These 30 Elf On The Shelf Pics Will Inspire You When You're All Out Of Ideas

Keep it simple or go all out with these ideas.

by Grace Gallagher and Meguire Hennes
Originally Published: 

If your Elf On The Shelf has been around for a few holiday seasons, you’re probably running out of ideas for what to do with the little pixie each night in December; it’s already sat on every surface, made a mess in the kitchen, and slept all night in the Christmas tree. Fortunately, these Elf On The Shelf pictures will give you fresh new ideas for elf season. Whether you like Santa’s helper to find itself in over-the-top, elaborate scenarios or you’re more likely to remember that you need to move the elf only after you’re finally in bed (relatable), these pictures will inspire you to take your elf game to the next level (because even the lazy Elf On The Shelf ideas are creative).

From going fishing in the toilet, to playing Jenga made from chocolate bars, or taking selfies (or more precisely, elfies) of all his late night shenanigans, these Elf On The Shelf ideas will put a smile on your kid’s face, even when they take you less than two minutes to set up (because the holiday season is busy enough without having to think of dozens of ideas). And if you need more inspiration, The Elf On The Shelf Official website also has tons of creative ideas for where to hide your elf along with some printables to make the scene come alive.


An above-and-beyond Elf On The Shelf idea with Polaroids

This naughty elf took selfies of all his late night antics. From posing with sleeping family members to snapping a pic of himself finishing all the chocolate, this elf is up to no good, but the end result looks fantastic. This is such a clever way to use an Instax camera, plus it’ll be fun to look back on the pictures.


A clever Elf On The Shelf idea

Turn your elf into a Christmas tree salesman with this clever and easy The Elf On The Shelf idea that uses cookies shaped like trees, a homemade sign, a plate. Plus it’s a fun treat to eat the Christmas tree cookies the next day.


A clean, easy Elf On The Shelf idea

If you’re looking for a memorable The Elf On The Shelf idea that won’t destroy your kitchen or leave a trail of flour or crumbs everywhere, this cute mini Twister game for those limber elves could be your answer. PositivePaperie has an Etsy store where you can buy a set of 12 cards, like this Twister board, which will help create all sorts of fun elf scenes.


A naughty Elf On The Shelf idea

Here’s another easy Elf On The Shelf idea that uses a card from PositivePaperie. Here the naughty elf goes fishing in the toilet using a candy cane fishing rod. The simple scene will only take a few minutes to come together, but it will create a big impact (just make sure it’s not fishing in the bathroom your kid uses at night).


A messy Elf On The Shelf idea

Get your elf in on the winter fun by creating a realistic ski scene. Flour or powdered sugar makes great snow, popsicle sticks are the perfect size for elf skis, and these cute poles are made using mini marshmallows. A pencil eraser or your finger works well for making ski tracks in the snow.


A funny elf On The Shelf idea that incorporates other toys

Ah, who doesn’t love a spa day? It’s always fun to involve other toys in your The Elf On The Shelf scene (and it’s good to know that elves can wear Barbie clothes in a pinch). Here the elf and the doll are kicking back and relaxing with a good old face mask and some teeny cucumber slices.


A silly Elf On The Shelf idea

Take your elf for a wild ride by hanging it from a ceiling fan pull (or on the fan itself). Elves are super flexible so they can hang upside down if you tie them just right. You could even turn the fan on for an extra funny effect.


A quick & easy Elf On The Shelf idea for the bathroom

If you spent all night wrapping and forgot to move the elf, fear not. There are plenty of easy last minute The Elf On The Shelf ideas that still deliver on fun. Here, the unruly elf drew a smiley face in toothpaste, an idea which would also work well with shaving cream (which is a little easier to clean).


A fun & scary Elf On The Shelf idea

Oh no, things are looking rough for the elf. If you want to shock and delight your kids, set up a scene using toy soldiers or plastic animals, and tie the elf to a chair. And good luck to you in getting the elf down without touching it (and be sure to have cinnamon on hand in case your hand grazes the elf and your kid flips out).


A totally amazing Elf On The Shelf idea

I almost don’t have words for this totally over-the-top and amazing Elf On The Shelf idea. If you don’t have a ton of time or spare wrapping paper, you could pare down this idea and try wrapping a pillow or a smaller chair or framed picture, which will still give this totally cool effect. If you look closely, you’ll see the mischievous elf propped up in two empty rolls.


An easy Elf On The Shelf idea that makes a big impact

If you have some Goldfish crackers in the pantry and some string (or better yet, a fishing rod from a kids magnetic fishing game), you have what it takes to set up a sweet The Elf On The Shelf scene. Here, all it takes is some plates and bowls to make it look like your little pixie is really sitting by the river catching dinner.


A unique Elf On The Shelf idea

When in doubt, roll your elf up in a burrito wrap. Seeing it’s little face peeking out of the tortilla is so surprising and funny, and it will take your kids awhile to find it. Plus it looks like a comfy sleeping bag so your little guy gets a good night’s rest.


A super creative Elf On The Shelf idea

How cool and ornate is this The Elf On The Shelf school setup? Every detail here is so over-the-top, right down to the laptop screen that shows actual little elves doing remote school. Dollhouse furniture and accessories (or even Barbie stuff) works great for setting up a whole little world.


A creative & cute Elf On The Shelf idea

The only thing that could be better than your elf making a snow angel out of colorful Christmas sprinkles would be your elf wearing this amazing pink furry coat. From Creative Cakes By Jenny comes this sweet The Elf On The Shelf idea and if you don’t have sprinkles on hand you could use flour or even uncooked rice.


