If you’re the parent of a toddler and wondering if it’s time to get in on all the Elf On The Shelf fun, I’ve found some of the best ideas for young kids! Elf On The Shelf is a fun tradition, but if you’re worried it’ll be too much work, I’ve made it as easy as possible for you.
I’ve laid out all the creative ideas you’ll need for the whole Elf season and made you a super handy cheat sheet to use each day with the ideas and supplies you’ll need to pull off each setup. Want even more Elf ideas? Check out my Free Printable Elf On The Shelf Letter Board Signs next!
You can even come back and reference this article throughout December to see how I made each setup and get all my tips and tricks to make things as easy as possible.
Easiest Elf On The Shelf Ideas For Toddlers
If you’re looking for last-minute elf ideas for busy parents, these are great Elf On The Shelf setups for you to try out. These quick ideas use items you’ll probably already have at home this Christmas season. I’ve included a photo of each great idea for you to copy as well as the supplies you’ll need to pull it off. Here are 25 of my favorite ideas for parents of young kids!
1) Elf On The Shelf Toilet Paper Roll Snowman
Supplies needed: Three toilet rolls, black marker, orange construction paper, scotch tape.
I used a washable crayola marker and I cut off some orange cardboard from a cereal box at home but you can use construction paper, or color some regular orange paper. Put a loop of tape behind the nose and stick it to the face.
This didn’t even waste too much toilet paper, the ink didn’t bleed through the first sheet, so I wasted about 5 sheets total and the rest of the roll was fine. Stick the Elf inside two rolls of toilet paper and stick the final one on top of its hat and head.
2) Elf On The Shelf Reads Christmas Books
Supplies needed: Christmas books.
Pick your favorite Christmas books and make a little scene with your elf. When your child sees this little scene you can get excited about reading a Christmas book with the elf and your child.
3) Elf On The Shelf Plays With Cheerios
Supplies needed: Cheerios and string or a pipe cleaner.
This is a funny scene for the Elf to do and if you invite your toddler to participate in the activity, it’s also a great way to sneak in a fine motor skill task. They can practice stringing Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner and using the muscles in their fingers. Or – place this set up near your breakfast table and munch on some cereal to start off your day.
4) Elf On The Shelf Does A Puzzle
Supplies needed: puzzle.
If your Elf On The Shelf starts doing a puzzle, your child might be tempted to help your elf out and finish the activity. You can even bring out more of your puzzles and let your toddler show the elf how many puzzles they can do! It’s a quick elf set up that your toddler will get a kick out of. Don’t have puzzles? Try board games instead.
5) Elf On The Shelf Hangs From Light
Supplies needed: Scotch tape.
For this simple idea, I dusted the top of my light fixture, then taped the hands of my elf to the light. Make sure you test how warm your light gets before you do this one. If your light heats up, it could burn your elf or be a fire hazard. If that’s the case, leave the light off while your elf is up there.
6) Elf On The Shelf Listens To Music
Supplies needed: earbuds or headphones, scotch tape.
Put your elf’s arms behind the little guy’s head so it looks like they’re relaxing and listening to music. This position also helps keep the earbuds in place. I also made some loops of scotch tape and stuck them to the ears of the elf so the earbuds would stay put.
7) Elf On The Shelf Hangs Out With Friends
Supplies needed: dolls or stuffed animals.
Gather together some dolls or stuffed animals you have around home and make a cozy scene. If you have a whole bunch of them, it could look like your elf is hiding in the pile. With just a few, it looks like the elf is trying to make some friends.
8) Elf On The Shelf Shops For Sweets
Supplies needed: mini shopping cart, candy.
If you have a doll-sized shopping cart, this is a super easy set up. Grab some mints, candy canes, packets of hot chocolate or your toddler’s favorite treat and place them in the cart. The elf is so rigid that I didn’t have to do anything special to get it to stay upright and look like it was walking, it just balances that way. Watch out for choking hazards depending on how young your child is. Pick a candy or treat that is age-appropriate for them.
9) Elf On The Shelf Does Bow Rock Climbing
Supplies needed: 4-6 self-adhesive bows, scotch tape.
For this cute idea, place your 4-6 gift bows on your wall or kitchen backsplash. Then use tape to secure the elf’s hands and feet to the wall. I had to use quite a bit of tape to keep the elf up there. It looks like the elf is going up, quite an adventure.
10) Elf On The Shelf Rides A Fire Truck
Supplies needed: toy fire truck or vehicle.
If you have a Barbie dream car, toy fire truck, garbage truck, or any other kind of large toy, put your elf inside for an easy 5 second set up that your kids will love.
11) Elf On The Shelf Hides In Duplo
Supplies needed: duplo, mega blocks, or lego.
Make a little house, fort or hide out with your blocks and place your adorable elf on the shelf inside. If you leave out the set of blocks, you can invite your child to play with you and see what their imagination creates for the elf to ejoy.
12) Elf On The Shelf Rides A Train
Supplies needed: 8 curved wooden track pieces, magnetic train, larger train.
If you don’t have a larger train at home, simply set up the train track and place your elf with it like the elf was playing trains.
13) Elf On The Shelf Gets Stuck In A Jar
Supplies needed: mason jar.
You can use an empty mason jar, a cleaned out pickle jar, or any other type of jar you have laying around your home for this clever idea. Make sure it’s clean, or that the stuff inside won’t leave a stain. I put my little elf inside a jar that had some sprinkles in it.
14) Elf On The Shelf Poops Chocolate
Supplies needed: small drinking glass, chocolate chips.
