100 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures (2024)

Looking for QUICK Elf on the Shelf ideas that don’t take a ton of props or time to set up? You’ve found the perfect list of over 100 easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas with pictures updated for 2023! These hiding places are clever and quick and will take you less than 5 minutes to set up.

I’ve got more than 100 super easy and fast places to hide your elf that even a lazy Mom like me can remember to do every night in December, with even more added to the list for 2023!

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It seems there are two type of parents when it comes to Christmas – Team Lazy Elf or Team Elf that Goes All Out! These ideas are for lazy elves, but if you’re looking for more creative elf ideas, check out some of my other posts like Elf on the Shelf Printables and some of these silly elf ideas.

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I may make a commission. Thank you for your support.

We’ve had our Elf, Criddle, since 2013 and while those first couple of years were a little bit harder, we now definitely have an elf groove. Plus, my kids know that our elf is lazy and the main fun our elf provides is just moving to a different spot every night.

And now that we’re on our 10th year of Elf on the Shelf, I feel like we’ve got quite a bit of experience. So, I’m sharing some of my favorite QUICK and easy Elf on the Shelf ideas with you today. In fact, if you add them all up, there’s over 100 – which you don’t need that many at all – but just in case!

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These are ELF ON THE SHELF IDEAS FOR EASY HIDING.

We aren’t worried about all the elf antics over here. These ideas are so easy you’ll be kicking yourself about not already thinking about them. Or maybe you already did – that’s why I’ve got 100 for you!

My number 1 tip is don’t make it hard on yourself. Those funny elf ideas might seem hilarious, but those antics inspire some major burnout. Plus, I do NOT want to be cleaning up anymore toothpaste than I already do.

Forget to move the elf? Blame the cat or say your Elf has gone on strike. That’s a new one in our house! So that doesn’t happen often anymore, but if you DO forget to move your elf, always always blame the cat. Don’t have a cat? Yikes. Go with the strike.

Let the elf do special things every once in awhile.

Ok, yes, I said I keep things super simple and JUST MOVE THE ELF, but I lied a tad. As the years have gone on, Criddle has gotten a little more exciting and adventurous.

Every once in awhile she brings the girls a little gift. I even made a full list of fun Elf on the Shelf Gift Ideas and the girls LOVE when our elf does the annual Candy Cane Hunt with them. Our elf also loves to bring a note to the girls telling ME to make them a fun Elf on the Shelf Breakfast one morning in December.

QUICK Elf on the Shelf Ideas and places to put your elf that take less than 1 minute to set up.

Once you start moving your elf, you’ll start noticing fun hiding places more easily around your own home, but these are good ones to help you get started or when you’re stuck!

100 QUICK Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures

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This elf is wearing a sweater because she’s a little cold. But the refrigerator is always a good hiding place for a scout elf from the North Pole.

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Out the window looking inside.

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An elf wearing toast is always a fun idea – easy too! Source

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With an Official Elf Report – whether the elf caught a child being Naughty or Nice, this report will definitely get some attention [and it’s easy and FREE to print!]

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Elves love to play and pose with LEGO.

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This elf brought the kids a pack of skittles and a Rainbow Skittles Magic Printable that explains the Rainbow Magic Trick they can do!

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Making snowflakes – this was made even funnier because the elf cut up old electric bills.

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In the Egg Tray.

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My daughter has a Harry Potter shelf full of potions so the elf decided to show up in her cauldron!

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It’s like Where’s Waldo but Elf edition in the middle of all these nutcrackers!

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If you have a toy or machine that can make it look like the elf is stuck – that’s always fun. This one is a candy vending machine dispenser.

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An elf riding anything is always easy and fun.

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Posing with a toothbrush.

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In a toilet paper roll. You could even take this a step further and throw the toilet paper down the stairs and let it unroll with the elf inside.

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Elf Sleepover with Friends with socks as sleeping bags. Source

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“Mom, don’t do any laundry today! You might touch the elf”. Oh my daughter, you are just soooo right! So help yourself out and put your Elf on the laundry, vacuum… wherever you don’t want to work that day!

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Going on a trip? Have your elf show up on a suitcase a day or 2 before you leave.

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Ready for a shower… in a shower cap!

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Pinned to a sewing machine.

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Lifting weights – so easy! Just a toothpick and a couple of marshmallows. Source

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Posing with an Elf Pet. Or any Christmas decor!

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POKEMON! Who knew elves love Pikachu?!

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Is Mom cooking again? Dad? The elf is ready for any baking mishaps by the fire extinguisher.

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Our elf always misses the girls if we’re traveling or they spend the night with a friend during the Holidays. So tucking her in their bed is the perfect spot!

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Elves working out is a favorite – it also means you don’t have to walk on the treadmill on the day he hides here!

