DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, which come at no cost to you. Know that I only promote products I personally use and stand behind. To learn more about my affiliates, please review my disclosure policy here.
The fun, festive holiday season is approaching and with it comes the interactive Elf on the Shelf to keep an eye out on your little ones! For all those parents (like myself) who want to make this a fun experience for their kids, but don’t want it to be a chore, take the time now to decide what you’re doing each night. Download and free my Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a 4 year old printable schedule!
I’ve once again put together my list of Elf on the Shelf ideas for my 4 year old (and her 2 year old sister!) in a handy, dandy free printable you can download and check off as you go. Planning ahead allows me to also get any supplies needed and be on the ready for this fun season. I’m going with the 70% staged hiding places and 30% kids’ activities this year. Know that the hiding places might still have things you need to do instead of just sticking it somewhere, but I did include a fair share of those simple ideas too!
Our elf activities will start on Black Friday (which is late this year) and will continue until December 24th. Follow along on our progress on Instagram and make sure to tag me so I can see your versions! So go ahead and print out this schedule of Elf on the Shelf Ideas and read below for more explanation on each idea!
- Elf arrives with the book – For us, the book only comes and stays here while the elf is in the house so it’s a good reminder to read it that first morning to get a refresh on the concept/story.
- Elf draws with candy/treats – Last year our elf made a snowman snack for Brielle which was a HUGE hit! Maybe this year the elf will make a Santa hat with red M&Ms and marshmallows. Or you can always go the route of spelling out the child’s name.
- Peeking out from inside the tree – easy hiding task! Have the elf interact with one of the ornaments for more fun!
- Sleeping in a box of tissues
- Cotton ball or marshmallow bubble bath
- Making snowman string cheese – Place the elf in the fridge and have him surrounded by snowmen string cheese snacks. Or you could try these stacked snowmen donuts!
- Elf is making a snow angel in flour – Always great on a day you plan to bake cookies!
- Specially crafted Christmas themed breakfast – green waffles stacked to look like Christmas trees, pancakes made into a Santa face. Candy canes made from bananas and strawberry slices.
- Wearing someone else’s clothes. Perhaps a doll’s outfit is a similar size? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up in your favorite sweater… or underwear!
- Peeking out of a vase holding a flower. Fake or real!
- Trapped in the blinds!
- Kissing a plush friend.
- In a kissing booth. Take a box and cut out a hole. Write “Kissing booth” and have the elf inside. Put some Hershey Kiss treats around the box and have some friends lined up to get a smooch.
- Taped to the wall. Painter’s tape of course!
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
- Decorate a Santa plate – Grab a white plate from the dollar store, sharpie markers and decorate. Heat in the oven to create a custom plate for the jolly guy on Christmas Eve!
- Paper straw garland to decorate mini tree – Cut up paper straws, string and beads and allow them to mix and match these items to create garlands for their mini trees!
- Christmas cone decorating – Instead of a gingerbread house, turn sugar cones upside down, paint with green icing and decorate with candies! The picture above was a project done for Wholesale Party Supplies last year and was a hit for my then 3 year old daughter and 3.5 and 5 year old nephews! Tip: I used frosting but it was SOO soft and they had issues with it being too sticky so I’m looking into another option. This year we did it with a royal icing recipe from pinterest and everyone had a much better experience!
- Make a gingerbread man Playdoh Activity – one gingerbread cookie cutter and different colored Playdoh.
- Green bath tub – Crayola Bath Dropz are great for color bathtub fun. Download the free printable I designed which gifts your child a blue and a yellow tablet to turn their bathtub green! Don’t worry – it’s only the water and it doesn’t stain your tub or the kids! Tip: This makes a great stocking stuffer so you can open it just for the two tablets then put the rest of the tub in the stocking! See the full post explaining it here!
- Create a paper chain garland – Decorate papers with finger paint or art medium of choice, cut into strips and turn their art into festive décor!
- Puzzle sorting sensory bin – lay out all the wood puzzles on the floor and through all the wood puzzle pieces in a big bin. Encourage them to pull out pieces and sort them to the right puzzle! Bonus if you theme them like alphabets or colors. UPDATE: HUGE hit with my 4 year old and 2 year old so it’s great if you have two kids!
- Snowman build snack activity – Put out snack items that can be used to create a snowman themed snack. Example: round crackers, baby carrots, raisins for eyes and marshmallows for snow.
- Would you like to build a snowman? Another day for play doh play this time with a snowman creation in mind. UPDATE: They LOVED this activity, and kept singing the song when finding out that’s what the board said!
- Red and Green Dancing Color Experiment – They will love this magic!
- Making reindeer food – Save this one for Christmas Eve eve! Put out the ingredients for reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter) and have your kids make a small batch. Sprinkle it out on Christmas Eve so Rudolph knows how to get to your house! UPDATE: As predicted, they loved this station and were excited to see it worked to get the reindeer to our house! Tip: set it up in a tray to help contain the mess!
- Dot to Dot name – Draw their name on a piece of paper and have the child use dot to dot markers to trace the name. Do one made by the elf as an example. UPDATE: This was a hit! Tip: Cut the paper to fit on whatever table surface you might have THEN write their name on it to make sure it fits!
Need more Elf on the shelf ideas? Check out my RELATED POSTS down below for more that are not necessarily age specific!
Need some gift ideas for your 4 year old? Check out my daughter’s favorite products at age 4 (which includes plenty of gender neutral ideas)!