40 Best Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas for 2023

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It’s that time of the year when your favorite elf returns and if you’re looking for the Best Elf on The Shelf Arrival Ideas, you’ve come to the right place!

I’ve gathered 40 fun ideas to welcome your little elf back for the Christmas season.

elf on the shelf arrival on white table

If this is your first time welcoming Santa Clause’s scout elves into your home, get ready for so much fun that brings the Christmas spirit into your home.

Once your adorable elf arrives, we have plenty of ideas including creative ideas and quick and easy elf on the shelf ideas that can be done in minutes!

elf on the shelf with props

When does Elf on The Shelf start?

Traditionally, Elf on the Shelf starts the week of Thanksgiving arriving between November 24 and December 1 (also known as scout elf return week). The most popular elf arrival days for families are the day after Thanksgiving or December 1st.

When does Elf on The Shelf End?

The tradition of Elf on The Shelf is that the elves return to The North Pole on December 24 until next year so they can report back to Santa on how good the kids have been. So, remind your kids to be on their best behavior!

Best Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas

Elf arrival letter: Present your elf with a special arrival letter, detailing their journey from the North Pole. I made you a free printable 2-page elf on the shelf arrival letter you can print and use at home!

elf on the shelf free printable arrival letter

North Pole Breakfast: Organize a special North Pole-themed breakfast with sweet treats and hot chocolate, where your elf can make a surprise appearance. You can even make these Elf on The Shelf Pancakes.

two elf on the shelf dolls with elf on the shelf pancakes

Hot Air Balloon Landing: Start with a whimsical entrance by setting up a mini hot air balloon for your elf, making their arrival a memorable one.

Christmas Tree Surprise: Tuck your elf among the branches of your Christmas tree, surrounded by shimmering lights, for a delightful discovery.

Elf Door Arrival: Install a small, magical elf door on a wall or a shelf, indicating that your elf has just arrived from the North Pole through this special portal.

elf sitting next to a magical elf door

Advent Calendar Companion: Place your elf near the advent calendars, adding to the excitement as the countdown to Christmas Day begins.

Christmas Eve Countdown: Have your elf bring a calendar marking the days until December 24th, building anticipation for Christmas Eve.

Front Door Greetings: Situate your elf near the front door, greeting family members with a charming little note.

Stealing Presents: Already have presents wrapped under the tree? Have your elf arrive with a letter saying they hid all the presents and hid them somewhere in the house.

elves holding a sign that says they stole presents

Mini Marshmallow Fun: Set up a playful scene where your elf is having a mini marshmallow fight, adding a touch of humor.

Shelf Book Reading: Find your elf reading Christmas books to other toys, a sweet scene that encourages reading.

Board Game Buddy: Arrange a board game scene with the elf joining in, ready for family fun the next morning.

Toy Car Ride: Place your elf in a toy car for a playful entrance into the living room.

elf arrival in a big red car

Hot Tub Relaxation: Create a mini hot tub scene for your elf, complete with fake snow for a winter touch.

Christmas Decor Helper: Discover your elf entangled in Christmas decorations, a humorous start to the day.

Funny Faces in the Mirror: Let your elf draw amusing faces or a note on the mirror, a simple yet enjoyable idea.

Wrapping Paper Madness: Find your elf hilariously wrapped in wrapping paper.

Toilet Paper Roll Shenanigans: Catch your elf in a playful moment, wrapped up in a toilet paper roll.

elves arriving in toilet paper rolls

Good Deeds Tracker: Have your elf arrive with a chart to track good deeds, encouraging positive behavior throughout December.

Elf’s Name Game: Have your elf arrive with a new board game or puzzle for a family game night.

Secret Messages: Use free printables to create secret messages from your elf, adding an exciting mystery element.

elf with a secret message printable

Balloon Drop Entrance: Create a festive atmosphere by arranging a balloon drop in your living room, with your elf making a grand entrance amidst a cascade of colorful balloons.

Elf’s Winter Wonderland: Transform a corner of your home into a mini winter wonderland, complete with fake snow, lots of handmade snowflakes and twinkling lights, where your elf can be found enjoying the snowy scene.

Candy Cane Lane: Set up a trail of candy canes leading to your elf, who’s hiding with a sweet treat and a welcome note.

Get toasty: Have your elves get stuck in toast trying to make breakfast on the day of their arrival.

elves stuck in toast

Elf’s Sleepover: Set up a tiny sleeping bag or bed for your elf, complete with a mini pillow and blanket, where your elf is ‘asleep’ after their long journey.

Christmas Baking Buddy: Position your elf in the kitchen, surrounded by baking ingredients and utensils, ready to help with holiday baking.

Elf’s Hot Cocoa Bar: Set up a mini hot cocoa station with your elf as the barista, complete with mini marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles.

elf with hot cocoa ingredients

Jingle Bell Jam Session: Place your elf with small musical instruments like a tiny guitar or a set of jingle bells, suggesting a festive music session.

Plane arrival: Have your elf arrive in a paper airplane. So fun and easy to put together!

elf in a paper air plane arriving from the north pole

Elf’s Art Gallery: Set up a miniature art gallery with drawings or paintings, with your elf holding a tiny paintbrush, ready to create some festive art.

Gingerbread House Constructor: Place your elf amidst gingerbread house components, appearing as if they’re in the middle of building a delicious, edible home.

Stargazing Elf: Position your elf with a miniature telescope, looking out a window, as if they’re stargazing and waiting for Santa’s sleigh.

elf in the window with a mini telescope

Elf’s Cozy Campfire: Craft a mini campfire scene using rolled-up brown paper for logs and red/yellow tissue paper for flames, with your elf ‘toasting’ mini marshmallows.

Elf Footprints: Grab an elf foot print stencil and make it look like the elf walked through the house tracking in snow upon their arrival.

Special delivery: Have your elves arrive with Elfazon (Amazon) boxes like they were part of a special delivery.

mumsgotmojo etsy

Elf’s DIY Ornament Workshop: Set up a miniature ornament crafting station with your elf holding a glue stick or some glitter, ready for some festive DIY fun.

Miniature Christmas Parade: Create a small parade scene with toy cars and animals, with your elf leading the procession, complete with a tiny banner.

Elf’s Festive Yoga Studio: Arrange a mini yoga mat with your elf in a yoga pose, promoting a morning of relaxation and mindfulness after their long travel here.

Elf’s Snowflake Laboratory: Set up a crafting area with paper and scissors where your elf is cutting out paper snowflakes, inviting kids to join in the fun.

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