Elf on the Shelf is a fun way to boost holiday cheer for the whole family. Seeing the awe and curious look on little one’s faces when they discover their tiny elf friend in the most unlikely places makes it all worth it. But, that doesn’t mean you have to go all out. There are plenty of last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas that will still amaze little ones.

Easy Elf on the Shelf ideas range from the classics to the ingenious. If this isn’t already a part of your family’s annual Christmas traditions then adding this fun Christmas game to the list is super simple. You can even get the little ones involved by coming up with a name for the cute little elf they’ll be on the look out for. Plus, you can snap some sweet pictures of your new elf friend and add them to your family holiday card!

Keep your family on their toes this holiday season with these easy Elf on the Shelf ideas

1. Playing video games


Position your tiny elf so that they’re holding a controller (or TV remote) in their lap. That’s it! Kids will love the idea of their elf friend playing video games.

2. Reading a book


We love an elf who loves to read children’s Christmas books.

3. Getting into the cream


This might be among your favorite last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas, if not for the hilariously sweet look of cream on the elf’s face then, maybe, because after (or before and after) you put the whipped cream on the elf, you can also take a dollop for yourself.

4. Hiding with Olaf


An elf’s best friend is, of course, a snowman. Draw your best “Olaf” impression with a sharpie then hide your elf inside the rolls.

5. Peeking out from the stockings


Fill the stocking with tissue paper and sit the elf on top so its head peeks out.

6. Sitting on the tree


Here’s an idea for a minute-to-win-it game—hide the elf somewhere on the tree and see who can find it first.

7. Hanging out in the bathtub


Depending on how your child will react to the scene inside the tub (sharks!) you might choose to go with rubber ducks instead. But, really all you need is to attach the elf onto the faucet using tape or string.

8. Making new friends


Wherever your child keeps their toys, sit the elf amongst the bunch!

9. Working out


Show your child what a great helper their little elf friend is.

10. Ready to make a gingerbread house


Lay the elf next to your boxed kit and watch as your child feels extra excited to build a ginger bread house with their, “Elf on the Shelf.”

11. Next to the bananas


Not only will your child delight in the faces the elf drew on the bananas but this might also be a way to encourage them to eat more fruit.

12. In the flower pot


When you’re running out of places to hide the little guy, there’s always the flower pot. As far as Easy Elf on the Shelf ideas go, it truly does not get easier that this.

13. A Christmas Eve special


Uh-oh, somebody ate Santa’s cookies! Sit the elf next to whatever your family likes to leave out for Santa.

14. Pinned to the holiday card display


Wherever you’re displaying your Christmas cards, stick the little elf in with them!

15. On top of room decor


If your child has big block letters in their room, a picture frame or anything else where you can tuck the little elf in, leave his head or a foot poking out.

16. By the bathroom sink


You don’t have to sacrifice any band aids for this one. The elf can just hang out next to your child’s toothpaste. You can even add a note encouraging them to brush their teeth.

17. On the railing


Tuck the elf on the railing as you’re going up the stairs to bed.

18. By the clock


This is a great one for the last countdown for when Santa comes. Just tuck the elf behind or next to a clock.

19. Hanging on to the window latch


Simply tie a short piece of thread to the elf’s hands and tie the other end to the latch.

20. Ready to bake cookies


All you have to do is place a cookie tray, a box of cookie dough and the elf on the kitchen counter.

A version of this post was published November 9, 2022. It has been updated.