I thought hard about what to title this post, as “Lazy Parents Guide to Elf on the Shelf” seemed like I was calling myself a lazy parent. BUT for all the really fun Elf on the Shelf ideas there are out there, and as creative as I can be in other areas, I have resigned myself that it’s about as much as we can manage to get our little elf Chippy moved every night. With everything going on this time of year, something fun shouldn’t cause us undo stress. Even trying to keep it easy, we wrack our brains some nights at 1 a.m. after falling asleep on the couch for where to move Chippy. If nothing else, if you read this and let yourself off the hook, my job here is done.
Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

We basically just move our elf around to different spots in our house giving him different vantage points to observe and report back to Santa. We take Elf on the “Shelf” somewhat literally.

Going down the left side of the collage, then right, here’s what we did this year. (It serves as a good way to help me remember some good spots next year!)

  • Riding a dinosaur.
  • Perched on top of our telescope.
  • Hands in the candy jar on top of our refrigerator (ignore the dust).
  • Hiding inside a shadow box on our counter (is it inappropriate that it’s a shadow box for wine corks?)
  • 1st day, sitting on our mantel delivering the Lego Star Wars Advent calendar.
  • Peeking out of Carter’s stocking.
  • Sitting inside the Kleenex box on the back of the toilet (Note: the bathroom may not be the best spot, Carter refused to go in this bathroom because he didn’t want Chippy watching).
  • Hanging from our entryway light.


Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

  • Sitting in our Christmas tree holding a photo ornament from my son’s first Christmas.
  • Hanging out in our blinds.
  • Peeking out of the elevator of my son’s parking garage.
  • Watching us from our loft.
  • Flying high on the ceiling fan in my son’s room (ignore the dust, how embarrassing!)
  • Sitting in the chandelier above our kitchen table.
  • Reading a book on our mantel.
  • Riding a reindeer on top of our entertainment center.

FINAL UPDATES: Here are our last few days this year of our elf Chippy’s antics. We said goodbye to him on Christmas Eve and I can’t say my husband and I were too sad that we won’t see him until next December!

2 minute elf on the shelf ideas

  • Chippy sitting next to Carter’s stocking. He delivered a new Yoda Lego ornament and left a short note for Carter.
  • Hanging out on top of our dining room curtain rod wearing sunglasses from the Target dollar bin. We used clear packing tape to tape them to the back of his head.
  • Watching us from the top of our kitchen cabinets.
  • Sitting on the arm rest of the door hanging chip up bar. Again we used clear packing tape to make sure he wouldn’t fall off.

Here are some helpful tips on keeping it easy.

Set a time limit: the rule of thumb in our house is it shouldn’t take more than about 2 minutes to relocate (or clean up after) our elf each day.

Set an alarm: set an alarm on your cell phone  to remind you each night to move the elf if you think you’ll be prone to forget.

Set low expectations for your kids: (That sounds bad, doesn’t it?) I think if you start out doing something really involved every day, you feel like you have to keep that up or top yourself. Luckily we never did anything overly spectacular from the get-go so Carter doesn’t expect it. I think it’s okay to do something a little more once in a while and still set low expectations.

Don’t start too early: My husband tried to plead a case that we wait a little longer to start this year as we were pretty burned out on it last year by Christmas. Since I had bought the Lego Advent calendar this year though, I wanted Chippy to deliver it, so we started on Dec. 1st. If you want a much shorter time period though, you could do the 12 days of Christmas.

Keep the “rules” simple: I’ve heard of some pretty involved rules for people’s elves where if the elf doesn’t move the kids were in trouble the day before. We told Carter that sometimes Chippy doesn’t move if he really likes his spot. That way if we forget he doesn’t think he was in trouble. He has yet to stay put, but we planned ahead for the likelihood we would forget. Our only rule is that kids can’t touch Chippy.

Keep out of reach: If you think your child may want to touch your elf, put him on higher levels (mantels, shelves, entertainment centers, cabinets, etc.) to remove temptation. We haven’t had a problem this year, but last year we did.

Carter still loves searching for Chippy everyday and thinks he’s so silly for hiding where he does. I love seeing everyone else’s really creative ideas for their elves. My cousin’s wife has the best set ups – staging a bowling alley for their elf, eating goodies from their fridge, wrapping up things they need to use like backpacks or shoes.

My mom sent me a link with a lot of clever ideas and for about 2.5 seconds I thought, I should do those, but… I didn’t. She took pity on me and made our elf a little super hero cape and mask. Thanks Mom! We decided to do a zip line from our loft to our tree, while Chippy was wearing his cape. This took 5 minutes to do instead of two. (I know, we’re over achievers) We did a zip line last year too, but Carter didn’t seem to care.

Elf on the Shelf Zipline wearing cape

How about you, are you all in for your elf, don’t do it at all or somewhere in between?