Gifts and Holidays

Funny and Easy Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas

The holiday season is always a busy time for families! With meal prep, decorating, shopping, and all the festivities that come with wrapping up the year, it can be hard to find time for last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas. If you’re running short on creativity—or just don’t have time to go searching for a craft project or activity before your kid’s Elf arrives—don’t worry!

Here is some last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas perfect for adding extra sparkle and whimsy to your home this holiday season. From clever snack hiding spots to homemade decorations, get ready to bring out those elf ears with these innovative and easy options.


Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas

best elf on shelf ideas


It’s easy to forget about fun family traditions such as Elf on the Shelf. But never fear; even if you don’t have a plan in place yet this year, there are still plenty of last minute ideas that will keep your elf surprises fresh and exciting!

From simple DIY projects to awesomely imaginative scenarios—we’ve got your go-to list for every elf emergency imaginable. Keep reading to find out how to make your own North Pole-themed designs, plus some unexpected elves with odd jobs!

Funny Ideas

Following are the fun ideas for last-minute Elf on the shelf.

Underpants on the trees

elf on the shelf


One hilarious idea that parents can try this year is the last-minute Elf on the Shelf underpants on the tree. This includes hanging a pair of festive underwear from an evergreen branch as a unique way to spread holiday cheer throughout the Christmas season.

Not only is it imaginative, but kids are sure to be in stitches at the hilarity of leaving their elves’ red and green underpants hanging in full view! Furthermore, putting up those festive underpants is much quicker and easier than tracking down the elves themselves. Overall, this could be an amusing addition to any holiday celebration this year.

Buried in the snow

elf on the shelf ideas


By burying an Elf in the snow, parents can enjoy some much-needed comic relief while also teaching their children that trying one’s best pays off in the end. As if by magic, after searching high and low for their elf, the children just may receive a special surprise.

Whether that turns out to be a reward or just another part of the game, this unique approach is sure to provide hours of enjoyment during these wintery days.

Elf is on a roll

last minute elf on the shelf ideas


Believe it or not, Elf on the Shelf has gone rogue! Last Minute Elf on the Shelf is a tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional holiday game of Elf on the Shelf. The idea is simple and a great way to inject some lighthearted fun into the holiday season.

Instead of sticking to just elves with permanent poses, in this version of Elf, you challenge your little helper to have an adventure. Each day your Elf can be seen rolling somewhere new around your house—into corners, down staircases, or out of cupboards. It’s always a surprise to see where they will appear next!

This funny twist is sure to bring a smile and plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

A little tied-up

elf on a shelf ideas funny


Tie up your Elf, add some handcuffs and a bandana, and they become Santa’s prisoner awaiting trial in Elf Court. You could even hide a few marshmallows around them as stars, making sure they can’t run away while they’re waiting.

Complete the look with Christmas tree decorations scattered all around. With this clever setup, your kids will be laughing until their bellies hurt and will be amazed by your creativity – even if it’s at the very last minute!

Gone fishing

when does elf on shelf start


Find a tiny rod and reel, print out a colorful fish cut-out, attach the fish to a long length of string, and then rig it so that it appears as though the Elf has gone fishing. In one swoop, you have created a novel scene while alleviating any worry that you won’t find an interesting activity for your Elf tomorrow!

In the Gumball Jar

what is the purpose of elf on a shelf


Put your Elf into a large gumball jar filled with jingle bells and miniature holiday decorations. This creative display will surely put fun into the equation as your children experience the innocence of the Christmas season.

By using their imagination and adding some laughter to their holiday traditions, there is no doubt that this scenario will create lasting memories and bring smiles during this special time of year!

Quick ideas

Below are some of the quick ideas for last-minute Elf on the Shelf.

Elf in a soap box

elf on the shelf ideas for christmas eve


This simple concept involves placing an Elf figurine inside a decorated soap box and writing a message from them each day leading up to Christmas. This message can consist of anything from elf tips and tricks, holiday stories, or naughty/nice words of wisdom.

Not only is “Elf in a Soap Box” an inexpensive and quick solution for jumpstarting your family’s Elf on the Shelf voyage, but it always introduces some cheeky elf humor guaranteed to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Favorite book

easy elf on the shelf ideas for home


One of the most convenient options is to hide them among favorite books. Not only can the task be accomplished quickly, but it’s also a great way to help your family remember to enjoy quality time by curling up with a good book.

Plus, hiding puts your Elf in an unexpected spot that will surely spark conversation and surprise from everyone in your home when they find him!

