April 24, 2014

15 Fun Creative Ideas To Hide Your Elf On The Shelf

It’s that time of the year again- Time for the Elf on The Shelf to come watch over The Complicated House to make sure all the little kiddies are on their best behavior.

To say my son is excited is an understatement at best.

 We started the Elf On The Shelf tradition with our son 2 years ago when he was 3 1/2. At the time it wasn’t as popular as it is now.

Now its every where you look.

Everyone has an elf.

And when more people have elves, more people get creative… and when more people get creative with their elves… well, it makes you step up your game.

Which is why I posted this calling for Elf On The Shelf Ideas last year.

To date. This is my most popular post.

I know. You are shocked with all of the top-quality content on this blog. But it’s true. Even with all of the deep political issues I address, tackling issues that affect the future of our children, still … Elf On the Shelf remains my most popular post…. even in mid-May.

I received some great ideas from my readers last year that we used with our Elf (cleverly named “Elf THE shelf” by my then 3 yr old). So I thought I would compose a list of some of the ideas shared as well as some that I came up with myself… because sometimes it can be challenging thinking of fun new ways to hide your elf…25+ times.

15 Fun Ways To Hide Your Elf On the Shelf

1- Flying Gift Giving Elf: Hang your Elf from a fan in your house. Print out Elf On The Shelf Printable Gift Tags and scatter them about on the floor for your child to color and tag his/her own gifts.

2- Chef Elf: Place your Elf by your spice rack with wooden spoon in hand and “floured- up” bowl. Next to the bowl leave a ziplock bag labeled “Reindeer Food”. You can find the recipe for Reindeer Food here. Your children can use this to sprinkle outside your home on Christmas eve.

3- Underwear Bandit Elf: Place your Elf in your Christmas Tree and scatter your child’s underwear and socks on the tree and on the floor. (My son got a kick out of this one)

4- Just Back From the North Pole Elf : Seat your Elf on a window ledge and sprinkle him (and around him) with bits of “Coconut” to give the effect of snow brought back from the north pole. Optional gift add-on: You can purchase this “instant snow” kit for fun.

5- Couch Potato Elf: Place your Elf in your living room with a remote control near him and little bits of popcorn & glitter in a paper cupcake liner. If your local station is showing a Christmas Cartoon that night you can print out a picture of that movie and leave it nearby or leave out your child’s favorite Christmas DVD.

6- Just “Elfing Around” Elf: Hang your elf from a curtain rod. Using a roll of toilet paper toilet paper the room leaving one end in the Elf’s hands. (Another favorite Elf trick my son loved)

7- Picasso Elf: Sit the Elf on a shelf with a marker in his hands. Using dry-erase markers, draw funny faces on family pictures you have displayed in your home, make them hang lopsided, turn some around or upside down. Optional gift add-on: Leave your child a package of window markers to decorate the windows in your house. Crayola has a great line of window markers that usually retail for around $6.

8- Sweet Elf: Hang candy canes on your light fixtures and place the elf near one (maybe hanging from one?) with a candy cane in his arms too.

9- Kissable Elf: Hand your Elf in a doorway with your mistletoe. Leave Hershey Kisses scattered on the floor.

10- Game Time Elf: Take out your child’s favorite board game and place the Elf sitting with 2 or 3 of your child’s other favorite toys as if they were playing the game at night. (Think Toy Story with Andy’s Toys)

11- Bookworm Elf: Leave your elf under your tree or on a table with a favorite Christmas book opened. You could surround him by other stuffed animals and toys to make it look like he was reading to the other toys.

12- Marshmallow-fellow Elf: Make your elf appear to be roasting marshmallows by seating your elf next to your stove or in the kitchen next to a small tea light candle. Take a small stick from outside place a mini marshmallow on the end of it and place the stick in your elfs arms. Scatter some marshmellows around the Elf. Optional gift add on: Leave the makings of S’mores, packages of hot cocoa or a gingerbread house next to your elf as a small gift for your child.

