If the Elf on the Shelf craze has landed in your household, don’t panic! I’m sure you’ve heard chatter in the playground of the waking up at 3AM and suddenly remembering the elf. Well, bookmark this page and you’ll have a fresh idea for every single day of advent!
Scroll on to unlock our 24 weird and wonderful Elf on the Shelf ideas to see you through December 2023. Happy mischief making!
1. I’m back
December 1st marks the beginning of advent and the very first day of your Elf on the Shelf’s reign of mischief and mayhem. So, why not start December 2023 off with a special gift – one elf in a box, wrapped in Christmas paper, and complete with a gift tag that reads “I’m back”.
You can up the ante effort-wise if you like too. Inside the box you could also include a poem or a letter that has been “written” by your elf or Santa himself. If your child has been a bit of a monster recently, this letter (or poem) could serve as a reminder that Father Christmas is indeed making a list and checking it twice in order to find out who’s been naughty or nice!
2. Mirror writing
If your kids haven’t been keen on brushing their teeth or keeping up with their personal hygiene properly, use your elf on the shelf to motivate them a little… Reach for an old lipstick, a washable felt tip pen, or the toothpaste itself and scrawl a straight-forward message on your bathroom mirror.
Then, simply arm your elf on the shelf with the writing tool and await your children’s surprise in the morning.
3. Flour angels
This fun and kid-friendly Elf on the Shelf prank is sure to delight kids of all ages. Sprinkle a thick-ish layer of flour (self-raising or plain is fine – just use whatever you have in the cupboard) on the kitchen side and position the cheeky elf lay down on top of it. You can also do the same on a baking tray if you’d prefer to contain the mess! Then, carefully wave the elf’s arms up and down and swing its legs side to side. This should leave a silhouette of an angel drawn in the flour.
Given that many children enjoy doing this in the snow, seeing their elf frolicking in a similar way is sure to bring them joy.
4. Thieving the chocolates off the tree
Once you’ve put up your Christmas tree and adorned it with edible decorations, why not have a little fun? This is a great ideal to showcase your elf’s mischievous side. Simply pilfer a couple of Christmas tree chocolates, smear chocolate onto your elf’s face and hands, and pile the empty wrappers up beside it. The kids will wake to mixed emotions – horror that the elf has pinched their chocolates and delight at the mischief of it all.
5. Fruity faces
Have fun drawing faces of various pieces of fruit in the family fruit bowl and arm your elf with the non-toxic marker you’ve used. Your kids will again be both delighted and horrified by their discovery.
Note: be sure to only draw faces on peelable fruits like bananas, oranges, and kiwis. This will avoid unnecessary wastage as the skins will end up in the bin anyway!
6. A trail of poop
Kids and toilet humour go hand in hand. So, why not embrace their sense of humour and lead your little ones on a fun-filled quest to find their Elf on the Shelf one morning. Weave a trail of chocolate drops (or raisins if you prefer) that eventually lead to the elf. Equip your elf with some toilet paper and watch the children fall apart with laughter.
Just don’t forget you’ve done this and accidentally mush chocolate into the carpets in the morning!
7. Elf on holiday
Fuel your children’s imaginations by popping a postcard from their elf on the shelf through your front door. This one is a great tool if the kids have been misbehaving recently. Use the postcard to point out their naughtiness and remind them again that Santa (and his elves) are always watching.
A quick note stating that their elf will return once they start behaving better should be enough to get them to rethink their actions.
8. Toilet roll snowman
Build a tower of toilet rolls and draw a simple snow man onto the outer sheets of paper. Then, sit your elf somewhere close by and surround it with all of the coloured pens used to create your snowman design. The children will think it’s hilarious while the adults get to enjoy a brief respite from cleaning up post-elf shenanigans.
9. More toilet roll fun
Squash your Elf on the Shelf into the cardboard tube at the centre of a toilet roll. Then stand at the top of the stairs and, holding onto the free end of the toilet paper, allow the elf in the toilet roll to tumble down the stairs.
Top tip: be sure to set the toilet roll (and the elf inside it) tumbling at a slow pace to try to avoid the paper from tearing in the process. You could always start at the bottom of the stairs and allow the paper to unwind as you move upwards – but that is nowhere near as much fun.
10. Elf gone camping
Pop your elf into one of your (or one of your children’s) socks, stick a couple of mini marshmallows on a small stick or twig, and place some more sticks and twigs in a campfire shape next to its makeshift sleeping bag. When your child or children wake in the morning, they’ll think the elf has been camping out for the night.
11. Toy party
Assemble all your little one’s favourite dolls, teddies, and action figures for the ultimate Christmas party. At the centre of the fun and games, position your Elf on the Shelf as the host with the most! Use any toy props you may have to ramp up the party atmosphere, or turn to your real-life supplies to set the scene. Chocolates, crisps, balloons, and the occasional used party popper are all effective options!
