Are planning on having an Elf on the Shelf join your family? Are you wondering how to introduce the Elf on the Shelf to your kids? You are in luck! This post will help you with everything you need to know! From how to introduce Elf on the Shelf, how to start Elf on The Shelf, and how Elf on the Shelf works!
Ultimate Guide to Elf on the Shelf
In this post, you will have all the information you need to have a TON of fun this holiday season with your Elf on the shelf! From Awesome Elf on the Shelf Ideas, to Elf on the Shelf printables and how to get started enjoying Elf on the Shelf with your kids!
At the start of this post is the quick answer to all of the Elf on the Shelf questions you may have. As you read through we will get in-depth on how things work, elf on the Shelf ideas, and tips for Elf on the Shelf.
- What is Elf on the Shelf?
- How Does Elf on the Shelf Work?
- How to Start Elf on the Shelf
- Where Do I Buy Elf on the Shelf?
- Elf On The Shelf Arrival
- Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter for the First Elf Visit
- How to Introduce Elf on the Shelf to the Kids
- 1.Tell the Kids how Elf on the Shelf Works
- 2. Explain the Elf Rules
- 3. Name your Elf
- What to do after Introducing Elf on the Shelf
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- How to Say Good Bye to Elf on the Shelf
- Elf on the Shelf Printables
- Elf on the Shelf Frequently Asked Questions
- What do you do if the Elf is Late Arriving?
- When Does Elf on the Shelf Arrive?
- Can Parents touch the elf?
- Elf on the Shelf Pets
- Elf on the Shelf Activities
What is Elf on the Shelf?
First up, if you are new to this all I am sure you are wondering what IS Elf on the Shelf?
Year after year, children and adults alike are baffled by the mystery of how Santa really knows who’s been naughty or nice. After much urging by the elves and Mrs. Claus, Santa has allowed his biggest secret to be revealed in The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. At the start of each Christmas season, the elf appears to serve as Santa’s eyes and ears, traveling back to the North Pole each and every night to make a detailed report of the day’s activities. Children can register their elf online to receive an official adoption certificate and a special letter from Santa.
Ok so in short terms, elf on the Shelf is an awesome way to have a TON of holiday fun with the kids! The kids love Elf on the Shelf and of course, Moms love making their kid’s lives totally amazing! It is the perfect fit for the Christmas season!
Elf on the Shelf is a joyful tradition during the holidays. It involves small scout elves sent by Santa from the North Pole to make the season even more magical.
Each night, the elf heads back to the North Pole, to tell Santa about the children’s behavior or to gather ideas from other elves of fun things to do and share with the children.
Every morning, kids discover their elf friends in a new spot, eagerly anticipating the creative things the elf has done. They might bring a surprise, act silly, or even play pranks.
How Does Elf on the Shelf Work?
The Quick answer for How Does Elf on the Shelf Work is you get an elf on the shelf, and then daily he or she makes the kids smile by doing funny things around the house, hiding in the house, and sometimes bringing little treats.
After you get your elf, he or she will need to make an introduction and his first visit. On your elf’s first visit, you will name the elf on the shelf. However, in this post, we will go in-depth on all things Elf on the Shelf so you can be totally covered all things Elf on the Shelf!
How to Start Elf on the Shelf
Getting started with Elf on the Shelf Is Easy. We will cover everything you need to know on how to get started with Elf on the Shelf for the first time.
- Get an Elf. This is a need. You can get an elf here. Plus you can get TONS of super cute outfits that you can buy for your elf here. You will want to check out these SUPER CUTE Girl Elf on the Shelf Outfits too!
- Pick when you want the Elf to Arrive. This can be any time in November or December that your elf comes. But remember they will come daily once you start until Christmas Eve. Our Elf on the Shelf comes on December 1st.
- Decide How your Elf is going to make their appearance. For us, for the first time On December 1st, our elf was waiting for our kids on our dining room table. She was sitting there with matching pajamas for the kids. She also had a special Christmas book I was able to read to them the whole month of December. When our Elf on the Shelf comes each year, they also bring the kids their advent calendars, check out more ideas on what to have the elf bring below.
Where Do I Buy Elf on the Shelf?
Grab your very own Elf on the Shelf from Amazon and you can grab these cool merry elf notes that are great for with Elf on the Shelf! You can also buy Elf on the Shelf in some stores. Personally, I like ordering things online so my kids don’t see them.
If you want to purchase an Elf on the Shelf Book set there are many online retailers that have them.
