Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Here are some of the things our elf, Twinkle, has done in the last couple of years.  Can’t wait to think up some new activities and locations for this year.  I’ve already started with a list!  Of course, these are just for “regular” days…he does “extra” fun stuff on our themed days (which, there are roughly 4 or 5 of those, not including the North Pole Breakfast), so check back later as I post those.  😉

December 2nd, he always, always leaves 25 (nope, not 24) wrapped books for the children.  I have 2 little ones, so I realized quickly the first year (after the first unwrapping) that they were going to argue about who opened a book, so I tried to keep track of them taking turns.  So, the following year, I made this little poem and printed it out to remind them that they are taking turns!


It reads:

Although it seems so far away,

Before you know, it’ll be Christmas day!

To help the days and nights go by with speed

Twinkle brought you both some books to read.

Open one surprise each night

Please take turns and do not fight.


The reason we do 25 books and not 24 is because we do start on Dec 2nd, not the 1st (our North Pole Breakfast is more than enough on the 1st) and also because our last book is about the day of Christmas (as well as a few others, but this one should be read on Christmas day).  I will post a list later of the books when I get them ready for this year.  I find it’s easiest to sit down with my calendar to match the book I want them to open with what we’re doing for the day if there is a “matching” book.  I put the dates from Dec 2nd-Dec 25th on the back corner so we don’t lose track!

December 3rd, Twinkle arrives with the children’s table set up to write their letters to Santa…



The cute supplies… 🙂  (It was a prepackaged set from WM)



I love their concentration. 🙂 ❤


He’s not hiding…this is how he always writes. 🙂


She can’t write, yet, so she draws pictures of what she wants and then tells me about it.  😉


Usually, the 3rd day is a countdown clock, but we’ve also done other things.  My list is so extensive, sometimes Twinkle moves a couple of times a day.


On any random morning (ok, if you know me, it’s not quite so random – it’s somewhere on my calendar!), Twinkle has donuts from Ms. Claus for himself and for the children.  Luckily, last year my hubby worked night shift, so I just had him bring home some donuts from the bakery to surprise them with the next morning.


Twinkle has his own donuts, too!  I used our Cheerios, dipped in chocolate candy melts and then add sprinkles!


This was one of the biggest hits of the year that was “from” Twinkle…a candy cane hunt.  We have Easter egg hunts, pumpkin hunts, turkey feather hunts, birthday scavenger hunts…I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this myself.  Glad I found a post with it.  I will post the printable link.  🙂  It’s a keeper!


Zaiden reading the card…asking if he can go look


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One thing he brings is a letter from Santa with a treat!  Inside are the “ingredients” to plant “seeds.”  In about 2 days, the treat “grows.”


This was their first year we had the sweet treats:


I used sugar sprinkles for the “watering” that they do for a couple of days (they just sprinkle it on top of the sugar) and round sprinkles for the “seeds.”


So, first they both get to push some “seeds” down into a bowl of sugar


Then, they sprinkle the sugar sprinkles on top for a day or two…their attention span has lasted only a day both times, but I’ve read of others doing 2-3 days.

Then, when you’re ready, the “seeds” have sprouted into the sweet treats.  I found ice cream shaped marshmallows at the store and wanted to add them because I thought they were cute.


If you’re so blessed as to have a little girly girl in the house with a barbie car, this makes for a fun idea.  Then, she got to push him around for a bit.  🙂  This was 2 years in a row, so he has his hat off the second time.

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An idea for a movie night (which, we have a lot, so there is at least one of these during the season)              Popcorn with the gingerbread friends…


Twinkle painting one of those easy painting sheets from the pad…and he left a new pad for the children.  My daughter absolutely loved these.  She’s outgrowing them now, but great for younger ages and a lot less messy than real paint.  Plus, great for when you vacation.  🙂



Another thing he does is set up the supplies to make cinnamon ornaments…and we all love this! Makes the house smell soooo yummy!  Usually, while we have the cutters out, we end up making bird seed cookies again.  😀




Tea party with Barbie… 🙂


He can build a Lego fort… this was when my lo’s played with the bigger Legos and now we only have the small ones, so I can envision some late night Lego building for someone this year.  😉


Pez Powwow.  This was so easy and fast to do.  My daughter then played with the pez collection for quite a while, which usually just sits in a container in the closet, so I’m glad I had something I could do with them!


