40 naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas that are so easy to copy for Christmas 2023

The best naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas to try this December - they're so easy!

naughty Elf on the shelf ideas illustrated by montage
(Image credit: Future)

Naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas are so popular, that inspiration is always in demand. This is why we've done the leg work for you and found these rare and hilarious ideas for you to try - the kids will love them.

Balancing the mental load is hard on a normal Tuesday in March let alone at Christmas when everything seems to ramp up. The Elf on the Shelf ritual is almost as popular as classic Christmas traditions like picking out a tree, wrapping up the top Christmas toys, belting out some cheery Christmas music for kids, or sharing Christmas jokes.

If you want to nail this Christmas tradition this year, note the top tip from our deputy editor, mum-of-three, Heidi Scrimgeour who admits to being a huge fan of Elf on the Shelf. "Set an alarm for each evening so you don't forget to change Elf on the Shelf poses... like I have done multiple times," she says. "Or, better still, arm yourself with some props well in advance and take all the stress out of coming up with Elf on the Shelf ideas."

Everyday Elf Idea Pack £9 | Porky Penguin

Everyday Elf Idea Pack <a href="https://porkypenguin.co.uk/products/the-everyday-elf-idea-pack-2023?_pos=4&_sid=f831c1ae7&_ss=r&gclid=Cj0KCQiAgqGrBhDtARIsAM5s0_l8XUlflk20Yu6oo8rJP_QY9cH2PbZV1CueS-Kmy3dHrk60m5h10z0aAt0pEALw_wcB" data-link-merchant="porkypenguin.co.uk"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">£9 | Porky Penguin

This clever little box contains 24 scene information cards along with 24 prop cards and even a shopping list so you can easily create lasting elf memories without running out of inspo halfway through December or frantically searching the shops for googly eyes way past bedtime. Each card even links to a QR code so you can see a sample image of the elf scene to copy. Genius! 

How to start the Elf o the Shelf tradition

If you've gone down the 'buy new' road then your elf will come with a storybook, kick start the tradition by reading this with your kids so they know the backstory to the elf. If you've gone down the second-hand route or had a hand-me-down then why not listen to a YouTube reading of the story, like this one

What to buy for your Elf on the Shelf

You don't have to buy anything for the elf, simply moving them around is enough for a lot of kids. But, if you want to throw money at the time-sicking problem these these accessories might help, they can help personalise and create fun situations. These include The Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Tools & Tips (£16 from John Lewis), The Elf on the Shelf Claus Couture Collection Express Yourself Scout Elf Clothes (£10 from John Lewis), and The Elf on the Shelf Snowflake Skirt & Scarf Clothes Set (£10 from Amazon). So, ready your elf/elves, and get scrolling for your perfect 25 ideas to keep you going until Christmas day...

Best naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas 2023

1. This Elf who was "being helpful"

Naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas

(Image credit: Jess Bird)

The kids will love this one! All you need is tin foil (it's not cheap so re-use where you can), their school shoes and a hand-written note. There will be giggles before school.

2. This Elf who made his own hat

Naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas

(Image credit: Jess Bird)

Set the scene with wrapping paper and scissors and fashion a little cone hat for your elf, for extra naughtiness maybe shred lots of paper on the floor that needs cleaning up (though it might be you clearing up... so choose wisely.)

3. This Elf who was webbed

Naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas

(Image credit: Jess Bird)

This is a great use of Spiderman if your kid has this figure, if not take this idea and run with it, you can use any superhero or villain to 'capture the elf' and put him Batman's cave or Paw Patrol's tower.

4. This Elf was caught red-handed

Naughty Elf on the shelf ideas

Credit: Bensons for Beds

(Image credit: Benson Beds)

The kids love an elf with a prop.  So grab some nail polish – a glittery red is a festive vibe we’re feeling – and paint someone’s toenails. For the ultimate surprise, have the kids spot mum or dad fast asleep in bed with their nails polished, oblivious that the elf did it! If you fancy putting in the extra effort a cryptic note ups the excitement ante. Thanks to Bensons for Beds for sharing their fabulous Elf on the Shelf idea.

5. This Elf is digging for treasure

Naughty Elf on the shelf ideas

Credit: Bensons for Beds

(Image credit: Benson Beds)

Losing things down the sofa cushions is the norm, so add a few fun things - like £1 coin, 50p coins, tiny toys, etc, for the elf to find. Then position him for the morning. 

6. This Elf made his own sleigh

Naughty Elf on the shelf ideas

Credit: Bensons for Beds

(Image credit: Benson Beds)

Another great Elf on the Shelf idea is to create a sleigh out of your child’s favourite toys in their bedroom. But you can be as far-fetched and funny as you like while creating it. So, why not have your elf riding a digger pulled by dinosaurs? Or how about riding a surfboard pulled by farm animals? Embrace weird combos – when it comes to kids, the weirder the better. 

7. This Elf identifies as a Snowman

Naughty Elf on the shelf ideas

(Image credit: Benson Beds)

Build a tower of toilet rolls and draw a simple snowman onto the outer sheets of paper. Then, sit your elf somewhere close by and surround it with all of the coloured pens used to create your snowman design. The children will think it’s hilarious while the adults get to enjoy a brief respite from cleaning up post-elf shenanigans. 

8. These elves who are helping with spellings

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

This clever mum involved elf on the shelf in spellings - flour sprinkling is optional. Depends if you have it in you to clean it up afterward. Leaving a paper and pen can work too. 

9. This Elf who's in need of help

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

Credit: Maxine Maloney

(Image credit: Future)

Leaning on toilet humour is always a sure-fire win for kids, you'll get morning giggles easily when you use the F-word. (farted.)

