What is Elf on the Shelf?

As I’m watching the Thanksgiving day parade with my 7-year old daughter she suddenly screams out “Dad, look it’s that Elf on the Shelf!. Sure enough its one of those ginormous balloons of “Elf on the Shelf” held down by 30 people marching down 34th street. She goes on to tell me “I always wanted one to visit me…they come from the North Pole and show up in a different spot every day and then at night report back to Santa…oh I just wish so bad that one would visit me.”

Little did she know there was already an Elf scheduled to arrive the next morning! You can imagine her surprise and excitement! And that is exactly the magic of this sly little Elf with his mischievous smirk.

Morning time has become the highlight of the day as my daughter searches through the house to find out where “Buddy” (our Elf’s name) is today and what silly, crazy, or hilarious thing he is up to. I must say, I quite enjoy the whole thing myself.

There are an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to where the Elf ends up and what he might be doing. Here is a short collection of some of the most creative and fun ideas I have seen so far.

Happy Elf hunting!

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120 responses to Top 75 Elf On the Shelf Ideas [In Pictures]

  1. Hi, I love your elf on the shelf photos! I’ve put a link to them on my website as I think lots of people will enjoy them too!!

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  4. germaine at

    how do I get the pattern to make the elf

    • Annmarie at

      Its not a pattern. you buy the elf at a store.

      • Mary at

        You can make your own elf, I have a justin timber lake doll bought a Santa hat at the dollar store made a pattern got my glue gun and was done in 15 mins. Save $29.00.

      • Anonymous at


      • Anonymous at

        What stores sell these? Please my 2 kids r wanting 1.

        • Anonymous at

          You’re an ass.. I feel bad for your kids!

          • Anonymous at

            You’re a piece of poo.

        • Anonymous at

          I bought mine at Target..

        • Anonymous at

          Go to the web site they have an elf adoption centers aka a store that sells them in your area

        • Anonymous at

          Bed Bath and Beyond has them!

        • Anonymous at


        • Anonymous at

          Barnes & Noble bookstore sell them

        • Anonymous at

          Target sells them

        • Anonymous at

          Toys r us

        • Anonymous at

          They are sold at toys r us ,Barnes and etc.

    • Anonymous at

      Well u buy it

  5. Anonymous at

    very cute ideas

  6. Matthew Dickneite at

    I find great daily ideas everywhere, but I am in search of ideas for the ‘grand entrance’ into a child’s life. Any ideas?

    • Anonymous at

      @ Matthew Dickneite – we had ours come to the door – we set him up outside on a chair, rang the doorbell and had our sone answer – he was so excited when he opened the door that he didn’t even notice daddy sneak in through the garage after rigning the bell….the elf came with his book and a little suitcase too (since he was staying on our house)…..

    • Anonymous at

      I am going to have ours come to us on st nicks day :)

    • Tanya at

      I am going to have ours come to us on st nicks day :)

    • Lacey at

      We had ours sitting by the tree in a “hot air balloon”. We had some helium left from our sons birthday so we blew up a balloon and tied it to a basket that he was sitting in. The kids thought it was hilarious that he flew from the North Pole that way. :)

    • Anonymous at

      read the book

    • Anonymous at

      Matthew I am having ours burst out of a present this year, It will be a wrapped box with him busting out the middle of it with his note in hand and then when our daughter finishes opening the rest of the present it will be the elf on the shelf book. She was too young to really understand him last year so I am saving the book for this year when she is old enough to really get into it and enjoy her elf :)

    • Anonymous at

      I had a great idea this year. I put an extra small dog harness on thumper the rabbit, sprinkled glitter on him like fairy flying dust and a piece of ribbon as the leads. I had my elf in a sleigh and said that Shelfy had thumper fly her to the North pole… it was a beautiful scene… wish I could upload the pic here

    • Anonymous at

      Search “North Pole breakfast” on Pinterest. Best way for arrival I have seen. :)

    • Anonymous at

      When you put the tree up he appears thats how we did it with our kids, one parent sneaks off and has him doing something for the kids to find him doing. It worked great with mine!

  7. Anonymous at

    we had him zip line across the kitchen

  8. Rejeanne Pinard at

    I like to know if you got the face available I like to do craft

  9. Stacy Greathouse at

    I thought the story says that he makes sure the child is good and reports to Santa every night? So why does the elf make a mess when he returns?

