Your Elf on the Shelf Survival Guide

It’s “Elf on the Shelf” time. Are you ready? Elves have long polarized the parenting community: parents either love or absolutely hate “Elf on the Shelf.” While some see it as a fun family tradition, others see it as a source of unneeded stress. Whether or not you like it, almost all kids love Elf on the Shelf. I personally love Elf on the Shelf and watching my kids light up each morning as they discover the new location of our elf. One of the most stressful parts of Elf on the Shelf, however, is trying to figure out where to hide it each night. Here are some ideas to take some of the stress away.

Elf on the Shelf ideas for your family

Ideas for welcoming your elf.

  1. Read the “Elf on the Shelf” story and give your elf a name.
  2. Have your elf bring cookies or a special treat for each child. Last year, I was able to find a cheap gingerbread decorating kit that the elf left for the kids.
  3. Hot chocolate party. Leave out mugs, hot chocolate, marshmallows and any other fixings for a hot chocolate part.
  4. A Countdown to Christmas — I like to do this with a chain made out of strips of construction paper. Each day, have your child take off the last link to help them count down the days to Christmas.

30 days of activities:

  1. Movie night. Lay out a package of microwave popcorn, some snacks, and a Christmas movie.
  2. Keep your elf “toasty” — keep your elf warm by sandwiching him between two slices of toast. Make it extra fun with a “punny” sign next to your elf.
  3. Elf is coloring a coloring page. Click here for a matching child’s coloring page.
  4. Elf gets trapped by some toys. This is always fun to have other toys trap the elf for being naughty.
  5. Elf packs the kids’ lunches.
  6. Elf drinks maple syrup. It’s better when you use a straw for this one.
  7. Add googly eyes to the food in the fridge.
  8. Make a snowman out of toilet paper rolls and a little construction paper.
  9. Glue little red noses onto family pictures. Glue or tape little red pom poms onto the noses of family and friends in photos around the house. This one is sure to keep your little one laughing.
  10.  The elf has a potty accident — I know. It’s a little gross, but kids find poop hilarious. Set up the elf like he is going to the bathroom with some chocolate chips.
  11.  Have your elf take a nap in the tissue box.
  12.  The elf goes mountain climbing — have your elf repel down your cabinets using string.
  13.  Save the elf! Place your elf in a precarious position such as being tied up on some train tracks with a toy train headed his way.
  14.  Hide the elf on the tree.
  15. Hide the elf on a bookshelf, maybe near your child’s favorite book. I like to have the elf look like he is reading the book. If you’re feeling extra, then you can have your elf reading a new book that you purchased that you can read with your child the next day.
  16.  Tea Party–Have your elf enjoy a tea party with your child’s dolls or action figures.
  17.  Spell out a message for your kids using candy or marshmallows.
  18. Candy cane scavenger hunt–have your kids find candy canes hidden around the house.
  19.  Have your elf take a “bath” in mini-marshmallows.
  20.  Have your elf leave out some blank stationery to write Christmas lists for Santa.
  21.  Elf yoga. See these cards for poses and inspiration.
  22.  Draw funny faces on eggs, oranges, or bananas, etc.
  23.  Have your elf leave treats for the kids in their shoes.
  24.  Have your elf leave out ingredients to make cookies for Santa.
  25. Tic Tac Toe — Draw a tic tac toe board on an index card or piece of paper. You leave out some pencils, markers, or crayons to play. Another option is to make the board and leave out some mini marshmallows to play.
  26.  Have your elf replace your Christmas stockings with underwear.
  27.  Your elf came home too late last night. Have him spend the night outside.
  28.  Free candy canes for clean rooms.
  29. Have your elf color the milk green.
  30. Gone fishing — have your elf go fishing in a cup of goldfish.

Giving your elf a good send off:

  1. Use snow spray to spray around your elf to leave an outline like he jetted out of there.
  2. Write a letter or poem from your elf saying goodbye. Here is an example. 
  3. Write a simple goodbye.

What to do when disaster strikes:

Mother-elfer! I forgot to move the elf!

  1. One tried and true idea is to have the elf “break his leg.” Wrap it in white colored tape or make a “cast” out of something else. Leave a note from either the elf or Santa letting your kids know that your elf has to stay in one spot for the next 2-3 weeks for proper healing to occur.  
  2. Similarly, your elf may have to go into self-isolation or quarantine due to possible Covid exposure. Simply put your elf in a jar or Tupperware container. To make it fun, add a little mask or hand sanitizer for your elf.
  3. There are also these printable elf excuses to explain away your mistake.

Son of a Nutcracker!  My kid touched the elf!

  1. Have your kid write a note apologizing to Santa for touching the elf.
  2. Here’s a little known fact — cinnamon acts as vitamins for elves. Simply sprinkle some cinnamon around the elf before bed. This will help to give him the strength to make it back to the North Pole to get checked by the elf doctors there. He’ll be good as new in the morning.
  3. Here’s another bit of elformation — Elves love Christmas carols. Have your family sing a carol or two to help to restore your elf’s magic.

Good luck and may the magic of the season be with you and your loved ones.

A proud Cajun, Aimée was born and raised in Lafayette, LA. A graduate of both UL Lafayette and LSU, Aimée has degrees in French and History and a Masters in Gifted Education. After college, she moved to France to be a teaching assistant and traveled to her heart’s delight. Upon her return to Louisiana, Aimée got her teaching certification and began her career teaching grades K-3. Today, she is married to chef Jacob Hamilton, and is mom to CeCe (4 years old) and Benny (2 years old) who keep their hearts happy and their hands full. Though her technical job description is third grade gifted teacher, Aimée prefers to think of herself as a fun facilitator helping children of all ages discover a love of learning. She enjoys traveling, reading, going to festivals, having a good laugh, and is always down for a spontaneous dance party. Always.

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