What options are there for Elf on the Shelf Elves?
When selecting your Elf, you have the choice between a light or dark skin tone. Additionally, you can choose between a boy elf or girl Elf. The accompanying book is available in both English and Spanish versions as well.
Elf On The Shelf Arrival
The first year the elf arrives, the elf is introduced to the household, often accompanied by a storybook that explains the tradition and the role of the elf. You can add to the fun by getting an elf adoption certificate for the elf. You may also want to have the elf bring a letter to the kids that explains the new family Christmas tradition you are starting.
We have a few different FREE Elf Arrival letter printables that you can use. It is also helpful for kids to know the Rules of Elf on the Shelf. We also have a great list of Elf on the Shelf arrival Ideas.
Every year after the Elf makes their arrival between the day after and Christmas Eve, with many family’s having the elf arrive on December 1st (We start on December 1st each year). When the elf returns they normally bring a letter letting the kids know they are back for another year of fun. We have Elf on the Shelf Arrival letters to help with that as well. We have 2 different sets of I’m Back elf on the Shelf letters, our original elf on the shelf arrival letter and our newest set of Elf on the Shelf arrival letters that has 7 different ones you can pick from. If you have more than one elf that comes to your house (yes it happens!) We also have Elf on the shelf arrival letters for multiple elves.
Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas
Here are a few of my favorite Elf on the Shelf arrival ideas for the first time your Elf on the Shelf comes to your house. If this is not your first year doing Elf on the Shelf then check out these Elf on the Shelf Welcome Back Ideas.
- Write a note to your kids from your elf. Explain in the letter why he/she is coming to their house and what he is going to do. Grab the awesome Elf on the Welcome Shelf Letter that you can print out.
- Read the Elf on the Shelf Book. Once your elf arrives read the book to your kids, the book tells the whole story about the Elf. Plus it makes a fun family night activity.
- Have Elf on the Shelf bring the kids a gift! A small gift, you don’t need to go over the top here the kids will just be excited that they are going to have an Elf on the Shelf friend in their house! Advent calendars make a great gift from the Elf on the Shelf. When your elf comes for the first time, bringing a special treat like these ADORABLE Elf Cookies would be perfect and fun too! Some other elf on the shelf arrival gift ideas are Pjs, a Book, Elf Movie or Holiday socks!
Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter for the First Elf Visit
You can print the FREE Printable Elf on the Shelf Welcome letter (we have 2 designs to pick from) and then you don’t have to worry about writing it yourself.
Elf on the shelf Arrival letters
You can also grab the We are Back Elf on the Shelf Printables for if you have multiple elves and they are coming back again, or the I’m back Elf on the Shelf letters if the elf is coming back for another year of fun.
How to Introduce Elf on the Shelf to the Kids
Once you get your elf on the shelf, and they have made their arrival, it is easy and fun to introduce Elf on the Shelf to your kids. You will want to do this on the first day that your elf arrives. You do not want your kids to see the elf on the shelf before their big arrival, so be sure to hide your elf where the kids won’t find him!
1.Tell the Kids how Elf on the Shelf Works
Tell your kids how the Elf on the Shelf works, how Santa sends elves down for some Christmas fun, and how each night the Elves fly home to Santa’s workshop and tell Santa about how amazing the kids are being. Personally, I would not tell them about anything Elf on the Shelf until the first time the Elf arrives, the surprise of Elf on the Shelf coming to their house is awesome! I love reading the Elf on the Shelf Book to the kids when first get started, and for the younger ones reading it each year helps them remember all the fun that comes from Elf on the Shelf. My kids also love watching the Elf on the Shelf movie that talks about the Elf’s story and how it all works, I find this to be a great way to share how Elf on the Shelf works with the little kids.
2. Explain the Elf Rules
Make sure you explain to them the rules. For example, they can’t touch the elf or they lose their magic power. Let them know he is watching them and that they need to look for him each day ect. The book that comes with Elf on the Shelf has all the rules in it. 🙂 You can also print out our Elf on the Shelf Rules Printable, and stick it on the fridge to help the kids remember the rules.
3. Name your Elf
Elves do not come with a name, you will have to name your elf. This process can get a bit tricky especially if you have a bunch of kids. I highly recommend that with multiple kids you let each kid pick a name and then use all of them or let each kid pick a name and write them all on a piece of paper and pick out of a hat to pick the final name choice.
