51 Elf on the Shelf ideas – fun and easy for Christmas 2021

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  • Elf on the Shelf ideas can be hard to think up on your own. Well, we’ve done the hardwork for you! Give these easy, funny and creative ideas a go. 

    Along with chocolate advent calendars, picking out a Christmas tree and deciding on the top Christmas toys, Elf on the Shelf is a real Christmas tradition for a lot of families.

    Taking it in turns, each member of your home can decide what Elf does next. Will Elf be chilling on the sofa? Cooking up a candy cane-themed meal? Playing hide and seek with another Elf? Or will you opt for some more naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas? Its your choice!

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    For more inspiration take a look at these top Elf on the Shelf ideas for 2021.

    What is Elf on the Shelf?

    The Elf On The Shelf tradition was started by a book which comes with a small Elf character. You read your children the story about the naughty elf, then each day you position your elf figurine in a different, humorous pose for your children to find.

    The Americans traditionally start their Elf on the Shelf the day after Thanksgiving but over in the UK we tend to start around the 1st of December. Almost like an alternative advent.

    December is a tough enough time as it is for parents without having to try and think of new idea for the blimmin’ elf every morning. So,  we’ve made things a little easier for you Here are lots of Elf on the Shelf ideas for how to position your Elf in the run-up to Christmas.

    We’ve even got a homemade elf on a shelf craft here so you can make your own little army of cheeky elves. Enjoy!

    Best Elf on the Shelf ideas for Christmas 2021

    1. Elf on the Shelf takes a Zoom call

    Take a look back on the year just gone and set your elf up in their very own Zoom meeting! After all, how else will the elves figure out their Christmas Day strategy in the era of Covid-19?

    2. Elf on the Shelf is self isolating

    Even elves have to isolate! All you need to make this self-isolating elf creation is a large storage jar, a disposable face mask and one of the many, many bottles of hand sanitiser you probably have lying around.


    3. Elf on the Shelf takes a selfie

    Elf taking a selfie with an iPhone

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    Elf is camera-ready in this idea! Simply prop Elf so they’re sitting up and position your phone, or one made of cardboard, in front of them for that picture-perfect shot.

    4. Elf on the Shelf does a sprinkles angel

    Elf lying in pile of sprinkles making a snow-type angel

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    It may not snow this year but that doesn’t mean Elf can’t make an angel. We’ve used hundreds and thousands in our creation but you could use any small food item – like rice or flour.

    5. Elf on the Shelf looking all toasty

    Elf lying between two pieces of toast

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    It’s getting hot in here! Keep Elf warm between two slices of fresh toast in this fiery Elf on the Shelf creation.

    6. Elf on the Shelf sets a Candy Cane challenge

    Elf with candy cane next to a sign that says 'today's challenge - find all the candy canes I've hidden'

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    Part Elf on the Shelf idea, part fun hunt for the whole household. Hide some candy canes around the house and when your family spot the Elf, the challenge begins – who will find them all first?

    7. Elf on the Shelf at the campfire

    Elf roasting a marshmallow over candle

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    Another toasty Elf on the Shelf idea! This is one of the easiest Elf on the Shelf creations. Simply stick a couple of miniature marshmallows on the end on a dry piece of spaghetti and position between Elf’s hands over a candle. But this is a temporary idea – one to snap a picture of and then quickly move Elf out of the way as this one involves real fire.

    8. Elf on the Shelf chills out

    Elf watching television

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    It’s chillout time for Elf! Another one of our super simple Elf on the Shelf ideas. All you need is your Christmas mascot, a remote control for the television and a small bowl of elf-sized snacks.

    9. Elf on the Shelf plays Twister

    Elf playing twister

    Credit: GoodtoKnow

    The fun has begun with this Elf on the Shelf idea. Twister is one of the most-loved games for families to get stuck into over the Christmas period so why not get Elf involved too?

    10. Elf on the Shelf has a games night

    A games night for Elf and their friends! This is a great way to invite the rest of the household for a games night of your own, complete with Uno and Etch-A-Sketch accessories.