Elf on the chandelier

when was elf on the shelf created


Give your Elf a holiday makeover with sparkly clothes, twinkle lights, and even a mistletoe to add some extra pizzazz. Then strategically place your Elf in a prominent position—a chandelier is perfect for this.

Not only does it add decoration to your home, but it also gives parents the perfect opportunity to remind children of the importance of keeping their behavior in check during the holidays. With this fun and festive last-minute Elf on the Shelf idea, families can make sure there will be no naughty surprises this holiday season.

Rice Krispies

what does elf on the shelf do


Start by taking leftover Rice Krispies and melting butter and marshmallows. Use cookie cutters of any shape to create the body, hat, and accessories of your Elf. It’s that easy! Decorate with food coloring, icing, and even chocolate chips for facial features.

Place your edible Elf decoratively among other Christmas decorations, or bring them out when it’s time for dessert! With this last-minute idea, you’re sure to get everyone in the holidayspirit while still enjoying time with your family.

Toilet paper roll

when did elf on the shelf come out


If you’re in a pinch for an Elf on the Shelf idea, a toilet paper roll can be an easy and fun starting point. Have your Elf use the spare toilet paper rolls to construct costumes, whether it’s more appropriate for a fancy dress-up night or for playing space explorer.

For extra laughs, have your Elf pose around the house in the costume with silly props. Give the Elf a speech bubble with fun phrases such as ‘Mission accomplished’ or ‘Beam me up.’ This can be a great way to make up for some of those last-minute slips or to get back on track if you find yourself behind schedule this Christmas season.

Playing board games

what is elf on the shelf


With just moments to spare, why not let board games become the centerpiece of your display? Board games are timeless fun, and with today’s new game releases, there are more than enough options to keep the whole family entertained.

With your Elf as the occasional referee or game piece, adding a moment of holiday cheer can take no time at all and provide lasting fun throughout this season.

Simple ideas

Take a look below at some of the easy ideas.

Ball Pit Elf

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A simple and fun way to execute this classic holiday tradition is to buy a ball pit and stick an Elf on the Shelf inside. Your children will love it when they see their beloved Elf peeking out of the bright, colorful balls.

This is a surefire way to get your little ones immediately in the festive spirit! Moreover, when Christmas morning arrives, and your elves must head back to Santa, you can keep this classic piece of holiday decor around all year long and turn it into a toy for playtime that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Egg-cellent Elf

elf on the shelf ideas last minute


By using simple household items like eggs, cinnamon sticks, and dried pasta, you can create an iconic elf character in no time. Not only will this Elf entertain your family and children, but it will also provide valuable quality time to search for items in order to craft the Elf.

Furthermore, the process of scavenging for pieces allows for natural creativity and further possibilities in Elf on The Shelf adventures throughout the Christmas holidays!

Balloon bubble bath Elves

last minute elf on the shelf ideas for toddlers


Using only balloons, a stick, and candy treats, you can easily create these precious holiday helpers in very little time. They make a great addition to any home or office during the festive season, helping to get everyone into the spirit of Christmas.

Plus, they provide entertainment value by bringing laughter and smiles as kids try to guess what kind of Elf will appear in their balloon-crafted Bubble Bath Elf surprise. Get creative and have fun this holiday season with Balloon Bubble Bath Elves; they’ll have everyone believing in magic!

Have your Elf hang out in coffee cup

what to do with elf on the shelf


Have your Elf hang out in a coffee cup! This fun twist will surely be appreciated by kids of all ages, as they search to find where their Elf has gone every morning. Not only is it a classic example of using what’s at hand to make joyous memories, but giving your Elf this cup hiding place adds an extra level of charm to your festivities.

In your kids’ sock drawer

purpose of elf on the shelf


With this easy idea, all you have to remember is to stick your Elf in your kid’s sock drawer at night, and when they wake up, there he will be! Your kids can enjoy the excitement and simplicity of having an Elf on the Shelf in your home without worrying about a lack of preparation.

It may not be as traditional or involved as setting up elaborate scenes, but it will still bring a bit of extra festive cheer! This quick and easy plan gets you out of a jam if you find yourself strapped for time during this busy season while still providing your children with some holiday fun.

In the refrigerator

elf ideas last minute


This unique idea uses simple items from around the house—a refrigerator, of all places!—to store and hide your Elf when needed. With its magnetic backing, your Elf is easily attached to the side of your fridge and readied for surprise visits that will surely make your children smile!

No longer do you have to worry about forgetting an important part of your holiday festivities; Last Minute Elf on the Shelf ensures you have a standby companion no matter what!

