How to Survive & Thrive during an Elf on the Shelf Home Invasion

Disclaimer: this is meant to be fun and lighthearted. If you hate the Elf on the Shelf, don’t do it. It’s that simple. Chat with your kids about traditions some kids do at home vs. your home.

Since its beginnings in 2005, Elf on the Shelf has either brought holiday fun or headaches to families. What started as a sweet take on a Scandinavian tradition has quickly become a sport in the Pinterest olympics.

We are in the holiday fun camp, but I have one rule. I will not let the elf stress me out. When my daughter was very young, this was “easier”. If the elf didn’t move, well it wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now that she’s 5 and very into finding our elf every morning.

So how do I accomplish elf fun and manage to not be stressed about it?

I did two things from the get go. I ordered an elf “wiring” kit and I made an elf list. When I began our elf tradition in 2018 I quickly realized the elves aren’t bendy the way the elves in so many pinterest pictures appeared. So I ordered a kit off Amazon and spent an hour inserting wire into the elf’s limbs. You do NOT have to do this by any means, but it made it easier for me and enables me to do more with our elf.

Plan your elf appearances in advance to help take away some of the stress.

I also printed out a blank calendar for the month of December as my “elf list” . We filled in each day with what the elf would do so we didn’t have to scramble for an idea, and there was no midnight panic and scouring the internet for an idea. I am a handwritten person but you can definitely use a digital calendar to implement this. My daughter is just now beginning to read, but we keep the list hidden.

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house strung with lots of Christmas lights

The ideas started out being fairly simple, and for the most part I still keep it very easy. I also repeat many of the shenanigans year after year. One of my favorites is the marshmallow hot tub that Belle, our elf, sets up in a bowl each year. My daughter gets a kick out of seeing Belle recreate it each year.

Here are 10 of my favorite EASY Elf on the Shelf ideas:

  1. Zip Line: Do you have ribbon or string handy? Yes? Well now you have an elf zipline. At our house we are able to tie it from a drapery rod to our Christmas tree. You could set it up from stocking hangers, shower curtain rod etc. Command hooks are your friend with this!
    This cute idea only requires a bit of ribbon or thread and is super fun!
  2. Sprinkle Angel: All you need is a cookie sheet, parchment paper or foil and sprinkles. Let your elf make a sprinkle angel instead of a snow angel. Pro tip: the cookie sheet and parchment are to keep the mess at bay. Save the sprinkles and reuse them year after year!
  3. Toilet paper roll trapeze: use a ribbon (you can even use the zipline ribbon) to set up a trapeze for your elf. We hang our elf in the same doorway every year and play miley cyrus wrecking ball. Your’e welcome. Pro tip: you can paint the tube or tape a piece of tissue paper around it like I did.
    You can use household items to make fun and easy props.
  4. Injured Elf: Use this one to your advantage.
    Each year, Belle injures herself in our playroom. She manages to find some bandaids and write a note encouraging toy clean up. She may be out of commission for a few days after this traumatic evening.

    Use the elf to your advantage to encourage clean up!
  5. Marshmallow Hot Tub: This can be accomplished with mini marshmallows, cotton balls, I even used white chocolate chips one year. I set our elf up in a bowl, give her one of our Barbie doll magazines and let the hilarity ensue.
    An Elf on the Shelf sits in a silver bowl full of marshmellows.
    Making mischief is hard, and sometimes your elf may need a relaxing day in the hot tub.
  6. Elf bookworm: Each year I set the elf up with a book. Sometimes it’s a new book, other years it’s been a library book or a Christmas book we have at home.
    An Elf on the Shelf sits with a book they "brought" from the North Pole.
    Add to the holiday magic with a special book delivery!
  7. Gingerbread house: We love to build a gingerbread house- so instead of just picking one up from the grocery store- I started letting the elf “bring us one” to do together as a family. It adds a touch of winter magic to something we know we are already going to do.
  8. Campout: Let your elf grab some buddies and have a sleepover. I’ve done this a few different ways over the years. You can go simple and take your elf and a barbie or stuffed animal, use socks as sleeping bags and let them sleep under your Christmas tree. Or you can get a little more elaborate and use cardstock for tiny tents. I’ve had this moss runner since we had a bunny themed birthday party and it is a fun add on to the camping scene.
    Let the elf make a few friends and camp out under the Christmas tree.
  9. Hanging literally anywhere: If you decide to put the wire in your elf it will make it so easy to hang your elf literally anywhere. Ours has hung from a mobile, a light fixture, Christmas decorations etc. It gets a lot of laughs and is so simple.
    Kids will love watching the elf be a little gymnast.
  10. Christmas Eve Stockings:  On Christmas eve, Belle the elf, delivers special pajamas and spends the day in my daughter’s stocking ready for Santa to take her back to the North Pole.
    Before you know it, the elf will be packed away and ready to go back to the North Pole!

Hopefully those ideas get your creative juices flowing! Pinterest and Instagram have been a huge source of ideas for me as well! Happy Holidays and Happy Elfing!

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