Elf on the shelf ideas for toddlers - What Katy Said

Elf on the shelf ideas for toddlers

Inside Elf on the shelf ideas for toddlers this Christmas

You are here for one of two reasons; you are getting organised for your elf coming in December OR more likely you are frantically Googling ideas as you have no idea what to do with your elf this evening.

I have been there too, don’t worry.

I have also been the mum who’s tiptoed down the stairs at 5 am because I’ve forgotten to move the elf the night before.

Why do we do it to ourselves?

What is elf on the shelf?

If you are new to this tradition then welcome to the club. That is, welcome to the club of crazy mamas who do everything in their power to keep the magic alive.

It is a nightmare, I’m not going to lie. I forget more than I remember but my children love it. I’d even go as far as saying that it is their favourite part of the entire season. And that makes it worth it.

Elf on the Shelf started in the US and has slowly made its way around the globe with social media spreading the joy each Christmas. More and more families are embracing elf magic and creating fun memories for their little ones.

The original concept saw an elf appear on the first of December. The rules were that nobody could touch the elf or else it would lose its magic. Each night, the elf would come to life and get up to mischief while the children were asleep.

Making the elves toddler friendly

Now, I don’t know about your little ones but a scary looking elf sitting on a shelf all day isn’t the most magical of concepts. Plus, a lot of the ideas you find online seem to be geared towards older kids.

I wanted to make my elves friendly and fun, so we ditched the idea of ‘no touching’ and thought of fun activities that my kids could do with the elves (we have several for no other reason than I am stupid!).

24 toddler-friendly elf ideas

I have made a list of 24 ideas here for you – hopefully, you will find them fun and engaging for your little ones. I will be doing lots of these with my 3, 6 and 8 year old and they will love them!

  • Have the elf arrive from the North Pole with a note from Father Christmas, explaining the tradition. Of course, if you have done it in previous years you can have the elf write a letter telling your children what he has been up to all year and the fun he expects to have over the season!
  • Have your elf sitting in among the Christmas decorations- maybe holding a new decoration! Time to put up the Christmas tree!!!
  • Have your elf sitting writing a Christmas card- get the children involved (if they are older) in writing cards to their classmates.
  • Uh oh, what are all these footprints? Naughty elf has left a trail of floury footprints throughout the house- he wants to make Christmas fudge!!
  • Oh how kind- your elf has made you all new Christmas jumpers! Maybe have him tangled in some wool!
  • What has he been up to? Make a few paper chain links and leave a pile of strips ready to make the rest! Who doesn’t like paper chains in the living room?!
  • Uh oh, someone has got themselves in a tangle! Wrap your elf up in sticky tape and have some gifts and wrapping paper strewn about to make it look like he has been trying to get started on the wrapping! Time to get those presents wrapped and under the tree!
  • If the children have been particularly good the day before, your elf will have reported this back to Father Christmas! Reward them with the elf bringing them some Christmas themed colouring books.
  • I don’t know about you but I tend to tuck into the chocolate boxes early- I like to blame it on our elf!! Have him sitting on the sofa surrounded by the wrappers!! Maybe leave a sweet each for the kids!
  • Are you going to see Father Christmas? Take the elf with you!
  • Your elf has the toy catalogue- get the kids to cut out pictures of anything they’d like and stick them on a piece of paper. Letter to Santa, sorted!
  • Have a miniature breakfast! If you have a dolls’ tea set have the elf set it up with mini pancakes or mini bowls of cereal. Such a cute idea!
  • Many people hide the elf every day. I like to do it every now and then to keep it fun- where is he today? Maybe have a family game of hide and seek!
  • I love Christmas movies!! Have your elf sitting on the sofa with some popcorn and the remote with a movie on pause. What has he been watching? Who wants to watch ELF?!! Woohoo!!
  • We love to make gingerbread houses, have your elf sitting prepared with all of the ingredients in the kitchen- maybe he can draw a design for ‘his house’
  • December birthday? Have the elf sitting on the birthday presents with a party hat on! If you don’t have a family birthday during December then why not throw your little elf a birthday party?
  • Naughty elf has struck again! Toilet paper all over the tree!!!!!
  • If your kids are getting a bit excitable and starting to misbehave a little then have your elf write them a cautionary note reminding them that he is watching and reporting back to Father Christmas.
  • Snowball fight! If it has snowed then mock up a fight between your elf and another toy using rolled up tissue. Invite your children to have a real snowball fight outside! (If it hasn’t snowed you could always make your own!)
  • Making snowflakes is one of my favourite things to do each year, we stick them on the windows. Have your elf surrounded by paper cuttings and a few pre-cut snowflakes and get cutting!
  • Make reindeer food! This is a fun Christmas tradition and helps keep the magic alive!
  • Have a scavenger hunt! Leave clues leading to a prize at the end (chocolate money or some such) and have the elf holding the first clue- the prize is a new book (my personal favourite is The Jolly Christmas Postman).
  • I love Christmas photos, have your elf sitting with the camera. Show the children some photos he has been taking through the night! If you have taken photos the past few weeks sit and look through them all together.
  • Last day today! Have your elf write a thank you letter to the children reminding them to place him where Father Christmas can find him to take him back home!