13- Stocking Stuffer Elf: Place your Elf in your child’s stocking with some Christmas coloring pages peeking out family members stockings.

14- Shoe Sleding Elf: Hide your elf in your child’s shoe holding on to the shoe laces like Santa holds the reins on his sleigh. Place the shoe by an outside door, window or chimney.

15- Big Brother Elf: Get a felt Elf hat and write your child’s name on it in glitter. You can find a felt elf hat at Oriental Trading or at your local dollar store (this is where we found ours). Place your Elf hanging from your coat rack with the hat hanging up on a hook too. If you don’t have a coat rack, you can leave out coat or sweat shirt near your door with your Elf peeking out of one sleeve and the hat peeking out of the other.

Want more ideas? Check out our app- available now for iPhone in the iTunes App store.

Disclosure: This post was done without any ties to the Elf On Shelf company. This list is my original list composed of both my own ideas and those of my readers who shared their ideas last year on my blog.

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  • http://www.mommyneedsavacation.com Rachel- Mommy Needs a Vacation

    I LOVE our Elf on the Shelf!! He is making his debut tonight! His 1st location is in a mini Christmas tree in the kitchen. I love your ideas- very creative!

    • MBAKER


  • Kmama

    Great ideas. I needed these, seeing as we just got an Elf this year. I haven’t pulled him out…YET. But, we’ve read the book a few times.

    One idea I read before was to buy mini marshmallows and scatter them about and say the Elf got into a snowball fight.

    • http://www.complicatedmama.com Complicated Mama

      We just did something very similar! We bought Hostess snowball cakes and individually wrapped them in plastic wrap.. one in the Elf’s hands and the other lying on top of a Sonic stuffed animal (as if the Elf hit Sonic with a snowball) …lol

      We left a note saying they were from Mrs. Claus’ kitchen.

      Love the Marshmallow idea too!

      • HTRACY


  • http://twitter.com/corrinrenee Corrin Foster

    Underwear Thief Elf is clearly the best one. That’s hysterical!

    • http://www.complicatedmama.com Complicated Mama

      For my son it was a toss up between that and the mischievous toilet papering of the house.

      • Skipmiss

        our Elf got into the flour canister and left tiny elf tracks back across the cabinet leading into the family room and finally found him hanging out at the fireplace roasting smores! kids went wild!

    • TBAKER


  • http://www.facebook.com/thisfullhouse Liz Thompson

    I have never heard of this until last year. My 9 year-old (she’s the youngest of 4) is obsessed with the idea of finding an elf, this year. Thanks for the tips!


      YES! knew it! elf on the shelf is F-A-K-E! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • http://www.lifeasaceo.com Chrissymacceo

    Seriously incredible post–you have no idea how many times I’ve run out of place for “Zip” because, after 2 years, where the freak else am I gonna do with him. And let’s not forget the number of times I forget all together and have to sprint out and move him an inch or two and beg the kids to see the difference! LOL! I may use this post as inspiration, if you don’t mind!

    • LEAH


  • tonya

    Cute ideas! This is our elf”s fourth Christmas season in our house, and I have to say, I’m not sorry to see him go! More than once, I’ve had to explain why he didn’t move from the night before!

  • angie

    Last year, our elf “Jangles” wrote naughty on my forehead with a black eyeliner (yes I looked in the mirror and wrote it backwards). My kids 7 and 10, still laugh about it. That was the best one!

  • Madisonharv

    Ha! I love the “Naughty Mommy” one. We just got our 2nd elf, Ginger, for my little girls. We already had a boy. But the arrival was super cute. I bought some fake snowflakes and hung them all around my house. The kids had no idea a new elf was coming, they thought our 1st elf, Sprig, did this. But when they walked into the kitchen, they were amazed by seeing 2 little elves and a note hanging on the chandelier. They will never forget this.

