Have you found yourself here, looking for last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas? For many of the parents that I talk to, having to constantly come up with new creative Elf on the Shelf scenarios often adds to the Christmas stress. Even just remembering to do it every night can be a struggle.
Why don't we just go back to where it all started for a sec? You think this will be great. Let's start a fun little tradition with the kids. Only now you have to follow through with that tradition every year until… until the children have THAT realization.
I really can't even type what THAT is. I can't put IT out into the world and on the internet. THAT famous Christmas children's realization might jinx me if I do. I'm sure you know what I mean. And hey, kids are smart, I'm sure they'll drag this Elf reporting to Santa thing out as long as they can. At least a few more years than necessary.
Does that sound familiar? I actually love having that cheeky little character come back. Crazy huh? Having said that my boys and I have only been graced with the Elf on the Shelf since last year. So perhaps I'm still fresh?!
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Helping you with last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas
I'm a last-minute kinda gal. I have every intention of planning and doing things ahead of time but it just never works out that way. Perhaps for you too? Sometimes it's a late night, a distracting one, or maybe a few too many drinks from the work Christmas party. Then at some point (very late), I realize I need to do an Elf thing again.
There are some props required in these ideas. You can draw and cut them yourself but why make it harder? If you have access to a printer, I've created a free printable download with the photo props I used for my Elf shenanigans.
I've collected all of the shenanigans our Elf, Steve got up to with us last year. Each year I'll add more ideas and printables to this post to give you inspiration. Most of these are easily last-minute ideas where you'll only need everyday things from the home.
Once you have some Elf antics ideas, you might want to go one step further in your planning and preparation. I sell a range of printable Christmas Elf planners and calendars to help you plan out and keep on top of your Elf shenanigans.
Lastly, if one night your Elf doesn't move, you might want to check out my article with 32 creative reasons your Elf didn't move so that you can tell the kids and their little hearts won't break.
The Who on the What? But why?
Are you fresh into this whole “elf” thing? Are you where I was last year? To be honest, I was bewildered for a couple of years. I'd heard this phrase branded around mother's groups, school, and from all of the kids. But what was it and why oh why is everyone so obsessed with a Christmas doll?
Before we get into some ideas, here is a brief run down of exactly what you're in for. Each year Santa sends an elf to your home to watch over the children and ensure they are behaving. Every night the elf will return to the North Pole to report back to Santa on whether the kids were good or bad. Will the children make the nice or naughty list? Your elf will be back in time for your children to wake in the morning.
What do kids love so much about Elf on the Shelf? What will they be doing tomorrow when they wake up? Where will they be? Elves can be funny, adventurous, or just downright cute.
Your elf will return each year, typically within the last week of November to the 1st of December. But as stated in the official Elf Guidelines, not every elf is the same and they may not always return at the same time every year. Phew. They really saved my skin on that one!
Elf on the Shelf Rules
Let's not forget the rules;
- DO NOT TOUCH YOUR ELF. If a child touches their elf then they will lose their magic. Ah! We can't have that.
- Your elf will return to the North pole after Christmas. They must in order to help Santa to prepare for next year. Also to save parents' sanity.
Of course, you can make your own adaptations and rules to suit your family (I sure do!). Also, I think my kids have seen their Elf in a box in the garage. I just tell them that his magic doesn't work until Christmas. They seem good with that!
Let's get into it. Here are my easy last minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas. I hope you love them.
#1 Elf pulling down Christmas tree star
I felt that the best place to start our Elf on the Shelf journey was on the Christmas tree. This is the beginning of his cheekiness for the coming weeks.
#2 Elf Snow Angel
This idea is easy as you're likely to have everything you need at hand. To avoid the mess I sprinkled some baking flour onto a baking tray and then our elf made a snow angel. What a cheeky elf, getting into Mum's baking ingredients!
#3 Elf Climbing a Wall
Use your Christmas bows to stick to a surface for your elf to climb up. Our elf climbed up a cabinet as I didn't want to ruin my walls!
#4 Funny Elf on the Shelf idea in the toilet
This idea is a classic and the kids will love it. Go with what you have on hand. You can make an Elf Poop sign or download the free printable. I stuck the Elf Poop sign to a pop stick but you could just stick it on a wall next to a bowl of chocolates if that's easier. I used Malteasers for the elf poop.
#5 Fun outdoor last minute Elf on the Shelf idea
I have play equipment with a slide in the backyard so I put our elf at the top of the slide. You could put your elf on any play equipment, trampoline, cubby house, etc.
#6 Snowman Head Chop
Ah. This one is another classic. If you haven't done this yet then you have to! Of course, any toilet paper shortages will not be in your favor. However, this is a great last minute Elf on the Shelf idea as most of us have toilet rolls (when I say “most”, I really mean all of us). Grab some colored markers to draw a snowman face and buttons. Cut an axe or download it free here.
