Okay, parents. It’s that time of year again. The Elf on the Shelf will be visiting your home in just a few short weeks, when life is busiest! Between the special days at school, the extracurriculars, the gift-buying, the gift-wrapping, the decorating, cooking… the winter holidays don’t give you much time to rest, let alone think! Never fear! I’ve got some sweet and easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that you can execute in a pinch. Nothing fancy, here. Just some good old holiday spirit and love.
And no, none of these Elf on the Shelf ideas are naughty. I don’t believe in that. Why in the world would Santa send a naughty, messy elf into your home to make sure your kids are behaving?! It makes no sense, and it sets a bad example. Just my humble opinion.
Bonus: You can use these as last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas, since they are simple and don’t require much assembly.
The Best Elf on the Shelf Ideas of 2021
I have to admit that Christmas 2021 is my first year of planning cute elf on the shelf ideas. In the past, I simply set cute little Poppy on a shelf or other highly visible spot. But now that my twin girls are 7, I think Poppy is ready to be a little more interactive, while still basically just sitting on a shelf! (He usually arrives in our home the day after Thanksgiving.)
Here is the elf’s agenda for 2021:
Upon his arrival, Poppy the Elf brings a Christmas-themed story book to ground the kids and remind them of the reason for the season.
The elf brings a bucket list of kind things to do before Christmas, such as donate some toys, clothes, or canned goods, write a friendly note to a friend or family member, draw or color a picture for Grandma or Grandpa, give 5 people a compliment that day, etc… Create the list so that they can check off their good deeds. Gotta hold them accountable!
The elf brings Hershey Hugs with a simple sign that says “Free Hugs!”
This is the beginning of Advent, so the elf brings this book of short stories about Advent. (I plan to read one per day to them.)
The elf hides in a basket with stuffed animals!
The elf brings a balloon for each child. (Just grab these during your routine grocery run, but be sure to hide them in a safe place!)
The elf sits and plays with a game or toys that the girls didn’t put away.
The elf sits in a dollhouse.
The elf brings a note asking if each of the kids can read him their favorite story.
He brings a small treat or toy for the family pet!
He brings white Play Doh, clay, or model magic for the kids to create a snowman. Have him bring a creation of his own as a model!
The elf brings each of the kids an ornament to hang on the tree.
To keep the kids’ behavior in check, he brings a note about the (hopefully good) behavior they have been showing!
The elf brings a note asking for the kids to take an elfie selfie with him.
Elf plays a Christmas song on the piano.
The elf brings bring a holiday pencil for each girl to use at school.
The elf puts a holiday sticker on the kids’ stockings.
The elf brings holiday window stickers. (I love Dollar Tree for these!)
The elf brings a snowman that happens to be melted in a bowl. See this Pin for inspo.
The elf brings a hot cocoa kit!
The elf asks to see the items they checked off on their bucket lists from November 26.
The elf brings popcorn for a Christmas movie night.
Have the elf ask the kids to make a holiday card for Santa.
The elf brings a note saying Santa really appreciated the Christmas cards.
Elf makes a small holiday creation with the kids’ Legos.
Elf brings a paper snowflake and asks the kids to make their own to hang in the house.
The elf sits in an empty egg carton that holds a Kinder Egg for each child, with a note that reads, “Are you eggcited for Santa?”
The Elf on the Shelf brings magical reindeer food.
The elf writes a heartfelt goodbye note about the kids’ good behavior and how much he has enjoyed spending time with them over the last month. He also brings a small treat or gift for each of them!
Final Thoughts on These Easy (and Sweet!) Elf on the Shelf Ideas
You don’t need anything fancy to execute these easy Elf on the Shelf ideas. The only things you really need to prep ahead of time (and you can do that now) are the mini gifts the elf brings and any notes. I always hand write my notes (in disguise), but you can type them or find free printables on Pinterest. (This site has some great free printables for Elf on the Shelf.)
And nothing naughty to see here! These are nice (not naughty!) Elf on the Shelf ideas, which means way less thinking, preparation, and cleanup for you. Furthermore, since your elf is nice and well-behaved, your kids will be more likely to stay calm and kind. I think the elf should always promote positive behavior! Afterall, he or she visits your home to report your kids’ behavior back to Santa!