Elf on the Shelf

These mischievous elf ideas are great for your Elf on the Shelf.
Courtesy of Samantha Darby

25 Mischievous Elf On The Shelf Ideas That Kids Will Flip For

Because who wants a goody-two-shoes for an elf?

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With the holidays fast approaching, parents everywhere have one thing in common, and that's a need for more Elf on the Shelf pose ideas. If you're kind of tapped out, these ideas for mischievous Elf on the Shelf ideas are sure to leave your kids in stitches. After all, no one said the elf has to play nice 100% of the time.

Fortunately, all of these jokey ideas for Elf on the Shelf mischief are still appropriate for kids, using toilet paper rolls, family photos, and basic kitchen equipment to great effect. Plus, they're all pretty easy to put cobble together and take down in a day. Your kids will be amused by the elf's latest adventures, but you won't be left with too big of a mess to clean up. Everyone wins.

With whatever craft supplies you have on hand, a little bit of time, and a sense of humor, you can essentially prank your kid every night with the help of the elf. But of course you're only doing the whole elf thing to make your kids happy, and well-behaved, so it's a little more wholesome than most pranks. It really is a family tradition your little ones will remember for years to come, so give these mischievous Elf on the Shelf ideas a whirl for the most memorable Christmas season yet.

1

Stage a hostage situation

If you have two elves in your home, set them up so it looks like the more mischievous of the two has taped the other one onto the turntable. Your kids will love it even more if the elf is actually spinning when the come downstairs. And if you don’t have a record player, there are other precarious places around the house you could do something similar.

2

Create a climbing wall

With a few bows, you can have your elf climb any surface to reach any prize. Maybe they’re after the cookie jar on the kitchen counter or trying to reach the place where you hide everyone’s Christmas presents. This one is easy to put together in a few minutes, and you probably have a bag of bows somewhere in the house already.

3

Melt a fellow toy

If your kids have an Olaf figurine somewhere in the house, pop him on a skillet in a puddle of water to make it look like your naughty elf is melting the poor snowman. You could also replicate this mischievous elf on the shelf idea in the microwave, using a hair dryer, or near an iron. The options are endless.

4

Craft a shoebox car

If you have an empty shoebox lying around, use construction paper or craft supplies to turn it into an elf race car. Whether your elf is solo or has friends, send them zooming down the stair railing, across a mantle, or across a curtain rod.

5

Make a play on words

All you need for this elf on the shelf mischief idea is a fresh piece of toast and a Post-It note. Poke your elves arms through the holes and write a little note about how chilly it is in the North Pole, but that it’s nice and toasty in the kitchen.

6

Sippin’ in the kitchen

If you have hot cocoa supplies for the chilly days ahead, one of the sweetest ideas for elf on the shelf mischief would be to have your elf break into the goodies. They can perch on some peppermints and sip on cocoa, maple syrup, or some other sweet drink. It’ll definitely give your kids a giggle to catch them in the act.

7

Build a ball pit

All you need is a bucket or bowl and some craft pom poms and boom: a very elfish ball pit is born. Whether you pose your elf like they’re about to dive in, or with their head barely above the pom pom balls, your kids will get a kick out of this playful setup.

8

Flour angels

No matter the weather outside, your elf can make a contained mess indoors with flour pr powdered sugar snow angels on the dining table. Or, if your elf is particularly naughty, they'll make glitter angels.

9

Set a silly trap

Pick up some festive streamers (plain red or green will do just fine too) and quietly criss-cross them over your child’s door after they doze off. When they wake, they’ll find your mischievous Elf on the Shelf tried to trap them in their room overnight.

10

Makeover a mirror

The possibilities for mirror decorations are endless. Reindeer antlers, Santa beards, and silly messages are all a good start. And if you're concerned about stains, then some washable window markers may be the safest tool.

11

Go on Instagram IRL

Elves are savvy social media users. For instance, this one knows all about Instagram, but you could make similar cutouts for Twitter or Facebook-style posts as well, and the possibilities of debauchery that you can "capture" the elf in are endless. Just make sure you're keeping it PG for the kids. And if you need some help crafting the perfect cutout, there are lots of free, printable elf props online.