10. This Elf who is all about oral hygiene

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

When the kids find the mundane tasks boring - especially as they limp toward the end of term - get the elf involved... it might work.

11. These elves have s'more fun

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Works just as well with one elf. All you need is a tealight, mini marshmallows, and toothpicks. Mum Kiran warns; "Careful when trying to 'roast' the marshmallows. We used a lighter once they were on the toothpick."

12. This Elf helped himself to the advent calendars

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

With his guilty face, it seems that this Elf was up to no good and fancied himself some chocolate. The kids will love that the Elf was a 'baddie'.

13. This Elf is getting his dates wrong

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Let your kids see the Elf make a mistake and turn it into a teaching moment that it's okay to make mistakes. 

14. These Elves are toasty

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

All you need is some toast, which can totally be done the night before.  Poke some holes through and there you have it. 

15. The Elf who was jet lagged... indefinitely

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Mum Tash tells us; "This was the best idea I had... I said he was jet-lagged, and didn't have to move him for three days, then the kids didn't want to burst the balloon, I think he stayed in there for 11 days in total. 10/10 reccomend."

16. This Elf is a driving force

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

All aboard! This 'shoe shoe' train is leaving the station - get creative and include some other toys on the ride. 

17. This Elf is tired

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

Sometimes, when you're 16 December days deep, just throwing the elf at the Christmas tree and going to bed is okay. 

18. This Elf is retraining

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

This one requires a little bit of tidying on your part once the kids are at school, but get the elf involved in making the morning coffee - the kids will love it. 

19. This Elf is a comedic genius

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

Our Deputy Ed, Heidi pulled this together for her 9-year-old with the help of The EveryDay Elf Idea pack (£9 from Porky Penguin), all you need is egg shells and Haribo sweets. 

20. This Elf created a choir

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

Grab some old cans add google eyes and position your elf as the choir master - genius.

21. This Elf is hygienic kind of

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

Kids LOVE toilet humour and anything to do with poo, so this one where the elf uses their toothbrush to clean his bum is a winner. 

22. This Elf has a sweet tooth

Elf on the shelf naughty ideas with shelf in different positions

(Image credit: Maxine Maloney)

Get the mileage out of Haribo sweets and have your elf whip up some eggs on toast for breakfast.

23. This Elf is in a spin

Put that 80s salad spinner to good use and set up a 'good cop/bad cop' scenario with your naughty elves. 

24. These elves have made snow much mess

A photo posted by on

This mum wanted to shock her kids with something out of character for these otherwise well-behaved elves. All you'll need is some flour and the hoover to vacuum it up after.

25. These elves are breaking the law

A photo posted by on

It's amazing what a bit of clingfilm and imagination can do? We love this 'No fishing' set-up that is sure to surprise little ones on their next loo trip.

26. This Elf has it out for this soft toy

A photo posted by on

A blender and your kid's favourite soft toy - and you've got yourself one evil Elf on the Shelf idea to try in December.

27. This Elf really had to go

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One that will amuse the adults too. We love this creative naughty Elf on the Shelf idea that sees him take a tinkle in an alcohol bottle.

28. This Elf found the Ketchup bottle

A photo posted by on

A reindeer target game with a difference. This female elf had some fun firing her shot at the wall. But there's certainly some room for practice.

29. This Elf is eggcellent

This elf is so egg-centric and has graffiti'd some eggs, kids will see the funny side to this naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas. Thanks for sharing elfontheshelf_ideas

30. This Elf is enjoying McDonald's

A photo posted by on

This cheeky chappy has treated himself to a takeaway without asking! The creators of this idea have used novelty erasers, available to buy from Etsy, to create this scene.

31. This Elf has turned Pirate

A photo posted by on

Another easy naughty Elf on the Shelf idea. All you need is some black and white card to make the hat, sign and map.

32. This Elf is cheating at Rubik's Cube

A photo posted by on

Mischievous elves at their finest! This is one of the most exciting scenes on our list of naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas. It uses a Rubik's cube, paper and some colouring pens to create this silly set-up.

33. This Elf is ice fishing

As naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas go you might want to try this one when the family aren't visiting - popping for wee could get interesting. Thanks for sharing stixnstonesinc 

34. This Elf is a bit chilly

This is a great one to do to have the kids in stitches before school. Thanks for sharing  karendrewtv

35. Dino-taming elves

Most little ones love dinosaurs - and for this one to work it doesn't have to be a soft toy - any dino will do, and maybe try tinsel if you don't have fairy lights to wrangle the toy. It will be an easy winner! 

36. Elf is trapped

Involving the kids' other toys will always blow their mind - especially when you choose their favourite superheroes. It's also a complete non-brainer for parents to set up - which is the dream for naughty elf on the shelf ideas.

37. Elf versus dog

If you have pets, get them involved somehow, here @justhearingdogs had their naughty elf steal the doggy treats. 

38. Snowman Nose Rejection Centre

Inspired thinking here by @browcouturebysandy we are impressed how she's using other festive elements in her naught elf on the shelf idea.

39. Elf made a whoopsie

A very child-relatable story here from @styledmicasa many a times a kid just couldn't quite make it to the loo. 

40. Sia the Elf

sing it with us; "fromthe chandelier, from the chandelieeerrrrr" bring a little Sia cheer to the Elf on the shelf festivities - bravo @catherinfulvio_chef, bravo.

Buy an Elf on the Shelf

Some of these fabulous naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas call for more than one elf, if you need to add to your elf family take a look at the best deals out there today;