Original ideas

Get some insight from the following original ideas of last-minute elf on the Shelf.

Family photo fun

elf on the shelf last minute ideas


Have your Elf take the lead on setting up the scene and snapping pictures of everyone showing off their favorite holiday poses or wearing festive clothing. After you choose your favorite photos, display them in frames throughout the home or create collages of the funniest images to hang in the living room.

You can even turn it into a yearly tradition that will be sure to bring laughter to the whole family.

Eggs: The Musical

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If you’re looking for a fun and unexpected Elf on the shelf idea, consider taking your elves on stage! Eggs: The Musical is an original script that follows the misadventures of two singing eggs discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

Not only does this show feature adorable characters and catchy tunes, but it can easily be put together in no time at all! All you need to do is gather up some eggs from your local grocery store and assign them roles.

The performance may not take Broadway by storm, but it will surely make a memorable impression on family and friends.

Unicorn ride

funny last minute elf on the shelf ideas


Consider the Unicorn Ride Elf: place the Elf atop a toy unicorn and take a photo of the two taking off for their adventures together. The photo could spark conversations about where they’re going and what fun things they’ll get to see during their excursion—so much more conversation-provoking than just placing them in the same spot day after day! Let your children’s imaginations soar with this last-minute original idea.

Elf in the vacuum cleaner

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A little Elf tucked away in the vacuum is sure to delight children of all ages. All you need is a plain stuffed elf and some paperclips, and you’re ready to go! Simply attach the feet of your Elf to the paperclips, and then carefully tuck them into the crevices of your vacuum cleaner.

When it’s time for clean up in the house, make sure to yell out “Elf Alert” before turning the vacuum on so the family knows what to expect! With this simple trick for Elf on the Shelf’s last-minute ideas, everyone is sure to have a holly, jolly holiday season!

Pool party

funny elf on shelf poses


Why not plan a pool party for your little Elf? Make sure you keep safety in mind but have your little one help you set up floats, beach towels, and perhaps even an umbrella for the Elf to stay cool in the sun.

You can also create a festive scene by dressing the Elf in a swimsuit or stacking pool rings as part of their antics. Don’t forget to snap some pictures of this fun event before sending your Elf back on their journey!

Elf in the bowl

easy elf on the shelf idea


If you’re looking for something different, why not try ‘Elf in the Bowl’? Take your Elf out and place them in a bowl with some festive decorations, like mini candy canes, tinsel, pine cones, and maybe even some gingerbread cookie shapes. Not only will it make an amusing sight when the children find him there, but it’ll also be environmentally friendly too—no plastic packaging needed.


fun last minute elf on the shelf ideas

Jeanette Teare/

Following are the most frequently asked questions regarding the last-minute Elf on the shelf ideas.

What is the Elf on the Shelf, and When Does it Start?

elf on the shelf a christmas tradition

Jeanette Teare/

The Elf on the Shelf is a popular Christmas tradition that has been growing in popularity over the past few decades. The Elf is meant to be a little helper for Santa Claus, who watches children to make sure they are behaving and does nightly scouting missions back to the North Pole for Santa.

It’s a fun way to help children learn about holiday traditions and connect them with their own sense of mischief and humor! The Elf on the Shelf tradition is usually said to start on December 1st, though parents may choose to start it any time they wish.

Many families enjoy giving their Elf its own story or backstory, with special characteristics that fit perfectly into their family’s holidays!

What is the Purpose of Elf on a Shelf?

simple elf on shelf idea

Jeanette Teare/

The Elf on a shelf is an iconic Christmas tradition that has been gaining in popularity since its introduction in 2005. It serves as an adorable reminder to children to be on their best behavior during the holiday season with the promise of a visit from Santa if they’re good.

Featuring a tiny scout elf straight from the north pole, each one comes with its very own storybook introducing to a new family and tasking it with reporting back to Santa every night. The ever-watchful Elf encourages children to be kind and helps them stay focused on the holiday spirit of giving.

Even longtime believers in Santa’s magic enjoy passing down this special story to the next generation, helping little ones understand the importance of kindness and compassion at Christmas.

What Does Elf on the Shelf Do?

what is elf on a shelf about


Every Christmas, families all around the world welcome a very special visitor into their homes. He is known as the Elf on the Shelf, and he is sent from the North Pole to visit in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The Elf has a serious job—he is sent to observe children’s behavior and tell Santa whether they are naughty or nice. Each night, he reports back to Santa Clause with his findings and at daybreak, he announces his return by taking a different spot in the home so that children can find him when they wake up.

