“Elf on the Shelf” has become a beloved holiday tradition in many households around the world. As we gear up for the holiday season in 2023, it’s time to start brainstorming some fresh and exciting ideas to make your Elf’s visit truly magical.
Whether you’re a seasoned Elf enthusiast or a newbie looking for inspiration, this blog is your go-to source for the most creative, fun, and heartwarming Elf on the Shelf ideas for 2023. Get ready to embark on a new adventure with your mischievous little visitor as we dive into a world of enchanting holiday escapades and delightful surprises that will bring joy and laughter to your family’s holiday season.
But before we get into the ideas side of things, I feel like I should introduce you to our family’s elves. We’ve had elves visit at Christmas since my eldest daughter was around 6 or 7, and she’s now 16! First off came Jingle, and a year or two later he turned up with his new wife Holly. Fast forward a few years and they had little baby Tinsel (everyone knows that elves are babies for many years, so our Tinsel is still a baby!) Then came Jingle’s cousin, Vince Pie. Vince tends to be the naughty one who tends to do bad things to his elf relatives! Last year they had decided to add to their family with a pet dog – Sprout!
Now we’ve go the introductions over with, let’s make this year’s Elf on the Shelf experience one to remember!
Here, the elves have made some brownies – or are they brown-Es?! Very easy to do, both quick and cheap. Simply cut some E shapes out of brown paper and lay them on a baking sheet. Download our free Brown-Es printable.
Elf Dog Sled Ride
The elves are enjoying a husky sled ride. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a sled or husky to hand, just swap them out for some stuffed toy dogs and shoes or boots.
Elf Ball Pit Slide
Those elves do love to have fun! For this elf ball pit all you need is a box, some plastic play balls, and something to use as a slide. I used some toy car ramps, but you can easily use a piece of card to make a simple slide.
As we all know, elves have a very sweet tooth. Make them a fun breakfast with a couple of slices of bread and cover with candy.
We Don’t Talk About Bruno!
This one if for fans of Encanto! Print out our free “We don’t talk about Bruno” printable, and then grab some tape and use it to cover the mouth(s) of the elf or elves.
The Masked Singer Elves
If you have a Masked Singer fan in your house, then this is perfect for you! Just download the free printable from the Elf on the Shelf website, cut out the masks and pop onto your elves. If you only have one elf you can use other dolls, action figures of stuffed animals.
Elf Car Wash
I have two versions of this that I’ve used. The large scale one above, with the Little Tikes car and ride-on, plus the one below with smaller toy cars. All you need is a sponge or cloth, some water, and a variety of cars.
This is one of my favorites! The elf choir is made up of a collection of soda cans, with googly eyes stuck on. Googly eyes are a good addition to have in your elf supplies kit, and can be used for many different set-ups.
Elf Craft Time
This elf craft time is a fun one to do, but takes a little more time and planning to set up. It can be as simple or complicated as you wish. Collect some art and craft supplies and lay them out on a table with the elf/elves. You can either leave it at that, or premake some of the crafts yourself, as I have done in the photos here. Or you can leave it for your child to do the crafts themselves.
This one appeals to my sense of humor! It’s a gingerbread house, but not as we know it! All you need is a few slices of bread and some pots of ground ginger, or you could even use fresh ginger. I followed it up the following day with an actual gingerbread house kit for the kids to use.
Here, you can see the elves haven’t quite got the hang of how to play the Hungry Hippos game!
The Melted Snowman
The elves meant well, but didn’t really think it through when they tried to bring a snowman back from the North Pole! All you need is a bowl, a couple of googly eyes and either a small carrot, or cut the tip off a regular carrot. Add the lot to a bowl of water and a note to explain.
Mr Potato Head
Remember what I said earlier about our elf Vince Pie being a bit on the naughty side? Well, this is him in action. He’s grating poor Mr Potato Head and making chips/crisps out of him.
Elf Wraps the Toilet
The naughty elf has wrapped up the toilet! One of the more time-consuming and noisy set-ups. Make sure you have enough wrapping paper in advance, the larger size paper rolls are best for this one. You don’t have to go overboard with tape here, just a few pieces here and there will hold it sufficiently.
Simple to set up, a game of tic-tac-toe/noughts & crosses. Mark out a grid using tape, and the Xs and Os can be small rolls of tape, and gift bows.
Elf Taco Tuesday
A good one for Tuesdays, this Taco Tuesday sees the elf wrapped up in a wrap. Cut a hole in the wrap so the elf’s face can be seen, and you can also add a little lettuce if you have any.
A quick and easy one to set up, but takes a little longer to clean up! Sprinkle flour, sugar or fake snow on a surface that’s easy to wipe down. Then leave you elf to make snow angels in it (he might need a little help here!)
Piggy Bank Heist
Here’s our pesky Vince Pie again! This time he’s robbing a piggy bank, and has tied up Holly, Tinsel and Sprout. Along with some regular coins, I laid out some chocolate coins.
Pin the Nose on the Reindeer
A fun game for the elves to play – Pin the nose on the reindeer. Download our free pin the nose on the reindeer game.
Grow your Own Candy Canes
This has the benefit of running over two days. On the first day leave out some “candy cane seeds” (Tic Tacs or other small candy), and a small pot/jar of sugar, with a note telling the child to plant the “seeds.” The following day, take out the “seeds” and replace with candy canes.
The Elf Peed!
The kids will think it’s hilarious when the elf pees himself! All you need is some fresh or frozen peas.
Here, the elf or elves replace the Oreo filling with mint toothpaste. Mini Oreos work best for this as you won’t waste as much toothpaste, but you can just use regular ones. Simple cut open the Oreos, scrape out the filling and replace with mint toothpaste.
Here they’re enjoying an elf campfire, and toasting marshmallows. All you need is a small candle or tealight, some toothpicks and mini marshmallows. Please do not leave candles lit unattended/overnight. Toast the marshmallows the night before.
Kids will love seeing the elves all in a jumble as they play this mini version of Twister. If you don’t have multiple elves, enlist the help of your child’s stuffed toys or action figures/dolls. Download a free printable version here.
One that’s very easy to set up. If you don’t have Uno, any card or board game will work. Again, if you only have one elf, just use other dolls or toys.
* Free printables are provided for your own personal use. They must not be shared, sold, or redistributed in any way.