Elf on the Shelf: A Pre-Planned Calendar of 5 Minute Poses for Busy Moms - Columbus Moms Network
This post originally appeared on South Houston Moms.


This year, I’m helping to bring the magic of Christmas to your home with a pre-planned list of Elf on the Shelf ideas! You’ll spend under 5 minutes each evening setting up a daily surprise that will help create the best memories for your kids while keeping you sane at the same time.

I’ve even taken into consideration weekends vs. weekdays and “Elf Fatigue” – this means you’ll find the easier ideas scheduled for weekdays and toward the end of the season (I’m usually over the excitement by then and you probably are too, so I’ve got you covered).

But first – STOP NOW, bookmark this page then
set a nightly alarm on your phone to move the Elf before you go to bed.


Here’s what you’ll need:

You should be able to find most of these around the house. And for the mamas who like to plan ahead, it would be a great idea to gather these into one place!

  • Index Cards
  • Sharpie
  • Dry Erase Marker
  • Orange Marker
  • Tape
  • Wash Cloth
  • Toothpicks
  • Thermometer
  • A Straw
  • Self-adhesive Googly Eyes (optional)
  • Box of Tissue
  • 4 Rolls of Toilet Paper
  • Toothpaste
  • Dinner Plate
  • Small Gift for each Child (playdoh, stickers, pencils, pop-it, bubbles, you get the idea)
Set these food items aside in the pantry or add them to your cart the next time you’re out for groceries:

  • Holiday M&M’s
  • Skittles
  • Small pack of mini M&M’s
  • Pancake Syrup
  • Fruit that Peels: Oranges or Bananas work best
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Slice of bread
  • Powdered Mini Donuts
  • Hot Chocolate Packets or Hot Cocoa Bombs
  • Candy Canes
  • Food Coloring


Special Notes:
*This cheat sheet was created with one elf in mind but can still be used with multiple elves!

*This calendar is setup so that you are prepping for the following morning.

*Scout Elf Arrival Week is anytime between November 24 to December 1. This Cheat Sheet begins Thursday, November 30. Feel free to jump in whenever you’re ready.


 Elf on the Shelf Cheat Sheet

Thursday Night, November 30 – ARRIVAL DAY PREP!

Spell out I’M BACK! with holiday m&m’s or skittles on the counter. Sit elf next to candy.


Friday Night, December 1 – Elf Takes a Bubble Bath

Sit the Elf in a bowl and cover him in mini marshmallows. Leave an index card note that says, “I love a good bubble bath!”.


Saturday Night, December 2 – Build a Snowman Activity

On the right hand side of a large serving platter, place powdered donuts in a pile next to a separate pile of mini m&ms and toothpicks. Place the Elf next to the platter with an index card note that reads, “Do you want to build a snowman?”. In the morning, let the kids build snowmen before having donuts for breakfast. To make the snowman: Place 3 donuts in a row and use the mini m&m’s for buttons, eyes and nose. The toothpicks for arms.


Sunday Night, December 3 – Help Mommy Day

Place Elf in a visible location with an index card note that reads, “Let’s help mommy ________.” Fill in the blank with whatever you need help with that day! This is great for folding laundry, washing dishes, making lunch, grocery shopping, etc.

Monday Night, December 4 – Elf Gets Toasty

Sit the elf on a plate next to the toaster. Sit a piece of toast across his lap and chest. Leave an index card note that says, “I’m not cold, I’m nice and toasty!”.


Tuesday Night, December 5 – Elf Has Fun with the Scanner (Alternate: Elf is on the Shelf!)

Lay Elf face down on the scanner and print his image. Leave him on the scanner and let the kids find the printout. Note: If you don’t own a printer/scanner, this is a great night to put the elf on the shelf or mantle next to some of your favorite Christmas decor.


Wednesday Night, December 6 – Elf Takes a Nap

Lay Elf down inside a tissue box and roll up a few tissues for him to use as a pillow.