  • Madisonharv

    Ha! I love the “Naughty Mommy” one. We just got our 2nd elf, Ginger, for my little girls. We already had a boy. But the arrival was super cute. I bought some fake snowflakes and hung them all around my house. The kids had no idea a new elf was coming, they thought our 1st elf, Sprig, did this. But when they walked into the kitchen, they were amazed by seeing 2 little elves and a note hanging on the chandelier. They will never forget this.

  • Ksullivan

    Hide him in the freezer, he likes it there since it is like the North Pole.

  • http://www.mommyfriend.com Mommyfriend

    OMG, that’s it, I need me an Elf on the Shelf! Am I the only one without one? My poor kids!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lilmsbeachbumm Teresa Sumner Canaday

      I am also another mom who needs to get one.

  • mdixon

    thanks for all these ideas. somewhere along the way, our elf was co-mingled with our advent calendar. one of the kind that you reuse each year and can put messages in. so our elf leaves nightly messages in the calendar. sometimes treats, sometimes messages. lately i’ve tried to make the messages something thoughtful like “do something for someone else today and i want to hear you tell your mommy and daddy tonight” or a riddle giving a clue to where he’s hiding or something like that. lots of fun. a bit of work thinking up the lines though.

  • Madisonharv

    Last night, our elves brought some poinsettas back from the north pole.

  • Staci Mizell

    awww!! Elves are Fake? I was determined to get an elf this year from santa…. :(

  • http://lakeside-chatter.blogspot.com/ Maryickert

    Love it. Thanks for sharing. I am linking this to my blog to share with the countless many other Moms in my community who are also stressing out over this little Elf.

  • Lynn Ivey

    This weekend I’m going to park my car in the front yard (in the grass) and put him on pillows in the front seat. I read that on another board, so I thought I would share. I also had him sticking out (butt first) of the Cheeze Its box with a note that we were out. They happened to be the Scrabble version of Cheeze Its, so I wrote “Henry was here” in cheeze its. My boys loved it! I asked my little one if he helped him out of the box and he said no, he thought he was passed out!

  • Kmullini

    One night Kreckle took all the old Pez dispensers and lined them up in the living room. He has ridden tonka trucks, eaten cookies-he was found with his feet coming out of the oreo package, he has shown up when we have stayed in hotels and other family members house-he wrote a note and told my son to quit moving around so much he was hard to find. He has left small treats but only a couple of times during the Christmas season-this is a great family tradition.

    • Mimi

      I am a grandmother and lots of my younger friends have an “Elf on the Shelf” for their kids. It sounds like fun to me, and they say it is helpful with discipline during the holidays. But when I suggested it to my step-daughter, she said she thought the Elf sounded creepy, like someone watching you – a stalker? I really would like to do this for my grandchild, but I can’t go against her mother! Comments or ideas please?

  • Kismetprincess

    elves are real my mom doesent hide mine..

  • Kismetprincess

    all u non belivers are poops well at least my elf is real ha!!!

    • Kit

      I AGREE!!!!

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  • Ambivalent Woman

    Adorable ideas. How do you get around “not touching them or the magic is broken”? I think that’s how the story book explained it. Do you just leave the elf by the stove, on the sofa, or in the jacket sleeve? How have you adapted the story, I guess is what I’m asking?

    • Shelly

      We leave our elf where ever he is found, so we did the snow angel, where he was found making snow angels in a huge pile of salt and he sat there in it till my son went to bed at which time I cleaned him up and proceeded to TP the entire living room. :) We have so much fun with our little elf, love watching my son giggle every morning when he sees what his elf did

  • Katie Felt

    We put our elf under the tree with legos scattered all around him and made it look like he was building with the legos.  The kids got a big hit out of it!  The elf left a small lego package for each kid…the little kits can be bought at Toys R Us and I have seen them at Target and Walmart also.  It has the legos for a tree or snowman in each one.  I think they are around $3.99 each.

