easy elf on the shelf hiding spots like in the tissue box
Jennifer Parris
13 Quick Elf On The Shelf Hiding Ideas You Can Pull Off As The Kids Are Waking Up

Who has time for an elaborate set-up every morning?

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For the most part, Elf on the Shelf consists of crafting cute scenes for your child to discover daily. But once your kid spies their Elf out in the open (cooking in the kitchen or rolling down the stairs in a toilet paper tube, for example), the fun is instantly over — but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can give your child an elf-tastic experience with these Elf on the Shelf hiding ideas.

If you go all-in on the idea of Elf on the Shelf, you might find yourself dreaming up ways to make each day better than the last. But elaborate setups aren’t always easy (or realistic), and so you’ll need some Elf on the Shelf hiding ideas for days when you need something quick that you can pull off with what you have on hand. That’s why hiding your Elf is actually a good thing, since it adds another dimension to discovering the doll. Since their Elf isn’t easily visible, your child will have to essentially play hide-and-seek as they search for the doll, which might add to the excitement of Elf on the Shelf.

And let’s be honest: hiding the elf in a jacket pocket and calling it a day is a whole lot easier than setting up a sophisticated party scene with your child’s toys.

When you’re short on time (and patience), Elf on the Shelf hiding ideas are the way to go. Here are some that are easy to find.


Cleaning the couch

Jennifer Parris

Oh, the wonderful things your Elf will find when they dive deep into the cushions of your couch. Maybe it will be some coins, some crumbs, or both.


Taking a nap in the tree

Jennifer Parris

A Christmas tree makes an ideal hiding spot for when your Elf crash lands into your living room. It’s fast and festive and literally requires one second to do.


Mailing a letter

Jennifer Parris

When your child writes their letter to Santa, their Elf made sure the letter got mailed by almost getting inside the mailbox.


Lounging on a ceiling light

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It’s a pretty bright idea to hide your Elf in a ceiling light. When your child turns on the light, their Elf’s sweet face will be looking down at them.


Freezing in the fridge

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If your kid doesn’t usually visit the fridge, you can prompt them to grab something you forgot for breakfast, like the milk or yogurt so that they come across their elf hiding within. Wrapping your elf up to avoid frostbite is a cute touch.


Hiding among the plushies

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Put all those Squishmallows to good use and create the coziest hiding spot by squishing your elf in the middle. Fifi the Fox, Winston the Owl, and Avery the Mallard won’t mind.


Perched inside a plant

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Whether you have a poinsettia or a peony, leave your elf hiding among the leaves to be spotted by your child. Bonus points if you add camouflage face paint to the doll’s cheeks.


Tucked inside a tissue box

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It can seem like everyone is sick this season. Tuck your Elf into a tissue box and hide them behind a sheet so that they can offer one at the first “Ah-choo!”


Gorgeous in garland

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It’s cushy, it’s cozy, and it’s a great hiding spot for an Elf on the Shelf: the Christmas garland. Use a color that coordinates to make it even harder for your kid to spot their elf, if you can.


Hanging out with Santa

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If you think about it, you never get to see any interaction between your elf and Mr. C. That’s what makes this photo opp even more special.


Sitting on a high shelf

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It is Elf on the Shelf, after all.


Covered in cookie cutters

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Do you have a plastic container, or even a pile, of holiday cookie cutters? Bury your elf underneath a few of them and see how long it takes your unsuspecting child to find them.


Splashing in Barbie’s pool

Jennifer Parris

Everyone needs 10 minutes for themselves, even your elf. Bring your elf over to your kid’s dollhouse setup and have them take a dip in Barbie’s peppermint-themed pool. Crushed peppermints are optional, of course.

Let’s face it: you’re busy and adding another thing to do — in this case, repositioning an elf doll every morning before your kids wake up — onto an already hectic season can seem overwhelming. But hiding your Elf on the Shelf in existing spots around the house is really so simple and low-lift and can be done in 10 seconds. The hardest part is simply remembering to do it.

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