Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Slackers

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It’s Elf on the Shelf season.

And as much as I love to see the shenanigans that my friends’ elves get up to, I just can’t get it together to do the same for my kids.

In fact, most nights I can’t even remember to MOVE the elf – and Even Steven has to run down in the morning before the kids come downstairs.

Even Steven

I want to do better.

I want to have an elf that spends his nights in the hot tub with Barbie or stages an all-out war with the toy dinosaurs.

But it just ain’t going to happen.

So if you’re anything like me – this calendar is for you.

Elf on the Shelf for Slackers

Elf on the Shelf – for Slackers

Day 1: Your elf arrives. Put him on the nearest shelf. Read your kids the book. You’re done.

Day 2: Move your elf to the dining room light fixture.

Day 3: Move your elf to the kitchen windowsill.

Day 4: Forget to move your elf. Tell your kids that he only moves if they’ve been good the day before – so must be they were naughty. Tell them to try harder.

Day 5: Move your elf to a shelf in the family room.

Day 6: Move your elf to the back of the toilet.

Day 7: Put your elf in the minivan. I know – we’re getting a little creative here.

Day 8: Move your elf to a shelf in the entry way.

Day 9: You’ve been working hard for four days. Give yourself a break. Tell your kids that they must have been naughty again and to try harder.

Day 10: Move your elf to the top of a cupboard.

Day 11: Move your elf to a spot on the Christmas Tree.

Day 12: Forget to move your elf. Your kids will know why he hasn’t moved.

Day 13: Move your elf to the top of a lamp in the family room.

Day 14: Forget to move your elf.

Day 15: Forget to move your elf.

Day 16: You are the worst parent ever. Forget again.

Day 17: Okay – less than 10 days left. We can do this! Move your elf to the bathroom again.

Day 18: Move your elf to a kitchen light fixture.

Day 19: Move your elf to your bedroom.

Day 20: Move your elf to a window ledge in the family room.

Day 21: Move your elf to the top of the washer or dryer.

Day 22: Move your elf to the top of the television.

Day 23: Move your elf to the bulletin board.

Day 24: Move your elf to the kitchen counter.

Day 25: Move your elf back to the Christmas tree.

GREAT JOB! You did it!

Day 26: Quick! Move your elf back to his box and hide him away until next year.

Want to *TRY* to be Amazing with your Elf on the Shelf? I have ideas for that too!

If you want to have the greatest Elf on the Shelf EVER, then keep reading. Not only will I walk you through how to make your elf more poseable (using wire, velcro and magnets) without sewing a thing, I’m also going to give you ideas for his arrival as well as his goodbye and everything inbetween – including printables, easy and creative ways for him to get into mischief.


It is so easy (and fun!) to make your Elf on the Shelf more poseable (and much more likely to get into mischief) using wire, velcro and magnets – and there’s not a bit of sewing required.

How great is that?


Click here for the full step-by-step tutorial.

How to Welcome Your Elf on the Shelf (or Say Goodbye)

A special Elf on the Shelf brunch can be a super fun way to kick off your Elf on the Shelf season!

Click here for some fun details on how to make your brunch super special (including my favorite OJ pancake recipe and Grinch Juice!)

Fun Games to Play With Your Elf

While the kids don’t usually get to play with Mr. Elf, that doesn’t mean they can’t still play some Elf on the Shelf games!

How to Decorate a Tree for your Elf on the Shelf

Free Printable: Elf on the Shelf Mad Libs

Free Printable: Elf on the Shelf Charades

Free Printable: Elf on the Shelf Photo Props

Free Printable: Elf on the Shelf Coloring Sheets

Great Ideas for Your (Now Poseable) Elf on the Shelf

Stumped on how to pose your Elf on the Shelf tonight? Have no fear – I have hundreds of ideas for you. (Seriously. Hundreds!)

Great ideas for your Elf on the Shelf

100 MORE Ideas for your Elf on the Shelf


  1. Catherine

    December 2, 2013 at 6:21 am

    LOL – you always make my day- LOVE THIS!!!!! Have a blessed holiday season!!!

  2. Janine Huldie

    December 2, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Totally pinning, because I am so slacking this year already and needed this bit of help. You are the best, Anna!! 🙂

  3. Kellie

    December 2, 2013 at 9:18 am

    This why I refuse to even buy an elf in the shelf…and because they creep me out. I am a-okay with being a terrible parent. And if my kids ask why we don’t have one…I will lie and tell them it’s because they are so good Santa doesn’t need to send a spy to our house. 😉 Muwhahahaha!

  4. rebecca at thisfineday

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Ha ha ha! I’ve already forgotten once! I love this. I try to set a timer on my iPhone that reminds me to move him before I go to bed, but that STILL doesn’t always work. Big fail… I forgot where we put our Elf from last year, so I had to buy a new one and pass him off as the old one…. Still haven’t found Elf #1 even though we’ve unpacked all the Christmas stuff. We must be a super sucky family for our Elf to skip out on us!

  5. Stephanie {Binkies and Briefcases}

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve already forgotten once too! And ours is currently on the dining room light fixture. Great minds think alike!

