Get ready for a new season of Elf-fueled fun!

Quick Notes

• Elf on the Shelf is a great way to get your whole family into the Christmas spirit!
• After your Elf returns from the “North Pole” each night, he’ll need your help getting into hysterical situations
• Get some fun new ideas for staging Elf’s funny antics!

If you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf Christmas trend, then prepare to launch into a fun new family tradition. In case you remain uncertain of exactly who or what this funny little creature you’ve just adopted is, Elf on the Shelf is basically your direct line to Santa. The idea is that after you’ve adopted him, he begins making nightly trips to the North Pole during the Christmas season. There he reports to Santa about who’s being naughty and nice in your house, as well as how well you’re all keeping up the Christmas spirit.

The real fun begins upon his return home each night, as elves on the shelf are known to be notorious lovers of fun and games. Your job is to help position him in some new and hilarious situation so that your kids can discover his antics each morning when they wake up. Sound daunting? Fear not, for here, you’ll find plenty of fun ideas!

Elf-inspired ideas

Treat your elf to a little fun in the kitchen by drawing Minions on the skins of a group of bananas. Then position Elf beside them with a permanent marker. Elves also love marshmallows, so another fun idea can be using them to stage a snowball fight. For added fun, use Lego to make two walls for Elf and your child’s favorite action figure to hide behind. Even Tic-Tacs can be a fun addition to Elf’s escapes. If your kids get sick during the season, put a little blanket around Elf, and some tiny tissues and Tic-Tacs around him. Then write out a doctor’s note explaining that he’s ill too.


Beware letting Elf linger in the kitchen for too long, lest he gets any ideas about his own grocery list! This can be a really cute idea, especially if you have a magnetic list on the fridge that you can find a way to position him next to. Make sure the list includes lots of fun, elf-like things like candy, sugar, and marshmallows. While he’s rummaging around in your kitchen draws, he’s likely to find your sandwich bags, which can make for a fun scene with the help of your kids’ favorite dolls or action figures. Place them all in their own brown lunch bag from the waist down and line them up, so it looks like they’re having a sack race.

Revel in the Christmas mayhem

When Elf’s not busy cooking up fun in the kitchen, he’s likely to roam around, making himself cozy in the rest of your house. Your kids might even wake up one morning to him in their room, asleep in a tiny bed made of marshmallows (you can also use the bag as his blanket). Other nights he might choose to do a little handy work. Try arranging him, mechanic-style, under one of your kids’ toy vehicles with small tools strown around him.

He also tends to be the adventurous type and is naturally drawn to Christmas trees. Your kids may find him hiding amongst the branches of your tree one morning with his face camouflaged by dry erase markers. He’s also fond of ziplining, so try hanging one end of a string from your tree and the other from a nearby sturdy object so he can zip across on a candy cane.

Elf has also been known to cause a little mayhem in the bathroom, so be sure to guard your toothpaste carefully. Otherwise, you might wake up to find a smiley face made from toothpaste in the sink and him proudly holding the tube. He’s also fond of toilet paper and sometimes uses it to hang himself a hammock from the shower rod. If your children use a small step stool in the bathroom, don’t be surprised if he swipes it and uses it to arrange a bunch of post-its on a wall that spells out words like “Merry” or “Jingle.”

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

The unique history of candy canes and why we eat them at Christmas I History 101

Get the lowdown on the history of everyone’s favorite Christmas treat. 

Five fantastic Christmas gifts for under $40 I Living 101

How to give the perfect gift without breaking the bank!