If you’re looking for creative, mischievous, or easy elf shenanigans for this holiday season, you’ll love these 35 Free Elf on the Shelf Printables and Ideas for Christmas Fun.
Christmas is right around the corner, which means it’s almost time for everyone’s favorite elf to arrive!
These 35+ Free Elf on the Shelf Printables and Ideas will help to add to the magic of the season and create unforgettable memories for your family that will last a lifetime.
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What Is Elf On The Shelf?
Before we dive into the ideas, you might be wondering, “What is Elf on a Shelf?” Well, believe it or not, it all started with a children’s book!
“The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” is a picture book by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. It tells a story in the spirit of Christmas, explaining how Santa Claus knows who has been nice and who has been naughty or involved in some mischief.
According to the story, Santa sends one of his scout elves to every house to keep an eye on the children and how they behave so he knows whether they belong on the naughty or nice list.
Children can’t touch the elf or he’ll lose his special powers so he moves around the house and hides in a different place every night before the sun comes up.
Every morning, the kids can hunt for Santa’s little helper and try to find his new location.
If you’ve hosted one of Santa’s helpers before, you know one of the greatest heartbreaks is when he forgets to move. However, coming up with a bunch of different locations to place him or silly things for your fun elf to be doing can be hard when you have to do it 24 times in a row!
I’ve put together this list of 35 Elf on the Shelf printables and ideas to make this new tradition as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Welcoming Your Elf On The Shelf
Since its introduction in 2005, many families have decided to make Elf on The Shelf a part of their holiday tradition. They see the elf as a fun way to create cheerful holiday moments and family memories.
If you’d like a creative way to introduce one of Santa’s scout elves to your family, a welcome letter is a great idea!
Create a Welcome Letter for Your Elf
The best time to announce the Elf’s arrival is sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and December 1st. He stays at your home until Christmas and usually arrives with a welcome letter explaining:
- Why they came to your home
- What are they going to do each day during their stay with you, and how long will they stay
- What they will report back to Santa Claus
If you’re looking for inspiration for your welcome letter, there are a bunch of ideas on Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing. A handmade letter made with a pen or markers, some construction paper, and a sweet message can do the trick.
There are also a bunch of Elf on The Shelf welcome letter template that can make the letter-making process fast and easy. Whatever you choose, just be sure to give it a little Christmas spirit.
A great way to make the Elf on the Shelf tradition a bit more challenging for older children is to implement one of the rules from the book:
“If you touch me, I lose my magic and must go.”
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition
This will give you more creative freedom and opportunities for silly hijinks when you think of fun ideas on where to place your Elf on the Shelf.
And here are some Elf on the shelf printable letters you can use for your cute little friend’s arrival:
1. Elf On The Shelf Welcome Letter Printables
Struggling to come up with a cute and fun arrival letter for your little Elf’s visit this year? Worry no more because these printable letters are what you’re looking for.
2. “I’m Back” – A Printable Poem Arrival Letter
If you’ve already had a fun time with the cute little elf the previous year, you should grab this printable with a cute Elf on the Shelf poem. Wouldn’t it be fun to make hot chocolate and nibble on peppermint or Christmas cookies while reading the welcome letter?
3. Elf Mail Printables
These are cards and envelopes that the Elf can use to write to your kids. As your cute little guest can’t talk, letters are the best way to communicate. Using pretty printables makes it even more special.
4. Elf On The Shelf Printables You Need – The Bad Behavior Letter
Here is another great way to remind your children that when they don’t behave well, Santa hears about it. Use your cute Elf to show them what they did was wrong and suggest a way to fix it in a letter.
This could be a fun way to teach the kids the difference between right and wrong!
The Elf Getting Into Trouble
The Elf communicates with children through letters and signs, making them aware of his presence. Your children might not see him at all times (he is very experienced in hiding in the most unexpected places), but they should know he’s always watching.
After all, the Elf’s visiting because he has to report whether the kids have been good or bad. If the Scout Elf likes what they see, they could leave letters or gifts for the kids.
For example, if a child has been well-behaved, the Elf could leave a special treat to show they like what they see.
