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Ideas for your own Elf on the Shelf

Racheal Pulver is an Austin based photographer who specializes in child and family portraiture. One of her nicknames, besides Rach, is Rae; hence the name Rae of Light Photography was born. Through her years in the photography field, ...

Sneaky lil' Elfie Rojo

Family traditions and building wonderful childhood memories that last a lifetime is what is really important during the holidays. So when I heard of the Elf on the Shelf idea a few years back, I knew this was a tradition I wanted to incorporate in our own family Christmases.

Elf on the Shelf ideas

Elf Hack: To make your own elf bendable and easier to position, check out this how-to article.

The premise behind the Elf on the Shelf is that Santa sends a special elf to your house to keep an eye on your children to make sure they are behaving. At night, when everyone is asleep, the elf, with his magic powers, goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa on who was naughty and who was nice. The fun part is that before sunrise the next morning, your elf comes back from his nightly report to the big guy and appears in another location in your house whether it is something as simple as sitting in the Christmas tree or something quite mischievous as making “snow” angels on the kitchen table. There is one simple rule — no touching! If you touch your elf, his magic will disappear and he will no longer be able to travel back to the North Pole. This has been a great way to keep little hands off of our elf, which the children lovingly named Elfie Rojo. Rojo is the Spanish word for red. You think they’ve watched too much Dora the Explorer? This is definitely the highlight of our holiday season and with each Christmas Eve, which is the day Elfie goes back to the North Pole to stay until next year, the kids tell him goodbye and we talk about all the fun memories we’ve had with him over the past couple of weeks.

Idea 1: Elfie Rojo has good hygiene

Elf on the Shelf idea 1: Elfie Rojo with floss and toothpaste

Our sneaky lil’ Elfie Rojo was found in the children’s shower up on the towel rack this morning. Elfie looked like he had just finished taking a bath and flossing his teeth. For this set up, I took an old rag and fashioned it around Elfie’s head and then slipped in a flossing stick for good measure. Of course, upon finding him, I commented on how it looked like Elfie was trying to remind the children to take baths at night and to keep their teeth brushed so they won’t get cavities. Not all of Elfie’s pranks have to be silly; with some of them I try to throw in a life lesson or two.

Idea 2: Elfie rides a butterfly

Elf on the Shelf idea 2: Elfie Rojo sitting on a butterfly decoration

Elfie was found in my daughter’s room riding one of her butterfly decorations that hangs from the ceiling. Our family had just recently watched the movie Avatar so the kids thought that Elfie looked just like Jake Sully, the main character in the movie, riding one of the mountain banshees.

Idea 3: Elfie makes snow angels

Elf on the Shelf idea 3: Elfie Rojo making snow angels

In this Elf on a the Shelf idea, the kids found Elfie making “snow” angels on the kitchen table this particular morning and didn’t know whether to laugh or worry that Elfie would be in trouble. I pretended to be scolding Elfie for making such a mess, but the kids defended him and happily agreed to clean up the snow (aka flour) so that he wouldn’t get in trouble. Here’s a little tip: Double-sided tape helps to get your elf’s hands to stay where you need them to.

Idea 4: Stocking Exchange

Elf on the Shelf idea 4: Elfie Rojo trading stocking for undergarments

Once again, Elfie Rojo was quite the prankster on this day! He decided to take down all of our Christmas stockings and switch them out for each family member’s underwear. Maybe he wanted to start a new trend? The kids thought this was quite hilarious! I was a bit mortified when my neighbor decided to pay me a visit and my undies were out for the world to see.

Idea 5: Elfie reads a book

Elf on the Shelf idea 5: Elfie Rojo reading a book

I have a little doll bed that I use for my newborn photography sessions but Elfie thought it made for the perfect snuggle spot for him to read a book in front of our Christmas tree. I think we bought this little Christmas board book from the dollar store but it was the perfect size for Elfie to read. This can also be a good reminder for children who are at a reading age to practice their reading.

Idea 6: Elfie plays the guitar

Elf on the Shelf idea 6: Elfie Rojo playing music

Elfie Rojo was practicing the guitar when the children found him this day. I love to play guitar, although I find I haven’t had the time to play lately. Nestled into my guitar strings and with my music book opened to what else — ”Jingle Bells,” Elfie was ready to play and sing! A few days later, the kids and I took Elfie’s advice and sang ”Jingle Bells” while I clumsily fumbled through chords. It had been too long since I last played, and my fingers were so sore. Nonetheless, the kids didn’t care that I didn’t hit every note; they just enjoyed having Mommy time and singing!

