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Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

This Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide is a MUST for keeping things simple & organized!

I have put off Elf on the Shelf for as long as I possibly could! 

With my oldest in Kindergarten this year I knew I had to take on this little guy this Christmas.  For me that means over planning!  I started planning for this task before Halloween.  Throughout this post you will get an outline of each day from December 1st through Christmas Day!  I have broken the post down by week and walk through each day and outline the set up for each day.  At the bottom of the post I offer several digital downloads to include weekly planners with shopping lists, Elf Notes, and Special Printouts for signs.

Since this is my first year doing this project, there are not too many pictures of set ups.  Pictures will be added throughout the month of December.  You can google or search on Pinterest to find ideas and pictures.

Week One: The Arrival

December 1st is on a Friday this year.  Mr. Elf’s arrival will be via helium balloons!  Make sure you get your balloons Thursday evening and hide them! 

Day 1: For the arrival, tie the elf from one arm to one of the helium balloon ribbons.  Then tape the Elf Note onto one of the other balloon ribbons. 

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide
Elf Note

Day 2: Skittles Rainbow Magic Trick – Set up a plate with Skittles lining the outer curve of the plate.  Set the Elf with the Elf Note next to the plate.

For the magic, carefully pour warm water in the middle of the plate so that the skittles are about halfway submerged in water.  Then just watch as the colors of the skittles start to run towards the middle.

Week Two: First Full Week

Day 3: Googly Eyes (Elf is watching you!) – Buy self adhesive googly eyes.  Start by putting funny googly eyes on your Elf and set the elf up possibly on a mantel with the elf note.  Then put googly eyes on random objects and toys all over your home.  Think Milk in the fridge, Spider-Man, cars, plants, etc! 

Day 4: Elf in a Whisk – If you have a Kitchen-Aid, put the whisk attachment on it and put the Elf inside of the Whisk attachment.  Tape the Elf Note to the mixer.  

If you do not have a Kitchen-Aid, use a hand whisk and put the elf inside the whisk part.  Help your child put the whisk handle between their two hands and spin the whisk with elf in it back and forth.  

Day 5: Caught in Spider Webs – Use command hooks and place them in the corner of a doorway or hallway. Use a string or twine and twist it between the command hooks to create a spider web.  Twist the Elf into the webs.  Leave a long string hanging down and tape the Elf Note to the longer string. 

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

Day 6: Caught in Candy Cane Jail – Using a small box with one open side.  With the open side facing forward, poke holes through the top of the box and run candy canes through the holes to create “jail bars”.  Place the Elf inside the “jail” (box) and tape the elf booking card across the center of the candy canes (or to the Elf’s hands). 

*Available printouts also includes “Candy Cane Jail” written in large font that could be taped/glued to the top of your jail.  It also includes printout candy canes if you choose not to use real candy canes. 

Day 7: Elf Christmas Trees for Sale – Use a play truck or decorative truck.  Fill the bed of the truck with Little Debbie’s Christmas Trees.  Print out Christmas Trees For Sale sign and glue or tape to a popsicle stick or skewer.  Put the sign in the Elf’s hand. 

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide
Making a Candy Cane Jail.
Fill the bed of a truck with Little Debbies Christmas tree treats and label them Elf Trees.
Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

Day 8: Smartie Pants – Set out undies or pants and sprinkle Smarties candies all over them.  Set Elf near or overlooking the “Smartie pants” with an Elf note. 

*Cute poem for the note: I see London, I see France, I put Smarties on your underpants! 

Day 9: Santa sent Hot Cocoa – I choose this for a Saturday so that there wouldn’t be a big rush before school.  Set up the Elf with his Elf Note. Near the Elf set a mug, a hot chocolate packet, and some mini marshmallows. 

*Tip – find a Christmas cocoa packet, or a different type than you may usually have since it is Santa’s Favorite! 

Week Three: The Magic is Alive!

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

Are you having fun yet!? Isn’t there something so special about seeing the magic of Christmas alive in a child’s eyes? 

Day 10: Snowball Fight – Set up a countertop snow ball fight.  Use larger marshmallows to create a bunker for the Elf and his opponent. Use smaller (mini) marshmallows as the snowballs; throw these over the playing field and have stacked next to Elf and his opponent. Then sprinkle flour over the marshmallow and over the playing field. 

*Tip – use a favorite character for the opponent.  For my boys this will be Spider-Man. 

Day 11: Sharing Kissing – Create an Elf Kissing Booth using a box or cardstock (find a print out available in the Special Printouts file).  Cut out a rectangular hole in the front of your box/booth.  Put the Elf in the booth with the head and arms hanging out of the cut out.  Then place Hersey Kiss around the booth for your kids to grab! 

Day 12: Elf Zip Line – Using string or twine run two parallel lengths across a room from wall to wall.  Then attach Elf’s hands to two candy canes and hook the Elf’s candy canes onto the string.

Day 13: Magic Eggs (Day 1) – Set up one to two real eggs in a cut off egg carton.  Set Elf with Elf Note near the eggs.  Put a small amount of glitter or fine sprinkles in a dish near the eggs.  The note should read “These are Magic Eggs! Sprinkle some magic dust over the eggs and come back tomorrow to see what appears!” 