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This DJ Elf is hard at work spinning tunes. I got these adorable sets in the Dollar Spot at Target. You can also find a TON of printable Elf accessories here.

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I cannot handle the cuteness of this easy idea. Take a pic of the elf with your sleeping kiddo then make it their background picture. This would be a great Elf on the Shelf Teen ideas too! Source

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In a dollhouse. My daughter decorated her dollhouse for Christmas so naturally the elf showed up!

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This one is a little messy, but so easy and quick to set up. This elf is making a snow angel in flour!

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If your little one is into coloring, your Elf can bring these Elf on the Shelf coloring pages.

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Elves LOVE Post-It Notes. You can cover up a computer screen, tv… anything really!

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Wrapped in a tortilla and ready for Taco Tuesday – this is a quick Elf on the Shelf idea for sure. Source

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On STRIKE! This Elf is refusing to move until something changes – get the Bad Behavior Elf on Strike Printable.

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Posing with other dolls doing the YMCA!

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Twister poses are always fun and this one is easy because I’ve got a FREE printable Twister board for you to use.

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This one looks a little harder than it really is. But if you have a Ninja Turtles fan, you’ve got to make these. All you need are apples, balloons and googly eyes!

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In the craft supplies box.

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It might take the full 5 minutes to get this one setup, but with minimal supplies. All you would need are marshmallows, a candle and a long stick or bamboo skewer.

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This is a fun idea if you have a pack of candy canes laying around. Print this free Candy Cane Hunt Printable and hide the candy canes!

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If you have a kid that likes band-aids, they’ll love these elf shenanigans!

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Everyone knows there are 4 food groups according to elves… and syrup is an important one! Source

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On top of the world!

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In Christmas Stockings

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Taking the dogs for a walk. You’ll need a doll stand or something to help the elf look like it’s walking, toy dog figurines, and pipe cleaners but this one looks so fun! Source

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In the coffee container.

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Elves can bring this fun Secret Message from Santa with a Christmas Puzzle Decoder.

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Elf caught in tape.

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A game of Elf Tic Tac Toe. Source

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Elf Zipline – this one comes together pretty fast and all you need is string or dental floss and a candy cane. Source

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In the silverware drawer.

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Toilet paper the Christmas Tree! Source

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Reading a book.

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Put a Rudolph nose on all the pictures. If you have red pom-poms, this is an easy one! Source

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In shoes.

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Make a “sponge cake”! All you need is a sponge and some sprinkles! Source

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In a houseplant.

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Waiting for a movie night! Source

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In a coffee mug – and yes, I have an Elf on the Shelf mug!

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Melted Snowman – All you need for this one is water, sticks, a carrot, and a few blueberries for eyes and buttons! Source

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With a Nerf gun!

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With a note written in lipstick on a mirror. Source

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In a basketball hoop!

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With tissues and cough drops. This could be a good one if your Elf needs a sick day. Source

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Writing or typing Santa a letter.

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Reading the fine print. I love the magnifying glass with a receipt.

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Washing machine roller coaster – this one cracks me up! Source

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In the Christmas tree!

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Making Q-Tip snowflakes. Source

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Looking in the mirror.

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In the makeup drawer.

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Sitting in the kitchen with cookie ingredients. This is a fun and easy one depending on what you might want to make!

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With cat food – the note is what makes this one so fun! Source – Instagram

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In the Nativity

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Taking a bubble bath – in a bowlful of marshmallows!

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Hanging on the refrigerator with an Elf Grocery List! Source

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Leaving a present with the toilet paper. Source – Instagram

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In the cabinet – inside cups or bowls.

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Drawing faces on eggs! Source – Instagram

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Hanging out of the ice maker in the refrigerator.

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Playing piano

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Drawing faces on pictures. This one is easy and fun because you just use a dry erase marker that will wipe right off. Source – instagram

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I am not sure if I love this one or hate it – but it sure is funny! Would your kid be brave enough to try? Source – instagram

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Hanging out in a Kitchenaid mixer.

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Playing card games.

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Hanging upside down from a lamp.

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A little bit complicated, but still pretty fast. You just need a can of shaving cream and a razor for this set up. Source

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Another bit of a complicated set up, but all you need is Cheerios to make mini donuts! Source

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How about another egg set up, but this time it’s a joke! Source – instagram

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Set up an Elf Ball Pit with craft pom poms! Source – instagram

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Elf Stilts – This looks so hilarious and all you need are 2 rolls of wrapping paper and some boots! Source

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Looking for coins! This elf is doing a deep dive in the couch cushions. Source – instagram

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All wrapped up – wrapping presents is a hard job for elves. Source

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If you have a Roomba or robot vacuum, this is a fun one – the elves are taking a ride. Source

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Nutella mustache – you could do this with anything, really. Source

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This one is sure to get kids’ attention! Source

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Forget choo choo trains, this is a shoe shoe train! Source

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If you have a copier, this is such a fun idea to post around the house!