  6. Michelle

    December 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out when having elves on the shelves became mandatory — does that mean my kids are too old for this and I don’t have to feel guilty? We’ve got Evil Vintage Santa to keep us creeped out enough. 🙂

  7. Mandy

    December 2, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Sounds like we have the same “calendar”. Fantastic to know I’m not alone! I explain it to the kids as Bob (the elf) is a pretty mellow dude and likes to hang out and chill and really, why would he make messes? Wouldn’t that get him fired?

    So far it’s working. Then again, it’s only December 2nd.

  8. Susan

    December 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Love this! Made me laugh so hard. Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping the rest of us elf slackers from feeling so dang guilty.

  9. Amy Garnett

    December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks so much for the guide. I’m truly the epitome of Elf on the Shelf Slacker Mom. Last year our Elf had a sledding accident in the North Pole on the day he was to arrive at our house. Santa allowed him to come, but he was immobilized on the shelf in a body cast for several days. I blogged about it –

    He hasn’t arrived yet this year. No telling what might happen!

  10. Sarah

    December 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    ROLLING! I don’t usually comment on these things, but I’ve been sick in bed all day and this just made my day! Hilarious. I like the way you think!

  11. Tara

    December 3, 2013 at 6:55 am

    So funny!!! Love this! So happy to hear that I’m not the only “slacker” in the quest to survive the 25 days of having an Elf….

  12. Jen L

    December 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Love It! I usually also have a couple moments of shoving a half sleeping husband down the stairs to quickly move the elf while I try to distract the eager elf hunters on a way too early weekend morning.

  13. Mandy

    December 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    This is so funny! I was a teacher and did it in my class and the same thing happened. Now we use him with my boyfriend’s son. We just move him to different places and that’s about it. We don’t have time for a naughty elf lol.

  14. Beth Markley (Manic Mom)

    December 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Funny, but I’m glad I never started that tradition. I can’t remember to do the tooth fairy thing.

  15. Sue

    December 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I have no idea where this all started. I suddenly noticed it a couple of years ago at a friend’s house. All I can say is that I’m glad my kid is grown up now, because she always got up before me and I’d be in dreadful trouble if the elf hadn’t moved…and I’d have never remembered the night before. Whew!

  16. RossCrewMom

    December 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Thank you!!!! Now I have a reason why the elf doesn’t move.

  17. Nancy Pfeifer

    December 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Love it!! I’m a slacker lol

  18. Chris

    December 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    If it didn’t exist when I was a kid—it doesn’t matter if it exists now. That’s my opinion on this whole “elf” thing.

  19. Lynn

    December 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Too funny!
    I wouldn’t even know that elf on the shelf even existed if it weren’t for pinterest. Luckily by the time I found out about it my boy had already outgrown it .

  20. Michelle {Fun On a Dime}

    December 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I totally agree! I try, but I’m always forgetting until the last minute. This morning, I had no clue where my kiddos’ elves were, so the Elves left a note on my phone of a simple (and they were going to do it anyways) activity they wanted the kiddos to do!

    P.S. I love that pic of your husband’s reaction. I think I have seen it on another post and it CRACKS me up every time.

  21. Lisa Murphy

    December 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST. Tears streamed down my face when I first read it. Mostly because, for the first time, hubby and I had forgotten to move the elf. We are now–completely–in the slacker category. I keep reading this again and again, and I bust a gut every time. Thank you for giving us some guidelines this year!!! 🙂

  22. Frugalistablog

    December 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    We got one of those Elf plush dolls. For some reason my children have decided this is a fun game of ‘let’s hide the elf to freak mom out when she finds it’- like under my pillow, in the fork drawer. You know. Gets me every time.

  23. jennifer groeber

    December 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I just posted a poem about the disappearance of said elf, the bum. I appreciate the helpful suggestion… he hasn’t moved because you were naughty! I was going with “He overslept,” or “He drank too much?” or “How should I know? I didn’t invite him into this house. He showed up. He won’t leave. That’s all I know. I just clean the place.”

  24. Ingrid Echard

    December 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I really do love you and your parenting style. I am also married to an Even Steven and I love that picture of him you use. I am also not doing the elf, for a variety of reasons. But you always make me feel like my parenting is more normal than I sometimes feel it is. I am a bit of a slacke

  25. Ingrid Echard

    December 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    See couldn’t even finish my sentence properly!

  26. Darcy Perdu

    December 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    yes, yes, and yes! so funny!

  27. Michele

    December 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I read your blog on the 2nd and thought about printing it out just so I could stay on track. I didn’t, mostly because I’m a slacker. Well guess what. I forgot to move that stupid elf on the night of the 3rd. Does that make me an overachiever to be ahead of schedule? Even better, I forgot last night too. Thankfully, a couple of hours after the baby had already been up, the 3yo had gotten up too, and I had to walk past that cursed thing. So at 4:00am, I was able to get back on schedule of moving the elf. Unfortunately, the bigger kids have too high of expectations because the first thing the 5yo said was “He sat there last year”. Am I supposed to find new places every year?

