It’s the most wonderful and stressful time of the year…
With all the twinkling lights, tree trimming and holiday fun to be had comes a little visitor that makes every parent sweat at 5 am trying to remember if the little man in red has a new location come sunrise. Some go all out while others simply bounce their elf about their home throughout the holiday season. If you’re like me, the joy in being creative has me leaning towards “extra” instead of basic.
For years I’ve created calendars, riddles, and scenes that our elves (yes, we’ve added to our yearly house guests) have partaken in around our home. Let me lighten your load this holiday season. Below you’ll find a list and pictures of ideas that you can recreate in your own home along with free printables. Yes, FREE!
Our elves arrive the night of Thanksgiving to be found the day after (Friday morning). They bring Christmas pajamas every year. Why Christmas pajamas in November you might ask? So they can wear them throughout the season, not for just one night.
No.2 BREAKFAST MAKING DAY
No.3 ORNAMENT MAKING DAY
Gather materials to make homemade ornaments: popsicle sticks, yarn, sequins, or clay. There are so many possibilities, just search Pinterest for some really great ideas!
No. 4 ADVENT CALENDAR + SCAVENGER HUNT
This is for December 1st with an added bonus of a scavenger hunt!
No.5 SANTA LETTER DAY
For this day, you’ll need to purchase Shrinky Dinks from Amazon to “shrink” their Santa letters to “elf size”
No.6 FAMILY GAME NIGHT + CHARADE CARDS
The cards can be used for many things from playing charades to drawing to a scavenger hunt.
No.7 HOT COCOA DAY + SNOWMAN SOUP TAG
Make your setup extra sweet by filling clear plastic Christmas ornaments with hot cocoa mix and a few mini marshmallows. Then, dress it up to look like a snowman with the bonus tag attached!
No.8 Polar Express Movie Day
Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers, a site full of resrouces for teachers + parents, to find FREE Polar Express golden tickets for download! Add a package of popcorn and a decorative bell.
No.9 St.Nicholas Day
This note should be left the day BEFORE St.Nicholas Day in order for the shoes to be left out and found ON St. Nicholas’s Day. You could create a shoe train with random shoes laying around your house or put shoes on your elf’s feet to make it a bit more fun.
No.10 Christmas Music Day + BONUS Song Cards
Turn on the tunes and get in the spirit! Use the song cards to choose what songs to play or use the cards for a game of Pictionary!
No.11 Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt Day
At night hop in the car and tour your town looking at all the Christmas lights. The scavenger hunt comes in two forms: word list and picture.
No.12 I Spy Christmas Day
For this day you’ll need to set out an I Spy Book. You can use your own or check one out at your local library!
NO.13 Snowball Fight Day
Have some fun indoors with large cotton snowballs. I grabbed my kit from my local HomeGoods store, but you can always use paper from your recycling too!
No.14 Christmas Card Stuffing Day
Set out the envelopes, cards, and postage…Let the kids stuff and stamp your Christmas Cards! Make it a bit more fun by reading The Jolly Postman book too!
No.15 Cookie Making Day
Whether it’s from scratch or a box mix, hop in the kitchen and bake some cookies!
No. 16 Cozy Up Day
Today’s the chance to cuddle with your elf and carry them around for the day. The only rule is they must stay in the jar. Last year was the first time we did this and the kids absolutely loved it! This works perfectly if your little ones head to sleepover somewhere and you want the elf to follow them to the other home!
No. 17 Hide & Seek Ruddy Day!
You’ll need to either hide your reindeer somewhere away from your elves or hide a picture of Rudolph somewhere in your home.
No. 18 Cinnamon Ornament Day + Recipe Card
Use the recipe to make cinnamon ornaments for your tree and to give to family + friends! These ornaments are NOT edible so don’t let your little one or pets eat them!
NO. 19 FOOD DONATION DAY
Whether you spend the day donating to your local food pantry or collecting cans for your school’s food drive, spread Christmas cheer by giving back to others.
NO. 20 Candy Cane Day
Hide a dozen candy canes all-around your house. Talk about the meaning of the candy cane and what it represents.
No. 21 Wrapping Presents Day
Put those kids to work helping to wrap all the gifts. Plus a bonus counting puzzle! THE PUZZLE IS A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM CANVA. THERE ARE SO MANY PAPER PUZZLES AND GAMES AVAILABLE ON THEIR SITE!
No. 22 Nutcracker Day
Read or watch the nutcracker together. The Story Orchestra makes a great book as a keepsake and has play buttons of the traditional ballet music from the original score.
No.23 Red Nose Day
By far my favorite day. Using lip stain or a washable red maker, create a dot on the end of their noses to turn them into rudolphs! When they wake and find the elves in the bathroom, they’ll see the prank the elves pulled.
No. 24 Reindeer Food Making Day + Tags
I didn’t snap a picture last year, but we made packets of reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn. This attracts Santa’s reindeer so he’s sure to stop by Christmas Eve night! WE MADE EXTRA NAND HANDED THEM OUT TO OUR NEIGHBORS.
No.25 Grinchmas Day + A Movie Game
Grinchmas Day is the children’s favorite day! Dress in all green, try green foods throughout the day, make green icing popcorn and green cookies, watch The Grinch, and play the BEST movie game! You’ll need to wrap up a few white elephant gifts for the game, but don’t feel you need to even play the game. With older kids, we gave each child $10 to pick out a small gift anyone could use at WalMart. They wrapped the gift and brought it to the movie viewing. The game is played while the movie is watched so EVERYONE has to pay attention!
No. 26 The Farewell Day
Christmas Eve is the last day our elves spend with us, but they leave with good wishes. The kids have an assignment to take pictures and capture all the fun memories for Christmas Day with disposable cameras! It’s a great way for them to catch those little moments throughout Christmas day that we might miss and then when we get the film developed we spend the night looking at what fun the day brought.
Some Extra Ideas
PHEW! That was a lot! I hope this post helps make this time more magical and less stressful for you as you celebrate the holiday season with your family. Please remember these are not for resale, but for personal use only. I’ve spent countless hours creating, writing, and designing these documents.
If you need a bit more explanation on these days, you can find more details on my Instagram page, under my saved highlight for Elf on the Shelf!
Stay tuned for this year’s plan…it will be totally different!
Until next time…