Cutting snowflakes…and leaving some extra supplies for the children to make their own.  We hadn’t ever made snowflakes before, so they were very interested.  This is all of the mess I could bring myself for our elf to leave.  1) Our elf tries very, very hard to only be a positive influence and do good.  Rarely he does something ornery, but never naughty.  2) a little bit of OCD keeps me from being able to make a mess on purpose, lol.  And then, to clean it up? No thanks! I have enough cleaning, haha.  Btw, I used scissors from the sewing kit.


If you have elf sized games, you can set those up.  These are dice that I actually found buried in a yard, but now there are some slightly bigger than these in a game you can get from Dollar Tree.  It has one per game, but it’s a start.  Or, just use full size games.  I love tiny stuff!


Twinkle usually brings a Christmas themed puzzle and puts a couple of pieces together to get it started.  The children finish the rest.  Last year was the Fancy Nancy Christmas one with the “seeds” above.  We do that one as a family (and the book we open that night is the Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas).


More baking!  We bake A LOT!  Sometimes, he sets out the stuff for muffins for breakfast, but a lot of times, it’s desserts, hehe.  What else would an elf leave?  Yum!


Set up for another movie night…(Rudolph themed).  He left out baking stuff that morning, too, for the reindeer cookies.


This is just one of the many cute printables in that elf collection.  I put notes in my son’s snack bag (they can’t take lunches) and these are perfect for a Christmas countdown.  He really, really loved getting notes “from Twinkle” in his snack.  That first day he was so super excited when he came home and told me.


You can surprise the little ones with their play house all aglow with rope lighting!  The great thing about rope lighting is that I feel like it’s still safe with the little ones when I put their playhouse back outside if it’s warm enough.  Twinkle (or your elf can) holds a little note on the calendar with a scavenger hunt surprise leading to the playhouse.


Last year we had an Ugly Christmas Sweater party and this ornament was a game prize that we won…thankfully Twinkle was prepared with his Ugly Christmas Sweater (sitting out of reach in the tree from little children).  You can get them at Hobby Lobby.


We didn’t have any snowballs, yet, but Twinkle brought some so that we could have an indoor snowball fight.  These are just the ones that I got to keep in my basket, and he brought softer ones for the children (another alternative to faux snowballs are cotton balls…they won’t break anything. 😉 ).


Like I said, my daughter loooooves to paint.  Pretty much every holiday (and in between) we get these plaster shapes to paint and this year there were gingerbread themes…too cute! The thing under it all is gingerbread window clings.


Simply looking at a toy magazine we got in the mail.  😀  Of course, they wanted to look at it afterward and pick some things.  Don’t forget to circle things your elf would “like.”


The first year Twinkle was here, he used a dry erase marker and just made silly eyebrows and mustaches on their picture, but last year since the North Pole Breakfast theme was Reindeer, he went with the theme and made them into reindeer.  I used brown pipe cleaners and tiny red pom poms and just used some glue dots.  Glue dots wouldn’t hold the pipe cleaners though, so those are just taped on.


Doing any traveling during the holiday season?  We certainly do!  Of course, Twinkle had to go with us and had some goodies all set up for the trip.  He even packed his own suitcase with his extra hat and scarf.



Night before Christmas idea: he brings the supplies for making the reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn.


I hope you enjoyed just a few of the things we’ve done with our elf and check back to see what I do for our themed days throughout December!

Here is a link for Mrs. Claus’ donut box:


Here is a link for the cute elf printables:



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