    11. Elf on the Shelf trains for the Olympics

    The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were two of the biggest events of 2021. Remember the achievements of those incredible athletes with this fun idea. Whether it’s shot put, high jump or a sprint, the Olympics is a great source of inspiration for Elf on the Shelf.

    12. Elf on the Shelf plays the Floor is Lava

    If you love to play Floor is Lava or have seen the hilarious videos online, this one’s definitely for you. All you need is some decently strong string and places to suspend your elves from.

    13. Elf on the Shelf the cereal lover

    Get Elf ready for the morning with this creative idea. Use an old cereal box to make their hiding place, cutting out a hole in one side for them to poke through.

    14. Elf on the Shelf gaming

    Nintendo Switch was one of the must-have gaming consoles of 2021 so if you managed to get your hands on one this year, why not turn it into a unique Elf on the Shelf idea?

    15. Elf on the Shelf noughts and crosses

    Elf playing noughts and crosses with marshmallows

    For a more simple games night idea, use marshmallow or other sweets and create a game of noughts and crosses. Challenge one of your family members to an ongoing game throughout the day, with each of you making a move every time you walk past Elf through the day.

    16. Elf on the Shelf meets cat

    Get each member of the family, even the furry felines, involved in this alternative Elf on the Shelf idea.

    17. Elf on the Shelf sunbathing

    While we might not have seen too much sun in 2021, this one on our list of Elf on the Shelf ideas is sure to bring out the sunshine. Just don’t forget the suncream!

    18. Elf on the Shelf is poorly

    Even elves can catch a cold! Another great one of our Elf on the Shelf ideas that’s super easy to do with everyday items around the house – or in the medicine cupboard.

    19. Elf on the Shelf  the car

    Wherever you go, Elf goes. Buckle up your elf and take them on a new adventure with this easy idea.

    20. Elf on the Shelf as a cowboy

    If you’ve got a growing cactus collection, this Elf on the Shelf idea is a great one. Pick out a cowboy outfit for your mascot and have them sit between your cacti for a wild west-inspired set up.

    22. Elf on the Shelf as a mermaid

    The mermaid outfit for Elf is a brilliant addition to the collection. Either find one online from Etsy or make your own one at home.

    23. Elf on the Shelf enjoys Nutella

    This is one of the easiest Elf on the Shelf ideas – but undoubtedly one of the messiest. Smother Elf with a teaspoon of Nutella for a delicious surprise.

    24. Elf on the Shelf off on his holidays

    Got a holiday abroad booked this Christmas? Take Elf away with you for the getaway and continue the tradition somewhere new.

    25. Elf on the Shelf tucks into cookies

    Everyone loves cookies – especially Elf. Make some tasty homemade chocolate chip cookies and position Elf with the bakes fresh out of the oven.

    26. Elf on the Shelf on the Hogwarts Express

    Harry Potter fans assemble! There are so many exciting HP-inspired Elf on the Shelf out there like this exciting trio of elves dressed as wizards and witches on their way to Hogwarts. Fashion your own cloaks out of material or buy a complete set from Etsy.

    27. Elf on the Shelf up to mischief

    Elves are known for being some of the cheekiest Christmas mascots so it’s no surprise they’d get themselves in trouble over the festive season.

    28. Elf on the Shelf at a Spa day

    Soft marshmallows, colourful candy canes and the cooling sound of Christmas carols…Elf spa day has begun!

    29. Elf on the Shelf making snow angels

    Another great Elf on the Shelf snow angel idea. This one uses flour instead of hundreds and thousands to make the winter wonderland dream come true.

    30. Elf on the Shelf at movie night

    Set up your very own Elf theatre at home with some cardboard and a bit of red paint. When the evenings get chillier, it’s perfect for chilling out on a Friday night.

    31. Elf on the Shelf doing yoga

    Get Elf into some downward dog with this Elf on the Shelf idea, using just a strip of springy blue material and some creative posing to create this scene.

    32. Elf on the Shelf enjoying McDonald’s

    The creators of this idea have used novelty erasers, available to buy from Etsy, to create this scene. Whether it’s McDonalds or a trip to the ice cream parlour, set your elf up for a feast with smaller props.