12

Start a snowball fight

OK, yes, we’re back to the craft pom poms, but if you’re going to be in that aisle for ball pit supplies anyway, grab a package of white pom poms while you’re there. Two birds, one stone (or two elf ideas, one errand). This elf has a cute snowball crate, but you don’t even need that! Just pile up the snowballs next to your elf, pop one in its hand, and stage another stuffed animal or two to look like they’ve been in a wintry battle overnight.

13

Make a TP snowman

Basically, any pose involving toilet paper will crack up your kids, naughty as it may be. And this indoor snowman is especially fun and silly.

14

Leave a window message

Posing the elf outside with a message on the window is a pretty novel approach, but this family must've kept the windows and doors locked, as well as the fireplace flue. And whether you're going for creepy or funny, tweak your message to whatever is appropriate.

15

Leave a TP message

This is probably the fastest, easiest, cheapest Elf on the Shelf idea we've seen yet. But since it involves toilet paper, kids will definitely get a kick out of it.

16

Stage a snack attack

If you have a retro popcorn maker, then this idea is kind of obligatory. Of course he would sneak into the machine to sneak in a snack. But the elf can show up in all sorts of other weird places in the kitchen, too. Maybe he's found under the cake dome with a couple of half eaten cupcakes, for instance.

17

Pose with a pet

If you have any pets in your family, then incorporate them into the fun. Stage your elf to look like he's trying to "catch" a gerbil — without harming or freaking out the sweet critter, of course — and if you have a dog, there are plenty of shenanigans the two can get into.

18

Stage your elf’s arrival

When your elf returns for duty this year, imagine what it would look like if his travel plans went a little awry. Maybe his toy car broke down, or his helicopter crashed into the Christmas tree. Whatever toys your child has that would help an elf get from the North Pole to your living room, use them in an inventive way.

19

Practice elf care

Aww, this is a cute idea. Your elf can take a bubble bath in marshmallows. To give it that mischievous twist, surround the elf with some of your most prized beauty products, from bath salts to makeup, and complain to the kids that the elf got into all your good stuff the next morning.

20

Go camo

It looks like the elf's face can stand up to all sorts of decorations. Paint your elf's face in camouflage, stick him in the Christmas tree, and lay — or toss — few ornaments on the floor. You can make it look like he was trying to destroy the tree because he didn't like the decor.

21

Cannonball

Even scout elves enjoy a dip in the pool now and then, and the possibilities for elf pools are endless. Maybe yours can cannonball into a bowl of blue Jell-O, too. A truly mischevious Elf on the Shelf might opt to jump into a vat of maple syrup à la Buddy the Elf.

22

Spider elf

The spider elf does... whatever a spider elf does. Make a mini Spider-Man mask for your scout elf and let him pretend to be your kid's favorite superhero for an evening. Make sure you pose him hanging from a piece of ribbon or twine for the full effect.

23

Go fish

A really mischievous elf will go fishing in... your kid's fish tank. Not everyone has a mini indoor aquarium, though, so you can create a makeshift one in your own bathroom by filling up the wink and throwing in a few Goldfish Crackers. A drinking straw or candy cane would make an ideal fishing pole.

24

Elf-ify a family photo

Elves just want to fit in, too. Cut out a few elf hats from red construction paper and adhere them to a family photo, placing the elf nearby. Your kids will love seeing themselves (and you) dressed up like their Elf on the Shelf. As far as Elf on the Shelf mischief goes, this idea is pretty easy to pull off.

25

Meme-ify the elf

This looks like one thirsty elf. Your kids may not pick up on the meme, but parents sure will get a kick out of this interesting Elf on the Shelf getup that riffs off the Dos Equis beer advertorial. And look how fancy the elf is — it makes him look kind of hip. And mom — I mean, the elf — is obviously super hip.

So, what sort of silliness will your elf get up to this Christmas? Be sure snap lots of pics of this year’s Elf on the Shelf mischief for your kids to remember.

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