25 Elf on the Shelf Ideas to Delight Your Kids in December

December is upon us, and if your house is anything like ours, this brings the return of our faithful friend, Mark the Elf. Some people will scoff, and others will make fun of the creepy little guy in your house, but my kids absolutely adore our Elf on the Shelf. We don’t use him as a behavior tool or claim he is some secret spy tool ready to ruin Christmas morning at the sign of a tantrum… we just have FUN.

A collage of Elf on the Shelf ideas As a bit of background, our Elf always returns on December 1, rather than right after Thanksgiving, and this helps to cut down his moves {and work for me!}. We will typically do a big breakfast that first day {or the first Saturday of the month if you have kiddos in school}. And starting small and building up to grander Elf on the Shelf stunts helps to curb burnout. Finding the crazy little guy is half the fun for my kids!

Elf on the Shelf with a mask on hanging from paper lanternsWhether you go big or go small, remember to have fun. As with so many things throughout motherhood, my kids’ reaction is the reason I do this year after year. They love it, talk about it throughout the year leading up to Christmas and I know it is a tradition they will remember for years to come.

So without further adieu, here is what our Elf on the Shelf has been up to during Decembers past…

  1. Brought Christmas PJs and their advent calendar on the first day.
  2. Snuck into the kids’ rooms and took selfies with them while they were sleeping, then texted them to Mom or Dad.
  3. Wrapped random items the kids needed for school the next day – backpack, instrument, etc.
  4. Used the toilet to go “ice fishing” with goldfish snacks and powdered sugar. {Hint: Use Glad Press and Seal Wrap for the easiest ice set up!}
  5. Made a cookie sprinkle angel {think snow, but with sprinkles! Cleaner than flour, too.}.
  6. Had a “snowball” {mini marshmallow} fight with Mario and Luigi.
  7. Had a hot tub party with some Barbies {cotton balls or mini marshmallows in a baking dish}.
  8. Did a drive in movie with another toy in a Barbie car, left a trail of popcorn from the kitchen.
  9. Used a dry erase marker to put mustaches on our framed family photos.
  10. Pulled out all of the kids books and read them all in a night, leaving piles in the living room.
  11. Put out a box and asked the kids to go around and collect some toys they do not play with anymore to donate – and explained the real reason for the season!
  12. Delivered a gingerbread house for the kids to build together.
  13. Switched out the stockings over the fireplace for undies {Our boys LOVE this one!}.
  14. Brought hot cocoa supplies to the kids and told them we would have a movie and cocoa party that night.
  15. Dyed our milk in the fridge red and green.
  16. Hid in the nativity scene.
  17. Did a zip line through the kitchen on string and a candy cane {or Christmas lights}.
  18. Took turns hiding in the kids’ bedrooms.
  19. Went “rock climbing” on the window, using gift bows.
  20. Played the Floor is Lava with painter’s tape on the window.
  21. Played board games.
  22. Stuck googly eyes on our photos.
  23. Rolled through the house inside a roll of toilet paper, leaving a trail behind.
  24. Spelled out “I pead.” with frozen peas. {Might be crass, but it was a great lesson on homophones!}
  25. Road a sled through the house pulled by two dinosaurs.

What is your Elf on the Shelf up to this month? Share your ideas with us!


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Ann grew up in central Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State, where she met and later married her husband, Cory. They moved to Houston in 2007 and she started working in the nonprofit sector handling communications and marketing. She’s mom to three kids, Jack {June 2104}, Colin {September 2016}, and Abby {April 2019} and had every intention of being a working mom, but several months after their first was born her husband’s job led them to Calgary, Alberta Canada. After moving back to the area in September 2017, they gave up their previous inner loop status for suburban roots and are living in Spring. In her free time, Ann loves starting projects she never seems to finish, reading a good book and binge watching something other than Frozen or Dino Dan. Connect with her via Instagram {@annherlocher}.


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