The most creative Elf on the Shelf ideas for 2019

There are few things about Christmas that inspire as much passion (love and hatred) as Elf on the Shelf. Parents either begrudgingly oblige and reluctantly participate in the tradition, or they go whole hog with elaborate, Pinterest-worthy setups for their elf.  

While it may seem like one of the newer holiday traditions, Huffington Post reports that the story of Elf on the Shelf actually dates back to the 1970s. "Our elf was named Fisbee, and Fisbee of course would report to Santa Claus at night and be back in a different position in our house the next day," notes Christa Pitts, one of the women behind the 2005 book, The Elf on the Shelf. But when Pitts was a child, Fisbee occupied a fixed spot on the holiday tree and didn't move. When Pitts herself became a mother, her family elf gained the ability to move at night — but it couldn't be touched by a child, or its magic would disappear. And the Elf on the Shelf as we now know it was born. 

That, of course, means it's up to the parents to make the magic happen themselves, day in and day out, and coming up with fun new hiding places and antics for your household's Elf on the Shelf can be a daunting task. These clever ideas will be the standouts of the holiday season.

Elf on the Shelf gets a time-out from Elsa

Incorporating other favorite characters into Elf's shenanigans only makes the tradition more fun, and who better than Frozen's Elsa? If Elf gets too naughty, you can count on the ice queen to keep him in line. Having Elsa do a number on Elf (aka freezing him in a cup full of water) is also a good way to explain why Elf has to stay put in an Elf infirmary with a doctor's note for a few days. While he's recovering from a cold, you get a break from trying to think of new ways to keep Elf entertained.

Elf on the Shelf can bring your kids a snowman... kind of

In case your child doesn't think the Elf on the Shelf is the real deal unless he delivers on proof that he exists, you could always have your elf bring back a souvenir from the North Pole. We don't know if killing a snowman means you and your elf will have to give up your spots on the nice list, but there's always next year to try to get back on Santa's good side. 

The good news is, Elf's snowman souvenir is actually a super easy idea to pull off, provided you're got a couple googly eyes laying around. Just grab a couple sticks from the yard, a carrot from the fridge, and fill up any vessel with water. Instant "snowman"!

Foosball is a natural activity for Elf on the Shelf

What do elves play when they're on their own? Foosball, of course, but not the everyday soccer-looking getup you see in most bars and game rooms. Instead, make your own with a shoebox (sans lid), some wrapping paper, gummy bears, a ping pong ball, and four or six chopsticks or skewers. Once you get your box wrapped in colorful, Christmasy paper, jab the sticks through, attach the gummy bears, pop the ball in, and set up your elf to play. If you are really into the whole Elf on the Shelf thing and have three or more, the rest can happily spectate. 

Get poor Mr. Potato Head involved in Elf's antics

If you have a Mr. Potato Head laying around, then you have a prime opportunity to have your elf make some fresh waffle fries, much to the angst of the potato himself. All you need for this adventure is the aforementioned Mr. Potato Head, a shredder, and some waffle fries. It looks like the elves are really into their freshly-cut fries, even if Mr. Potato Head doesn't really seem to be happy about the whole situation.

Elf on the Shelf is a master stylist

If your kid's Barbie is due for some new highlights, then put your elf to work, as they all went to beauty school during their official Elf training at the North Pole. Whether this is actually true or not, it's super easy to set up a styling station so Babs can get her new 'do just in time for the holidays. Set them up with a small chair and a variety of the usual beauty tools many Barbies come with these days (a tiny comb or a handheld mirror would work). Add a few carefully-folded bits of foil nearby and place a few in Barbie's hair to complete your daily elf shenanigans.