Idea 7: Elfie was found zip lining through the boys’ room

Elf on the Shelf idea 7: Elfie Rojo zip lining

This one was a bit difficult to do. I knew the boys had to be completely asleep for this one since I was going to be setting this up in their room. I hung ribbon from the ceiling to the other end of the wall and then taped Elfie’s hand to a candy cane creating a zip line. We had recently spent a weekend at the Longhorn River Ranch where there was a zip line over the river which the kids really wanted to do but it was just too high for them. The kids thought it was neat that at least Elfie got to zip line even though they didn’t get to this past summer!

Idea 8: Elfie Rojo loves ice cream — who knew?

Elf on the Shelf idea 8: Elfie Rojo eating ice cream

After searching and searching that morning for Elfie Rojo, my daughter finally found him in the freezer holding an ice cream cone! The cone was one of the little food items that was a part of my daughter’s kitchen play set.

Idea 9: Elfie impersonates the “Big Guy”

Elf on the Shelf idea 9: Elfie Rojo pretending to be Santa

I hung the tail end of a Santa hat into the kitchen cabinet and then sat Elfie into the mouth cut out of the beard attachment. Not sure Elfie fooled any of us with his disguise but the children thought it was funny. This made it difficult getting to our plates and bowls in the cabinet since you aren’t supposed to touch or move Elfie, but we managed for one day.

Idea 10: Elfie Rojo plays Scrabble with friends

Elf on the Shelf idea 10: Elfie Rojo playing Scrabble

Elfie Rojo, along with Hulk, Raggedy Ann and T-Rex, were found playing an intense game of Scrabble this morning. All the words on the board had something to do with Christmas — deer, trees, Christmas, hat, Santa, snowman, and of course, Elfie Rojo! Hulk was mad because he had all vowels and couldn’t play. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Idea 11: Elfie writes a cautionary note to remind the kids to be good

Elf on the Shelf idea 11: Elfie Rojo writes a letter to the children

The kids were particularly bad one day so the next morning Elfie was found by the front door holding a pencil with which he wrote the kids a note reminding them that they needed to behave to be on Santa’s Nice List. Here’s a little tip: I wrote this letter with my left hand in fear that my kids would recognize my handwriting. It took a little longer but they didn’t recognize it and the writing almost looks childlike which I think looks authentic.

Idea 12: Elfie takes a siesta

Elf on the Shelf idea 12: Elfie Rojo takes a nap

All that traveling back and forth to the North Pole and back has made Elfie Rojo very tired so he decides to relax and have a fruity umbrella drink. I hung a bandana between two poinsettias to make the hammock. The yellow game piece from our Trouble game became the glass and a toothpick with a small round piece of decorative paper became the drink umbrella. I think at this point, Mommy was ready for a little R & R too.

Idea 13: Elfie plays with toilet paper

Elf on the Shelf idea 13: Elfie Rojo plays with toilet paper

Elfie reminded the kids that there were only five more days until Christmas. He hung toilet paper from the top cabinet and used Momma’s lip stick to write his message.

Idea 14: Snowball fight!

Elf on the Shelf idea 14: Elfie Rojo has a snowball fight

Using Lego blocks for barriers and marshmallows for snowballs, Elfie and Bumblebee set out to have a very fun time with a big snowball fight. Although, by the time I was able to get my camera out that morning to get a quick photo, half the snowballs had disappeared! My three little snowball eaters had already cleared out a bunch of the snow before this picture was taken.

Idea 15: Elfie turns the kids into Rudolph

Elf on the Shelf idea 15: Elfie Rojo turns the kids into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

This Elf on the Shelf idea was so much fun, but a little tricky to pull off. I initially thought about using lipstick, but the thought of it smudging off during the night and getting on all the pillows, was not pleasant. So I decided to use a washable craft paint instead. But then again, I struggled with the idea that the paint might still rub off in the middle of the night. So plan B, instead of painting their noses at the beginning of the night, I woke up early that morning and painted the red dots on about an hour before they typically wake up. At the most, if they did have that one last roll-over before getting out of bed it wouldn’t be too bad of a smudge and hopefully the paint would be dry within a minute or two after I applied it. I set up Elfie on the counter so when the kids walked into the living room they would see his note. The squeal of excitement from all three kids from this little red dot could be heard from the next house over!

Idea 16: Elfie plays pirate

Elf on the Shelf idea 16: Elfie Rojo plays pirate

Elfie Rojo, or should I say pirate Rojo, was found hiding in the kitchen cabinets in the Treasure Island skull mug my husband bought during one of his trips to Las Vegas. His pirate eye patch is made from a tiny piece of black craft paper and tied with some elastic string.

