This list originally appeared on our sister site, South Houston Moms.
This year, I’m helping to bring the magic of Christmas to your home with a pre-planned list of Elf on the Shelf ideas! You’ll spend under 5 minutes each evening setting up a daily surprise that will help create the best memories for your kids while keeping you sane at the same time.
I’ve even taken into consideration weekends vs. weekdays and “Elf Fatigue” – this means you’ll find the easier ideas scheduled for weekdays and toward the end of the season (I’m usually over the excitement by then and you probably are too, so I’ve got you covered).
But first – STOP NOW, bookmark this page then
set a nightly alarm on your phone to move the Elf before you go to bed.
Here’s what you’ll need:
You may be able to find most of these around the house. It would be a great idea to gather these into one place!
- Index Cards
- Dry Erase Marker
- Orange Marker
- Double-sided Tape
- Regular Tape
- Wash Cloth
- A Straw
- Self-adhesive Googly Eyes (optional)
- Box of Tissue
- 3 Rolls of Toilet Paper
- Mini Gift Bows
- Small Gift for each Child (playdoh, stickers, pencils, pop-it, bubbles, you get the idea)
Set these food items aside in the pantry or add them to your cart the next time you’re out for groceries:
- Holiday M&M’s or Skittles
- Small pack of mini M&M’s
- Pancake Syrup
- Fruit that Peels: Oranges or Bananas work best
- Mini marshmallows
- Slice of bread
- Powdered Mini Donuts
- Hot Chocolate Packets or Hot Cocoa Bombs
- Candy Canes
- Food Coloring
- Chocolate Coins
*This cheat sheet was created with one elf in mind but can still be used with multiple elves!
*Elf Arrival Week is anytime between November 25 to December 1. This Cheat Sheet begins Saturday, November 26. Feel free to jump in whenever you’re ready.
Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet
Saturday, November 26 – ARRIVAL DAY!
Spell out, “I’M BACK!” with holiday M&M’s or Skittles on the counter. Sit Elf next to candy.
Sunday, November 27 – Elf Reads to Friends
Pick out three to four stuffed animals/friends and sit them opposite the Elf as if they’re listening to the story. Position the Elf holding a book or laying next to the book.
Monday, November 28 – Elf Draws a Funny Face
Find a framed portrait of a family member in your home. Draw a funny Santa hat and/or decorate the face with a dry erase marker. Position the Elf next to the frame holding the dry erase marker.
Tuesday, November 29 – Thirsty Elf
Put a straw into the pancake syrup and position the Elf so he/she is drinking from the straw.
Wednesday, November 30 – Elf Decorates the Family Fruit
Gather the fruit you have in the house (oranges or bananas work best) and draw smiley faces on them with a sharpie. Use self adhesive googly eyes for a fun effect. Position the Elf next to the fruit holding the sharpie. This would be fun to pack with lunch or have for a snack!
Thursday, December 1 – Elf Takes a Bubble Bath
Sit the Elf in a bowl and cover him in mini marshmallows. Leave an index card note that says, “I love a good bubble bath!”.
Friday, December 2 – Elf Gets Toasty
Sit the Elf on a plate next to the toaster. Sit a piece of toast across his lap and chest. Leave an index card note that says, “I’m not cold, I’m nice and toasty!”.
Saturday, December 3 – Build a Snowman Activity
On the right hand side of a large serving platter, place powdered donuts in a pile next to a separate pile of mini M&Ms and toothpicks. Place the Elf next to the platter with an index card note that reads, “Do you want to build a snowman?”. In the morning, let the kids build snowmen before having donuts for breakfast. To make the snowman: Place 3 donuts in a row and use the mini m&m’s for buttons, eyes and nose. The toothpicks for arms.
Sunday, December 4 – Help Mommy Day
Place Elf in a visible location with an index card note that reads, “Let’s help mommy ________.” Fill in the blank with whatever you need help with that day! This is great for folding laundry, washing dishes, making lunch, grocery shopping, etc.
Monday, December 5 – Elf Has Fun with the Scanner (Alternate: Elf is on the Shelf!)