12. DIY sleigh ride
Another great Elf on the Shelf idea is to create a sleigh out of your child’s favourite toys. But you can be as farfetched and funny as you like while creating in. So, why not have your elf riding a digger pulled by dinosaurs? Or how about riding a surfboard pulled by farm animals. Embrace weird combos – when it comes to kids, the weirder the better – and elicit a chuckle from the children in the morning.
12. Elf takes a boat trip
Start by half-filling the bath with water. Then choose a plastic bowl – either from your kids’ tableware collection or your baking cupboard – and check that it effectively floats. Once you’re certain that you’re not going to have to save a soggy elf from a capsized boat, pop it inside. If you have a toy boat, use it as this will be even more impressive to the little ones in the morning. But being resourceful is about using what you have to hand and so a plastic bowl is every bit as fun.
13. Christmas-wrapped lunches
If you want to get your kids in the right frame of mind for Christmas, wrap their lunches in Christmas wrapping paper. Then, blame it on the elf. A simple note stating “I’ve prepared your lunch” with the elf sat proudly beside their lunchboxes is enough to put a smile on their faces at any age. This particular Elf on the Shelf prank would work really well if done in line with your child’s school’s Christmas lunch day.
14. A prison of LEGO
If your child adores LEGO, you’re in luck. While they’re sleeping, sneak quietly into their room and borrow their LEGO box for this one. Build a LEGO prison around the elf trapping it inside. You can even create a little white flag with the word “help” written on it using a small piece of paper and a stick. This will help to alert your little one to the whereabouts of their elf. Plus, given that the elf needs their help to escape its LEGO enclosure, there’s no doubt that this stunt will delight.
15. Christmas treats
If and when you feel your little ones have been well behaved and deserve a treat, why not allow your Elf on the Shelf the privilege? A chocolate surprise for good behaviour always goes down well. But when paired with a note from your elf saying:
“I’ve been watching, you’ve been very nice this week, keep up the good work!”
Or something similar will reassure your children that with good behaviour is rewarded.
16. Digging for treasure in the couch
As adults, we’re well aware of how easily things get misplaced between the cushions of chairs, couches, and sofa beds. So, why not create a fun spin on this concept using your Elf on the Shelf. Position the elf nose-down between the cushions and beside it place a pile of loose change, small toys, and other hidden gems.
18. An indoor zipline?
Yep, you read that one right! Create an indoor zipline using a length of wool or Christmas ribbon. Suspend your elf partway across the makeshift zipline using a candy cane and await the excitement this is sure to spark in your little ones come morning time.
19. Sledging down the banister
Another great idea for your Elf on the Shelf’s 2023 advent antics is to have it sledge down the handrail on your staircase. Now, all you’ll need is a slipper (and possibly some sticky tape or blue tac) to create a fun scene your kids will love. Pop your elf in the slipper-sledge, position it in place – either unaided or with a helping hand from some sticky crafting supplies – and you’re all set for the morning enchantment.
20. The floor is LAVA
For this Elf on the Shelf prank embrace your inner child! Remember the game “the floor is lava” where everyone must get off the floor in 3…2…1…. Well, your elf is bringing it back! Using blue tac or sticky tape to fix your elf to the walls (or ceiling) and hang a sign on the door stating:
“In this room, the floor is LAVA!”
The little ones will have great fun embracing their imagination for a few minutes as they become engrossed in this challenging scenario.
21. Elf on the sleuth!
Position a box of chocolates or treats on a high shelf. The kitchen is the perfect spot for this cheeky elf antic! Then imagine the journey the elf would need to take in order to reach those high-up treats. You can plan out the whole journey from using food packets and tins to reach the open cutlery drawer right through to utilising Christmas bows as climbing equipment to almost (but not quite) reach those high up treats.
22. Only 3 more sleeps to go!
With just 3 days before Christmas arrives, make a statement! Position your elf on the very top of your Christmas tree holding a banner that announces the countdown for the whole family.
23. Caught red-handed!
Grab a Christmassy coloured nail varnish – a glittery red is the festive vibe we’re feeling – and paint someone’s toenails. This prank would work better if you can rope someone who wouldn’t ordinarily paint their toenails into joining in the fun! Whether it’s dad’s nails or mum’s, leave the elf sat in position – caught red handed with the nail polish.
A cryptic note could help to ramp up the excitement too. Scrawl something along the lines of:
“Check everyone’s toes, as under your nose I’ve been up to no good bringing festive cheer to those near and dear!”
And leave the note by the elf and the evidence. Then watch the fun unfold as the children try to figure out who’s nails your mischievous elf on the shelf has painted!
24. Goodbye to the elf…until next year
As we reach Christmas eve, the Elf on the Shelf’s job is concluded. It has carefully kept watch over your children and their behaviour (both good and bad no doubt) throughout December 2023. And thus, we bid the elf farewell. So, why not leave a sweet note from the elf to your children. Thank them for the fun and games that December 2023 has brought them and a promise that next year will be even better. If you do Christmas eve gifts or boxes in your home, this could also be the perfect opportunity to present these. Leave them alongside the note as a glimpse into what’s to come tomorrow.
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