The Elf brings joy and laughter as he watches over families during this festive time of year.

What are the Rules of the Elf on the Shelf?

when did elf on the shelf become popular


While the traditions may vary from family to family, generally, the rules of the Elf on the Shelf remain consistent. First and foremost, elves must never be touched; doing so will cause them to lose their magic powers. Secondly, when adopted, they are sent from the North Pole with their own festive names.

Lastly, they require nightly movement around the house; changing location every day is both a special surprise for kids and an important signal for Santa’s scouts that all is well in each home.

Whether you decide to add an extra sprinkle of Christmas magic this season or not, it is clear that these beloved Elves carry an important message of cheer and kindness for everyone during this holiday season!

Why are They Banning Elf on the Shelf?

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There is an increasing debate on the banning of Elf on the Shelf. Proponents of the ban claim that encouraging children to believe an elf has come to watch them can gesture towards surveillance or authoritarian practices that are not beneficial for young minds.

They suggest it detracts from the spirit of giving associated with the holiday and creates a sense of fear that distracts from its true purpose. However, others feel this storybook-style tradition encourages imagination, playful behavior, and good behavior amongst younger generations.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how they use Elf on the Shelf to ensure their child grows up feeling secure and loved during the holidays.

What is the Controversy About Elf on the Shelf?

funny elf last minute elf on the shelf ideas

Dean Clarke/

The Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition has become popular for many households during the holiday season, but it is not without controversy. Concerns have been raised about whether this practice encourages a child to regard themselves as constantly under surveillance, which could lead to feelings of shame or feelings of mistrust towards parents who are using this tool.

Additionally, critics have questioned whether it promotes materialism and behaviors that undermine consistent parenting and healthy boundaries between children and their parents. Ultimately, it is up to the family to decide whether this tradition is appropriate for their situation, but these important points should be taken into consideration before introducing an elf into their home.

When Was Elf on the Shelf Created?

last minute funny elf on the shelf ideas


Elf on the Shelf was created by American author Carol Aebersold in 2005. Aebersold’s original story, along with her daughter Chanda Bell and her sister Christa Pitts, quickly captured the hearts of families around the globe and triggered a holiday craze—the Elf on the Shelf.

Initially consisting of just a children’s book, it has grown over the years to include a wide variety of holiday-themed merchandise and interactive activities designed to make Christmas time even more special. It has become so popular that retailers offer their own lines of merchandise based on the concept, as there is no shortage of demand for this beloved tale.

What to Do with Elf on the Shelf? How to Play Elf on the shelf?

last minute quick elf on the shelf ideas


The game involves an elf figurine that “visits” a household each night during the Christmas season, bringing small gifts or creating mischief. Parents are encouraged to move the Elf around the house each day, creating a new scene for family members to discover.

There are various ideas and activities that can be undertaken as part of Elf on the Shelf, such as decorating cookies with the Elf, setting him up in a scene with other toys, or hiding treats he can find.

Parents should make sure to explain to children that it is important not to touch the Elf so as not to break its magical spell. With its imaginative universe of possibilities, Elf on the Shelf is sure to bring smiles and familiarity this holiday season.

What Age to Start Elf on the Shelf?

easy last minute elf on the shelf ideas


The Elf on the Shelf is a popular holiday tradition enjoyed by toddlers, kids, and children of all ages. Deciding when to introduce this magical friend into their lives is an important and personal decision. Starting at birth seems too early; toddlers may enjoy seeing the Elf in photos and books but won’t understand any of its nuances or traditions.

When they reach 3-5 years old, however, children become more imaginative and start to understand what it means to have Santa’s “eyes and ears” living in their home. That’s why many families opt to begin introducing The Elf on the Shelf when their child reaches preschool age or kindergarten age—around 3-4 years old is ideal for a truly magical experience.

Have Fun with Your Elf!

elf on the shelf things to do


When the holiday season rolls around, forget about the dreaded Elf on the Shelf. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to get creative with your last-minute Elf on the Shelf ideas. Start by gathering craft supplies either from around the house or a local craft store, and then use your imagination to make something unique and unexpected.

You can even have some seasonal fun with it–like creating an ornament for your Tree or turning it into a snowman! Just remember to delight your kids while you do it. Push yourself to come up with ideas that will add excitement and anticipation to their mornings.

When regular life resumes, they will look back fondly at this memory, and you’ll have made a holiday tradition hub of your own! So don’t be intimidated by all things Elf on the Shelf; take charge and start crafting!

What are some of your favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas? Share them with us in the comments below.

The picture on the front page: Dean Clarke

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