Lay Elf face down on the scanner and print his image. Leave him on the scanner and let the kids find the printout. Note: If you don’t own a printer/scanner, this is a great night to put the Elf on the shelf or mantle next to some of your favorite Christmas decor.
Tuesday, December 6 – Elf Takes a Nap
Lay the Elf down inside the tissue box and roll up a few tissues for him to use as a pillow.
Wednesday, December 7 – Elf is Locked Out the House
Oops, Elf didn’t make it back from the North Pole in time and now he/she is locked out! From outside, tape Elf to the window looking inside the house.
Thursday, December 8 – Elf Leaves a Toothpaste Message
Use toothpaste to write, “Hi __(name)__” or “Brush your teeth!” or a put a simple smiley face. Position Elf on the edge of the sink holding the toothpaste.
Friday, December 9 – Sick Elf
Wrap Elf in a wash cloth. Stick a thermometer in with the wrapped elf and place a bottle of Tylenol next to Elf.
Saturday, December 10 – Hot Chocolate Bar
On a platter, arrange mugs, spoons, hot chocolate packets, mini marshmallows and candy canes. Hot chocolate bombs (from Rise Cupcakes) would be a great option for this day too! Position Elf next to platter with an index note card that reads, “Let’s be Merry! A Hot Chocolate Bar Just for You!”
Sunday, December 11 – Elf Goes Rock Climbing
Stick mini gift bows to the wall mimicking a rock climbing wall. Use double tape to position the Elf like he’s climbing the gift bows.
Monday, December 12 – Elf is Hanging from the Chandelier
Hang Elf upside down from the kitchen chandelier or light fixture of your choice.
Tuesday, December 13 – Elf Turned the Dryer into a Carnival Ride
Place Elf and a friend (similar size toy) inside the dryer on one of the ledges. Use tape to secure them like a seatbelt, and close the dryer door. Leave the drum light on.
Wednesday, December 14 – Elf TP’s the Tree
Wrap the tree in toilet paper, then place the elf in the tree holding the roll.
Thursday, December 15 – Elf Builds a Snowman
The Elf is obsessed with toilet paper this week! Stack three rolls of toilet paper and place in the bathroom. Draw 3 buttons on the bottom two rolls and two eyes with an orange triangular nose on the top roll. Stick the Elf down the center of the toilet paper rolls.
Friday, December 16 – Elf Gets Silly
Replace the hanging stockings with underwear on the mantel. Place the Elf nearby.
Saturday, December 17 – Hide and Seek
Choose a room and hide candy canes. Position the Elf with an index card note that reads, “I’ve hidden 5 candy canes in this room Can you find them?”. Use however many candy canes you want.
Elf Fatigue may be setting in right about now.
Hang in there, this is the last week and the Elf poses are extra easy!
Sunday, December 18 – Elf Needs Help
Sit Elf on the counter with an upside down glass over him as if he’s trapped inside the cup. Write, “HELP” on the outside with dry erase marker.
Monday, December 19 – Elf is in the Christmas Tree
Place Elf in the Christmas tree holding an ornament.
Tuesday, December 20 – Elf Dyed the Milk
Choose a fun color and put a few drops of food coloring in the milk. Sit the Elf next to the milk in the fridge. Plan to have cereal for breakfast using the colorful milk.
Wednesday, December 21 – Elf Magic Trick, Part I
Arrange on a platter a bowl of sugar, a handful of coins and sprinkles (aka magic elf dust). Position the Elf nearby with a note that reads:
Plant the coins into the sugar, then sprinkle magic elf dust over them. Wait until morning to see what happens! Love, (Elf’s Name)
Thursday, December 22 – Elf Magic Trick, Part II
Replace coins with gold foiled milk chocolate coins that appear to be growing out of the sugar.
Friday, December 23 – Elf Hides in a Stocking
Place Elf inside a hanging stocking with arms resting over the edge so their head is peeking out from the top.
Saturday, December 24 – Elf Says Goodbye
Sit the Elf on a shelf with small wrapped gifts for each child. Write a custom goodbye letter letting the children know it’s time to help Santa in the North Pole and that he/she will see them again next year, or try a free printable.