Thursday Night, December 7 – Elf Reads to Friends

Pick out three to four stuffed animals/friends and sit them opposite the elf as if they’re listening to the story. Position the elf holding a book or laying next to the book.


Friday Night, December 8 – Elf Leaves a Toothpaste Message

Use toothpaste to write, “Hi __(name)__” or “Brush your teeth!” or a put a simple smiley face. Position Elf on the edge of the sink holding the toothpaste.


Saturday Night, December 9 – Hot Chocolate Bar Prep

On a platter, arrange mugs, spoons, hot chocolate packets, mini marshmallows and candy canes. Hot chocolate bombs would be a great option for this day too! Position Elf next to platter with an index note card that reads, “Let’s be Merry! A Hot Chocolate Bar Just for You!

Sunday Night, December 10 – Sick Elf

Wrap Elf in a wash cloth. Stick a thermometer in with the wrapped elf and place a bottle of Tylenol next to Elf.


Monday Night, December 11 – Elf Decorates the Family Fruit

Gather the fruit you have in the house (oranges or bananas work best) and draw smiley faces on them with a sharpie. Use self adhesive googly eyes for a fun effect. Position the elf next to the fruit holding the sharpie. This would be fun to pack with lunch or have for a snack!


Tuesday Night, December 12 – Elf is Hanging from the Chandelier

Hang Elf upside down from the kitchen chandelier or light fixture of your choice.


Wednesday Night, December 13 – Elf Turned the Dryer into a Carnival Ride

Place Elf and a friend (similar size toy) inside the dryer on one of the ledges. Use tape to secure them like a seatbelt, and close the dryer door. Leave the drum light on.

Thursday Night December 14 – Elf TP’s the Tree

Wrap the tree in toilet paper, then place the elf in the tree holding the roll.


Friday Night December 15 – Elf Builds a Snowman

The Elf is obsessed with toilet paper this week! Stack three rolls of toilet paper and place in the bathroom. Draw 3 buttons on the bottom two rolls and two eyes with an orange triangular nose on the top roll. Stick the Elf down the center of the toilet paper rolls or place on top.

Saturday Night, December 16 – Let’s Make a Rainbow Prep

Line a round paper plate with a circle of skittles. Place an index card note in the elf’s lap that reads, “Let’s make a rainbow!” Then have children pour warm water in the center of the plate just until it touches the skittles. Watch how the wet skittles create a rainbow!


Sunday Night, December 17 – Hide and Seek Prep

Choose a room and hide candy canes. Position the Elf with an index card note that reads, “I’ve hidden __(number of your choice)__ candy canes in this room. Can you find them?”. Use however many candy canes you want.


Elf Fatigue should be setting in right about now.
Hang in there, this is the last week and the Elf poses are extra easy!


Monday Night, December 18 – Elf Needs Help

Sit elf on the counter with an upside down glass over him as if he’s trapped inside the cup. Write, “HELP” on the outside with dry erase marker.


Tuesday Night, December 19 – Elf is in the Christmas Tree

Place Elf in the Christmas tree holding an ornament.


Wednesday Night, December 20 – Elf Dyed the Milk

Choose a fun color and put a few drops of food coloring in the milk. Sit the Elf next to the milk in the fridge. Plan to have a glass of milk, or cereal, for breakfast using the colorful milk.


Thursday Night, December 21 – Elf Gets Thirsty

Put a straw into the pancake syrup and position the elf so he/she is drinking from the straw.


Friday Night, December 22 – Elf Gets Silly

Replace the hanging stockings with underwear on the mantel. Place the Elf nearby and hide the stockings.


Saturday Night, December 23 – Elf Says Goodbye (Mama Does a Happy Dance)

Sit the Elf on a shelf with small wrapped gifts for each child. Write a custom goodbye letter letting the children know it’s time to help Santa in the North Pole and that he/she will see them again next year, or try a free printable.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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