30 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas to do for your toddler or young kids. How to plan ahead, keep it simple, avoid stress and still have all the joy that comes with this magical Christmas tradition!
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Last year we started the elf on the shelf tradition in our house. I wasn't sure if Sadie would be old enough (she was 2 ½ years old) but I thought hard about it, made it age appropriate and she LOVED it! (As did we!) We bought the elf that came with the story book (affiliate link)
If you are thinking about getting started with Elf on the Shelf this year, here are a few things that made it easy on us:
- Plan ahead! I made a spreadsheet with the days and the planned "things" that the elf would do and anything extra I needed for set up e.g. a bowl of popcorn to have sitting with him. That way I could check my list each night before I went to bed and set it up without having to think about it
- Do less days! Most people do the whole of December but as Sadie was only 2 and it was our first year, we opted to do the 12 days leading up to Christmas instead. It was long enough for her and a great introduction into it for us! We will do the same this year.
- Keep it simple - again, with toddlers, they just find the whole thing exciting anyway, so save the elaborate set ups for when they get older!
- Cater to your toddlers interests - Sadie's favourite toy last year was her farm animals and fences, so we incorporated them into one day which was a big hit! This year, I plan to incorporate Duplo, her new favourite!
- Have fun yourself! I enjoyed doing elf on the shelf SO much! It was so fun for me setting it up at night and even more fun seeing Sadie's reaction the next morning!
Here is the list of elf on the shelf ideas that I used last year and also a few extras that I thought would also be great for toddlers that will be on our list this year.
Elf on the Shelf ideas for toddlers
Sitting on the bookshelf - the night before he arrived we read the book and then the next morning he was there with a note saying hi!
Making a snow angel out of flour
Sleeping in the Christmas stockings
Ziplining on a candy cane across the lounge - we used string running from the doorway to the curtain rail
Trapped in the the cereal box
Letting her animals out of the paddock
Unrolling the toilet paper
Drawing on the fruit in the fruit bowl
Watching the movie Elf (or your kids favourite movie or show)
Drawing a picture on the blackboard
Reading "The Night Before Christmas" - we did this one on Christmas Eve
Sitting at the breakfast table eating breakfast - this one was probably Sadie's favourite!
Helping to wrap the presents (but getting tangled in sellotape!)
Other ideas that we will use this year
- Collecting the eggs and drawing faces on them (and dropping one, naughty elf!)
- Baking cookies or making waffles/pancakes for breakfast
- Wearing gumboots, ready to go outside
- Candy cane fishing
- Playing a favourite game (Christmas memory card game or mix and match pieces)
- Building a Duplo tower
- In the fridge/freezer/pantry looking for treats
- In a pocket of the advent calendar
- Trapped in a jar (we will make snow globes this day)
- Decorating the fridge like a snowman
- Building an igloo out of marshmallows
- Playing hopscotch
- On a swing (I plan to make one out of a small piece of wood and some string)
- Sitting on the potty (with chocolate chips in it!)
- Writing on the bathroom mirror
- In the toy box
- Sitting on the Christmas tree
- Colouring in (Christmas colouring printables)
Comment below with any ideas that you have used and your kids have loved!