10 Easy Elf on a Shelf Ideas

Looking for some easy elf on the shelf ideas that are perfect for the last minute planner? I’ve got you covered! Here are my favorite simple, last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas that are sure to delight your kids.

For many years, I swore we’d never have an Elf on the Shelf in our house. I hated the idea of adding one more thing to my obligations for Christmas. And, I just was annoyed by the whole thing. But, my son was begging (BEGGING) for it last year. Since he was about to be 8, I knew we only had a few more years of Christmas magic before he stopped believing in all the fun.

So, I caved.

And guess what? I LOVED IT! Having an elf in our house was so much fun. It honestly added so much magic to the Christmas season. The kids named our elf Hermey. My younger son (who is four) still talks about what he remembers Hermey doing last year. I’m so glad we gave in and decided to do it, especially because I realized we were in control of our chaotic it got. We kept Hermey’s mischief to a really manageable level. And, we never did anything that took more than a few minutes to set up!

We had a ton of fun with it last year, and I can’t wait to get started again this year. I wanted to share a few of our favorite Elf on a Shelf ideas from last year to give you some inspiration for your elf!

10 Easy Elf on a Shelf Ideas

1. Have a Scavenger Hunt

We grabbed this cute little set of accessories for our Elf on a Shelf, and it gave us so many cute ideas. One of my favorites was so simple – we tucked this little card into his lap and then hid a bunch of candy canes around the room. The kids were so excited to run around looking for them, and it took no more than 5 minutes to set up!

2. Toilet Paper the House

My kids didn’t like it if the elf made too big of a mess, but every once in a while it was fun to let him be a little mischievous. We strung some toilet paper across our landing and let it hang down on both sides. The elf was sitting upstairs, in a spot where it would be easy to avoid bumping him all day. The kids thought it was so funny, and it only took about 30 seconds to clean it up after they had finished marveling at it!

3. Easy Movie Night Setup

We often took what we had done that day and used it as inspiration for the elf. For example, on the night after we went to a drive-in movie theater, we had the elf set up a little “drive in” of his own using one of our son’s trucks! I loved setups like this because it was really easy for me to move the elf if I needed to – I could grab the truck and put it out of reach of the children without ever risking touching the elf himself.

4. Toilet Paper Snowman

This was the kind of mischief my kids loved to see our elf get into. They thought it was so funny when he made small messes or took things from around the house to be silly. This little setup took us less than 5 minutes to put together, and it absolutely delighted the kids when they saw it. Just grab three rolls of toilet paper, use a sharpie to decorate them, and tie a ribbon around the top. Boom, done!

5. Do a Magic Trick!

This one is a MAJOR winner because it takes up two days and it’s SO EASY. One morning, have the elf sitting out with a bowl for each child that has a regular ol’ egg in it. Have a separate bowl for sprinkles. Leave a note telling the children to sprinkle the “magic dust” on the eggs to see a fun trick. Then, the next evening, swap the eggs out for Kinder Surprise Eggs. The kids will think it’s the most amazing thing they’ve seen, and they’ll be thrilled to get some candy before breakfast.

6. “Rock Climbing” with Bows

This one was so simple but it’s one my kids still talk about from last year. Stick a few gift bows on the wall and have your elf “climb” them. We found we had to use some extra tape to really get the bows to stick on the wall without falling. The last thing you need is for the kids to come out and find the elf has fallen to his death while “bow climbing”.

7. Google-y Eyed Fruits

This one is fun if you leave a fruit bowl on your counter! Just grab a bag of google-y eyes and stick them all over the fruit in the bowl. The kids laughed so hard at this one – and it works for lots of things. They can add eyes to the food in the fridge, cookies in the cookie jar, or just about anything else in the kitchen!

8. Make a Flour Snow Angel

My kids always thought it was so funny (and a tad scary) to come tell me that the elf had made a mess somewhere. This was probably the messiest thing we did, but it was worth it. They were always a little nervous to come find me in the morning and report that Hermey had done something that I’d have to clean up, and I always made a big show of feeling mock outrage at his shenanigans.

9. Marshmallow Notes

Okay I guess we made a bit of a mess this day, too! We dusted sprinkles all over the counter and used mini marshmallows to spell out a note. You can do this to say just about anything, and I always loved using sweets because it was fun to exclaim with the kids over how he kept stealing our candy and treats and how he must have such a sweet tooth.

10. Put the Elf in a Jar!

This was hands down my FAVORITE thing we did all month. We tucked the elf into a large empty jar and left a note that said he wanted to spend the day with the kids. So, he stuffed himself in a jar so they could carry him around. I planned it specifically on a day when we were doing something that would be fun to take him on. The kids were beside themselves with excitement. We brought him to look at Christmas lights with us, and the kids kept holding him up so he could see. They brought him around all day while they were playing or watching television. It’s definitely one we’ll do year after year!

If you want to watch all of our elf shenanigans and fun this year, be sure to follow me over on Instagram. I always share our ideas each morning as the kids find them, and I’ve been planning ideas for a while now so I’m really (really!) excited to get started!

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