5. Elf On The Shelf Ideas Printable Calendar
This printable elf calendar with fun activities for the whole family makes staying on top of elf activities a lot easier.
6. Elf On The Shelf Countdown To Christmas Printable Cards
Print out these cute little printable cards and count down every day until Christmas Eve together!
7. Elf On The Shelf Printables Set Of Notes
A great way to organize your cute little Elf’s visit and have fun notes to go along with your setups! I love this set not only because it’s free, but it also includes a bunch of notes like:
- 10 Days, 5 Days, and 3 Days Until Christmas Signs
- “Elf on Strike for a messy room” sign
- Naughty list warning (for bad behavior)
- Good deed note (get your kid to do a good deed)
- “Read a book to me” elf note
- Elf on the Shelf Good Behavior/Treat Note
8. Elf On The Shelf Printable Kit
This kit is fantastic! It’s a great way to welcome your Elf for the very first time. Throw in a little celebration and make the adoption official (with the Elf adoption certificate).
9. Elf On The Shelf Good Deed Cards Printable
This set of printable cards is a fantastic way to include good deeds in our Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition. Your Elf can deliver them throughout the season and encourage good behavior.
10. Elf on the Shelf Printable Poems
Do you have emerging readers at home? Print these poem cards and have your kids read them. You’ll have fun and practice reading during the holiday season.
11. Magic Elf Dust Printable
Oh, this printable is a lifesaver! The poem specifically states that the magic of the Elf will be lost if the kids touch them. However, accidents happen, and your Elf might get touched.
Don’t panic! Just print out this cute magic elf dust printable and save the day!
Free Elf On The Shelf Printables For A Magical Christmas
Since Elf’s only way of communicating is by letters or touching or moving objects, here are some printable ideas to make his (and your) work easier. You can use these free printables to make this year’s Elf visit fun and memorable.
Masks And Costumes For Your Elf
12. Elf Superhero Costumes
Got superhero fans at home? Then, your kids will love these adorable Elf on the shelf printable superhero outfits. Iron man, Batman, or Captain America? They’re all a print away!
13. Elf on the Shelf Harry Potter Sorting Hat Printable
Raise your hand if you know which house you’re in! If you do, you know you have some avid Harry Potter fans at home. If that’s the truth, you need to print out these cute Harry Potter-themed props for your little Elf. All they need now is a scarf for the proper house, and they’re all set!
14. Printable Butterfly Wings For Your Elf
Got kiddo at home who’s into fairies and butterflies? Then you need these fantastic Elf on the shelf printables – butterfly wings. Instantly transform your Elf into a fairytale creature! So much fun with such a simple idea!
15. Darth Vader Elf Mask
Consider the Darth Vader Elf mask for your Elf on the shelf this holiday. It’s a must if you have Star Wars fans at home. The stick lightsaber is so clever! You shouldn’t miss this one.
16. Minecraft Santa – An Elf Mask Printable
If you want to up your Elf game this year and you have gamers at home, this printable will be a total hit! Get your Minecraft Santa mask printable and surprise your kids in a way they never expected.
17. Minecraft Zombie Head Printable For Your Elf On The Shelf
If you had success with the Minecraft Santa printable, you just have to try the printable Minecraft Zombie head next. I promise your children are going to love it!
Printable Props For Your Elf
18. Elf On The Shelf Free Printable Props
A collection of printable Elf props that will help you create a mini-house with an oven and a sleeping bag! And all you have to do is download the file and print the props. Easy peasy!
19. Elf On The Shelf Kissing Booth Free Printable
These printable props are my absolute favorite! Print out this cute Elf on the Shelf kissing booth and grant your kids a bunch of sweet elf kisses. Such a cute idea!
20. Elf’s Printable Ice Cream Stand
Are your kids fans of ice cream? Yes, this is a rhetorical question. That’s why I know they will love this printable ice cream stand prop.
21. Disney’s Frozen Elf Photo Backdrops
You can have the Elf dressed as a princess, watching “Frozen” on the TV with your kids this holiday season.