Want it as a handy printable? Download Easy Elf Ideas free printable here!

Or pin it for later…

Toddler Friendly Magic Elf Ideas, free elf ideas printable, free printable, elf on the shelf ideas,

So there we have it, enough to keep you going and none that take too much time to prepare. If like me you often forget to get your elf ready then hide and seek is always a winner! I will be posting photos of our elves over on IG stories and I would love to see yours too so do tag me so I can see them!

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  • Reply
    tracey at Mummyshire
    December 1, 2015 at 8:13 am

    It’s great to see another Elf enthusiast! It’s our first day too and I know the children are going to be very excited. Although for us our Elf journey may be coming to an end as my daughter has just turned 8! Still, we’re going to make it super fun and challenging this year!
    We’re also running an #ElvesBeElves linky to share ideas every Thursday and show off the Elf cheeky antics – love you to join in *smiles*
    I hope the girls have fun with Sherry!

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Ahh, 8 is such a tricky age isn’t it? My friend has managed to keep the magic alive and her oldest is 11 so you may have a little longer. Will definitely share this one in your linky hun- remind me though as my memory is like a sieve! xx

  • Reply
    December 1, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Some fab inspiration here! These are so much cuter than the “other” elves. I really didn’t like the idea of not being able to touch a toy! The beds are a lovely little feature.

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Just makes it more fun and friendly being able to touch them. My girls love theirs x

  • Reply
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    December 1, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    You have some fab ideas here Katy! We have a little elf who stays with us over the holidays, his name is Jingle Bells. My kids love looking to see where he is every morning when we get up. It adds to the holiday fun. I’m the same as you – I adore Christmas! It’s such a fun time of year when the kiddies are old enough to understand. #XmasCorner x

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      It is so much fun isn’t it? Such a great idea to have been brought over from the USA x

  • Reply
    Fi - Beauty Baby and Me
    December 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Love this post and can’t wait to introduce this sort of tradition when my little one is old enough. Love Christmas it’s such a magical time and even more so when the little ones are involved. xx #christmascorner

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      Having children brings it all to life again. There were a few years when there were no kids around and it wasn’t the same x

  • Reply
    Silly Mummy
    December 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Love your elf ideas, and completely agree – one the kids can touch is much better for little children. #christmascorner

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      Definitely, makes it more fun I think x

  • Reply
    Katie @mummydaddyme
    December 1, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Ah this is such a lovely idea Katy, I have never got into Elf in the Shelf, I love looking at the photos on social media and i am sure the girls probably would love it, but i have never got into it. I hope you have a wonderful December. xx

    • Reply
      December 1, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Never too late, it is so nice bringing the Christmas spirit down to their level. We have done it for 3 years now and love it! x

  • Reply
    You Baby Me Mummy
    December 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    So many great ideas! Baby loves finding the Eli the Elf! xx

  • Reply
    Random Musings
    December 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Fab ideas Katy 🙂 I wasn’t a fan of the other elf – I love the idea behind it but he is so creepy looking, whereas yours is so cute! I love that she comes with a little bed and blanket and lets the kids interact a bit 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to #ChristmasCorner

    • Reply
      December 21, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      The original certainly is creepy- this one is fab for kids xx

  • Reply
    Amy Stainthorpe
    November 18, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    This is a great post and fantastic timing for me to find! We’re doing ‘the elf on the shelf’ this year for the first time. My two are 7 and 4. Looking forward to the fun we can have. Thanks for the tips xx

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