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See 8 Exciting Elf on the Shelf Return Ideas

If you have a Scout Elf returning for the Christmas season, or if you’ve adopted The Elf on the Shelf® for the first time, look no further for arrival inspiration. Your Scout Elf could plan one of the exciting elf arrivals below to surprise your family. With a range of return ideas featuring free printables and Advent calendars as well as other giggle-worthy setups, your elf will be able to plan the perfect welcome home surprise!

The Elf on the Shelf® Arrival Letter Board 

Elf sitting in Christmas tree with mini 'welcome home' letter board

Your Scout Elf is back for the Christmas season, and they’re so thankful! They brought this free printable letter board to show their excitement.

Materials:

  • Color printer
  • Card stock/paper
  • Printables (multiple messages)
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will print and cut out the printable.
  2. They’ll pose next to their letter board and wait for you to see their message.

The Elf on the Shelf® Arrival Poem

Elf sitting with arrival poem

Your poetic Scout Elf wrote a special poem to showcase their excitement for returning for the upcoming Christmas season!

Materials:

  • Color printer
  • Card stock/paper
  • Printable
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will print and cut out the printable.
  2. They will sit next to their poem and wait for you to find their arrival surprise.

The Elf on the Shelf® Arrival Crossword

Elf with a 'welcome home' themed crossword on a wall

Your Scout Elf is pumped to be home for the holidays! They’ve spelled out their excitement for you letter by letter.

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will print and cut out the printable.
  2. They will arrange the letter tiles to spell out the words as seen in the example image, or they will create their own arrangement using the various printable phrases.
  3. They will wait for you to find their creative crossword, showcasing their excitement to be home!

North Pole Advent Train

North Pole Advent Train

Your Scout Elf is prepped and ready to help you count down the days to Christmas with this North Pole Advent Train, featuring 24 all-new playable surprises!

Materials:

Instructions:

  1. Counting down the days to Christmas with your Scout Elf will be a breeze. They’ll bring this North Pole Advent Train for you, and each day, you’ll find a new playable surprise!

Present Pop-Up

Elf popping out of present box

Peek-a-boo! You’ll find your Scout Elf waiting to surprise you in a present.

Materials:

  • Present

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will hide in a present and jump out just in time for you to find them. Pop goes the Scout Elf!

Scout Elf Souvenir

Scout elves with their heads in postcard cut-outs

Your Scout Elf got bit by the travel bug, and they brought back a postcard to share with you. They couldn’t resist hopping into the scene to show you what they did!

Materials:

  • Color printer
  • Card stock/paper
  • Printable
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will print and cut out the printable.
  2. Then, they’ll choose a postcard from one of their favorite destinations, cut along the pink line and poke their head through the card.
  3. When you wake, you’ll get a taste of their wild adventure!

Pom-Pom Ball Pit

Elf jumping into pom-pom ball pit

Your Scout Elf will make a splash when they jump in this pom-pom ball pit. What a colorful explosion!

Materials:

  • Color printer
  • Card stock/paper
  • Printable
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Assortment of pom-poms (different sizes and colors)
  • Stack of presents (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will fill a bowl with an assortment of pom-poms.
  2. They will print and cut out the printable Ball Pit sign and display it.
  3. Then, they will climb atop a stack of presents and jump in the pit. Did someone say cannonball?!

On a Roll

Reindeer unrolling elf wrapped in toilet paper

Let the good times roll! Your Scout Elf is ready for a ride using one common household item—toilet paper.

Materials:

  • Toilet paper

Instructions:

  1. Your elf will squeeze in a roll of toilet paper and see how far they can travel. They may have a little help from their Elf Pets friend!

Buy Elf Pets® Reindeer

Didn’t find an idea that fits just right? See other Elf on the Shelf return ideas.

Before you or your elf get to work recreating any of these inspirational photos, be sure to read these safety warnings. Santa wants to make sure everyone stays safe!