22. Elf On The Shelf Holiday Cutouts
The most adorable Christmas cutouts printable props to add to your Elf on the Shelf experience this holiday season. These cutouts include:
- A penguin
- Santa Claus
And all of them are just so cute!
23. Printable Outhouse Toilet For Your Elf
I have to admit this one made me chuckle. Hard. A printable outhouse (an outside toilet) is a hilarious prop to include in this Christmas season Elf’s visit. Put a little copy of a good book or a cell phone in his hand for a laugh.
24. Candy Cane Jail – Elf On The Shelf Printable
Has your Elf been naughty? Put them in a candy cane jail! This printable is so much fun! You could even put some broken candy canes around it the next day like the inmate had broken out of prison.
25. An Elf Rocket Ship Printable
Arriving or leaving with a blast – this printable rocket ship will take your Scout Elf’s traveling skill out of space! Literally!
26. Elf on the Shelf Christmas Baking Printable Set
This is one of the best free Elf baking printables I’ve stumbled across! The cookies are especially adorable!
The set includes:
- An oven
- Two types of aprons
- A Cookie dough tube
- A Cookie sheet with cookies
- A “Do you want to bake cookies?” sign
- Directions for the oven
- Directions for the accessories
Fun Activities And Worksheets
27. Elf On The Shelf Diary – Fun Activity To Practice Writing
If your kid needs more practice on their fine motor or writing skills, then you need to get this printable – your Elf’s diary!
Such a fun idea to help your kids improve their writing skills during the holiday season!
28. Free Printable Elf On The Shelf Coloring Pages
You can also print some coloring pages for your kids to enjoy. They will have a lot of fun with their favorite Elf. Besides, while working on their creativity and imagination, they’re improving their fine motor skills.
29. Elf Naming Activity Printable
Naming your little elf guest is one of the most important things you should do after you get your Elf for the first time. After all, they get their Christmas magic powers after they get a name. That’s why I think this elf-naming printable will come in very handy.
30. Secret Code Message Free Printable
Your Elf might bring a secret coded message from Santa. In short, this printable is an absolute winner for young kids who’re just learning to write.
Elf Games Printables
31. Printable Elf Charades Game
Are you into board games during the holiday season? In this case, you should not miss the printable Elf Charades game. It will allow you to spend some precious time with the whole family.
32. Elf Twister Printable
Do you like to play Twister? Because if you do, you should include your Scout Elf in the family fun, too!
33. Elf On The Shelf Playing Cards
If your kids just recently got into card games, you’re going to love this printable! Not only can you print out these cute elf-sized playing cards and set up a fun game for your Elf, but you can also have other toys join.
How to Say Goodbye to your Elf on the Shelf
On the night before Christmas, your Scout Elf must leave for the North Pole to return to Santa’s workshop and provide his or her final report. The last few days before Christmas Eve is the perfect time to start preparing your kids to say goodbye to their little Christmas elf friend.
Here are some Elf on the Shelf printables you can use for the task:
34. Printable Elf On The Shelf Goodbye Letter With A Poem
If you’ve used a poem in your Welcome letter, why not say “Goodbye” to your Elf with a poem, too? Because this printable comes with an adorable poem from an anonymous author:
35. Elf on The Shelf Goodbye Note And Gift
Turning your “Goodbye” (when it’s time for the Elf to leave) into a gift exchange significantly decreases the sadness in your kids. At least, that’s what my experience shows. Print out this cute Goodbye note and use it with your Elf when it’s time to return to the North Pole.
36. Urgent Elf Recall Letter From Santa Or How To Lose The Elf Earlier This Year
If, for some reason, you don’t want to deal with your cute little elf guest anymore, surprisingly, there is a way to send them off to the North Pole as painlessly as possible. How do we do that? An urgent letter arrives from Santa.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Elf on the Shelf
What to do when you forget to move the Elf on the Shelf?
You are an adult, a busy person with a lot of responsibilities. Last night you forgot to move the Elf, but you don’t have to worry!
There are plenty of reasons your Elf might decide not to move during the night. Here are 15 different suggestions you can put to use:
- Last night, Elfie was not feeling well and couldn’t return to the North Pole. Do you think we should check his temperature?
