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The 24 Cutest Elf On The Shelf Arrival Ideas

Elf On The Shelf is a Christmas tradition that kids love.

Looking for the best Elf On The Shelf arrival ideas for the holiday season?

This article has got all the inspiration you need for the perfect Elf On The Shelf arrival ideas for your family to enjoy this December. Read on to discover clever ways to hide the elf and plenty of fun elf scenes for your kids to discover as they come down for breakfast!

The idea for Elf On The Shelf originated in America and involves showcasing or hiding a little elf somewhere in the house for your kids to discover each morning in December. The Elf On The Shelf is Santa's helper and he arrives on the first of December every year to check that everyone has been good this year.

The Elf On The Shelf doesn't normally bring gifts, but to signify his arrival, he does send an arrival letter, for which you can find templates online. Afterward, you should create one scene featuring the elf per day until Christmas Eve, making it a sort of advent calendar. You can buy an elf doll online or create your own! You could also use several elves to hide around the house every day.  

Some parents have a rule that kids can't touch the elf, and if they do they have to write an apology note to Santa! This rule adds an extra bit of magic to the game if you choose to implement it.

Organizing the elf arrival is great fun during the holiday season and the best elf arrival ideas below are bound to entertain them during the whole Christmas season! There are 24 Elf On The Shelf ideas, one for each day in your December advent calendar to count down until Christmas day.

If you enjoyed this Elf On The Shelf ideas article, you might enjoy reading these ideas for [6-year-old birthday parties], or for [baby's first Christmas].

Elf On The Shelf Arrival Ideas For Toddlers

The Elf On The Shelf works with Santa to check who has been nice or naughty this year.

Elf On The Shelf Hiding In Toys

How To Do It: Simply hide the elf amongst your toddlers' toys and wait for them to find it in the morning. You could arrange a cute little scene with the toys, like an elves' tea party!

Why It's Great: This idea is very easy to put in place but it will delight a toddler, who can then have fun playing with the elf and the toys.

Elf On The Shelf Riding In A Slipper

How To Do It: Use an adult's slipper and place the elf inside it as if it were a sleigh. Then, you can place the slipper somewhere the toddler is likely to stumble across it, like at the bottom of the stairs.

Why It's Great: This is a really easy action shot to recreate and it is holiday-themed!

Elf On The Shelf Is Stuck

How To Do It: Simply place the elf somewhere in your home where it might get stuck. This could be between two parts of the blinds, or between a closing door. Make sure it is somewhere your toddler can reach and somewhere they won't get injured retrieving it!

Why It's Great: A very easy scene to prepare, but one that has tons of comedic potential. Your toddler will love rescuing the elf.

Elf On The Shelf Taking A Bath

How To Do It: Fill your bathroom or kitchen sink with foamy water, or with some cotton balls to mimic bubbles. Then, place the elf inside it as if it were taking a bath. Add a rubber duck if you have one!

Why It's Great: One of the most customizable Elf On The Shelf arrival ideas, you can create it with whatever you have on hand.

Elf On The Shelf Making Dinner

How To Do It: Use a mini frying pan (or a full-sized one if you don't own a small one) and place some candy such as fried eggs in it. Place the elf next to the pan holding a mini utensil if you have one, and voila, your elf is cooking breakfast!

Why It's Great: As Elf On The Shelf ideas go, this is a very funny arrival scene that your family will love discovering when they arrive for breakfast. The cute candy is a bonus too!

Elf On The Shelf At The Beach

How To Do It: Use some sand or gravel to create a mini beach for the elf to relax on. Then cut out a small towel from some old cloth and lay the elf on top of it. You could use a cocktail umbrella to accessorize the scene. If you have a printer at home, there are stencils and DIY kits online to create the best beach scene for Elf On The Shelf.

Why It's Great: This fun arrival scene is sure to make the toddler laugh, and they can play with the elf at the beach!

Elf On The Shelf Arrival Ideas For Under 10s

These Elf On The Shelf ideas will help get the kids in the spirit of Christmas this December!

Elf On The Shelf In Quarantine

How To Do It: Make a little face mask for your elf, then create a room in a shoebox for it to be in quarantine. You can arrange it with mini books, a bed, and whatever else you can find to decorate it!

Why It's Great: It's both topical and fun!

Elf On The Shelf Caught Red Handed

How To Do It: Set up a 'heist' that the elf might be committing, for example stealing some coins from your child's piggy bank. Scatter some of the coins around and place the elf next to them. You could use small tools or swords if you have them.

Why It's Great: This fun arrival scene is bound to make your kids laugh and they can then play along, continuing the heist!

Elf On The Shelf Stealing Homework

How To Do It: Remove one or two books from your kids' school bags, open them to a certain page and place the elf next to it. You could add a pen in the elf's hands to pretend that he is writing on the homework.

