Elf on the Shelf ideas – 15 ways to inspire your mischievous Elf Scout this Christmas

If you're rapidly running out of Elf on the Shelf ideas, we have plenty of creative ways to keep the kids entertained

elf on the shelf
(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Elf on the Shelf is a wonderful Christmas tradition that doesn't involve spending lots of money. But what it does involve is coming up with seemingly endless Elf on the Shelf ideas, and some days, we get caught out. 

So we've rounded up our favourite ways to keep the children entertained with this classic, budget Christmas idea. Consider this a little Christmas gift from us.

Elf on the Shelf ideas for 2024

All the fun and games are back to make the countdown more entertaining, and to encourage children to be on their very best behaviour...

1. Have a pizza lunch on Elf

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Fill a Waitrose cash register, available at John Lewis with loose change from around the house and leave a note from Elf to say 'treat yourself to a pizza lunch' and pick up a pizza with the coins. Alternatively, you could fill a similar toy or a small purse with chocolate coins.

2. Leave a note from Elf

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Leave a note from Elf to tell little ones that their Christmas lists have been safely received. For the more artistic, add festive drawings of Elf, a Christmas tree and Santa Claus.

3. Get Elf to help wrap an early Christmas present

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Nearer Christmas Day, give them something to open early with a gift from Elf. Half wrap a Christmas present and stick some tape onto Elf's arm to make it look like he's been caught in the act of wrapping up Christmas presents.

4. Space-Elf

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Cover Elf with tin foil to make a space-Elf. Hang him from a lightshade to look like he's floating through space. This a nice easy one when you're short on time. You could also add space-themed decorations, like moons, stars and other planets.

5. Create an Elf doorway for day 1

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

For the first day of Elf on the Shelf, use models like this set from Flying Tiger to show how Elf arrived. You could also recreate this with card, cutting out a door and making some skis.

6. Make Elf a swing

elf on the shelf

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

All you need is a toilet paper roll and some string to make this fun Elf on the Shelf idea. Tie Elf to the swing and position in a doorway or under a light.

7. Cover the living room with snowflakes

elf on the shelf with snowflakes cut out of white paper with hole punch

(Image credit: Lotte Brouwer / @iamlottebrouwer)

Pick up a snowflake hole punch, at Amazon and make it look like Elf has covered everything in snowflakes. Create a magical and festive atmosphere with this simple trick.

8. Make masks for scout elves

Elf on the shelf masked singer

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

If you know, you know! This brilliant idea recreates the fun of the TV hit show The Masked Singer. Parents can make this idea last for days, with a collection of mini masks. Simply raid the ids stash of arts and crafts paper and card to make decorative masks, themed to delight little ones.

9. Play Elf Twister

Elf on the shelf playing Elf Twister

(Image credit: Becky Coyne)

Fun for all. This is the elf Scout playing Elf Twister thanks to a creative parent making their own play mat with a simple sheet of white paper and some coloured felt tip pens.

10. Report back from Santa to set chores

scout elf with a note from Santa

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

Genius! This idea is a creative way to keep the kids on their toes, with elf reporting back on the tasks that Santa would like them to complete. A great way to ensure all children make it to the good list this year.

11. Hide Elf in the blinds

Elf on the Shelf hiding in the blinds

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

Pop the cheeky Elf in between the slats of the window blinds or shutters to give the impression he's returning through the window after a night of mischief.

12. Wrap household items in clingfilm

Elf on the shelf wrapping shoes in clingfilm

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

Nothing in the house is safe when your give the elf a roll of clingfilm...it might be just the thing to encourage little ones to tidy items away out of Elf's reach.

To save wastage, you can leave the clingfilm attached to the roll and use it a few times – over the days of countdown, just using different objects.

13. Make your own Jenga game with chocolate biscuits

Elf on the shelf idea with chocolate biscuits

(Image credit: Becky Coyne)

Fashion a DIY Jenga game with chocolate finger biscuits; entertainment and a delicious snack at the same time. Simply stack a handful of biscuits on a plate and leave a note for

14. Float the Elf with balloons

Elf on the shelf floating holding balloons in blue bedroom

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

Recreate the scene from 'Up' with some left over party balloons and colourful twine, making your elf appear to be floating away. To stick the balloons to the wall with ease try the old fashioned static trick, by rubbing the balloon on a a wooly jumper.

15. A final frosty farewell from Elf

Elf on the shelf frosted farewell idea on window

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

When it's time for the Elf to go back to the North Pole this idea can make a fabulous final impression. Use snow spray to create a silhouette of the Elf flying off into the night, on his journey back to help Santa.

The Elf on the Shelf scout elves at play in the snow

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

What's the Elf on the Shelf story?

For those that don't know, a bit of background info. The phenomenon that is The Elf on the Shelf is a children's set, at Amazon; a fun-filled kit featuring a book that tells a tale of a secret elf sent by Santa to keep a watchful eye on children at Christmas time – reporting back to Father Christmas in the North Pole each night.

With over 100 tips and tricks and 15 elf-sized tools to inspire Scout Elves, it's fun for all the family. The book comes with an elf figurine that parents secretly place around the house to watch over children. This is where the fun comes in, as parents look for more and more creative ways to 'style' the elf each morning.

Throughout the book, a group of elves known as Santa’s Scout Elf Training Team offers advice to teach other Scout Elves how to fly, jump, hide and play in clever ways while visiting their families during the holidays. Making it easy for Scout Elves to create unforgettable moments in the family’s home, with lots of playful ideas.

The Elf on the Shelf children's boxset

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

There are only two rules of Scout Elf club.

First, a Scout Elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if a Scout Elf is touched it may lose its magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, a Scout Elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake; a Scout Elf’s job is to watch and listen.

Families can officially register their Scout Elf’s name with the North Pole, to receive a free adoption certificate as well as a personalised letter from Santa. Too cute.

It's a great Christmas tradition to start with your children when they are young and can be enjoyed by all the family. Selling millions of copies across the globe, the box set has previously been crowned number 1 bestseller by Wall Street Journal.

The Elf on the Shelf special delivery envelope to santa

(Image credit: Elf on the Shelf)

We wonder what other spots and shelves you may find him watching from this year, and more importantly, what he'll get up to when our backs are turned!


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street. 

With contributions from