Elf on the Shelf Ideas {elf on}

Our Elf on the Shelf is named Max and we’ve had him out and about making mischief for a week now! I thought those of you who celebrate this fun tradition (or are planning to) might appreciate seeing some of the things our elf has done so far. For those of you wondering what the deal is with these elves that sit on shelves, the basic premise is this: The elves watch your kids and report to Santa who is naughty and who is nice. Essentially they are Santa’s spies. At night the elves come to life, play around your house, and can be found in a new location every morning. Granted, for some kiddos this tradition might be absolutely terrifying. For my boys, it’s just a fun game of pretend and they LOVE it! And I have to admit that I am loving it so far too! It’s fun coming up with something different for Max to do each day, and it only takes me a few minutes each night to throw together.

Enjoy the pics!

Max making paper snowflake chains for the other toys.

elf on the shelf ideas

Max feeding Eowyn her food via a backhoe loader.

elf on the shelf

Max hanging upside down from our light fixture.

elf on the shelf

Max feeling a bit homesick for the North Pole and riding our reindeer.

elf on the shelf

Max resting in a tissue box with a tissue pillow. (I looked everywhere for a little teddy bear but couldn’t find one. The tiger was the best I could do. :))

Max enjoying the beach on the windowsill at my Mom’s house. Yes, we took him with us for Thanksgiving!

elf on the shelf beach

Max looking through a telescope at the horizon.

elf on the shelf

Max raiding the candy bowl.

elf on the shelf ideas

elf on the shelf ideas

Max playing with toilet paper.

elf on the shelf ideas

Max making a “snow angel” in instant rice.

elf on the shelf ideas

Max made us breakfast!

elf on the shelf ideas

Max being mischievous with dry erase markers.

elf on the shelf ideas

Max playing Heroica with some friends.

elf on the shelf ideas

I’m looking forward to watching the TV movie tonight with the boys. Some have complained that the Elf on the Shelf is just another example of marketing to children and the over-commercialization of American culture. So be it. All I can say is that it is an absolute delight to hear little giggles each morning as Asher and Zephan discover what shenanigans Max has been up to. My boys are growing up so fast, and I am going to relish every moment that they take joy in something as simple as an elf on the shelf!

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  1. says

    Have fun and enjoy those children. Things like that elf are what make memories. We had a stretchy Steve Irwin doll (The Crocodile Hunter) years ago and we played hide and seek with that thing for a year. My daughter is 16 and still talks about it.

  2. says

    Memories are made up of exactly these types of moments you are choosing to make! Max the Elf will be remembered their entire lives. I think it’s fantastic!! I only wish my Austin was young enough to do this for 😉

  3. Cheri says

    Thank you for sharing your pictures. When I first heard of the Elf, I thought of it as just another way for moms to manipulate their kids to behave… but you’ve given me another perspective. My over-imaginative boys would have loved this when they were young. (don’t think their young-adult minds would be amused now. lol!) But I am sending your link to my sister who has little ones at home. :)

  4. says

    You are so funny! So cute! hummmm, nice window sill at your moms overlooking the water!!! I love the backhoe & dog food! My son enjoyed looking at the pics….and he said, where is my elf? I need to unpack him tomorrow! :) Hope you had a good thanksgiving!

  5. Christen says

    I love it! Our Elf, Elfin shows up on the day after Thanksgiving and it’s so fun to pose him and have the kids find him. My oldest is now 11 and knows it’s us but it’s still fun to make her smile w/the silly poses and sometimes when he hides really well she gets in on the hunt and really enjoys it! I plan on continuing w/Elfin even after my younger two figure it all out because I think it’s a wonderfully fun bonding experience for our family and I hope it will be a great memory for them one day : )

  6. says

    Thanks for these cute suggestions! I didn’t grow up with lots of Christmas traditions, so I look forward to introducing our kids to memories like this, when they get old enough. (Our daughter is only 15 mos. now.) I appreciate seeing a glimpse into how another family “does” Christmas!

  7. says

    My daughter is only 1 1/2 years old, but we have an elf on the shelf and we had it last year for her first Christmas as well. She might not understand him just yet, but she will eventually! I love to move our Elf although he doesn’t get into messes just yet:)

  8. susan bush says

    Beth, Hi…Hope you and your family had a joyous Thanksgiving…I look forward to seeing you on face book with all your amazing idea’s…well I love your elf he seems to be a welcome addition to your family…nothing but joy…I’ll let you in on a little secert,he puts a smile on my face to..reminds me of the things I use to do when my kids were younger…looking forward to many more ideas and elf visits ….have a bless day…Susan…

  9. Lisa says

    How adorable and funny. I wish I had done something like that for my son when he was younger. He’s 12 now and would just think I lost my mind! Who knows maybe and elf may just slip into our house….

  10. Judy says

    Too old???? I’m doing this for my hubby this year. All our children are living away this year and he’s a little bummed. Asked my son (21) what he thought about the idea and he said, “I wish I was going to be here.” We’re never too old for a little fun.

  11. says

    Oh, too cute! My favorite is the tissue box! That’s just priceless! For me, Elf on the Shelf is the exact opposite of commercialization; it’s all about finding joy in simple things again. It’s a precious concept. Keep having fun with it! ~Kerri

  12. crystal says

    We just introduced our elf yesterday. I have a question. Since the elf is not supposed to be touched or it “loses its magic” what do you do with the elf the rest of the day. The picture of the elf w/ the bulldozer. do you move the elf when the kids aren’t looking? surely it doesn’t stay there all day. Thanks

    • Beth @A to Z says

      I set up the elf at night and the kids are delighted to see him in the morning. Right after they find him, I replace him back on our fireplace mantel until I’m ready to move him the next night.