How to Name Your Elf
You are going to need to give your elf on the shelf a name on their first visit to your home. Elf on the shelf doesn’t come with a name! It is the kids job to name their elf. Let the kids have fun picking out the elf’s name. Our elf is named George Twinkle! Check out this awesome list of 101 Elf on the shelf names! We have girl elf names and boy elf names!
To make things official you can grab and Elf on the Shelf Adoption Certificate here.
What to do after Introducing Elf on the Shelf
The fun starts after your kids have met their elf and given them a name! Then it is time for the daily elf fun to begin! Every day your Elf on the shelf is going to fly back to Santa at night after everyone is sleeping. The next morning the kids will wake up to see what fun the Elf did at night when they returned. This repeats daily until Santa comes on Christmas Eve. Keep on reading for more information on the daily elf fun and lots of Elf on the Shelf Ideas.
Elf on the Shelf Antics and Fun
Each night, the parents move the elf to a new location in the house, creating the illusion that the elf is actively watching over the children. Children wake up each morning to find the elf in a new, often mischievous, position, leading to excitement and anticipation as they search for the elf’s latest hiding spot.
During this time you are going to want to find some Elf on the Shelf Ideas I am sure, and we have made that super easy and have hundreds of Elf on the Shelf Ideas that kids love. You can use the Elf on the Shelf Planner printable I have created to get organized and make your Elf on the Shelf plan for the holiday season.
Elf on the Shelf Ideas
Remember you do NOT need to go extravagant every single night! There have been times when things were hectic and George was a little less creative. He ended up hiding in the toilet paper roll, pulling breakfast out of my coffee or just hiding in the pile of stuffed animals.
While it’s a TON of fun to see the kids excitement when the elf does something over the top it is not always needed. I have found that just him being here has brought a smile to their face in the morning!
Check out this Elf on the Shelf Ideas calendar which makes it sooo easy to know what you are doing each day for your elf fun! I am also going to suggest that you also check out Reasons your Elf Did not move… it might happen sometimes! 😉
Get the Ultimate Elf on the Shelf Planner!
We have LOTS of elf on the shelf ideas too so make sure you check them out!
- 135 Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Toddlers
- Elf on the Shelf Kitchen Ideas
- Cheap Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- How to Make Elf on the Shelf Fly
- Hiding in A Water Bottle Elf on the Shelf Idea
- Easy Elf Ideas
- Quick Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- Lazy Elf on the Shelf Ideas
- Elf on the Shelf Plays with Barbie
- Elf on the Shelf Castle Take Over
- Easy last minute elf on the shelf ideas
- Elf on the shelf ideas with Marshmallows
Elf on the Shelf Heads back to the North Pole
On Christmas Eve Elf on the Shelf catches a ride home with Santa until the next year when they return again. There are lots of ways to Say Goodbye to Elf on the Shelf and we have Elf on the Shelf Goodbye letters to help you with that too. There are many ways to have the elf on the shelf say goodbye, get creative, and make the last night special.
We have Elf on the Shelf Goodbye letters (there are 31 to pick from!) to help with that too.
How to Say Good Bye to Elf on the Shelf
Once it is time for the Elf to go home, you can write a letter to your kids from the elf! Or you can sign up below to get our FREE Elf on the Shelf Printable E-Book that has an exclusive Good-Bye Letter from Elf on the Shelf Printable in it! We also have this easy How to Say Good Bye with Elf on the Shelf idea!
Get the EXCLUSIVE Good-Bye letter Printable! In this FREE E-book you will get 3 Printables to make your Elf on the Shelf adventure easier! It includes Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter, Elf on The Shelf Rules and Elf on the Shelf Good-Bye Letter. Just fill out the form below! Plus you can also Call Santa for FREE with Santas Phone Number!
Elf on the Shelf Printables
There are lots of free Elf on the shelf printables and some paid ones on Etsy that will help make your elf on the shelf adventure even more fun! I highly suggest grabbing the free Elf on the shelf planner printable.
- Elf on the Shelf Tic Tac Toe
- Elf on the Shelf Names Printable
- Elf on the Shelf BINGO Game
- Elf Kissing Booth Printable Prop
- Elf Pizza Shop Printable
- Elf Cookie Shop Prop Printable
- Elf Reindeer Friend Adoption Certificate Printable
- Elf Donut Shop Printable Prop
- Elf on the Shelf Health Certificate
- Elf on the Shelf Adoption Certificate
- Elf on the Shelf Printables Pack
- Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter
- Elf on the Shelf Ideas calendar
- Elf on the Shelf Rules Printable
- Elf on the Shelf I’m Back Letters
- Elf on the Shelf We are Back Letters
- Elf on the Shelf Nice List Printable
Elf on the Shelf Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do if the Elf is Late Arriving?
