Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Real Moms

Sound familiar? It's 5 a.m., not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. You have another hour of sleep available, but you bolt upright in bed. You forgot to move the damn Elf on the Shelf!

Day 5 and I was already out of ideas for this Mother Elfer. So, I did a search on Pinterest, like you do, and I wanted to cry. I'm a fairly creative person, but apparently, I was on the naughty list, because our Elf never created a winter wonderland or had a spa day for my kids.

I decided to step up my Elf game but vowed that I wasn't going to jump through hoops either. So, here are some actual doable Elf on the Shelf ideas that can easily be done no matter how busy you are.

13 Easy Real Life Elf on the Shelf Ideas Any Parent Can Do

13 Easy Real Life 'Elf on the Shelf' Ideas that Any Parent Can Do


Elf Arrives with an Elf on the Shelf book. Great way to start off the tradition with a reminder about how "the magic" all works. You can simply reuse the book your Elf came with or buy one of these smaller Elf on the Shelf board books.
Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves Present: Hooray! It's Your First "The Elf on the Shelf" Library

Elf on the Shelf LEGO Christmas Tree - Okay I'm pretty proud of this one. Using green Mayka toy block tape, I cut out three strips to form a triangle and stuck it to the wall. Don't worry, the tape really doesn't ruin your surfaces and can be removed easily. I then collected loose LEGO blocks for ornaments and made it look like Buddy made a LEGO Christmas Tree for our kids.

Elf on the Shelf LEGO Christmas Tree using green Mayka toy block tape

Sitting with Other Stuffed Animals. Arrange your elf with other stuffed animals in the house for a magical play date. The balloon he's holding was another fun bonus.


Elf Brings Candy! Your kids have been so good, he's left treats out for them. This was easily their favorite day, even if they had to brush their teeth after! They bragged to everyone who would listen that their elf gave them candy canes and colored marshmallows :)


Playing with Play-Doh. We put him up on top of our water cooler with a few jars of Play-Doh and molded a snowman and a candy cane, which we hooked into his hands.

Elf on the Shelf with Play-Doh

Netflix and Chill. My boys found this very funny that "Buddy" was up late watching holiday movies. Compile some Christmas DVDs and put the remote in between his sewn hands and sit him high up on the couch or on top of your TV stand or cable box. You could throw in a bag of popcorn or other props and watch one of the movies later that day too. We did!

Elf on the Shelf holiday movie night

Elf Delivers Letters To Santa. We drafted letters to Santa and put them in our stockings. The next day the letters were gone, Buddy had delivered them to the North Pole and was so tired he took a nap in our stockings. This really brought home the magic of our Elf.


Our Elf on the Shelf Doesn't Move! My son was having a bad day at school and the teacher even had to tell me that he wasn't being kind to a friend. So, when we got home, I told Buddy and that night he stayed in the same spot. I explained in the morning that his magic only works when the children of the house are good.

Reading in Bed - I tucked our elf under a blanket, propped him up on a pillow and put a book in front of him. Bonus, this reemphasizes that reading is fun!


In the Christmas Tree with a NEW ornament - Every year our elf makes an appearance high up on our X-Mas tree, because let's face it, it's the ultimate if all else fails idea. You can spice it up though by having a new ornament next to him or have him holding tinsel.

Hanging in a Wreath. Another easy fail-safe idea, for a late night where am I putting him Elf scramble.

Flying from the Chandelier, Fan or Ceiling light. For the latter, I used a strand of green Mardi Gras beads to tie him up there. I told the boys he must have been decorating, lol.


In the Fridge Getting a Late Night Snack - Stick him in the fridge. This spot will keep your kids busy looking everywhere for him, so you might want to save this for a weekend day. I got to sleep in an extra 15 minutes thanks to this idea. If you have Elf on the Shelf accessories like a coat or scarf, now is the time to put those on. I bought ours at B&N the day after Christmas last year for 50% off.

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