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By: John Adams, author of, LinkedIn Changemaker, and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Nov 30, 2020

10 Innovative Elf on the Shelf Ideas

John Adams shares ten Elf on the Shelf ideas to take you from 1st December until Christmas. Read on for creative inspiration!

My children are huge fans of the Elf on the Shelf tradition. They love to get up in the morning and go searching around the house to find out where the Elf is and what crazy situation he’s got himself into overnight.

With Christmas fast approaching, here are 10 ideas that you can try yourself.

1. Driving the car

I’ll start with an easy option. It’s one I’ve done before and it is great for a school day. Better still, it requires no real preparation. Place your Elf on the steering wheel of your car so it looks like the Elf is driving. After a couple of minutes of looking around the house, tell your children to check the car. Your kids will rush to the car and find the Elf. Better still, you can now head off to school and arrive on time!

2. The melted snowman

Get a large oven dish and pour in water until it’s half full. Place two small twigs, two buttons, and a small carrot in the dish and sit your Elf next to the dish. When your children find the Elf, they’ll think it has built a snowman that's melted.

3. The computer printer

This is an Elf on the Shelf idea with two parts. While your children are asleep, place your Elf face down in your computer printer. Scan a picture, print it off, and leave it somewhere in the house for your children to find. That’s the first part of the hunt! When your children find the picture, they’ll have to work out the Elf is in the printer (the second part)!

This is something my wife and I did one year, and our kids loved the fact they had to go on a double-hunt.

4. Spider Elf!

For this scenario, you will recreate the classic Spiderman pose (the one where he hangs upside down from a thread of web silk). You’ll need to draw a Spiderman mask on a piece of cardboard and fix it to your Elf’s face. Attach the Elf’s hands and feet together, tie a piece of string around your Elf’s waist and hang it upside down from a light fitting, shelf, or window fitting. This is one that looks really good and requires very little effort.

5. Frozen-themed scene

This Elf scene looks amazing, but it does take a little preparation. You’ll need both an Elf and a toy of the Elsa character from Disney’s Frozen. Place your Elf in a glass, pour in water, and place it in your freezer. Try and keep his/her head poking out the top of the glass so it doesn’t get frozen. Keep the elf in the freezer until its body is frozen in a solid block of ice (can you see where this is going?). You'll then have a scene where it looks like Elsa has frozen the Elf!

10 Innovative Elf on the Shelf Ideas

6. Harry Potter scene

Here’s one more character-themed idea that caught my eye when I saw it. You can make your Elf look like Harry Potter by making some glasses with pipe cleaners and placing a piece of fabric on its back to look like a cape. You can then sit the Elf on a paintbrush and it will look like Harry Potter is playing a Quidditch match!

7. Zip slide

You’ll need a long piece of string for this one, plus the inside of a toilet roll. Thread the toilet roll through the string. You should tie one end of the string to somewhere high up, like the top of your stairs or the top of your Christmas tree. Tie the other end to somewhere lower down. You then need to attach your Elf’s hands and legs to the toilet roll using string or Velcro strips. Take the toilet roll to the top of the slide, let go and the Elf should whizz down to the bottom! There’s a good demonstration on the Just One Mommy website.

This is a really simple idea and your children can have loads of fun watching as the Elf makes his/her way down the slide at speed.

8. Snow angel

This is possibly the easiest idea of the lot, but it can be a bit messy. Spread a little flour around on your kitchen work surface. Lie your Elf on his/her back and make snow angels with the arms and legs. Your children will be charmed when they see this scene. If you want to make it less messy, you could spread some rice on a large plate and make snow angels that way.

9. Gone fishing

This is a fun idea. Set your Elf up so it is sitting on the edge of a sink and holding a toy fishing rod (you may have to make one using a drinking straw and some string). Use a carrot and cut some small fish shapes out of it. Fill the sink with water and place your ‘fish’ in the water. There you have it, your Elf has gone fishing!

10. Googly eyes!

You’ll need to buy a pack of googly eyes from a craft shop for this one, but it is a very effective Elf on the Shelf idea that your kids will talk about for ages. Sit your Elf on a shelf in your fridge. You then want to place two googly eyes on everything in the fridge. When I say everything, I mean every jar, every egg, every piece of fruit…everything. When your children open the fridge door, they’ll be presented with this very memorable, funny scene!

Other sources of inspiration

The suggestions here just scratch the surface. A quick Internet search reveals the most amazing array of creative Elf on the Shelf ideas. It really does depend on how much effort you want to make, although some of the best ideas are the simplest!

The IHeartNaptime blog features ideas for those who love crafting and want to dedicate time to their Elf on the Shelf scenes. For those short of time or for anyone who needs last-minute suggestions, go take a look at the Worthy Read blog.

Whatever you do, I wish you all the very best this holiday season and hope you have a peaceful, joyful Christmas.