look like your kids' favorite characters, like minions.


High Chair Fun

Let your elf enjoy breakfast with the family from a doll's high chair and make a mini plate of food for him. It's the most adorable sight to wake up to ever.


Just Like Buddy

TBH, noodles and chocolates might be delicious. Would you try it?


Tiny Pancakes

Everything is so much cuter in tiny form, including these mini pancakes.


Wrapped Lunch

The fun doesn't have to stop in the morning. Your elf might even wrap up all of your kid's lunch containers, which makes for a festive surprise come lunch time.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.