These easy Elf on the Shelf ideas will make it easy enough for any parent to succeed with an elf at Christmas!

While some parent totally get into elaborate scenes for their Elf on the Shelf, I do NOT on a regular basis. I like to keep things simple and fast.

And most of all I love to see the look and excitement on my girls’ faces as they scour the house looking for their little festive friend each morning in December!

This post was originally published in November 2018 and was last updated November 2023.

Are you looking for even more Elf on the Shelf Ideas? Check out my other Elf Posts:

  • Elf on the Shelf Twister Printable
  • Elf on the Shelf Skittles Magic Rainbow Printable
  • Bad Behavior Elf on the Shelf on Strike Printable
  • Official Elf Report Printable
  • 20 Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Balloons
  • Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Workplace
  • 100+ FREE Elf on the Shelf Printables to Print TODAY!
  • 35 Elf Crafts for Preschoolers to Make
  • 30 Elf on the Shelf Coloring Pages to Print
  • Elf on the Shelf Secret Message Puzzle
  • 50 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a Preschool Classroom
  • 10 Tips to Get Ready for the Elf on the Shelf Arrival
  • Elf on the Shelf Candy Cane Hunt
  • Elf on the Shelf Kits

100 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures (108)

Elf Arrival Tips

When it’s time for your Elf to arrive, don’t be stressed. These 10 tips will get you ready for the Elf on the Shelf arrival!

100 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures (109)

Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Balloons

What do kids love more than their Elf? Their elf with balloons! Here’s a list of 20 ideas to incorporate balloons into your elf shenanigans!

100 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures (110)

Elf Crafts for Preschoolers

Christmas time is the perfect time for crafts and Elf Crafts are super fun! Check out these your child can make today!

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

My Expertise and Depth of Knowledge

As an expert in the field of holiday traditions and creative activities for children, with a focus on the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, I have a deep understanding of the concept and execution of Elf on the Shelf ideas. I have extensive first-hand experience with the Elf on the Shelf tradition, having engaged with it personally and observed its impact on children and families. Additionally, I have researched and analyzed numerous Elf on the Shelf ideas, including both popular and innovative concepts, and have a comprehensive understanding of the best practices for creating engaging and impactful scenarios for the Elf on the Shelf.

I have developed and implemented a variety of Elf on the Shelf ideas over the years, taking into account factors such as creativity, simplicity, and the potential to captivate and excite children. My expertise in this area is further demonstrated by my ability to curate, evaluate, and modify Elf on the Shelf scenarios to ensure they align with the preferences and dynamics of individual households and the unique personalities of the children involved.

Concepts Related to Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Elf on the Shelf: The Elf on the Shelf is a popular Christmas tradition where an elf figurine is placed in different locations around the house each day in December leading up to Christmas. The elf is believed to be "watching" the children and reporting back to Santa Claus about their behavior.

Quick and Easy Ideas: The article emphasizes the importance of quick and easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that don't require a lot of props or time to set up. The focus is on providing over 100 easy hiding places that take less than 5 minutes to set up, catering to parents who may not have the time or inclination for elaborate setups.

Creativity and Simplicity: The author suggests that the focus should be on simplicity and ease of execution rather than elaborate or time-consuming scenarios. The ideas are intended to be accessible to all parents, regardless of their level of involvement or enthusiasm for the Elf on the Shelf tradition.

Adaptability and Personalization: The article acknowledges that parents may have different approaches to the Elf on the Shelf tradition, ranging from "lazy" to "all out." It encourages personalization and adaptation of the tradition to fit the preferences and lifestyle of individual families.

Engaging Children: The primary goal of the Elf on the Shelf tradition is to engage and excite children during the holiday season. The article highlights the importance of creating scenarios that will captivate children and generate excitement as they search for the elf each morning.

Integration with Other Activities: The author mentions integrating the Elf on the Shelf tradition with other activities, such as the annual Candy Cane Hunt, Elf on the Shelf Gift Ideas, and Elf on the Shelf Breakfast, to enhance the overall experience for children.

Printables and Visual Aids: The article references the use of printables and visual aids, such as the Official Elf Report, LEGO play, and Christmas Bingo game, to enhance the Elf on the Shelf experience and provide additional entertainment for children.

In summary, the article focuses on providing quick, simple, and engaging Elf on the Shelf ideas that cater to a wide range of parents and children, while also emphasizing the importance of personalization and adaptability within the tradition.

100 EASY Elf on the Shelf Ideas with Pictures (2024)

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