A funny pop culture Elf On The Shelf idea

Fans of Survivor will instantly recognize this as Tribal Council (I love how the candle is the bonfire). If you’re not a Survivor-watching house, you can recreate a scene from one of your kids favorite shows or movies.


A cute Elf On The Shelf idea with a hint of nostalgia

Beep beep elves coming through. This holiday season should look a bit more normal than last year, but many of us will still be wearing masks when out, and it’s nice to see the elves doing their part (you can find tiny face masks for The Elf On The Shelf at many online stores). Don’t forget the little trees to put on top of the car (mini Cozy Coupes are hard to find, but any small car will work).


A memorable Elf On The Shelf idea

Scout Elf is super playful and loves chocolate, so why not combine the two and have them play a game of Jenga made out of Kit Kat bars? This is super creative but won’t take a ton of time, and you’ll get some candy out of the deal.


An adorable Elf On The Shelf idea

Everyone loves bubblegum, so why wouldn’t Elfie? To recreate this adorable Elf On The Shelf idea, blow up a pink balloon, tape it to the elf’s mouth, and you’ve got a candy-obsessed elf, ready to greet the kiddos. Just a warning, your kids might be asking you for bubblegum for the next week.


A musical Elf On The Shelf idea

Get ready to Jingle Bell Rock with this elf! If you have musicians in your family, this set up is sure to become a family favorite. Maybe even get some more elf friends and set up a whole band: guitars, a piano, and bass, just to start.


A Disney Elf On The Shelf idea

This playful throwback to a fan-favorite Disney Pixar movie ties together two fan-favorites: Disney and Christmas. For your little ones who love Christmas almost as much as they love Disney, set this scene and watch their dreams come true.


A silly Elf On The Shelf idea

For the mischievous kids who love to cause a little trouble, get them an elf to match their energy. Take a dry erase marker, draw a funny face on a school picture, place a Sharpie marker in your elf’s hands and wait for laughter to ensue. Just don’t blame us if you wake up with a Sharpie mustache and glasses the next morning.


A playful Elf On The Shelf idea

Want to make taking baths cool again? Place your elf in the bath to make scrub time your kid’s favorite part of the day. Maybe add a sweet treat to the scene to make the bathroom heaven for your kid. Who can resist gummy bears?


A comical Elf On The Shelf idea

Who needs an arcade when you have Whack-An-Elf? Get your elf and a few of his closest friends, do a little DIY project with a cardboard box, and your kids will be inspired to run to the nearest game room.


A festive Elf On The Shelf idea

Isn’t it just adorable imagining elves doing every day activities like working at a Post Office, mailing boxes, and wearing the cutest suit? Your Elf On The Shelf is truly a member of your family, so why not treat them like an average citizen working a 9-5 shift. This creator really went full out on this North Pole Post Office recreation and the little details are impeccable. But don’t feel pressured to spend extra time and money to create a whole movie set.


A tropical Elf On The Shelf idea

Sure, a white Christmas isn’t on everyone’s wishlist this year. Some of us wish for a warm getaway to escape from the snow, the freezing temperatures, and the chaotic hustle and bustle. This elf is taking “Mele Kalikimaka” to a whole new level. All you need is a toy sand box, a Barbie hula skirt, some palm trees, and your elf is ready for a free vacation to Hawaii. If only you could join.


A Vegas Elf On The Shelf idea

Now, your kids might not be able to visit Vegas for quite some time, you can still take your kids to a family-friendly, PG-rated casino. Set up a Black Jack table, play some party music, and place your elf in charge of everything. To really connect with the scene, gather around the dinner table and teach your kids how to play poker. They’ll thank you someday.


A cinematic Elf On The Shelf idea

Everyone loves a cinematic classic, especially one as monumental as The Wizard of Oz. I have to say, Elfie looks pretty stellar as Dorothy — they’re really committing to the character. Wake your kids up to the soundtrack of this Hollywood classic and then to close out the day, watch the movie together.


A scientific Elf On The Shelf idea

For those kids who love doing activities with their elf (without touching him, of course), conduct an easy and fun science experiment. Place a bunch of skittles in a bowl, pour some hot water over them, and watch the rainbow expand.


A sweet Elf On The Shelf idea

Someone call 911! There’s been a robbery! This elf is guilty of stealing all the chocolate coins from the North Pole Chocolate Bank and something needs to be done about it. Set up this easy scene so your kids can share a sugary treat with their elf. They might not need anymore sugar in their diet, but who doesn’t love the giggles of a happy child?


A frisky Elf On The Shelf idea

After the first snowfall of the season, take your kids outside to build a snowman. You’ll need a carrot nose, of course, and lucky for you, Elfie has taken care of finding the most durable nose for the job. Who knows, maybe your elf will show up on the snowman’s shoulder the next day.

It can be very easy to reuse the same Elf On The Shelf ideas year after year, and if you’re lucky, your kid won’t notice. But more likely than not, they will, and they’ll be ruthless about it. The complaints will be vicious: “Why is Elfie so boring? He keeps sitting in the same exact spots. I don’t like playing the Elf game anymore.” It’s difficult to come up with a new idea every night after the kids go to bed. So, at the beginning of the month, scroll through these unique, original ideas, and make an Elf On the Shelf calendar to help you and your partner navigate the Elf set ups. Your kids will wake up excited and eager to find their Elf and see what trouble they’re up to each day. Plus, you’ll be extra proud of yourself for thinking outside the box. You’re basically making their Christmas dreams come true.

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