    • Anonymous at

      Wondering the exact same question?! Any ideas?! Thanks!

  10. Ours Ralphie, doesn’t do anything when the children misbehave because Ralphie is too busy taking notes for Santa. Her only gets into fun mischief when they are good because he is bored. It encourages good behavior.

    • Anonymous at

      Great idea! Thanks :)

    • Brittany at

      Love this idea!! Thanks for sharing!! Will be using it!

  11. Anonymous at

    that Elf has too much fun with Barbie. Lol

  12. Anonymous at

    I have one of the origanals he must be at least 45 years old my mom bought him at higleys

  13. Tanie York at

    I’m getting one. My kids are 19 – 24 I lose things all the time this should be fun

    • Donna at

      Doesn’t have to be an elf. We’ve had a blast with the same shaped snowman, It’s all about imagination. Have fun :)

  14. Crystal at

    I seen the elf in the freezer with Ken clothes on…..for his first day. He was missing the cold weather already. I also seen the elf busting out of a package at the front door for the first day.

    • Anonymous at

      My elf is in camo and carries an ak47

    • Anonymous at

      “Saw” not “seen.”

      • Anonymous at

        Call the grammar police!!

  15. I’m ten

  16. Crystal Evans at

    Where can I buy one?

  17. Becca at

    Sparkles, our elf friend, is waiting with a small gift and a letter from Santa that includes something’s that need to be worked on (like listening) as well as some past and future events in my granddaughters life. If you go to you can get stationary with Santa’s signature and stamp on it. I can’t wait until we get home for her to see her friend again. She has missed Sparkles and wanted her to stay all year.

  18. Elf at

    These ideas defeat the entire purpose of buying an “Elf on a Shelf.”

  19. Anonymous at

    Ours was in the freezer having a “snowball fight” with my little pony and strawberry shortcake

  20. anne at

    I’m sorry to burst any bubbles here, but I am creeped out by this thing! It looks like a really great way to interact and have fun with your child while encouraging good behavior…nothing better!! I hate that they have him not doing anything when the child is bad because he’s taking notes for Santa. First of all, if I were a child, I would hate feeling like I’m being watched constantly…it will get old! Second of all, I wouldn’t want my child getting too used to that feeling of ‘being watched’ as that is what society is now coming too (sorry for the nay-saying, just facing realities). Cameras everywhere, be good or else, etc, etc. and they may want our children very used to it!!! Now that’s scary! I also believe that good and bad behavior is taught by the adults in the room, not some toy. I love the concept and the fun involved but wish that it could be for that sake alone and not have him coming from the North Pole and reporting back to the North Pole. My grandchildren will not be getting one from me, that’s for sure! And I’m pretty sure they WON’T be missing out.

    • Anonymous at

      I’m pretty sure your grandchildren have much bugger issues.

      • Anonymous at

        Your kids probably do too… Asshole.

      • Anonymous at

        And it’s ‘bigger’ not ‘bugger’. Ever heard of checking your spelling before posting your rude comments? Loser.

        • anonymous at

          Ever heard of double quotation marks when you are quoting somebody? Dummy.

        • Anonymous at


      • anne at

        Damn right they do!

    • Anonymous at

      Lighten up…good Lord.

    • Anonymous at

      My goodness, it’s just for fun. Kids love it. Don’t be such a Scrooge.

    • Serious?? at

      goodness. its all in fun.. it really encourages good behavior as the kids like seeing what kind of fun mischief that elf will get into… When they have bad days.. they dont get any tricks for the elf… I think its awesome!!!

      • Anonamous at

        So in order to teach good behavior you lie to your child?

        • anne at

          THANK YOU!

        • no, you don’t lie to your children, its called interacting with your children, spending time with them. Its called HAVING fun. I bet I know what you’re friends & family call you “SCROOGE” !!

          • Anonymous at

            You still don’t answer the question as to why you think it’s ok to lie to your child and then expect them not to lie to you. My family and I love Christmas. It has nothing to do with my love of Christmas. It has to do with the love and respect of a child. As someone stated above, do as I say not as I do does not go well.

        • Anonymous at

          So I guess you told your children & grandchildren that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are not real, since you don’t “lie” to them.

          • Anonymous at

            No, my children know the truth. That it is make believe.

        • So you don’t let your kids believe in Santa then either??

