The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a children’s book authored by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. Since its publication in 2005, families all over the world have read it and converted it into a real Christmas tradition and several playful Elf on the Shelf ideas for toddlers.
The book tells a story of an elf who is supposed to be Santa’s scout from the North Pole. The magical and imaginary elf lives in the house and observes the deeds of family members, reporting them to Santa Claus. The family can name the elf, making the elf receive the magic to travel to the North Pole.
You can be creative and use the concept of an elf seated on a shelf to depict scenes and situations, leading to an excellent imaginative play for children. In this post, we share such enjoyable imaginative Elf on the Shelf ideas for you to introduce to the toddler.
50+ Easy And Simple Elf On The Shelf Ideas For Toddlers
The Elf on the Shelf usually appears the day after Thanksgiving. You may notify your children or keep it a surprise. Make sure you read the story to your child to help them understand the theme. You may need to keep things simple yet attractive for your toddlers to enjoy the most. You may use a toy elf for all these ideas and think ahead about where to place the elf each day. Some versions of the book come with an elf toy in a box, making it easier for you to try these ideas.
1. The Elf on the Shelf makes a grand entry
If your little one is fond of cars, then give the elf a grand entry into your house in your child’s favorite toy car. Get one of your child’s dolls to escort him as your guest. You may add welcome notes for an added effect.
2. Breakfast with the Elf on the Shelf
Use mini bowls and plates to lay out the breakfast table for your child. Place elf-sized pancakes and breakfast cereals and a little glasses of juice. Add a “good morning” or a “let’s eat” sign for more fun.
3. Party with the Elf on the Shelf
Arrange a lavish party for your friend from the North Pole. Add mini decorations, lights, and miniature party food and candies to give the festive touch.
4. Scavenger hunt with the Elf on the Shelf
You can place small cards with instructions for your toddler to search out an object or gift hidden in the house. For your little one, it will be like the elf has set the task, and there’s a gift if it is done successfully. Read out the instructions and explain the meaning to help out your toddler.
5. Brush your teeth with the Elf on the Shelf
The elf can make some of your tasks easy by being a fun teaching guide to toddlers. Rub a small blob of toothpaste on the elf’s mouth and make him hold a toothbrush. Placing the elf among oral hygiene essentials such as toothpaste and toothbrush can make your child interested in brushing their teeth.
6. The Elf on the Shelf climbs the Christmas tree
The elf is a messenger of Christmas blessings and loves to spend time with the Christmas tree. Then why not place him on the Christmas tree with all the decorations. Your toddler wakes up in the morning and sees the little elf has toiled hard to climb up the tree.
7. The Elf on the Shelf goes fishing
Place some fish-shaped crackers or sweets in a big bowl and make your elf a fishing rod with a stick and yarn. He’s all ready to spend his leisure time fishing.
8. The Elf on the Shelf loves to read
Move your elf to the bookshelf and arrange an audience for him. Give your toddler’s treasured book in the elf’s hands and make all the dolls and soft toys gather around him to listen.
9. The Elf on the Shelf goes on a jungle safari
Your child must love playing with animal toys. Line up all the animal toys in the house and help our elf ride one as he enjoys a jungle safari.
10. The Elf on the Shelf inside a stocking
Make the elf peep out from a hung Christmas stocking to look like the poor fellow had landed and got stuck in it when he returned from the North Pole.
11. The Elf on the Shelf hides in the freezer
Looking for the elf in the morning is an exciting game for toddlers. You can hide the elf in your freezer. Although he must be accustomed to the chilly winters in the North Pole, make sure to wrap him up in blankets to keep him warm.
12. The Elf on the Shelf makes a “be nice” list
Christmas is an appropriate time to teach your little one good habits and behavior. Ask your elf to list out all that is nice and good, and read out the list to your child the next morning.
13. The Elf on the Shelf makes snow angels
Use wheat or rice flour to help your elf make snow angels. Make sure to make it over butter paper to ease cleaning up the mess afterward.
14. The Elf on the Shelf on a fairy light zip line
Elves are known to be mischievous. So they would love to swing down a zip line made of fairy lights or string lights, especially when the zip line is connected to the Christmas tree.
15. The Elf on the Shelf in a ball pit
The elf needs some recreation and relaxation after his tiresome routine. Make him a ball pit with a cardboard box and colorful balls to relax and have fun.
16. The Elf on the Shelf uses the potty
If your toddler is potty training, then this can be the best way to break his barriers. Make the elf sit on the potty and use chocolate chips to resemble poo.
17. The Elf on the Shelf on a massage table
Your elf’s long-distance travels must be so tiresome. Use an inverted box as a massage table and a cute doll as a massage therapist to pamper your elf.
18. The Elf on the Shelf in the kitchen
You can place your elf on the kitchen shelf among the cookie jars to keep an eye on the little fellow who always reaches out for cookie treats.
19. The Elf on the Shelf loves to ride a train
Children love train rides, and so does the elf. Place your elf on a toy train and send him on a joyride.
20. The Elf on the Shelf on a Lego tower
Make your elf a watchtower using Lego blocks to help him keep an eye on everyone.
21. The Elf on the Shelf shaves with daddy
Your toddler must have seen his daddy shaving. Arrange a shaving kit for your elf, put a little shaving cream on his cheeks, and hand him a razor to resemble what daddy does.
22. The Elf on the Shelf lets out the animals
Arrange your elf with your child’s animal toys so that they seem to be going out of the house for a stroll together.
23. The Elf on the Shelf on an airplane
If you have a toy airplane at home, hang it from the ceiling or a hook and make your elf sit on it. Your toddler will be excited to see the elf flying in the morning.