  28. Tamara

    December 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Hi Anna, over the last couple of days many of my friends posted “I forgot to move the elf – what do I tell the kids?” So as of today I’ll refer them to your post 😉 I took the liberty to put a link into my own post
    Take care – and try to remember to move the elf tonight, OK?

  29. Cheryl Gocke

    December 5, 2013 at 9:56 am

    The most exciting thing our elf has done is sit in the empty hot tub with Barbie. (I have enough problems cleaning up after the humans in our house, much less making a mess on purpose for the damned elf!)

  30. Theresa Ceniccola

    December 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Hilarious! Thank you for sharing. The only concern I have is that this schedule assumes we have our Christmas tree up by Dec 11. Um, hello…I’m a slacker, remember?! jk – this is fabulous!!

  31. Jenifer

    December 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

    oh my goodness, hilarious and completely true!!! thank you for sharing!

  32. Xiomara @ Parkesdale

    December 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Absolutely hilarious. We forgot to move our elf so many times last year, that the girls are convinced he never left our house!

  33. DSC

    December 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Our elves went back to Santa for a few days because of a bad progress report and then lying about it.. bought me a week! 🙂

  34. Heather

    December 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    What a cute post. I mentioned it on my blog, for next year, when our elf actually decides to move! lol

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  36. sarah

    December 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I notice there are several light fixture suggestions. We put ours on the light fixture in the entry way last year and it burned a hole in our elf. Just make sure you don’t turn the light on 🙂 or your elf will have a burned hole on his back side.

  37. Annie {Stowed Stuff}

    December 6, 2013 at 5:30 am

    God, you really hit the nail on the head. This is so us. We are so lame that we never even wrote in the book and now none of us can remember our elf’s name! Crap, I hope he moved last night

  38. Sam

    December 6, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Well said.

    This is just sad. And awful.

    Not moving him and then telling the kids he’s not moved because they were naughty?! Disgusting.

  39. Sam

    December 6, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Yeah, if you hate your kids.

  40. Allyson

    December 6, 2013 at 9:05 am

    He creeps me out, too!!!! That freaky little face would give me nightmares!

  41. Camille Lomax

    December 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Best way to not forget to move the elf….DON’T EVER START. Don’t buy one, don’t have the book–You’re on EASY STREET. Until your kids ask why they don’t have an elf….

  42. Katie

    December 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm


  43. Rokkie

    December 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Aw come on, it’s all in good fun. And let’s be honest, many kids do something naughty most days, so it’s probably not a complete lie. I can think of many more things to call “disgusting.”

  44. Allison Walser

    December 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Haha, I can relate. Our elf shows up on St. Nicholas Day. My high schooler hurried into my room this morning (St. Nicholas Day) to tell me I forgot to take the lists from the shoes and leave chocolate AND the elf wasn’t out. I was informed his elementary age brother was still in bed and if I hurried, all would be well.

  45. Allison Walser

    December 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    That’s hysterical. I had a friend do that too.

  46. Andrea

    December 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    This is sooooo us!

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  48. amyks

    December 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I told my daughter the same thing when she asked why all her friends have Elf on the Shelf and we don’t.

  49. amyks

    December 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

    That was supposed to be a reply to the comment about her being so well behaved that we don’t need a spy in the house to report back to Santa

  50. Natalie

    December 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I told my kids if “Rosie” made a mess she’d have to go to elf time out and Santa would be sad…they are 3,4 & 5 totally bought it no messy elf for me….and she is creepy!!!! I only have one because I had a bawling 5yr old that thought him and his brother did something wrong because Santa hadn’t sent an elf to watch them…thank you to his teacher that decided to talk elf at school!!!

  51. jes e

    December 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

    This is such a true story!. That is exactly how we do it, the only difference is a few more missed days…this year he did not move from Monday to Wednesday. We use the excuse mommy and daddy went to bed to late…

  52. Tkgrandmom

    December 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    You don’t have to spend all that $ on elf on a shelf. Get a stuffed toy from the dollar store and tie a Christmas ribbon around it and name it. Kids don’t care it’s not an elf they just like getting up and looking for where it moved to.

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  55. Jennifer A.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Have I mentioned you are BRILLIANT??? You make me feel much more ‘normal’…. if there is such a thing. Problem: I’m too much of a slacker to HAVE a Christmas tree yet, so I’d better get on to that before I have to put the darned elf in one.

  56. Jennifer A.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Oh fiddlesticks. I just checked and tomorrow’s tree day! Oh well, there’s always next year…

  57. Shyanne

    December 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I had to buy a new elf too lol. Unorganized moms with chaotic homes should not buy elves 😉

  58. Linnae

    December 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

    The whole elf on the shelf thing makes me tired just thinking about it. And a little bit cranky, if you want to know the truth. That’s probably why we don’t have one and will not be getting one in the near future! I’m sure if I did succumb at some point I would definitely be on the slacker list, though. My creativity for stuff like that tends to run out about the time I put the kids in bed.

  59. shaaa

    December 21, 2013 at 8:33 am

    We bought the knock-off elf for $2. It works just as good.

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