        • Anonymous at

          oh, so you never lied to your child, what about santa and the tooth fairy! Seriously get over it. It is something fun for children If they enjoy it let it be! But to you that are bashing this idea so much, I hate to see how you raised your children and who they grew up to be.

    • momof3 at

      This is why we have so many problems in America. It’s fun for the kids. Nothing more. People need to stop killing all the old tradition we grow up with.

    • Anonymous at

      Taking life way too seriously

    • Anonymous at

      I have the plushy one that kids can play with and interact
      With. It’s a fun thing. I luv it. Don’t be bah humbug!!

    • anonymous at

      Anne, you suck.

      • Anonymous at

        Anne, you do not suck at all. You bring up a valid point. Lies are lies. That’s why they name call because they know you’re right. Do as I say not as I do does not work people!

        • Grant Carrington at

          you are wrong….you both suck

          • anonymous at

            At least they don’t smoke the bone like you.

    • Anonymous at

      i was thinking the SAME thing, it creeps me right out, and i have a feeling it would creep out the kids too lol

  21. Liz at

    We have had Elf on the Shelf for several years. My grandchildren named our Clyde. He travels between my sons and my house. The kids all love seeing all the different places he winds up at.

  22. Darryl at

    Elf on the shelf is a great tradition that I started with my children last year! They love her! My oldest daughter (8),named her twizzle, and now my 2.5 year old son loves her as well! Read the story to them, watch the movie, and me and my gf have fun coming up with creative ideas on where she will end up next!

  23. Coderpro at

    Button our elf decided to have a theme. His theme is hats. He sneaks into my daughters room gets a hat or toy and sits in it or wears it. Today he took the top off her lip stick and is wearing it as a hat. She is loving it.

  24. Brenda at

    I bought the Elf and a Birthday Book, that came with a hat and cupcake costume for my granddaughter for her birthday last week. She doesn’t like it. I feel bad. I could have spent 36.00 on something else. Maybe she will like it next year. Personally, I don’t care either way. Its cute and creepy at the same time.

  25. Annon. at

    I’ve seen too many parents stress out because they forgot to ‘move’ the Elf…. and wonderful children become horribly depressed because the Elf didn’t move (mom and dad were too tired/busy/sick and didn’t move him by mistake) … It’s very had to convince a child that they really did nothing wrong after you’ve convinced them that the Elf only doesn’t move if your bad. Big reality check when you have to tell you child that you actually were lying to them …and yes, the only way to explain it is that you lied. Remember, you’ve spent years telling them that lying is wrong; and now mommy and daddy are liars.

    • Anonymous at

      I totally agree. It works the same way with Santa though. Do as I say not as I do is a terrible example that does not work. Bottom line is you are lying and really toying with the emotions of your child.

  26. Maryellen at

    Target sells them or any Hallmark store. Saw them in AC Moore too!

  27. Zippy the Elf at

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. He is a fun little elf that kids &parents enjoy. Our family looks forward to our elf returning every year. It’s ok to pretend. Pretending does not = lying. Sheesh!

    • Anonymous at

      How is it not lying? Explain that to me?

      • anonymous at

        You’re an idiot

        • Anonymous at

          Very intelligent response! I see that lying is not the only good example you set for your children. I suppose when your kids become teens and start lying and calling you names you’re going to be shocked! Where did they get that from?

  28. Lacy at

    ‘Jenkins’ borrowed my daughters glasses one night to read :) I think that was her favorite.

  29. I just heard on the “Today” show (when they were discussing the parade/floats) that the elf is a GIRL elf, not a boy! Her curly eyelashes and earrings are supposed to signify that fact! Anyway, this was from someone who’s supposed to know!

  30. anne at

    So I see that only the put down comments on the elf were noticed, as per usual. I did say he can be lots of fun, just don’t agree with the reporting back to anywhere when they are bad….doesn’t jive with me. And name calling just bounces right off me.

  31. Anonymous at

    There is both boy and girl, available at Home Hardware

  32. Anonymous at

    well I think if u do not have the elf on the self and u are not interested in one why does it matter to u really grow up people and don’t judge people on what they do in their homes its for kids nuff said

  33. Anonymous at

    The elves are fun and encourage a child one person who found out Santa wasn’t real and hates their parents..get real.. they dont stay mad at there parents who gave them something to believe in. children need to have innocent and something to believe in with the way the world is today..I look back and think i had a great childhood and it was great to spend time with my parents and be silly..they let me be a kid and encouraged me to be who i was. Now i can do the same for my kids. We have 2.. a boy elf and a girl kids love it..they wake up early just to see where the elves daughters class has one and she is excited to go to school and see where that one is everyday. It is just fun..