24. The Elf on the Shelf brings hot chocolate
Hot chocolate is heavenly in the chilly winters. Place cups of hot chocolate around your elf and enjoy with your family.
25. The Elf on the Shelf watches movie
Place your elf on the couch or sofa with a bowl of popcorn and watch your child’s favorite movie with your family. Make sure everyone shares the popcorn.
26. The Elf on the Shelf coloring with crayons
Place the elf beside a drawing pad. Draw some random items and keep some crayons on them. Your children would be surely interested in trying their hands in drawing as well.
27. The Elf on the Shelf with baby Jesus
Placing baby Jesus on the elf’s lap or placing the elf in the miniature barn that depicts the Christmas story with figurines for mother Mary and Joseph can be magical.
28. The Elf on the Shelf helps with Christmas decorations
Decorate the Christmas tree after your toddler sleeps at night and place the elf beside the tree. It would look like the elf has decorated the tree overnight.
29. The Elf on the Shelf toasts marshmallow
Put a stick with a marshmallow in the elf’s hand and light an electric or battery-operated candle below it. The elf is having a snack before setting out for the North Pole.
30. The Elf on the Shelf makes a list of wishes for Santa
Your child may have many wishes to make to Santa but has not listed them yet. Make the list and place it in the elf’s hand for your toddler to find.
31. The Elf on the Shelf plays a guitar
Put your elf with a guitar and play some soothing music to bring in the festive vibes.
32. The Elf on the Shelf in ice cream cone
Children love ice cream, and finding the elf in an ice cream cone is like a visual treat.
33. The Elf on the Shelf loves candy cane
Candy canes are an all-time favorite Christmas delicacy. Place candy canes in a holder beside the elf or use one to dangle your elf from a zipline.
34. The Elf on the Shelf helps wrap presents
Wrapping presents in advance helps you avoid rushing in the last hour. Place the elf among gifts, wrappers, ribbons, and half-wrapped boxes, and see him help you with your work.
35. The Elf on the Shelf hides in a cereal container
The game of hide and seek continues as you place your elf in new hiding places. This time let your toddler find him hiding inside a box full of breakfast cereals.
36. The Elf on the Shelf with the advent calendar
The advent calendar marks the days as Christmas approaches. Placing the elf beside it is a cute reminder.
37. The Elf on the Shelf takes a bubble bath
Give your elf a relaxing bubble bath by placing him in a bowl and filling it up with marshmallows.
38. Elf on the shelf trapped in a bottle
The elf may require rescuing at times. Trap the elf in a bottle with a “help” sign. Your toddler can open the lid once he finds out.
39. The Elf on the Shelf makes snowflakes
Cut out snowflake designs from paper and place them beside the elf. This magical elf and the snowflakes will bring a smile to your child’s face.
40. The Elf on the Shelf makes elf milk
You can easily make elf milk by adding a drop or two of red or green edible colors to a glass of milk. Place the elf beside the glass and see your toddler happily drinking it away.
41. Elf on the shelf hides in a balloon
Stuff the elf inside a balloon, blow it, and place it with other balloons. Let your child seek out the hidden elf.
42. The Elf on the Shelf unrolls the toilet paper
Unroll some toilet paper and wrap the elf with it. Help your child free him from the wraps.
43. The Elf on the Shelf bakes cookies
It’s Christmas time, and home-baked cookies are a must. Set up the elf so that your child finds that he has baked cookies all night for the family and neighbors.
44. The Elf on the Shelf with a snowman
Winter and snowmen go hand in hand. Let your elf make his own snowman using cotton balls. If you wish to have a bigger one, decorate your refrigerator as a snowman and place the elf on top of it.
45. The Elf on the Shelf inside a shoe
Place your elf on a bed made inside a shoe. Add eye masks to help him relax and sleep.
46. The Elf on the Shelf in the fruit basket
You can increase your child’s interest in eating fruits by placing the elf in a fruit basket. Then, add eyes and mouths to the fruits with a marker to show that they are buddies of the elf.
47. The Elf on the Shelf is a superhero
Dress up your elf as your child’s favorite superhero to see him glee with joy. Suspend the superhero from a hook to make him fly.
48. The Elf on the Shelf in a toy basket
The elf loves to play with toys the same as your toddler. Place him in a basket full of toys and let your children enjoy playtime.
49. The Elf on the Shelf opens gifts
Place the elf among the gifts your children received in a manner that he wants to open them.
50. The Elf on the Shelf on a swing
Swings are a mood booster and make any child happy. You can make a little swing for your elf to relax and have a great time.
51. The Elf on the Shelf has a nap
Your elf has been assigned a tedious job by Santa, making napping essential. Arrange a miniature bed and blanket for your guest to have occasional naps.
52. The Elf on the Shelf hanging out with friends
Your elf needs to socialize and hang out with friends. Collect all soft toys and dolls and place them around the elf to be an enjoyable company for your guest.
You can try these Elf on the Shelf ideas for toddlers just for fun or to help your children learn some good habits. Oral and hand hygiene, potty training, reading, and socializing are some of the good habits and behaviors that may be taught at an early age, using the elf as an example. Placing the elf with fruits and healthy snacks can help your child develop a liking for them. The fact that the elf would report to Santa if they are not being nice can discourage the toddler from being unruly. Reminding them that the elf is watching may help modify their behavior (1). It makes maintaining discipline easier for the parents, especially when they are occupied with Christmas preparations.
- The concept of the Elf on the Shelf is derived from a children’s book.
- The book tells a story of an elf who observes the activities of children and reports day-to-day events to Santa at the North Pole. Santa grants all wishes to the children who have been nice when he visits on Christmas Eve.
- Parents can use a toy elf, place it in different spots each day, and create different imaginary scenes. The purpose is to entertain children and, at times, educate them.