Happy Holidays, Victoria!
Over generations families have passed down their own Christmas traditions, bringing light and joy into the days leading up to this special holiday.
One that we find particularly entertaining, however, has only been popularized within the last 15 years or so—having become a widespread tradition after Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell self-published the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition in 2005
The book included a small elf, and many families have since made it their own, creating as many hilarious scenarios as possible for their kids or partners to find.
In honour of this hilarious and wholesome tradition, we’ve decided to put together a list of ways you can pose your elf—whether it’s naughty or nice, we hope to spark some inspiration!
Without further delay, here’s 24 “Elf on the Shelf” ideas to bring laughter and happiness to your household this holiday season:
Welcoming the elf home for another season
Grab a large envelope or box, this is what your elf will be “arriving” in. If you’re using an envelope, poke the elf out the top. If a box is your delivery method of choice, rip a hole in the top for your elf to be bursting through.
Leave an “I’m back” note of some kind and tell the kids how excited you are to be returning to the house and maybe a treat or two!
Take a bundle of four or more bananas and sketch the Minions from Despicable Me onto the yellow skin.
Leave the elf sitting next to the Minions with the sharpie still in their grip, and a note that says, “Meet my friends Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Carl.”
A local shop you can grab your bananas from includes Root Cellar Village Green Grocer located on both McKenzie Avenue and Cook Street.
Leave a trail of chocolate chips up the sink or bathtub and have the elf squatted over the ledge, above the trail.
If you wish to leave a note, you could scrawl something that says, “Oh, um…wasn’t me.” But if you choose to let the scene speak for itself, that is also acceptable.
Grab your chocolate from Rogers’ Chocolates—they have multiple locations around the city including on Government Street, Oak Bay Avenue, and Uptown Boulevard.
This one may speak for itself, no caption needed!
Line up a row of plastic shot glasses with half of them full of lemonade or any other yellow beverage. Write up a fake lemonade stand sign and tack it to the wall above the glasses.
Make your elf face the wall and place him in front of the next empty shot glass as if they’re ready to fill it, hinting at it being pee instead of lemonade.
No iPad today
This may end up being particularly useful if your kids were being a little more on the naughty side the day before!
Wrap your elf and the favourite electronic device of choice, and leave a note that says, “Santa said no iPad (or phone or Gameboy) today. I had to tell him you were being naughty yesterday and he didn’t like that.”
Then you can list something for the kid to do to redeem themselves—whether it’s an apology note or a chore.
Elf does something “nice”
Tinfoil all of your shoes (yes, yours included, not just the kids!) and leave a note that says, “I shined your shoes, you’re welcome!”
If you want to add a little, you can wrap the elf’s hat in tinfoil or something and leave little bits of torn tinfoil around the site.
Purchase googly eyes, mustaches, or anything else that catches your attention and begin decorating the family portraits with them.
At one of the photographs, presumably the last one the elf stopped at, leave the elf there covered from head to toe with whatever you decided to use!
Building a fortress
Take all of the cushions and pillows from your couches and begin stacking them as high as you can to create towers.
Have the elf either sitting atop the tallest one or still trying its best to clamber up to the top.
If you want to make it even more interesting, stack everything in a room that wouldn’t normally house so many cushions (or none at all), like the porch or bathroom!
After a really great day with your kids, leave them a treat the next morning in the form of chocolate eggs!
Set up the elf next to a pan on the stove and have him clutching a spatula “flipping” the chocolate eggs they’ve made for them.
You can use Kinder eggs, little chocolate eggs, gummy eggs, or whatever works!
Flattening ruffled chips
We had a good chuckle at this one!
Purchase a little bag of flat chips and a bag of ruffles chips and set up an ironing board (or your counter) and leave an iron or hair straightener next to the elf.
Leave a note that says, “I fixed your chips because they were crinkled!”
Take out as many canned goods as you’ll need and stack them near your counter. Have the elf balancing at the top and reaching into your cookie box or treat jar of choice.
Christmas craft time
If it’s easier to grab a colouring book, check out Bolen Books and see what they have in store.
Either way, leave a nice note saying that Santa has been requesting a pretty picture and would love to receive one (or many)! This is something you can all do as a family too.
Open a bag of Goldfish or pour some in a bowl. Have the elf sit over top of them with a little “fishing rod.”
You can leave a cheeky “Gone fishin'” note or just leave it as is!
This one will work especially well if you have a coffee machine that takes pods or k-cups, but I’m sure you can get creative with a coffee filter and some grounds!
Stab a hole into the top of your coffee pod and stick a straw into it with the elf’s mouth resting against the straw.
Leave a note that says, “The coffee tastes funny.”
This one is slightly more macabre, so depending on your kids’ sense of humour, this may or may not be a go-to idea.
Set up a row of potatoes and have one wedged to a cheese grater, don’t forget to draw faces on all of the potatoes.
Leave the elf next to it with a potato peeler and the “shavings” underneath will just be ruffles chips. You can leave a note that says, “I made chips for you!”
Brought you a snowman
Fill a little dish or a bowl with water and strategically place items that would be found in a snowman at the bottom.
Have your elf holding the bowl with a note that reads, “I brought you a snowman!”
Pull out a roll of toilet paper until the paper reaches the floor and smear the middle with Nutella or another kind of chocolate sauce.
Hook your elf on top of your toilet paper dispenser so they’re sitting on the roll and it looks like they’ve attempted to wipe their butt.
Trouble with balloons
Place your elf inside a balloon with a marker and blow it up before tying it off.
With a string or ribbon, hang your balloon somewhere with an SOS message scribbled in marker.
The milk has gone bad
We thought this one was really creative!
Take a jug of milk (whether it’s expired or not is up to you) and dress it up to look like a bad guy.
Tie up your elf and place it at the milk jug’s “feet” as a prisoner with a little note saying, “Help, the milk’s gone bad!”
Out here making s’mores
Prop your elf up on something and have him cooking marshmallows over a candle.
Char some of the marshmallows for some extra believability, but it’s probably best not to leave the candle burning!
If you have a dog or cat, this idea is absolutely perfect!
Have your elf holding half a pet treat and place a few more broken ones around them as if they tried more than one. Leave a note like the one below.
Pick yours up from local pet stores such as Paws on Cook Pet Store on Cook Street!
Looks like your elf has overindulged in the goods!
Splay your elf out over a plate of eaten cookies and a nearly finished glass of milk with the empty jug next to the plate.
This one will be great for whoever is in charge of setting it up because you get to treat yourself to a sweet of choice!
Reviewing your client file
This would be excellent to use at any point throughout the elf’s visit, especially at the beginning, a few days before the elf leaves, or the night before!
Create your own scale of “naughty and niceness” and leave ideas for the kids to get higher on the scale with different rewards attached.
Leave a message in round candy such as Skittles or Smarties that says, “Till next year!” for the kids to eat.
On a piece of paper, leave a cute and cheeky goodbye note from the elf, but also leave one final task.
From the elf, say that in order to ensure they’re 100% on the nice list for tonight’s delivery, they need to do something special for their parents—whether it’s leaving a thank you note for them, completing a chore, etc. We’ll leave that up to you!
At the bottom of the note, tell them that there is another piece of candy hidden somewhere and it will be rewarded once the special task has been done.
And if you need a last minute back up on the fly, head to YouTube on your TV, search up Elf Dispatch, and keep this video up on the screen, just make sure to hide the real Elf on the Shelf!