40 Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Stuff You Already Have at Home!

This may be our first year to introduce the Elf on the Shelf to our kiddos, but I’ve been scouring the internet for over a decade preparing for this! Long before I even met my husband, I started a Pinterest board called “Needed One Day: Elf on the Shelf Ideas” and started pinning cute scenes to recreate for my future kids. Once we actually had kids, I started slowly buying (and occasionally making) Elf on the Shelf props and accessories. Admittedly, I’ve gone WAY overboard with this, but I just can’t help myself now that I finally get the chance to make the magic for my own kids.

Don’t worry, not all the Elf ideas I have saved are elaborate and extra — lots of them can be knocked out using things you almost definitely already have at home!

40 elf on the shelf ideas

Here are 40 easy ideas for your Elf on the Shelf:

  1. Elf makes a snow angel using sprinkles, sugar or chocolate chips (or powdered sugar or flour if you don’t mind cleaning your Elf a bit afterwards)
  2. Elf sits near a stick or tub of butter with a sign reading “You BUTTER watch out, you BUTTER not cry…”
  3. Place straws in a bottle of pancake syrup or stuck into a K-cup for the Elf to sip.
  4. Elf is crammed inside the blender with a “Help me!” sign.
  5. Elf is wrapped in a washcloth “blanket” and tucked into the fridge.
  6. Elf sits near a jug of milk dyed with food coloring and/or with an evil face drawn on with a sign reading “Help! The milk has gone bad!” BONUS: Tie up your Elf with string like they’ve been kidnapped.
  7. Leave a slice of bread & a pickle on a plate with the Elf using the bread as a blanket with a sign reading “Tucked into BED? I thought they said tucked into BREAD! Now I’m in a pickle!”
  8. Elf leaves a small bowl of water with buttons, twigs for arms and a carrot nose with a sign reading “I tried to bring you back a snowman from the North Pole, but he melted!”
  9. Pack kiddo’s lunch kit with random items and a sign reading “Packed you a lunch! Hope you like it!”
  10. Elf wraps each item in their lunch kit with Christmas wrapping paper.
  11. Elf uses markers to color on the eggs in the fridge.
  12. Elf plays a set of drums made from various canned goods with crayon drumsticks.
  13. Elf spells out “Hi (insert child’s name)” in Cheerios or chocolate chips.
  14. Have dolls or action figures do yoga with the Elf on paper towel yoga mats with an ELF YOGA sign.
  15. Elf arranges Hot Wheels cars in the shape of a snowman, Christmas tree, or present.
  16. Elf feeds Cheerios or marshmallows to a collection of play animals or dinosaurs with a “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS” sign.
  17. Elf plays a board game like Candyland with various toys.
  18. Elf sits atop a tower made from hardcover books.
  19. Elf has a slumber party with Barbies and action figures tucked into socks.
  20. Elf builds a box out of Magna-tiles and puts a bow on top like it’s a present.
  21. Elf arranges strips of painters tape across a doorway.
  22. Elf scatters a box of Band-Aids all over the bathroom counter with some stuck to the Elf.
  23. Elf TPs the bathroom.
  24. Elf stacks rolls of toilet paper and decorates it to look like a snowman.
  25. Elf cuts the roll of toilet paper on the holders like paper dolls.
  26. Elf gets inside a tube of toilet paper and rolls down the stairs.
  27. Elf leaves a silly note like “Don’t forget to wipe your teeth and brush your butt!” on the bathroom mirror.
  28. Elf holds a bottle of nail polish and a sign reading “I left your dad a funny treat — go find him and look at his feet!” This one, of course, requires a cooperative dad.
  29. Elf uses kiddo’s toothbrush to brush his butt.
  30. Elf is wrapped in toilet paper like a mummy with a sign reading “Why do mummies love Christmas so much? Because they’re great wrappers!”
  31. Elf is using a Kleenex box like a bed.
  32. Elf is laying in mom’s bra like it’s a hammock.
  33. Elf arranges the family’s shoes in a line with a sign reading “All aboard the shoe shoe train!”
  34. Elf hangs clothes hangers all over the Christmas tree and/or home with a sign that reads “Just hanging around ’til Santa gets here!”
  35. Elf hangs kiddo’s underwear on the Christmas tree with a sign reading “I see London, I see France, I see (insert child’s name)’s underpants!”
  36. Elf and other dolls/action figures are taped inside the dryer with painters tape like they’re on a thrill ride.
  37. Elf leaves crayons and paper with a note saying how much Santa loves their pictures and they’d like to bring one back to him.
  38. Elf plays Twister on a “mat” made from paper and markers (or you can find some free printable ones online).
  39. Elf is wrapped in aluminum foil with a paper cut like a crescent moon that says “Love you to the moon and back!”
  40. Elf uses a dry erase marker to draw all over the faces of people in picture frames around the house.
Joey Yearous
Joey is a New Orleans native, Dominican alum, and LSU grad who joined the ranks of motherhood in the summer of 2019. She and her Colorado born-and-raised husband, Phil, left their Mid-City apartment for a house on the Northshore about ten days before they welcomed their son, Sam, into the world. A short 19 months later, their daughter Sloane arrived and their caboose Nicholas completed their family 17 months after that. Though she’s always had a passion for writing, it’s her work in whole-home generator sales that pays the bills. Her 3 kiddos keep her busy, but when she’s got a free moment, you can find her cooking, trying new restaurants, and listening to true crime podcasts. A consummate Pinterest fanatic, she’s always looking for her next DIY project or recipe to try. She believes good senses of humor and random acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.


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