  13. crystal says

    Thanks! So the kids know that you move him? I don’t know how I’d reconcile that w/ my kids b/c the movie and book (I think) said if he was touched he’d lose his magic. The kids would “die” if I touch him. :-)

    • Beth @A to Z says

      When we read the book I emphasized that kids can’t move him or he’ll lose his magic but that the rule doesn’t apply to adults. They know that we are the ones who can touch Max and will even remind us to put him back on the shelf in the morning :).

      • Stephanie says

        I tell my daugther that mommies and daddies can move him out of harms way or to make him comfortable, but that’s it.

  14. kelly says

    i think it’s so cute as long as the real meaning of christmas is still celebrated!
    there are lots of cute things on pinterest that the elf does. flour snow angels, turning the milk green etc.

    • Beth @A to Z says

      While I was watching the little Elf on the Shelf TV special with the boys, Zeph said to the TV, “The real of meaning of Christmas isn’t just believing. It’s believing in Jesus as Savior.” I think we’re good :).

  15. Marsha says

    I had an elf growing up but he was never so busy as your’s. If I recall he always sat on top of some artificial Christmas greens with his legs crossed. He had a boring existance. What great memories you’re making with your kids.

  16. Kim B. says

    Here here!! Amen to that! LOVED the pics & got a GREAT laugh out of it :) My oldest is 21 & my youngest is 7 and it DOES go by fast so you HAVE to enjoy all the fun stuff while you can!! Love this!!

  17. Tabi says

    This will be our 1st year Elf on the Shelf will come to visit, I am going to pick it up Wedensday. What is one of the best ways to introduce the Elf to my 4 year old Daughter?

    • Sonya says

      We just introduced ours two days ago. I told her that it was coming, but I wasn’t sure how. While my husband and my daughter were gone, I unwrapped it and set the book and the elf out, at the top of our staircase, out of sight. When she went upstairs later that night, she found it.

  18. says

    Thanks for the great “elf on a shelf” inspiration. I have a little girl and our elf is named Lucy – no, we could not convince our daughter that the elf was a boy. “She” has been showing up all over our house, but not as cleverly as what you created. Thanks for giving me some great ideas. Now I’ve got to take Lucy to a whole new level! – Susan, livingrichonless.com

  19. Kris says

    My daughter is 10 and she just got “Elvish” this year. She’s at the “I believe, cause if I don’t there won’t be any presents” stage.

    I’m having fun hanging him around the house.

    • Beth @A to Z says

      I haven’t had to use any glue or tape yet. I’ve felt some elves who actually have magnetic arms and legs which would make things much easier! Mine has bendable plastic with just a little give and support. I don’t have any trouble having him sit but if I want his hands together I have to get more creative. I do have clear rubberbands that I used in the picture where he’s hanging upside down but besides that I haven’t needed to use anything…yet :).

  20. Mariah says

    Did you have to put wire in him so he’d stay in those fun positions? My little Elf Chauncey is hard to set up. Any information would be helpful. I haven’t cut this hands apart yet, but will soon.

    • Beth @A to Z says

      No, no wire, tape, or anything else. I had to use a clear rubberband (that I saved from some other packaged toy) when I hung him upside down but otherwise he sits and stays put fairly well on his own.

  21. Julie says

    This will be our fifth or sixth year with our elf, Magic. He’ll arrive this weekend because I forgot about him, but my kids have looked for him already.

  22. Pamela says

    When I was 7 years old (1982), our house burned down just weeks before Christmas. We decorated our rental that Christmas w/whatever people gave us. We didn’t have a star, but someone had given us an elf on the shelf (not knowing the significance); we figured he was the perfect tree topper. It was so original; we kept him & placed him @ the top of the tree-every year. It wasn’t until last year, that I heard the story of the elf on the shelf. What wonderful memories!!! 😀

  23. Melanie says

    To your readers: Please don’t think your children are too old to start this tradition! My daughters are 13 and 16 and I just started this year! They think Finn is the most adorable thing ever and go out of their way to find him before they leave for school. Pranks are the best way to keep them interested…so far Finn has made a snow angel in corn meal, made miniature doughnuts for the family (cheerios plus powdered sugar/sprinkles), wrote his name in toothpaste on their vanity! They LOVE it and so does my husband! Go for it!!

  24. says

    I agree with your “the over-commercialization of American culture. So be it” statement. And someone even asked me if my children were scared or worried about the elf. My response was I think it is all about how you use the elf and our elf is all about mischief, laughs, giggles and fun. See for yourself at http://elfontheshelfideas.com.

  25. Kathy t says

    We have used an elf since out oldest son was a baby -we would move him around to different places too, although not near as creative as your adorable pictures -all of them are funny but Max making the pancakes is too funny.( and they are just the size he would make!) So the oldest is 26 now and the other three boys are all teenagers -they pretend they don’t care about the elf but I secretly think they enjoy the tradition . So Beth enjoy every minute of this holiday season. And thanks for capturing these great projects and photos for your readers-I always leave here motivated.

  26. Micki says

    These are real cute ideas! This is the first year I am doing this with my daughter…How did you make those tiny pancakes?!

    • Beth says

      Thanks Micki! I put pancake batter in an old (thoroughly washed out and cleaned) mustard container and squeezed out a tiny amount into the skillet. They were a big hit!


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