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.
It may seem that Christmas comes sooner and sooner every year, but nope it’s still on December 25th! If you’re planning to have the Elf on the Shelf visit December 1st (or even the day after Thanksgiving) to watch and see if your kids are naughty or nice, download this free printable schedule with ideas for hiding places and activities! Each night you can reference this schedule for ideas to make your life during this Elf on the Shelf season less hectic!
As I’ve shared in years past, this printable schedule is easy to download and use as a guide for hiding places and activity ideas. While I do name this particular one for a 5 year old, there’s a mix of activities that are not age specific or easy to alter for a younger or older child. I’m also linking to some recent Elf on the Shelf posts that include other free printables to create the activity mentioned. Make sure to scroll all the way down to see the ones shared for ages 2 – 4 to get even more ideas for that good old Elf on the Shelf!
- Playing an instrument – chances are you have SOMETHING that makes a noise in your house. Have Elf staged like he’s striking up a tune!
- Taped to the wall with painter’s tape – hang them upside down for even more giggles
- In the fridge with green milk – A leprechaun can do this for St. Patrick’s Day so why not Elf on the Shelf this Christmas season?
- Inside a candy machine – unscrew the top and stuff that sucker in! If you don’t have one, any glass vase or jar will do.
- Tea for two – Set up the Elf with a fellow toy friends having some tea or playing in the toy kitchen.
- In the mixing bowl – If you happen to have a stand up mixer on your counter, add the Elf in and see the giggles. (Make sure it isn’t a day you plan to bake cookies as remember, you can’t touch the Elf!)
- Blowing up a balloon. Blow up a balloon and attach to the mouth of the elf like he’s blowing his own bubble.
- Coloring. Here’s a great opportunity to gift a new coloring book (especially a holiday themed one) to your child!
- Between the window panes. If you happen to have a window with a screen and pane and there’s room, squeeze your elf inside. Make sure it’s a day you don’t expect rain!
- On the TV. Sitting up top maybe with a message letting your kids know of a holiday special or favorite Christmas movie on TV that night!
- In the microwave. Just make sure it’s a day you know you won’t be using the microwave, because, if you’re true to the Elf on the Shelf rules, you can’t touch or move him/her!
- Gifting new PJs. This is a tradition in our house so they have new PJs to wear Christmas morning for all those photo ops!
Many of the activities this year include a large paper roll so add it to your Amazon cart now for lots of interactive fun!
- Making an obstacle course – Let the Elf on the Shelf put together a little obstacle course in your basement or living room. Maybe the elf made a fort with tunnels to crawl in, hula hoops to jump in, chairs to climb around or pillows to climb. And bonus: if it’s a hit, remember the activity for those long winter days when you see an indoor activity that gets them out of the house!
- Ugly sweater craft – Download my ugly sweater template and decorate as you please! Crayons and color pencils? Nice! Glue and pom poms? Great! Set up a morning invitation to play with this free printable!
- Secret message printable – Here’s another easy one you can set up! Just download and print my free printable and leave it on the table with a red and green crayon. The printable works on number and letter recognition to reveal a secret message! Update: My 5 year old loved this!
- Pattern making with stickers – Grab a pack of stickers with repeat icons (like in the teacher’s aisle or holiday craft aisle of the Dollar store or Target) and a sheet of paper to create a pattern activity. Have kids use the remaining stickers on the sheet to complete the pattern. Update: My 5 year old thought this was awesome and then wanted to make her own version after completing what the elf brought her!
- Easter Egg Bath – No this isn’t a typo! Why save the Easter Egg hunt activity for just one time of the year? Fill Easter Eggs with bath stickers and have a fun bath experience opening the eggs, closing them, filling them with water and mixing and matching the pieces. See more tips for this activity plus a free printable tag to explain it on this post!
- Water beads sensory bin – We just experienced our first water beads activity last winter and they were so fun! Try putting some inside a tied balloon and check out that new sensory experience when you squeeze it! Tip: Don’t make too many!! I did the first time and it took a full week to shrink them back down. Really you only need ¼ cup to make enough for 2 kids to play.
- Marshmallow painting – The supplies for this activity are easy: red and green paint, a large paper roll and marshmallows! Encourage more painting than eating and see if they can use this unique medium to create a fun polka dot pattern as gift wrap for the holiday season!
- Large letter craft – Have Mr or Mrs. Elf leave your little one a big initial on a paper roll and some craft materials to decorate it. They can spend the morning before breakfast coloring in their special initial and hanging it on the wall!
- Post it note alphabetizing or number sequence – This idea was inspired by Kate of Learn And Play With Us on instagram. Fill a wall or room with Post It notes of all 26 letters of the alphabet or numbers and direct the child to put the in order. If the child is learning more advice skills consider writing numbers in tens and have them put them in order up to 100. Update: My 5 and 3 year olds both loved this! I did upper case for the 3 year old and lowercase for the 5 year old, each on their own colored post its. It took about 15-20 minutes to complete and they asked me to set it up again 2 more times after that!
- Paper plate paper chain countdown – You can do this ahead of time or have the kids put this countdown together themselves! Visit my post to download the free printable and learn how to make it.
- Letter sort – My Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a 4 year old post included a puzzle sort which was a huge hit. This time go the alphabet route! Find a large bin and dump all your alphabet puzzles, magnets and toys. Draw the alphabet on a large paper roll and have them empty the bin and match up each letter to the sheet! Go one step further and write out lines of the alphabet and leave a few spots blank where they need to find the correct letter that completes the pattern.
If you’re looking for more ideas, make sure to check out my schedules made for different ages which includes more creative hiding places and activities that are not necessarily age specific:
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a 4 year old
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a 3 year old
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas for a 2 year old
- Name that Tune Elf on the Shelf game
If you complete any in this post please share with the hashtag #SOTDElfOnTheShelf
Have a 5 year old in the house? Check out our list of favorite products my 5 year old loved!