- Didn’t you hear about the snowstorm last night? Not a single person (or Elf) could pass through it.
- The government closed all of the airports and forbade air traffic last night. We live in crazy times, you know.
- You’ve completely exhausted your Elf, sweetie! He got so tired he needed to sleep all night long.
- Well, your Elf didn’t feel like moving. At all.
- The Elf could not leave the house because the dog didn’t let him out.
- Your Elf is giving you another chance to make it to the “Nice Kids List” since he didn’t want to tell Santa how naughty you were last night. You get a chance for a do-over.
More Things to Say When You Forget to More the Elf
- Sweetheart, your Elf stayed up late watching <insert your favorite TV show> with me. What can I say…? It just got too late when the last episode ended.
- Honey, your Elf did move! However, they liked this location a lot, as it gives them the perfect view of your actions the whole day.
- Are you aware of how much you (or your dad) snore? Your little Elf was curious what that noise was. So, he was up all night trying to figure out who was snoring.
- Your Elf forgot to set his alarm clock for the morning. And because he’s tired from keeping an eye on you all day, he overslept.
- The thing is, your Elf’s immigration papers were never processed. As a result, he is technically an illegal foreigner. So he stayed in the same position to avoid being seen by ICE.
- Your toys were having a party last night, and your Elf on the shelf joined them. It was pretty late when I went to bed. But from what I heard, the toys were still in the middle of the party.
- Your little friend didn’t have enough information about you to report to Santa. And because they take their duties extremely seriously, they decided to keep an eye on you for today, too. Because if a scout elf doesn’t have enough data to present to Santa, they must wait a day or two more. It’s Santa’s order.
- <Insert the name of another favorite toy> challenged your little Elf not to move. At the moment, your Elf wins!
Does the Elf on the Shelf leave notes?
Yes, your elf will leave notes for your children when they get up in the morning. You can print out some of these Elf on the Shelf ideas from the post to get started!
Can you buy a real Elf on the Shelf?
Yes, you can buy a real Elf on the Shelf! You can get your own Elf and join millions of people in this fun family tradition for Christmas. Here are a few options I would recommend:
What are parents supposed to do with Elf on the Shelf?
Parents should be aware that there are two rules to follow in the Elf on the Shelf game.
The parents should move the Elf every night while their children are sleeping. This will leave the kids with the impression that the Elf returns every night to report the children’s behavior to Santa at the North Pole (as the original poem states).
The parents need to make sure that their children are aware they are not allowed to touch the Elf because if they do, the elf will lose their special magic powers.
Use the ideas list in this post for inspiration and involve the whole family in this cute Christmas tradition!
The Elf on the Shelf is a fun Christmas tradition for families with young children. It can help you keep track of your children’s behavior during the holidays and encourage them to be nice. If you do it right, you can easily turn it into your family’s favorite Christmas tradition.
Besides, it makes an excellent (and fun!) decoration for your home. With these printable ideas, you can set up your cute Elf friend’s visit in no time.
What do you do when the Elf on the Shelf leaves?
Saying goodbye to a friend can be hard, so having some fun things planned for after your elf leaves can help keep the holiday spirit going.
Here are some things you can do the night before Christmas to the festivities going:
- Go caroling
- Have a secret-Santa gift exchange
- Watch Christmas movies
- Drive around to look at Christmas lights
- Visit Santa Clause
- Read Twas the Night Before Christmas
- Leave Christmas cookies and milk out for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.
- Write a letter to Santa.
Why Do Some Parents Not Like Elf on the Shelf?
It’s hard to talk about the Elf on the Shelf without addressing some of the concerns that have arisen about it over the years.
While to some, the Elf on the Shelf seems like a fun thing and a harmless holiday activity, others have raised concerns that this kind of seasonal surveillance is an invasion of privacy and sends a terrible message to children.
Some parents and experts are concerned about the effect the feeling of always being watched could have on children, so it’s important to consider these points when deciding on whether the Elf on the Shelf is something you’d like to start incorporating into your family traditions and favorite moments.