    33. Elf on the Shelf busking

    Not a fan of Christmas carols? Bust out the alt-rock ballads with this Elf on the Shelf idea. Just set up a chair, position a tips pot next to Elf and get them a guitar to set up this scene.

    34. Elf on the Shelf taking target practice

    This unique Elf on the Shelf idea uses ketchup for a bit of target practice but you can use any kind of squirty sauce.

    35. Elf on the Shelf as Spider-Man

    One of the most imaginative Elf on the Shelf ideas we’ve seen this year! All you need is some string and a piece of paper for the mask, decorated with a traditional spider man design.

    36. Football Elf

    The World Cup was a HUGE event this year. Remember England’s near miss at the trophy with this cool Elf on the Shelf idea.

    37. Pirate Elf

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

    38. Star Wars Elf

    Using other figurines from around the house is a great way to liven up your Elf on the Shelf ideas. This one uses Star Wars figurines and two brave elves in a fight to protect the galaxy.


    39. Barista Elf

    A Starbucks Elf on the Shelf idea might be a little advanced but it’s so cute. Who doesn’t love a pumpkin spiced latte to kick off the festive season?

    40. Elves with pancakes

    Having pancakes for breakfast? Get Elf involved and turn them into a Christmas-themed brunch.

    41. Fishing Elf

    How else does Elf relax on the weekends? Use a stick, some string, a small glass and fish-shaped snacks to create this simple scene.

    42. Baby Elf

    You can pick up a baby Elf on the Shelf from Etsy to create this cute idea. Perfect if you’ve had another addition join the family this year and want a festive way to celebrate.

    43. Elf cheating at Rubik’s Cube

    Mischievous elves are back! This is one of the most exciting scenes on our list of Elf on the Shelf ideas. It uses a Rubik’s cube, paper and some colouring pens to create this idea.

    44. Standing Elf

    If you’ve been busy wrapping presents and don’t know what to do with the tubes, turn them into fun accessories for Elf on the Shelf.

    45. Elf with Elsa

    Two worlds combine with this exciting idea! While it takes a little more investment, it’s certainly worth the effort. Put Elf in a cup of water and leave them in freezer over night. In the morning you’ll have a perfectly crystallised Elf to set up your Frozen scene.

    46. Wrecking Ball Elf

    Use a Christmas bauble or bell for this simple Elf on the Shelf idea. Hang it above the doorway for a tinkle when someone walks in.

    47. Dartboard Elf

    Elf loves to live life on the edge and this idea lets them fulfil their adrenaline junkie nature to the fullest.

    48. Elves and Ducks

    Take Elves for a dip in the pool with this cute Elf on the Shelf idea. Pick up some of these little yellow ducks from Etsy and set them up in a small dish if you don’t happen to have a tiny paddling pool.

    49. Puppet Show Elf

    If you like to make a puppet theatre yourself at home, why not set one up for Elf this Christmas? Make it from scratch yourself using cardboard, some cocktail sticks and red paper.

    50. Colouring With Elf

    Want a learning activity for the kids disguised as one of our fun Elf on the Shelf ideas? Get the kids involved in a colouring sheet with Elf beside them.

    51. Elf in a jumper

    If you’re a keen knitter, this Elf on the Shelf idea is definitely for you! If not, then you can pick up loads of different Elf-sized jumpers on Etsy.

    52. Artistic Elf

    You can make this easy Elf on the Shelf idea with some matchsticks if you don’t have these small pieces of wood and some cardboard.


    Free props for your Elf on the Shelf ideas

    Some of the Elf on the Shelf ideas below require a few props to really carry them off. If you’re not feeling super crafty or don’t have the right materials to hand then don’t worry, elfontheshelf.com have you covered.

    Get their free printable Elf on the Shelf props here. All you have to do is print out the sheets and then cut out the props you want and stick them together to build them. They’ve thought of everything from elf suitcases and gingerbread houses to Elf on Shelf pizza delivery boxes!