First time doing elf on the shelf

Here are five ways to introduce your elf on the shelf! Our Elf on the Shelf, Louie, comes around every Thanksgiving Day–it’s a Christmas tradition that we have come to love. Though my 9 year-old knows this, he begins asking when he’ll see Louie in the summer.

Mom, how do you think Louie is going to surprise us this year?

Mom, do you think he’ll do something silly? Or something naughty?

Elf time is a fun time in our house, and it’s one that keeps him thinking throughout the year. We have about 30 fun ideas to come up with every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we want to make the most of them!

First time doing elf on the shelf

How does Elf on the Shelf work?

If you’re introducing elf on the shelf for the first time, allow me to explain it a little. The elf arrives on Thanksgiving Day and helps to keep Santa updated throughout the Christmas season–he typically stays until Christmas Eve, then he heads back to the North Pole. The elf’s job is to keep an eye on your household and report back to Santa about any misbehavior going on. He’s pretty much a little scout elf–keeping an eye on everyone.

Here’s how to introduce the Elf:

Here are some of the ideas we have come up with in the past to re-introduce our elf Louie to our family on Thanksgiving morning. You can also use these ideas if you’re wondering how to start elf on the shelf in your family.

1. Hide in your car! We generally don’t drive on Thanksgiving, so it’s easy to have Louie hang out in our car on Thanksgiving without being accidentally touched by a human.

This is the year that Louie hung from our car’s roof. He left a note for Jack that said, “I’m baaaaacck!” He also found Jack’s Christmas list and told him he was bringing it to the North Pole with him!

Doing this when you’re using the car on Thanksgiving day isn’t advised, because it would be really difficult to not touch the elf. I can also anticipate some stress around driving and having the elf bang into windows and such. Probably best to keep him out of the moving car if possible. 

First time doing elf on the shelf

2. Sit at (or on) the breakfast table. If your kids are like mine, they head out of bed and right to the breakfast table. Have your elf wait with cereal, bowls, spoons or anything else you can get out for breakfast the night before (check out these Elf on the Shelf kitchen ideas). Write a letter that announces your elf as the Official Elf of Christmas and talks about how much fun they will have together this year.

I love making little moments big with the elf. It’s a wonderful opportunity to chat with the kids about traditions, and it’s especially meaningful if you can sit back and let your child talk about what they think the elf is up to. 

Getting into their head around this time of year and hearing about what they think goes on at night when the elf goes to the North Pole, or what Santa is doing during the day is my favorite. 

3. Get fit! Elves head back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa! In order to do this, they need to be healthy.

Have your child wake up to your elf on the treadmill, exercise bike or weight bench. Louie decided to try one of my Jillian Michael’s videos, but the weights were just a little heavy for him.

The note could say something about making sure he stays in shape for his nightly trips back, or how moving his body is healthy. 

First time doing elf on the shelf

4. Start out with a bang! We usually take it easy for the first few night and ease back into our elf antics, but you could start the elf season off with a bang by toilet papering the inside of your house, writing on your bathroom mirrors with Sharpie markers (the permanent marker easily comes off when covered with a dry erase marker, but the kids don’t know that!) or wrapping your tablets or iPads in plastic wrap and having the elf make flour snow angels on them!

Mom tip: The beginning of the elf season is the best time for this because towards the end parents are tired and out of ideas (and energy) for making something like this happen. Remember, we are responsible for clean up too, so it’s quite a task. 

5. Take a hint! Do you pull your artificial Christmas tree out or purchase a real tree on Thanksgiving? Leave it undecorated for the night and have your child wake up to the elf pointing to the tree and asking to decorate it!

My kids LOVED this because if it were up to them, they’d have the tree up all year long. They get so excited for the tree to be up and decorated, and seeing that the elf wants that too is so exciting for them

You’ve seen the elf on social media, your friends rave about it and now you’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about. Let us help you make an effortless transition into being an Elf on the Shelf parent! Rely on this ultimate beginner’s guide to learn all the must have tips for making your elf’s first year a success, as well as the answers to questions that arise along the way.

What is it?

The Elf on the Shelf® is a Christmas tradition centered around Scout Elves who fly to the North Pole each night. Scout Elves arrive at homes in a keepsake box set that features a storybook. The book explains that elves love to report to Santa to tell him about each day’s activities! The best part? Kids love to maintain their best behavior when their Scout Elf is around. This way they are sure to be on Santa’s nice list!

First time doing elf on the shelf

Why is it called a “Scout Elf”?

That’s the term Santa uses for these elves because they literally “scout” out what you’re up to during the holidays and then report their findings to Santa.

Sounds cute. How can I start?

It’s as easy as 1…2…3!

  1. Adopt an official Scout Elf.
  2. Read the book as a family to understand the tradition and rules.
  3. Name your elf.
Rules. How many?

There are just a few rules to remember!

  1. The most important—don’t touch your Scout Elf, or they will lose their magic!
  2. Scout Elves can’t talk, but they are great listeners. Little ones can share secrets and wishes with their elf as often as they’d like.
  3. Scout Elves must return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to help Santa prepare for the next Christmas!
What next?

The fun begins! When Scout Elves return from the North Pole each night, they land in a different spot in your home. Many parents refer to this as “elf ideas.” Essentially, elf ideas are photos or instructions that inspire elves’ new landing spots or gimmicks. Not to worry—there are a range of ideas, both simple and extra creative, suitable for any and every Scout Elf!

First time doing elf on the shelf
First time doing elf on the shelf

First time doing elf on the shelf
First time doing elf on the shelf

Is there anything else I need to know?

Probably. But thank goodness the elves already thought of that. Browse some of the most popular questions below, or bookmark them for when you’re in a bind.

How do you introduce an Elf on the Shelf for the first time?

How do you introduce Elf on the Shelf to your kids?.
Print out a welcome letter. ... .
Read them the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. ... .
Just plop them in your house to announce their arrival..

What do you do on your elf on the first day?

A great way for your elf to make his grand entrance is by being wrapped up like a present beneath the tree. If you have some presents wrapped already, then you will most likely have some Christmas gift wrap handy. This is a fun and easy option for elf on the shelf first day ideas.

What to do with Elf on the Shelf first night?

Once you decide on a date you should read the story to your children and then let the fun begin. The first night you read the book to your children and then the next morning the elf will have “arrived”.

What age do you start doing Elf on the Shelf?

The Elf on the Shelf tradition can be started at any age, but most parents recommend waiting until your child is between the ages of 2 and 3. They claim it's the perfect sweet spot for children to appreciate and understand the elves' magic while establishing this family tradition at a young age.