    • Mommy23

      Love that idea too

  • Jbaker

    I think its mean to trick your kids and its mean to do that to your elf on the shelf

  • Adickens7

    I put our elf, Johnny, in our Christmas wreath, looking in our door. He put candycanes on the wreath for the kids. 
    We also put those window gel-clings that said “Merry Christmas” on one of our big mirrors with him perched on top.
    Favorite was all of the ingredients for peanut butter kiss cookies lined up with Johnny at the end in one of my fine Christmas china cups(forbidden to the children).
    Johnny and the grinch and 2 santas perched in the kids’ stockings.

  • Kit

    The elf on the shelf is not fake!! I turned around once and it was flying!!! NO STRING!!!! I WAS THERE!!!

  • Fay

    Wonderful ideas Thankyou! Its our first elf year and we are finding our feet :)

  • Amyckeffer

    This is worth the read just for the hilarious intro.

  • Aquenzer

    Sprinkle powder sugar or flour on the floor or countertop in the kitchen, place your elf in it (lying down on his back) and move his arms and legs to create a snow angel.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Dudek-Martin/100000235703576 Laura Dudek Martin

      Use salt or fake snow from the craft stores – not as attractive to bugs!

  • Fultonhunt

    We made a hot air ballon, then Barbie stole it so “HappyFace” if hanging from the bottom of it trying to get it back

    • http://www.complicatedmama.com Complicated Mama

      Thats a really creative one!! How did you make a hot air balloon?

  • Guest

    Love your ideas!

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  • Austindbr

    Put little notes every day reporting how they acted and put him by the clock Christmas eve showing the time is close to Christmas.

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  • Lam

    I am starting the elf on the shelf for my 3 1/2 year old son this week. He knows that Santa is sending a elf to our house to watch him but I told him I do not know when and how he is coming. He has asked me everyday since when Santa was sending a elf.. Well I went and bought the elf on the shelf today and I am going to start tomorrow night. How should I introduce him? Should he come sometime during the day or should my son wake up to the elf being at our house?? 
    Also, when did you start having your elf start leaving messes and such in your house.. I was wondering if I should should hide the elf this year or go ahead and go all out with him.. lol 

    • arg1218

      He should wake up to the elf ! On the elf’s first night, he should bring him a gift. Like xmas cookies, or a new xmas dvd or even some xmas pjs. your elf can toilet paper the living room, draw santa pictures and make sugar snow angels. Hope this helps !

  • Loganadyson@yahoo.com

    We started the elf tradition 4 years ago with my son, I had never heard of “elf on a shelf”. A friend of mine put a stuffed elf in a big vanilla envelope (it barely fit), with a letter to my son from Santa. The letter said that he was sending his elf, Jangles, to him to take care of until Christmas. Jangles gets into a lot of trouble at the north pole getting into things and making messes, and Santa is very busy getting ready for Christmas and needs some help taking care of him. I think this is so much better than the elf on a shelf for a couple reasons,
    1) this elf doesn’t look so creepy!
    2) the elf is bigger, and stuffed so the kids can sleep with them, cuddle up with them, etc
    3) they are allowed to touch them, there is no preset story you have to follow, or explain. why you didn’t follow.
    4) you don’t have to tell your kids there is this creepy looking elf in they’re house constantly watching them…

  • Loganadyson@yahoo.com

    OK, how do I delete my email address off of this? Oops!

  • Lifewiththehewittfamily

    Thanks for the ideas!  My son will just love seeing what Wally has been doing all night long!

  • Niehues519

    dump some salt, or sugar on the counter top or floor if you are brave. Leave the bag on its side and have the elf making snow angels in it. My kids love the elf, we often have him eating things with a messy mouth. :)

  • 3pinkgirlz

    My daughter came home the other day and said that the elf was in a classmates back pack…She thought this was hysterical

  • 3pinkgirlz

    My daughter came home the other day and said that the elf was in a classmates back pack…She thought this was hysterical

  • Sarahbear0618

    I just set up a baking sheet and covered it in granulated sugar..our elf got into the holiday spirit by making snow angels in the sugar! 