    If you want to buy one google elf on a shelf and find the website. .look for the elf adoption button click that and it will bring up all the stores in your area..or you can google and click shopping and buy them on extras.

    • Anonymous at

      There u go: )

    • Anonymous at

      Nobody said anything about hating anyone. You can encourage imagination in other ways. It still comes back to the same thing. How can you lie and then say don’t lie. It makes no sense. And obviously I was disappointed my parents lied to me otherwise I wouldn’t feel this way.

  34. Anonymous at

    Love it!

  35. Anonymous at

    I’m a bit confused in why the elf haters are even on here looking at this page?!?!? if u don’t believe in it and u don’t do it in ur home then stay off the page and let us that enjoy it have fun with it!!!

  36. Anonymous at

    I’m a bit confused in why the elf haters are even on here looking at this page?!?!? if u don’t believe in it and u don’t do it in ur home then stay off the page and let us that enjoy it have fun with it!!!

  37. Anonymous at

    Christmas Tree Store has reindeer with same concept.

  38. Shireen Parry at

    I had 2 of these little guys!! One looked like the one in your pictures, which is brilliant by the way! Then I had another one all in a good suit and hat!! Both if them came with a small box of chocolates!! Their arms were around the box. My parents gave them to me when I was alot younger. So they have been around for a good 50 years!!! I wish I still had all my Christmas stuff!! Thank you again for the pictures and ideas!! Merry Christmas

  39. Linda at

    I have never read the book or watched the movie or really get what the moral of the elf is but by the sounds of it it is rewarding good behaviour. Now even ifyou just get ( ormake) the elf and simply have fun with it without the “lesson” it still seems a great fun thing for the wee ones. It also keeps the adults in a creative festive energy so what is the harm in that? Adjust the reason why you have the lil guy/gal and just have fun….

    • Anonymous at

      You people are telling me the Elf on the shelf and Santa are not real! Omg Scrooges

  40. JJ at

    People who do not allow their children to partake in Santa and other childhood fantasies are just too damn lazy to be a part of it and that is ALL it is !

  41. Chris at

    The post is for Elf ideas. Honestly I don’t know why anyone who doesn’t believe the Elf on the shelf is a good idea, who doesn’t condone the elf or has no interest in the elf, is even reading elf on the shelf ideas in the first place. Let alone judging those who choose to enjoy the elf on the shelf with their children. Something meant to be as innocent fun has caused this entire post to be name calling, nastiness, most certainly not what Christmas is meant to be. I say both the nayers and the yayers are guilty of this. Why not try this. Those who disagree with the elf on the shelf simply stay off a feed that technically has no interest to u at all and those who enjoy it carry on with your sharing of ideas. Just agree to disagree there are many different child rearing techniques and nobody has the right to say another’s methods are wrong. Unless of course there is physical abuse involved. So please I ask, can we go back to just enjoying the ideas and not the bickering.

  42. ashley at

    I don’t have and elf on the shelf Ive thought about it but to expensive. I work at dollar tree and we have an elf boy and girl their stuffed and thought about those instead..Now Ive read pretty much all the thread,and i have to say who cares if you permit this or not i mean really if families are having fun why should anyone else care?? Also I’d rather have my kids doing this then playing video games,on Facebook or anything else their kids for a reason and to have fun..You’re teaching them family traditions they can look back on as an adult and maybe do with their kids..This is a cool way to interact with your children..Most parents these days don’t do things like this with their kids and let technology take over….So many kids are doing teenage or adult things when they’re suppose to be 5,or 10 years of age..So much more i can say but i think you asses have got the point :)

  43. This year before I left the North Pole Mrs Claus gave me some Printable Elf Costumes to take with me. Mrs Claus is very clever; she madeSunglasses, Reading Glasses, a Snowman Mask, Reindeer Antlers & Nose, a Moustache, a Fairy Wand & Wings, a Pirate Outfit and some lips for Elf Kisses!! She also showed me how to make a Santa costume and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume. I have posted instructions so all of you other Scout Elves can make costumes at home too! To get your Elf on the Shelf PRINTABLE COSTUMES go to

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