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35 creative Elf on the Shelf ideas to try this year

Fair warning: Some of these set-ups may land you on Santa's naughty list.
Elf on the Shelf
Whether parents are looking for elaborate or easy Elf on the Shelf ideas this year, here are 30 prompts from elf arrival to departure. The Lumistella Company
/ Source: TODAY

It's that time of year, you know, where the Elf on the Shelf keeps an eye on the kids and lets them know Christmas is coming. Which means parents must make a mad dash each night to rearrange their special friend before dawn.

What is Elf on the Shelf?

Elf on the Shelf is a popular tradition where families use a plush stuffed elf to "keep an eye" on children during the countdown to Christmas. The family elf gets a unique name and arrives between the day after Thanksgiving and December 1. Through the years, the trend has gained popularity with parents often seeking out elaborate measures with their North Pole visitor in an effort to make sure children are on their best behavior.

Whether you plan to go all out with elf accessories or want to keep it simple, here are 35 Elf on the Shelf ideas for 2021:

Elf on the Shelf arrival ideas

1. A delicious start to the season.

2. Special delivery!

3. Quarantine jars.

4. Elf adoption

Easy Elf on the Shelf ideas

Let's be honest, while everyone is making merry, the holiday season can feel overwhelming ... and now we have added an elf to the mix. Don't worry, there are easy ways to set up Santa's little spy.

5. Taking a snooze

6. Get pumped for Christmas

7. Snow angels for Santa

8. Fun for everyone!

9. Masks make great hammocks.

10. Elves watching..."Elf"!

11. Could use a little help here!

12. Elf on the Shelf: "Greatest Showman" edition

13. Picture perfect.

14. Giddy up!

15. Foodie fun (this idea works great on bananas as well!)

16. Beep beep!

Cute Elf on the Shelf ideas

For parents interested in upping the ante this year, here are a handful of creative Elf scenes that are sure to please...but do require a bit of planning.

17. Zoom with Santa

18. Cirque du Elf-e

19. Wrap it up!

20. Twist and shout

20. Ugly sweater party

21. A special breakfast selection.

22. Pool and floaty required.

23. Pucker up!

24. The only acceptable chocolate droppings!

25. Splish splash, it's time for a bath.

26. Mele Kalikimaka!

27. A little help here?

28. Gone fishing!

Funny Elf on the Shelf ideas

It's all fun and games until you wind up on the naughty list.

29. Mmm...chips!

30. Not your average church choir...

31. Under...where?

32. Just a sip

33. When life imitates art.

34. Where is the lie?

35. This one has us "Thinking Out Loud".

Just remember, the elf can get sent straight back to the North Pole on Dec. 24 and can quarantine for at least a week upon arrival.