  • http://www.amadisonmom.com Colleen – amadisonmom

    Sigh.  Our elf is much less creative than your elf.  Right now she’s just hanging around at the top of the curtain rod.  :)

  • Guest

    If, like me, you forget to move your elf one night. Never fear… just tell them that “Elfie” didn’t want to report the naughty things he saw and decided to stay home. If they’re extra good today – he’ll have lots to tell Santa and will skip the bad stuff.

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  • Hollyg113

    Does anyone have any good excuses for when elf on a shelf doesnt move? I dropped the ball last night and now I am scrambling!

  • medicgrrl

    Love the ideas, we did ours doing snow angels in spilled flour :o)

  • Blaketireman

    our elf is wrapping the christmas tree with toliet paper tonight

  • Sabusch

    My friend placed their elf on the fish tank with a candle and string as a fishing rod… loved that one the best…..

  • Jill

    Our Elf “Dash” decided after watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer to paint our noses red last year! The kids loved that! He was still holding the paint brush with dried red paint when we woke up that Saturday morning.

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  • HeidiG

    Our Lil Elf Elvin is very clever. Our youngest just turned 10 in Sept and she absolutely loves her Elf. One morning we found Elvin sitting a a Barbie kitchen table decorating mini donuts, Cheerios with icing, another morning he was at the same table making mini Hershey kisses, milk chocolate chocolate chips wrapped in foil with the tag saying ‘for Our daughters name’, he had made Christmas scenes complete with mini snow flakes he cut out, marshmallow snowmen, etc. Last night he was in the middle of a roll of toilet paper and rolled all the was down the stairs leaving a trail of unrolled TO from the top all the way down. He is alot of fun and our whole family looks forward to his antics.

  • Brody


  • WebbyDoc

    Our elf Samantha is very mischievous, she also moves our stuffed Santa sitter every night and makes him look like the naughty one. Last nighth he was in the fridge stealing a coke from my best friend’s personal stock while Samantha was hiding safely in a giant conch shell like a hermit crab. She also snuck our daughters Nintendo DS and was playing it while hiding in a glass cake cover dish. Tonight she is drawing mustaches with lip liner on all the kids. She is a funny elf.

  • Trish

    Our elf went fishing. He was sitting ontop of our fish tank with a fishing rod he made. He was smart we noticed he feed the fish to lore them and then dropped his line in the tank.

  • mia 8 year old

    I’m 8 years old and I found this wesite right now this is not true how would you feel if you if your life just got ruend by this I really hate this website take it down and pluss just to top it of I’m telling my mom and my friends at sckhool so ya this wesite stanks

  • mia 8 year old

    Hey moms out there don’t belive everthing you se I’m eight years ols

  • Mark

    Wow I had no idea this elf thing existed. I like it!

    Here’s a quick vid showing how kids can make a cool card, Christmas or otherwise: http://youtu.be/11YSocbdy0Q

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  • Susan Jaggers

    Thank you for all the ideas (especially with optional gift ideas). I love to see naughty elf hijinks but am planning on making our elf demonstrate nice behavior. Your ideas will be a big help for our first Elfin’ Christmas :)

  • jennifer

    you crushed my dreams im 9 years old seeing this and now i know my mom moves him places

  • Shelby Parker

    Great ideas! I hide both our elves (Star and Tyler), for my little twin sisters. They love it! They leave little notes and treats for them and they “write back”. I was running out of hiding spots, so this really helped! Thank you!

  • JohnSmith

    When I was a kid, I did something that my mother didn’t know about, but found out about somehow. When I asked her how she knew, she said something along the lines that she had little spies to help her keep an eye on me. That screwed up my head for a long time, and gave me bouts of paranoia. Parents, do your kids a favor. Don’t lie to them. Don’t mess with their heads.