Super-Easy, 2-Minutes or Less Elf on the Shelf Ideas

(Because sometimes you want to go all out, and sometimes you just don’t.)
Elf on the Shelf

Let’s be real, Christmas was a breeze for parents before 2005. That was the year Elf on the Shelf was created and everything changed. Since then, parents have been banging their heads on the walls every December night trying to come up with some sort of creative pose or scene their house elf can do to wow the kids in the morning. And after four days or so, the ideas become harder and harder to come by, where most parents just give up on trying altogether.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can still give your kids all the joy they deserve while putting in the minimal amount of effort with a little help from this little guide. It’s full of both basic-level ideas and that take all the stress and hair-pulling out of the equation with pro-level upgrades for each, in case you want kick it all up a notch. Best part is, every one of them takes less than 2 minutes from start to finish, because you’ve got a Die Hard movie marathon to get back to.

In One of the Kids’ Rooms

Little Effort: Put the elf on a dresser, it’ll be the first thing they see in the morning and will hopefully persuade them to be on their best behavior all day. Well, you can dream it will, at least.

Little More Effort: Lay out a Scrabble board with the elf and a couple of stuffed animals around it, spell out a few fun holiday words, and voila!  

In the Bathroom

Little Effort: Put the elf’s arms around one of the kids’ toothbrushes—a great reminder to brush those teeth first thing in the morning.

Little More Effort: Scrawl a fun little note to the kids on the bathroom mirror in toothpaste and put the toothpaste tube in the elf’s arms. Done.

In the Dining Room

Little Effort: Hang the elf upside down from the chandelier, the kids will love it.

Little More Effort: Hang the elf upside down from the chandelier, rip off a long piece of toilet paper, and write out a naughty and nice list with your kids’ names on it. If they need a little kick in the pants, throw ‘em on the naughty list. If they’re angels, on the nice list they go.

In the Toy Room

Little Effort: Put your elf in a toy box. The kids will find him real quick and think he was playing with their toys overnight.

Little More Effort: Take all the toy cars and trucks out, line ‘em up, and put the elf in the lead truck of this convoy.

In the Kitchen

Little Effort: Hang the elf from the refrigerator door, because you know the poor guy’s hungry after that long flight from up north.

Little More Effort: Put the elf inside the fridge all huddled up with a rag for a blanket to keep warm. The kids are gonna love this one.

On the Mantle

Little Effort: Put the elf inside one of the kids’ stockings. Have two kids? Put the elf in the next stocking another night. Depending on how many kids you have, you can milk this idea for a number of days. Bonus!

Little More Effort: Put some string from the window to a stocking and make it look like the elf was riding the zip line.

In the Bathroom

Little Effort: Wrap a Kleenex around the elf and set it up like he just got out of the shower.

Little More Effort: Fill the bathtub with large marshmallows and put the elf in the middle of it all, like a nice, relaxing bubble bath. Ahhhh…

In the Tree

Little Effort: Stuff the elf inside the tree like he’s playing a little hide-and-seek.

Little More Effort: Cover the tree with toilet paper and put the empty roll in the elf’s hand. What a mischievous little devil!

In the Bookcase

Little Effort: Put the elf on the bookshelf, like it’s holding the books upright.

Little More Effort: Open up your child’s favorite book in the elf’s hands and lay out a bunch of their action figures and stuffed animals, like the elf is reading to them.


Little Effort: Got a close tree outside? Put the elf in there like he’s having little climb.

Little More Effort: Put the elf on the front step and surround him with a bunch of little marshmallows like he’s having a snowball fight with an action figure.

On the Kitchen Counter

Little Effort: Nest the elf by the cookbooks and flour like he’s about to bake some cookies

Little More Effort: Lay some flour out on the counter and make an elf angel in it.

Hopefully you’ve gotten some good ideas out of this guide, no matter what level of effort you’re trying to put into this thing each night. Because the fact is, some nights you may be in the mood for some big, grandiose scene with the elf, and some nights you just don’t have it in you. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever, because your children will love the effort in any amount. And that’s what Elf on the Shelf is all about.

Got any other big Elf on the Shelf ideas to help others out with? Feel free to share them here.

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