28 Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Fun Ideas

All parents know the panic of waking up and realizing you didn’t move the Elf the night before, and your kids are sure to wake up soon and wonder where their favorite friend is that day. You need to have some last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas in your back pocket to pull out in an emergency when time is short.

I had several days when I woke up only a few minutes before my kids and had to come up with an idea on the fly, but some of these Elf ideas are my kids’ favorites.

I’ve got an Elf Printable for you that has 28 elf ideas, elf welcome letter, elf goodbye letter, elf report cards, printable props and coloring pages!

Here are 28 last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas that use things you already have around the house; no store trips needed to put these ideas together!

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Related: 24 Holiday Traditions for Families That Your Kids Will Love

28 Last Minute Elf on the Shelf Ideas

1. Elf Gets Covid Testing

Once the Elf arrives, it’s time for Covid testing because we have to be safe! Who knows what he might have caught in the North Pole or on his journey here.

It’s better safe than sorry – so isolation until those Covid test results come back!

2. Toilet Paper Explosion!

Waste a bit of that precious TP and put your Elf inside of the roll. Then, send him down the stairs. He got a bit crazy and took a tumble, leaving a trail of toilet paper behind him!

3. Sledding Down the Banister

Put your Elf on the banister on a car or mini sled (if you have one) and tape him in place, ideally. He must have been sliding down the banister last night, that crazy Elf!

4. Builds Snowman with Marshmallows

Grab some larger marshmallows and toothpicks; build a quick snowman and use a permanent marker to draw a face on it. If you have enough marshmallows, you could build several snowmen.

5. Making Paper Snowflakes

Cut one a paper snowflake; it doesn’t have to be perfect. The kids won’t inspect the Elf’s snowflake! Then, give him the scissors and leave the clipping around him – the Elf tends to be messy, right?

He must have been trying to recreate the scene from The Elf where Buddy decorated with paper snowflakes. This might be a great activity for the day, especially if it’s snowy outside, or watch the movie!

6. Have a Barbie Date

Got some barbies laying around? Send them on a date together. They might drink some soda with straws or drive in her Barbie car together. They’re off to have some fun; the Elf has made some friends!

7. Lemonade in the Morning

My kids thought this was HILARIOUS! Chippy made lemonade for breakfast, but it looks like he peed and filled up the cups. All you need is some medicine cups and lemonade – easy!

8. Shoe Train

Grab some shoes, line them up and stick Elf in one of the shoes. You could even line up some more stuffed animals behind him.

Who knows what that crazy Elf was doing last night with his shoe train!

9. Scrabble Message

Set out your Scrabble board, make a message like – Be Good for Your Parents! – and put the Elf beside the board. You can spread out some more letters around his body to make it look even better.

10. Buried in Marshmallows

Grab some mini marshmallows, and put your Elf in a jars, lantern, or some other closed container. Fill it up with as many marshmallows as possible. Now he’s buried! It’s a silly yet simple idea.

11. Chilling in a Bowl of Marshmallows

Grab a coffee mug, put your elf inside the mug, and fill it up with marshmallows. Spread his arms out over the side like he’s relaxing in a marshmallow hot tub. Time to relax!

12. Hiding in the Tree

Here’s another easy last minute Elf on the Shelf idea – he’s in the tree! Whether he’s hiding or just hanging from a branch, my kids always love this idea and wonder what Chippy was doing in the tree that night.

13. Goes Fishing in the Sink

Make a DIY fishing pole with a pencil and yarn, or whatever you think would make a great fishing pole. Put goldfish crackers in the sink, and sit the Elf on the side of the sink.

14. Having a Christmas Concert

If you have any play instruments like a tambourine or ukulele, set your Elf up with the instrument in his hands. Then, put some stuffed animals or dolls around him, watching like they had a Christmas concert last night.

15. Snow Angels on the Counter Top

My kids always love this idea; it makes them laugh. Spread sugar or flour out on the counter top and put the Elf into the pile. Then, move his legs and arms to make a “snow angel.”

16. Fruit Loop Necklace

Grab some fruit loops, string them on some yarn, and make a necklace for your Elf. Then, make sure to toss some around his body for the set-up.

17. Naughty or Nice

We have a naughty or nice sign that I put our Elf beside. It helps encourage our kids to remember to be kind to others and to each other throughout the day.

Set up the Elf with the supplies to bake cookies. Make sure this is a day when you’re ready to bake with your kids as a Christmas activity. Use it as a way to announce the fun ahead for the day.

19. Hide and Seek

The Elf must hiding for the day! Can the kids find him? Maybe he left a note on the counter with a hint as to where he is hiding today. A fun scavenger hunt for Elf is a great morning activity.

20. Builds a Block Tower

Stack up some blocks on the floor or counter and put the Elf beside the tower. He might have some blocks around him because he knocked over a few towers on accident before you guys woke up that morning.

21. Ziplining Fun in the Living Room!

My kids think this is the best last minute Elf on the shelf idea! Grab some yarn, stretch it from one point to the next, and let your Elf hang on the line.

22. Makes a Rainbow with Water and Skittles

Here’s another idea my kids love. Line a plate with skittles and pour warm water over the Skittles; they create a sort-of rainbow that my kids love.

23. Shaving for Christmas

He has to get rid of Christmas to arrive, and he needs to look his best, so set up your Elf in the bathroom with some shaving supplies. Who doesn’t want to look their best to see Santa?

24. Acting like Buddy and Drinks Syrup

Set up your Elf with a cup of maple syrup, and make him look like he’s passed out. Too much sugar led to a sugar crash; poor Elfie!

26. Rides on a Toy Car or Train

If you have an RC car or a train that goes under your Christmas tree, set up the Elf inside of the train and let him ride it around.

27. Oreo Toothpaste Trick

Another easy last minute Elf on the Shelf idea is to make him fill Oreos with toothpaste. When your kids wake up, they’ll find him in the bathroom, spreading toothpaste over Oreo cookies.

28. Heading on a Trip/ Put elf in a Bag!

We travel each year to the polar express and of course Chippy has to travel with us! The day we leave Chippy arrives in a bag so we can safely transport him without touching!


Don’t panic; these last minute elf on the shelf fun ideas will make your kids laugh and smile, and they’ll never know you internally freaked out and forgot all about your little friend. Their memories is all that matters anyway! Comment below your favorite elf activity!

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