Have no worries and no stress! If your elf is delayed on its arrival it is ok. You can grab the official elf Late Notice from the desk of the Department of Departures (signed by elf P. Whitney) to send to the kids before the elf arrives. Then print out the Elf late arrival letters (there are 26 to pick from) for when your elf makes their arrival.
When Does Elf on the Shelf Arrive?
You can have your Elf on the Shelf come out to start the fun whenever you want to. We tend to have our Elf on the Shelf come out after Thanksgiving, more specifically our elf on the shelf arrives on December 1st, to start the Christmas fun.
Just remember that whenever you start the Elf on the Shelf they will be coming every morning until Christmas and fly home with Santa when he comes on Christmas Eve.
Can Parents touch the elf?
According to Santa, it is advised that no one in the family touches their Elf on the Shelf. However, Santa does acknowledge that there might be exceptional cases where an adult could need to and suggests they use tongs to assist an elf in a pressing situation. If hands are needed by the adult because of the situation, there is no penalty for an adult touching the elf.
Can kids touch the elf pets?
Yes! Give the elf pets all the love and snuggles the kids want. Elf pets are brought by the elves for the purpose of being enjoyed and snuggled.
What to say when kids see the Elf in the store
One issue we ran into is that our kids saw the Elf in the hallmark store. While I don’t like to lie to my kids I do like the magic to stay alive. We told them that elves in stores are knock offs. We let them know they are not the real elves with magic. And that the magic is in the Elf that is just for our house. It worked for us.
What to say if your kids ask why their friends don’t have an elf
We have told ours there is a waitlist for the elves, and that it is long. So they know that not every child will have one because they have to get off the waitlist. We don’t want other kids to feel bad that they don’t have their own Elf. But I also know that not every parent is going to do Elf on the Shelf. We want to make sure they don’t mention elf in school and hurt other kids feelings who do not have an elf.
It also keeps the magic alive in our house because no one is telling them it is a fake thing or that they don’t have one.
My daughter has also told me one of her friends was sad about not having an Elf. I know it is not always in the budget for everyone and the waitlist idea helped. My daughter made her feel better by telling her that there is a waitlist for Elves and that maybe she would get off the waitlist soon.
New for this year! Elf on the Shelf Heath Certificate! Grab it to show your Elf has a clean bill of health! Grab yours Here.
Elf on the Shelf Pets
You will also have to decide if your Elf is going to have a pet. Yes there are SUPER cute pets for Elf on the shelf! It is super easy to introduce a new Elf on the Shelf pet! Just have the new Elf on the Shelf pet join your elf one morning when he comes back from his Santa visit the night before.
- Elf on the Shelf Pet Pack that comes with the Reindeer and Saint Bernard Elf Pets
- Elf on The Shelf Pets: St. Bernard
- Elf on the Shelf Elf Pets Reindeer
If your kids have an Elf Reindeer that joins him when your elf comes, there is also this super fun and gross Reindeer Poop Slime that the kids would love to make!
Elf on the Shelf Activities
If you are looking for more fun with Elf on the Shelf there are a lot of different activities that you can get.
- Includes the new Santa’s St. Bernards save Christmas DVD and Joy sugar cookie plush Elf
- This cool kit lets the kids write letters to Santa and then you can shrink them down and they will be elf sized to bring back to Santa!
- Use Mrs Claus’ Magic Press and Santa’s Special Paper to shrink letters to elf-size so they can easily be carried by your elf.
- After Santa reads a letter, your Scout Elf will hang it on your Christmas tree as a keepsake ornament.
- Kit contains 32 page children’s book, 8 x Santa’s Special Paper, Mrs. Claus’ Magic Press, 8 Scout Elf sashes, 2 markers and 2 pieces of parchment paper
More Christmas Fun for Kids
You can Facetime Santa for a fun Santa Phone Call!
There are so many tasty Christmas treats that the kids will love and they are all perfect for any kids Christmas parties that you might have. Some of our favorite Christmas treats are Santa Hat Cupcakes and Whoville Cookies !
But you can check out the full list of Kid Friendly Christmas Treats and pick out your favorites to make with the kids!
If you want to have even more fun you can get Personalized Text Messages each day from Santa!
If you are looking for a totally fun activity to do with the kids, reindeer poop slime is always a BIG hit!