Elf on the Shelf: New Ideas for an Old Trick

My son has a love/hate relationship with the Elf on the Shelf. He loves the idea that our elf, who is named “DeeDee-DeeDee” (don’t ask), watches the kids all day long, and then reports back to Santa. However, he hates that DeeDee-DeeDee moves each night. My son wakes up in the morning, and needs me to go out into the living room, kitchen, bathroom, etc with him, until that dang elf is found. Last year, he talked about DeeDee-DeeDee all year long, saying that he was scared of him, and wasn’t sure that he wanted the elf to come at all. My husband and dad thought we should just bury the elf (not literally of course) but my mom and I had the idea that a letter from Santa would come and reassure Kieran that DeeDee-DeeDee was his friend. So, the elf is back again.

(Side note–my 3 year-old daughter is immune to all of this. She springs out of bed in the morning, running to find DeeDee-DeeDee, and is always warning anyone who comes over, “Don’t touch the elf, he’ll lose his magic!”)

Short story long, I’m never quite sure what to do with the Elf on the Shelf. That was until I got the following ideas from creative genius, Cheryl. Today, I had DeeDee-DeeDee standing up in a vase which had the kids cracking up–who would’ve thought to have him standing? Well, Cheryl has many, much more creative ideas than that. . . read on for inspiration on how to put out your Elf on the Shelf. . .

From Cheryl:

I’m not sure if you know about the Elf on the Shelf.  It is a little elf that comes with a book and talks about how it lives at your house during the day and then goes to Santa at night to report how you have been each day.  The elf comes back to a new place in the house every morning.

We have an elf (have had him for 3 years, I think).  He shows up the day after Thanksgiving and stays until Christmas Eve.  My husband and I have fun finding new places for the elf to appear every evening.  This year I wanted to mix things up and find new and funny things for the elf to do–here are some that I found.

Elf ideas:

  • Have the elf mark up some old pictures with marker (photo at top). Prop him next to frame with marker in hand.

  • Have the elf have a marshmallow fight with the kids stuffed animal or baby.  Have them laying on the floor with marshmallows everywhere.  Can also do this with Nerf guns.
  • Write a lipstick message on the bathroom mirror and have the elf holding the lipstick in the bathroom.

  • Make a zip line with yarn or sting through a room and have the elf hanging from it.
  • Take the stockings off their hanger and hang up underwear instead. Have the elf hanging in the underwear.
  • Have the elf sitting in a toy car/remote control car.

  • Set up elf so it looks like he’s been doing some holiday baking.
  • Set up the elf to play board game with stuffed animal friends or action figures.

  • In the bathroom, have him wrapped up in toilet paper.
  • Set up the elf so it looks like he is listening to your kid’s iPod.
  • At night put a red dot of face paint on your kids nose.  Then have your elf with a note that says go look in the mirror and holding a paintbrush with red paint on it.

  • Toilet paper the Christmas tree and have the elf at the top.
  • Put flour or sugar on the table and have the elf make a snow angel.

  • Have a spilled box of cereal and have the elf half in and half out of the box

  • Put the elf inside an upside down glass.
  • Set up a tea party with the elf and some of your kids animals.

  • Hang a piece of toilet paper from the top of the cabinet that says how many days until Christmas.  Have the elf at the top of the toilet paper.

Most of all, have fun, and Happy Holidays!

Need your own Elf on the Shelf? Order one from Amazon ($25.96) by clicking here.


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About Cheryl Moore: Cheryl is the co-owner and co-administrator of The Tree House Children’s Center and is the director of the Preschool programs. She has been a preschool teacher for over 20 years and holds a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. During those 20 years she has worked as a teacher and director in full time centers, owned and operated a family home child care center, and been the head teacher for two different Parent Cooperatives. She is passionate about working with children and their families. She believes that working together we can give the children the tools they need to build strong relationships as they grow up.

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  1. Leslie Herbert says

    These are great, creative ideas when I don’t have an ounce of creativity left in me right now 🙂

  2. So cute – I hadn’t heard about this before. I managed to get my act together to put up an advent calendar this year. Looking forward to the Elf next year. 🙂

  3. LOVE the ideas…made me laugh this morning and i needed it! i love that the elf comes every holiday, but does any one bring it out any other time of the year? they “work” all year long getting ready for christmas…i think mine will pay a visit every once in a while this coming year using these ideas. thank you!

  4. Vanessa Corbett says

    Love this! We’ve been trying some funny things this year with our elf of
    4 years and the kids think “Mart” has the best sense of humor! It’s been fun to add to his sillyness. Thank you for the ideas- the elf in the marshmallow bag is hilarious!

  5. I’ve never done Elf on a Shelf but you now have me obsessed Cheryl! TP’ing the Christmas tree?! Hysterical!!!! AND I’ve been telling my husband ALL day he needs to read this and he will be just as obsessed… he is currently reading it and cracking up. Love it!!

  6. Thanks for all of these adorable ideas. I love the elf on the shelf and have incorporated him into my Kindergarten class for the past four years. Not only do my students absolutely LOVE it, but my own children love coming in my room to see if they can find the elf before my students. We have a blast every year and it makes for such memorable moments for years to come:) I also have one at home, but that one doesn’t come until we are out for the holidays which is about a week in a 1/2 before Christmas. I also used metallic permanent markers to add bronze color to the elf’s hair and freckles. With my kids being around 2 elves I wanted to make sure they could tell a difference… LOL!

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