Because nothing says Christmas magic like a little elf induced mayhem!

Quick Notes:

• Elf on the Shelf is a hilarious tradition for the whole family.
• A little effort can go a long way in helping your elf bring Christmas laughter.

Who is this Elf and why welcome him to your shelf?

Each year, right after Thanksgiving, a hoard of official Elf on the Shelf elf scouts begin to make appearances in homes around the world. These fun-loving little guys come with their own storybook called The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, which explains their yearly Christmas mission to kids and parents alike. As legend has it, these little jumpsuit-clad dudes are there to keep your family’s Christmas spirit on point.

They even engage in nightly North Pole check-ins with Santa to report on how things are going and to relay intel that could tip the infamous naughty/nice scales. Their nightly journeys tend to be pretty short and sweet, however, and they’re usually back in plenty of time before morning. So what’s an elf to do with all that downtime? Engage in hilarious antics all over your home, that’s what. Here you’ll find plenty of fun Elf of the Shelf ideas to keep your kids’ laughter rolling all season long.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it

If you’re old enough to have sought out this article, then hopefully you already know that these happy little Christmas creatures require a little human help in executing their antics. Despite their name, these guys aren’t going to bring much cheer just sitting on your shelf all season long.

The idea is to position them in new and funny situations each night so your kids can discover what they’ve been up to the next morning. Given that there tend to be around 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s sometimes tempting to let your elf get a little lazy. Don’t let it happen to you with these fun ideas!

  • Tie a string between your Christmas tree and another object and have your elf zip line across on a candy cane.
  • Make your elf a tiny bandit mask and position him next to your kids’ piggy bank, surrounded by telltale coins.
  • If your kids have a train set, help your elf bind and gag one of your kids’ villain action figures and lay him on the tracks.
  • Seat your elf on top of your opened printer/copier. Print at least one copy of his butt to leave in the print-out tray.
  • Help your elf put on a parade by lining up a row of shoes. Position him in the first one and your kids’ other action figures or dolls in the ones behind him.

Fun with food and other household items

  • If you have a cereal box with a character on it (Rice Krispies are perfect), cut out the character’s head and shove your elf’s through instead.
  • Position your elf headfirst in a bag of your kids’ favorite Christmas candies.
  • Pour out a plateful of sprinkles, rice, sugar or flour and have your elf make snow angels in it.
  • Draw faces or funny pictures on bananas, oranges, or other fruits with peelable skins and position your elf next to them with a permanent marker.
  • Tape a bunch of straws together and have one end leading to an opened bottle of maple syrup while the other leads to your elf.
  • Make your elf a tiny bubble bath out of marshmallows in a small bowl or candy jar.
  • Put your elf inside a hotdog bun on a plate and position ketchup and mustard behind him.
  • Put your elf in front of your laptop or iPad. Turning it on will reveal that he’s changed the screensaver to a selfie.
  • If you have a see-through cartridge in your vacuum cleaner, make sure it’s empty and clear of dust. Position elf inside and wait for the fun to begin.
  • Outfit your elf with a dry erase marker and position him next to a framed photo which now features drawn on mustaches and other additions.
  • Position him on the edge of the toilet and place some small Hershey’s kisses into the upper bowl (above the water).
  • Put your elf in the middle of a roll of toilet paper and roll it down the stairs or across the living room.

Hopefully, these fun elf antics will help you keep the mischievous magic coming all season long!

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

        Discover the true origins of everyone’s favorite Christmas treat.

Learn why Teddy Roosevelt once banned Christmas trees and how his two young sons helped change his mind.