Idea 17: Elfie impersonates the “Big Guy” again

Elf on the Shelf idea 17: Elfie Rojo hides in a wreath

Elfie brought his own red Santa bag with little gifts for everyone. Each child received small do-it-yourself Christmas ornaments to make that morning after breakfast. Note: These types of ornaments can be found fairly inexpensively at any craft store or dollar store. For Elfie’s Santa beard, I first cut a small paper beard. Next I pulled off tiny bits of cotton ball and rolled them into smaller balls to glue to the paper beard. And once again, a good sized piece of double sided tape kept the beard on Elfie’s face.

Idea 18: Elfie plays I Spy

Elf on the Shelf idea 18: Elfie Rojo plays I Spy

I spy with my little eye... Elfie Rojo! This particular morning, it took the children forever to find Elfie because he was hiding so well and even disguised himself as a girl complete with a pink bow! After what seems like several minutes and some discouraging comments from the children, I announced “I spy with my little eye, Elfie Rojo!” They all came running into my daughter’s room searching and searching until finally my son exclaimed, “There he is!”

Idea 19: Elfie was naughty and doodled on a photo

Elf on the Shelf idea 19: Elfie Rojo doodles on a photo

The children found Elfie perched up on one of our framed photos and he had drawn a silly mustache and other doodles on my oldest son’s picture. The kids thought this was a riot and laughed hysterically! I actually used a sharpie marker which I tested beforehand to make sure it would come off. However, if I would have had a dry erase marker, it would have worked better and saved me a little bit of scrubbing.

Idea 20: Elfie plays Twister

Elf on the Shelf idea 20: Elfie Rojo plays twister

Elfie Rojo and his friends stayed up late playing Twister. He was actually in a sitting position when I went to bed that night, but by morning time, he was slumped over. Fortunately I think it made him look more genuine because it looked like he couldn’t stay on his color and fell over which is fairly typical in the game of Twister when you’ve got arms and legs going everywhere and your balance is off.

Idea 21: Candy cane sled in the snow

Elf on the Shelf idea 21: Elfie Rojo rides a candy cane sled

Elfie was found riding a candy cane sled in some marshmallow snow! Once again, the “snow” did not last very long with three hungry munchkins in the house. What was once a large mound of snow was whittled down to just a few snowballs by the time I came back with my camera. The candy cane sled was easy to make. Just hot glue a couple of candy canes together and set to dry.

Idea 22: Meet me under the mistletoe

Elf on the Shelf idea 22: Elfie Rojo hanging under the mistletoe

Elfie Rojo hung mistletoe in the middle of our hallway which is the busiest area of our house because it connects our living room to the bedrooms. We found ourselves giving lots of hugs and kisses to one another that day — a perfect reminder of what Christmas is all about.

Idea 23: Elfie impersonates me

Elf on the Shelf idea 23: Elfie Rojo taking photographs

I am so flattered! The kids found Elfie in my office taking pictures with my old Iloca camera. His models were five McDonald happy meal figurines.

Idea 24: Elfie loves chocolate chips

Elf on the Shelf idea 24: Elfie Rojo eating chocolate chips

Oh our crazy Elfie was found in the pantry this morning head down in a bag of half eaten chocolate chips in this Elf on the Shelf idea. This was actually a great cover up for me. You see, I love chocolate too and the night before I found myself eating chocolate chips by the handful and watching a movie. Thanks for taking one for the team Elfie and covering for a fellow chocoholic!

Idea 25: Elfie decorates the house with lights

Elf on the Shelf idea 25: Elfie Rojo hanging from Christmas lights

Once again, Elfie Rojo proved very hard to find this particular morning. The kids searched and searched all over the house not realizing that he was outside! It looks like he was trying to hang Christmas lights on our house and also trying to drop a subtle hint to Daddy that it needed to be done. Being the little Elf that he is, he just couldn’t quite make it to the roof!

Idea 26: Elfie is captured by the Army men

Elf on the Shelf idea 26: Elfie Rojo is captured by Army men

The Army has captured Elfie and they are holding him hostage. With a little bit of rope and a Shake Weight (I knew there was a good use for that thing), the army men try to keep Elfie Rojo from disappearing that night to go back to the North Pole. The mission was unsuccessful. Elfie escaped and was found in a different location the next morning.

Photo gallery:Click here to view the Elf on the Shelf photo gallery.

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