It’s that time of year again: Stores are blaring Christmas carols, Hallmark unleashes its annual onslaught of binge-worthy holiday movies, and Elf on the Shelf appears to act as Santa’s spy and tattle on whether your kids are naughty or nice. For some, the elves have names, have become bendy, move around the house daily, and can be spotted in really. elaborate. set ups. (I mean seriously elaborate.) Not to mention the big Christmas Eve elf finale. For others, if you remember to move the elf once a week, it’s a holiday miracle, and as far as elaborate elf set ups every day until Christmas? Forget about it. It’s 2019, ain’t nobody got time for that. For those moms who do all their Christmas shopping December 24, these elf on the shelf ideas are for you. Ridiculously easy, absolutely minimal effort required, and yet, still adorable. Your kids won’t be any the wiser, and you can feel like you nailed it this year.
Christmas time is all about spreading holiday cheer, and nobody can guilt trip you like a 6 year old who’s noticed their elf hasn’t moved in a few days. (They won’t buy that the elf is meditating and shouldn’t be disturbed. Trust me on this one.) So roll up your sleeves, set a daily alarm on your phone to move the elf, and check out these easy peasy elf on the shelf ideas that you can pull off minutes before your kids stumble downstairs in the morning. Trying to convince them you didn’t eat all of Santa’s cookies- for that, you’re on your own.
Leave it to the queen, Busy Philipps, to knock this one out of the park. Do you have flour, cornstarch, baking powder, or baby powder? Good. Dump some on the counter. Stick elves in the white stuff, move their arms and legs a few times to make teeny snow angels. Boom. Done. This idea can be completed in all of 5 seconds, which leaves you just enough time to take one sip of your coffee before the kids come tearing down the stairs.
Hide and Go Seek
Tell your kids the elf is playing hide and seek and hide that sucker! Somewhere obvious, but not too obvious, like in a stack of toilet paper rolls, is the perfect hiding place. This way, if you forget to put the elf somewhere, you can just say the elf is waiting to be found and buy yourself some time to put it somewhere while the kids are off looking. Bonus points if you can get the kids to hide once they’ve found the elf. That might get you 20 minutes or so of peace.
Let your elf bust out their best yoga moves with this next idea. Fold a towel in half, knot your elf into his best yogi pose, and jot down a quick handwritten or typed sign to really spell things out for the kids. That took all of, what, two seconds? This is also a great one if you have multiple elves, or want some other dolls or stuffed animals to join in. Feel free to blast Enya for the duration of the yoga class.
Since you’re making pancakes anyway, make a stack of itty bitty ones, plop them on a plate in front of your elf and voila! Pancake breakfast for the win. If you’re feeling really extra, add some whipped cream or sprinkles. The kids will follow suit.
TP the Christmas Tree
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s elves TP’d her Christmas tree, and if it’s good enough for Buffy, it’s good enough for us. This is a super quick and easy elf idea that literally requires you to toss some toilet paper rolls around and stick your elves in the branches. Done and done.
Who ate all the chocolate?
Christmas is stressful, and chocolate not only fixes most problems, it is also abundant during the holidays, so now you can eat some guilt free and blame it on the elf. Leave the wrappers out as evidence, and rub some on their face to really put the final nail in the coffin. Now if only there was an explanation for who ate all the kids Halloween candy.
Drawing mustaches on picture frames
Do you have a dry erase marker? Good news, you’ve got today’s elf on the shelf escapade covered. Grab a dry erase marker and go to town on your family photos. Re-create the high school yearbook doodles of your past with mustaches, devil horns, funny hair, or big bow ties. Naughty elf!
Easy as… well, popcorn. Pop up a bag, rip it open and scatter that buttery goodness around. This can be used again and again, with the elves making different messes, if you have particularly naughty elves. Now if only you could get the elves to clean, wouldn’t that be an actual Christmas miracle?