Why It's Great: Your kids will no doubt find the idea that their homework can be tampered with by elves appealing!

Elf On The Shelf Getting Photocopied

How To Do It: If you have a printer and scanner at home, place the elf inside it and scan once. Leave the document obtained in the outbound tray for your kids to find, leading them to the elf!

Why It's Great: This is a cheeky idea that is incredibly easy to set up. Plus, your kids can also use the printout as a coloring page!

Elf On The Shelf Keeping Warm

How To Do It: This is a play on words. Toast a slice of bread, place the elf on a plate then the bread on top. Add a post-it note saying "I'm nice and toasty!".

Why It's Great: This whole scene will take two minutes to organize, but it will make the whole family laugh when they come down for breakfast!

Elf On The Shelf Wrapping Christmas Presents

How To Do It: Wrap up an everyday object that is commonly used, such as a chair, a lamp, or even the toilet if you have time! Leave it in its usual place and place the elf next to it, with some tape and wrapping paper.

Why It's Great: This incongruous arrival scene is also a prank for whoever wants to use that object you have wrapped!

Elf On The Shelf Hostage Scene

How To Do It: Use some of your child's other toys and set up a hostage scene near the bathtub or the toilet. Make it look like one of the toys is threatening to push the elf in, for example.

Why It's Great: This fun arrival scene is customizable according to what toys you find and kids are sure to find it hilarious!

Elf On The Shelf In Leftovers

How To Do It: Using some leftover food on a plate, make it look like the elf has been eating and has fallen asleep after consuming too much food! Leave cutlery beside the plate to make it more realistic.

Why It's Great: One of the easiest Elf On The Shelf ideas that creates an entertaining scene!

Elf On The Shelf Gone Skiing

How To Do It: Create a mountain scene by painting some cardboard white and making it into a ski slope. Create mini skis out of cardboard and use sticks for the elf to go skiing. If you are feeling creative, you could make some pine trees and fake snow to decorate!

Why It's Great: This could be a DIY project for you to create a cute arrival scene for the kids to uncover in the morning.

Elf On The Shelf Banging The Drums

How To Do It: Using some empty tin cans, create a 'drum set' for the elf to use. Sit him down behind the tins with two sticks, and find him some bandmates if possible!

Why It's Great: A creative way to use some recyclable materials.

Elf On The Shelf With Snowmen

How To Do It: There are several ways to make snowmen. You could make little meringues, or use cotton wool balls! Apart from snowmen, you could create other characters such as Santa to complete the scene.

Why It's Great: This cute scene requires a bit of baking or DIY which can be fun to do with kids.

Elf On The Shelf Making Snow Angels

How To Do It: Spread some flour onto a table or countertop. Spread the elf's arms and make snow angels in the dust. Leave the elf nearby so he can be identified as the culprit!

Why It's Great: A very easy but cute idea for the Christmas season.

Easy Elf On The Shelf Arrival Ideas

Elf On The Shelf Is The Star Of The Christmas Tree

How To Do It: Simply replace the star or the figurine at the top of your Christmas tree with the elf - this might require some tape!

Why It's Great: It takes two minutes to set up but your kids can spend hours looking for the elf on the shelf!

Elf On The Shelf Befriends The Pets

How To Do It: If you have a pet, place the elf near it or inside its cage, pretending that they've become friends.

Why It's Great: Pets love elves too, and shouldn't be forgotten in these fun ideas!

Elf On The Shelf Raiding The Kitchen

How To Do It: Pile up some tins and cans from the cupboard to make a ladder on which the elf is trying to reach the pantry.

Why It's Great: Like many of the best arrival ideas, this entertaining scene uses materials you already have!

Elf On The Shelf Climbing The Christmas Tree

How To Do It: Place the elf in the Christmas tree, grabbing onto some tinsel, so it looks like he is climbing it!

Why It's Great: This dramatic scene will take you a minute to prepare, but the kids will find it hilarious when they come downstairs in the morning!

Elf On The Shelf Causing Mischief

How To Do It: Take a small container of cheap ingredients like rice and spill it onto a table, leaving the container upturned next to it. Hide the elf nearby as if he was the one causing havoc.

Why It's Great: This is a funny elf arrival scene that the kids will love to discover in the morning!

Elf On The Shelf Toilet Paper Prank

How To Do It: Take one roll of toilet paper and unravel it messily. Place it in the elf's hands so it looks like this was his doing.

Why It's Great: An easy, comical scene using materials you definitely already have!

If you found these ideas for Elf On The Shelf arrival in December helpful, then why not take a look at these [January preschool theme] ideas and February preschool theme ideas for the months to come?

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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