Day 14: Magic Eggs (Day 2) – Replace the real eggs with candy eggs, kinder eggs, or Hatchimal eggs

Day 15: TP (Toilet Paper) Swing – Using a toilet paper roll tube, run two long strings through the tube.  Then attach the four ends to the ceiling in a bathroom.  Attach the Elf to the cardboard tube as it was on a swing.  Then using dry erase markers leave a note on the bathroom mirror. 

Day 16: Building Snowmen – Another perfect Saturday morning activity! Grab both large and small marshmallows and some tooth picks. (Optional: set out edible markers to draw faces on the snowmen) Print out “Do you want to build a Snowman?” Sign and attach to a popsicle stick or skewer and attach the sign to the Elf’s hand. Leave out materials and let kids build their own snowmen but pushing tooth picks into marshmallow to attach the marshmallows together. 

Week Four: Nine Days to go! You got this!

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide
Popcorn Party Sign

Day 17: Popcorn Party! – This one is for a weekend morning because these kiddos are going to be eating popcorn first thing in the morning!

Pop popcorn and fill up the bottom of the microwave.  Partially bury the Elf in the popcorn.  

*Optional: You can mix in pretzels and red and green M&Ms and call it “Elf Popcorn”.  Then place a sign in the Elf’s hand that says “Would you like to try some Elf Popcorn?”

Day 18: All Aboard the Shoe-Shoe Train – Line up different shoes and place the Elf in the front shoe with a sign that says “All Aboard the Shoe-Shoe Train!”. 

Day 19: Plant a Garden (Day 1) – I am loving a good two day set up! For this one we are growing candy canes! Set up a dish (like a loaf pan) or a small box, alongside the Elf with an Elf Note with the garden instructions.  You will need oatmeal as dirt, peppermints, and sprinkles or sparkles as magic dust. *Also, make sure you have candy canes for the next day! 

Pour some oatmeal in the bottom of your dish, then add the peppermints, sprinkle with the magic dust, then cover with more oatmeal.  Leave it until tomorrow! 

Day 20: Plant a Garden (Day 2) – Remove the peppermints and replace with candy canes.  Kids will wake up to fully grown candy canes! 

*Tip: place a foam sheet or floral mold in the bottom of your dish, this will ensure you can stand the candy canes upright!

Day 21: “Whoopee” It’s Almost Christmas – Just as the title suggests, you will need a whoopee cushion.  Just lay out the whoopee cushion with the Elf Note and set the Elf up watching down (a mantel would be a good place). 

Day 22: Let’s have a movie night! – This one may be a bit difficult because kids will likely have to head to school before fully enjoying it!  But leave out an Elf Note that reminds them to have a good day and this is something to look forward to when they get home.  Set the Elf up with some movie snacks such as popcorn, candy, and hot cocoa (maybe Santa’s favorite hot cocoa if you bought a large pack for Day 9).  Another fun touch are these Christmas themed movie trays!

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide

Day 23: Don’t forget to make cookies! – How could we forget to make Santa his favorite cookies!  Keep it simple! It’s so close to Christmas!  Grab a pack of premade cookie dough and set it out with some cookie sheets and an Elf Note to remind us to make some cookies for Santa! 

*You could also suggest to your kids that you make some mini cookies for your Elf and leave them out for him that evening. 

Day 24: Small Gift from Elf – Give a small gift, this can be anything!  Something funny, or sweet, or maybe even some Christmas pajamas!  Leave the gift out for your child(ren) and set Elf up with his Elf Note reminding the kids he will head home tonight and wont be back in the morning.  

Day 25: It’s Christmas! – Leave one last Elf Note, wishing your kid(s) Merry Christmas and to say goodbye and I’ll see you next year! 

Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide Links

Elf Files

To compliment the 2023 Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide, I have created three printable files to make your life easier! One is the Elf Notes, which can be used throughout the month.  One is the Elf Special Printouts which compliment certain activities’ throughout the month.  Finally, I built out the weekly planner to include a shopping list and a daily plan for each activity!  Each download is $5 and will compliment the overall Elf on the Shelf Planning Guide.

Weekly Planner File Includes:

  • Weekly Elf Planned activities/set ups with reminders for printouts.
  • Shopping List
  • Additional Notes

Elf Notes File Includes:

  • Arrival Note
  • Magic Trick Note
  • Elf is watching you Note
  • Whisk Note
  • Caught in Webs Note
  • Smartie Pants Note
  • Santa sent hot cocoa Note
  • Magic Eggs Note
  • Elf Garden Note/Instructions
  • Whoopie Note
  • Movie Night Note
  • Remember to Make Cookies Note
  • Last day here Note
  • Merry Christmas Note

Special Files Includes:

  • Kissing Booth Printout
  • Elf Christmas Trees Sign
  • Shoe-Shoe Train Sign 
  • Do you want to build a snowman Sign
  • Elf Popcorn Sign
  • Candy Cane Jail booking card
  • Printout Candy Canes

*Popsicle sticks or skewers needed to attach signs to. 

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