Place some chocolate chips inside the glass, then place your naughty elf inside the jar to make it look like it’s going potty. Tell your toddler what happened in the morning when they get up and watch them laugh! Silly elf.
15) Elf On The Shelf Goes Bananas
Supplies needed: red and black markers, bananas.
Draw some cute or funny faces on your bananas, then loop the arms of your elf around the banana stem and markers. It’s such an easy set up and your kids will love it.
16) Elf On The Shelf Gets Artsy
Supplies needed: crayons, coloring book, paper.
I set this elf up with a tiny piece of paper to make it look like the elf had made a little drawing. An 8 pack of crayons is the perfect size to fit in your elf’s arms. I put my elf on top of a Christmas themed sticker book. A coloring book or activity book works great too.
17) Elf On The Shelf Hides In Teapot
Supplies needed: teapot.
Place your elf inside a teapot and balance the lid on its shoulder. You can use a play tea set if you have one or a real teapot like I did. Maybe Elf On The Shelf likes a good tea party too!
18) Elf On The Shelf Rides A Dinosaur
Supplies needed: large dinosaur toy.
Make this scene as big or small as you’d like. If you have a bunch of dinosaurs you can set them up to make a big dinosaur-themed scene. Want to plan a baking soda volcano activity for today? Make this as big and fun or small and easy as you’d like.
19) Elf On The Shelf In A Magnetic Tile Castle
Supplies needed: at least 16 magnetic tiles.
If you have some magnatiles or connectix tiles, this is another easy set up for Elf On The Shelf. You can make your tiles look like a castle and create a window for the elf to peek through.
20) Elf On The Shelf Bathes In PomPoms
Supplies needed: bowl, pompoms.
Make your elf look like it’s taking a bath inside something fun and silly. Pompoms, marshmallows, sprinkles, and cotton balls are all great ideas depending on what you have around the house. It also sort of looks like a cute ball pit!
21) Elf On The Shelf Plastic Wraps Shoes
Supplies needed: plastic wrap, kids shoes.
Give your kids shoes a little wrap with plastic cling film and set the elf up next to it. Aluminum foil would work too for this set up. What a mischievous elf!
22) Elf On The Shelf Has A Cottonball Snowball Fight
Supplies needed: cotton balls.
You can set up your elf with some friends and make them look like they’re having a snowball fight. Or print off my set of free printable Elf On The Shelf Letter Board Signs and use them for this easy little scene.
23) Elf On The Shelf Makes Marshmallow Snowmen
Supplies needed: large marshmallows, orange and black pen.
Put some black and orange marker on your large marshmallows to make them look like a cute little snowman. You can use edible pens from a craft store if you still want to eat them, or just enjoy this as a cheap and fun activity without eating them.
24) Elf On The Shelf Makes a Flour Snow Angel
Supplies needed: flour.
Make your elf look like it’s doing a snow angel in some flour, granulated sugar or powdered sugar. Sprinkles work great for this too. It’s a cute set up on it’s own, or grab my set of free printable Elf On The Shelf Letter Board Signs to go along with it.
25) Elf On The Shelf Leaves A Letter Board Note
Supplies needed: Letter Board or Chalk Board
Do you have an easel at home? Or a chalkboard? Letter board? White board? Any kind of large writing surface or word-board will work great. You can set up a note or message on it with your elf.
Printable Easy Elf On The Shelf Supply List
Elf On The Shelf Common Questions
Will a 2 Year Old Understand Elf On The Shelf
A two year old is too young to understand that an Elf On The Shelf is watching their behavior and reporting back to Santa. You can, however, start using the elf as part of your Christmas traditions and do a new set up each day to have some fun.
Can a Child Touch The Elf On The Shelf
Somewhere in the official Elf On The Shelf rule book, it states that ‘If elves are touched they can lose their magic,’ and then they can’t fly back to the North Pole. If that’s how you’re using your Elf On The Shelf, then you can use that answer.
A lot of parents just use the elf as a fun and silly tradition. No ‘watching’ or ‘reporting back to Santa’ and no guilt or special rules. You get to decide how to use it in your own home and set the rules.
Is Elf On The Shelf Good For Toddlers?
If you like the idea of Elf On The Shelf, the toddler years are a good time to start making it part of your family’s Christmas traditions. Your toddler is old enough to start recognizing family traditions and remembering them from year to year.
As your toddler grows older, how you use your elf might change. If your child has learned how to read, maybe your elf will leave notes. If not, these easy scenes are a fun way to start.
Come up with your own house-rules about how you’ll use your elf and expectations. Are your kids allowed to touch it and play with it? Is it off-limits like the original handbook states? Does it report behavior back to the North Pole? Or is it just a fun toy that appears doing different activities each morning?
When Does Elf On The Shelf Arrive?
December 1st is when most families start their Elf On The Shelf tradition.
When Does Elf On The Shelf Leave?
Traditionally, Elf On The Shelf leaves on Christmas eve, December 24th. Your fun elf returns to the North Pole and the next day is Christmas, so there’s no need for the ‘good behavior’ monitoring to continue.
Final Thoughts on Easy Toddler Elf On The Shelf Ideas
Whether you’re searching for last-minute ideas or you’re planning ahead and trying to find simple Elf On The Shelf set up ideas, I hope this post has helped you create some family magic. The little things like these fun moments help make childhood special for little kids and bring them so much joy. Keep the Christmas feeling going all season and try out one of these Christmas iPhone wallpapers to showcase your spirit in style.
With a little bit of pre-planning and a pinch of creativity, you can use these easy ideas to start a new fun Christmas tradition in your house (without losing your mind). Sometimes simple ideas are the best ones because they are practical, fun and don’t add more stress to this busy time of year.