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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!

Looking for a few clever ways to introduce your Elf on A Shelf this year? Here are our favorite elf hiding spots!

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. 

Introduce 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. 

Louie Workout

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


How have you have introduced your Elf on the Shelf in the past?

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  1. We have a gas fireplace that Santa OBVIOUSLY cant come down so we “give” Christopher (our elf on the shelf is called christopher hopkington) a “magic key” that he needs to take to Santa so he can get into the house on Christmas Eve. Also the kids LOVE when he tee pees the bathroom, they think this is HYSTERICAL because I am a neat freak and I act like it drives me crazy whenever he does it! Another good one is in the fridge like hes sneaking in a snack.
    Make sure you set a reminder in your phone so you dont forget!! I cant tell you how many times as Im waking the kids up for school I think “Oh crap” and have to run out ahead of them!! Luckily I have an 11 year old who knows and if I forget he distracts my lil one so I have a chance to move him!! Good luck!!! Love this tradition!!!

  2. We are new to the elf on the shelf (this is our first year) and my oldest who is 12 helped me name ours, Matilda. So, we decided since our elf’s name is Matilda, we’ll be introducing her tomorrow morning to the younger ones with a copy of Roald Dahl’s book and we’ll be reading a chapter (there are 21 chapters) of that book every night. Except the night we read the Elf on the Shelf book and then one other when Matilda the elf will be bringing them the Elf Story movie. My youngest is 3 and she is SOOOOO excited about Christmas that I just know she is going to be ecstatic with the elf.

  3. Every yr our elf (frost donuts) comes the day of my sons birthday nov 14th n decorates the house its all crazy mess decorated when my boys come down n he always has a gift for his birthday and a lil gift for my youngest they enjoy it so much.

  4. I started the elf on the shelf last year. For the day of his arrival I wrapped him up in Christmas paper with a tag that said from the north pole and left it on the front step of the outside of the house. We were out shopping that day so as soon as we came home I unlocked the front door and asked the kids if the door was locked before we left. My daughter came down and opened the door and saw the wrapped package on the step. The look on their faces was priceless. That was when we met Jingles!

  5. Today our Elf arrived for the very 1st time. He was waiting outside the door when I went out to take care if the animals. I had my kids come to the door. My daughter said in a whisper” it’s Santa’s elf!! Santa got my note and sent the elf to tell me he got it. My son said oh no mom, I’ve heard about the Elf, he’s a prankster….you probably won’t like him. They sat on the couch and read the book. Named him Alex and we put him on the mantel. I got quite a few texts while I was out shopping….. I’m being good for Alex and daddy moved Alex, he’s going to be in trouble.

  6. Where did you get your little Elf — SO cute!!!????

    1. Thanks Marlene! His name is Christopher Popinkins and we got him on Amazon!!

  7. Ours brings our boys advent calendars wrapped up from Santa.

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