#7 Elf vs Toys Battle
This is a great one that the boys especially will love. Grab all of their police or hero toys to put on a police chase. My kids had a Batmobile that was perfect for the toy battle. Our elf stole the car and the local authorities (including Buzz Lightyear) were on his case!
#8 Elf on the Shelf needs to pee
I'm not going to say that this is a classic… again. But it is! If you've never done the Elf on the Shelf peeing for lemonade, then you just have to! I'll even give you a printable sign to make it easier for you. I just filled some small plastic cups with water and yellow food coloring. Too easy!
#9 Super Easy Elf on the Shelf Idea: Movie Time!
I loved this Elf display for something quick and easy, I always have popcorn on hand for snack time. I just popped some in a container, placed it next to the Elf along with the remote, and it was sorted.
#10 Elf digging in the dirt
This is such a cute idea for the boys. If you have boys then you'll undoubtedly have a digger, dump truck or something similar at hand. I sat our elf in this loader within an indoor pot plant. Just another cheeky example of that Elf on the Shelf pushing the boundaries!
#11 It's an Elf Party!
It doesn't get easier than this. Clearly, you have children if you're reading this article. Grab their plushies and soft teddies, place them all together with your elf and you have a party! This has to be the easiest last minute Elf on the Shelf idea ever. Place any party props you have on hand like streamers, party poppers, balloons, glitter, etc to truly make it a party.
#12 Easy Elf on the Shelf Idea
Okay, if you don't have string, rope, twine, gift ribbon etc then this won't work for you. This is such an easy idea for your elf. Tie him (or her) with some rope from the ceiling. Then, Mission Impossible style your elf into your home.
#13 Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Idea with Games
My youngest boy loves his Pop Up Pirate game. So it was easy. I just positioned our elf playing the game and he loved it. You could use any game that you have at home for this idea.
#14 Playing noughts + crosses
For this idea, I stuck some washi tape to my kitchen splashback then reused the paper ribbons for the naughts and crosses. Make it more fun by using your child's favorite toy. In this example I used Batman and he had stolen our elf's hat for some added cheekiness.
#15 Elf Twister game
Okay, this one isn't as difficult as it looks, if only you'd grab my free printable elf twister. You can of course make you're own with some markers. If you have more than one elf this would be a great idea for them to play the game together.
#16 Elf looking for love
So so simple. This truly is an easy last minute Elf on the Shelf idea! I simply sat my elf in front of the laptop, after he had googled “girl elf on the shelf” in Google images. You can do the same for an ipad/tablet or phone too.
#17 Elf gets stuck under a bike
What kid doesn't have a bike (scooter, or similar)?! Simply place your elf under the wheel and he's sorted. The kids will get a laugh from this for sure.
#18 The funniest Elf on the Shelf Idea
My kids absolutely loved this elf idea. It's so easy… if you have a photocopier. Otherwise, it might be a little difficult. I simply photocopied the elf's bum as it appears below, then I place the copy on top so that my kids could see what was happening. This is definitely right up there when it comes to dad jokes so I'm sure he'll love this one too!
#19 The classic Elf on the Shelf… Driving
I used that word again… classic. In this picture, I have our Elf driving the car. I feel like I could really go a lot further with this one. With a kiddo on the spectrum who (obsessively) loves, love loves cars, I'll be setting myself the challenge of making more car-related Elf on the Shelf ideas next time!
#20 LEGO!!!!! Elf on the Shelf
Okay. If you have a boy (even a girl) then you will find this idea super fun and easy. Given my kids have lego spread through the house, I actually spent about 1-2 weeks collecting and organizing lego figurines at random times. On the kitchen bench, I placed a lego police officer on the elf and surrounded him with more lego characters. Clearly, our elf has been a little too mischievous and needs to be put back in line!
#21 Goodbye Elf on the Shelf
As with the beginning of our Elf on the Shelf mischief, I thought I'd finish with our elf on the Christmas Tree. I left a special Christmas note for the boys. It might be against the rules but I decided that the kids could hold and cuddle the elf for the last day. They could do what they wanted with him for the day. But only for a day. Then it's back to the North Pole with Santa. You can download your free editable Goodbye letter. Simply add your child/rens names and update the sign off to include your elf's name.
I hope you got some great last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas. Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can check back again next year for new ideas. I'd love to see your Elf shenanigans, tag me @avisualmerriment on Instagram or Facebook and I'll check them out!
Other resources you may like:
FREEBIE: Printable Farmhouse Christmas Table Decor
FREEBIE: Santa Beard Craft + Free Template
ARTICLE: 59 Home Activities for Kids
ARTICLE: 32 Reasons Elf on the Shelf Didn't Move Last Night
SHOP: Printable Christmas Elf planners and calendars