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Elf on the Shelf Games

Are you looking to play fun Elf on the Shelf Games that don’t require too much effort? In this article, you will find the top 7 best games that your entire family will enjoy while creating holiday memories and magic.

Elf on the Shelf gamesPin

Most families’ primary rule with their Elf on the Shelf is that kids can’t touch or play with it. Part of the fun is that the Elf only talks or moves when they are asleep. So how do you play games with your Elf on the Shelf? You could choose to ignore the ‘don’t touch the elf’ rule and treat it like a regular toy. However, there are plenty of other ways to play Elf on the Shelf games. You don’t need screen time to play these games; most of them use things you’ll already have around the house to create holiday memories and magic. We also have 317 Elf on the Shelf ideas that you might like too.

What are Elf on the Shelf Games

An Elf on the Shelf game is any game you play with your Elf. The most popular, though a somewhat labor-intensive, game that parents tend to play with their kids is to have the Elf do something new and exciting daily. They find that the Elf has moved around and done something like hanging an ornament on your tree or making itself a glass of milk. However, you can level up your elf game by having your children play real games with it.

The Top 7 Best Elf on the Shelf Games

Elves are notoriously playful. You would be too if you grew up at the North Pole making toys. This year, instead of a bland Elf on the Shelf that only moves to a new spot at night, try having your Elf do something a little more interactive with the kids. Below are the top seven best Elf on the Shelf games that can be adapted to any age and skill level. Whether your little ones are toddlers or tweens, they can experience the whimsy and delight of playing with their friend, the Elf.

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are another fantastic way to play Elf on the Shelf Games with your kids. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, you can have the Elf deliver a new message each day with a clue to a bigger prize at the end. You could even have the Elf hide all their gifts and have them place one wrapped package under the tree each day. Secondly, you could have the Elf hide a bunch of candy canes or ornaments around the house and have a hunt that is more like searching for eggs on Easter.

Elf on the Shelf kit - candy cane treasure huntPin

Try to incorporate something seasonal like presents or even pinecones as the ‘thing’ they find. You could also have them find coloring sheets or other seasonal activities.

Classic Games

Not all games need a board or other parts. Simple paper games like Tic-Tac-Toe make a simple, fun way to take turns each day making a move and playing together. Get the children away from the screens by having the Elf introduce a new simple game daily. It can deliver instructions easily if they aren’t familiar with the game.

Elf Kit - Tic Tac ToePin

You can add your own holiday twist to any game. For example, instead of X’s and O’s, you can make it candy canes and holly berries. For the smallest children, consider using stamps instead of pencils. This will help with their gross motor skills, which will also help them learn fine motor skills like writing later on.

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Board Games

Choose a board game your children love and set it up. Have your child or children make the first move, then each day in December, the Elf can also make a move in the game. This works best with shorter games like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders. You can start a different game or a new round if the game ends before the month ends. Either way, your kid(s) will be delighted to play with the Elf. Best of all, this is a very low-maintenance way to play while still having fun.

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If you have a lot of board games, write their names on pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Then the Elf can choose one on the first day of the month. Doing this will add to the fun and prevent potential arguments about what game to play.

Elf Kit - LudoPin

Dress Up

Everyone loves a costume. If you are creatively inclined, you can make costumes for the Elf or buy a few pieces for similarly sized toys. Each day you can have your kid(s) dress the Elf up in a new outfit or add a necklace. Encourage the little ones to get creative and let them be active participants, buttoning a jacket or even making a tiny bracelet for the Elf.

Take a picture with your children and the Elf before returning it to its Shelf. Those photos will make for beautiful Christmas memories or good images for an annual greeting card.

Help The Elf

In this twist on the classic idea of posing the Elf in some new position each day, the Elf needs help. Perhaps your Elf has had a tough year or is clumsy. Each morning set the Elf up in some new predicament, like being trapped in a jar or trying to clean up a small mess it made on the counter. Have the kids help the Elf out of its troubles each day as a small act of kindness.

Have the Elf write a letter to the kid(s) asking for help because it keeps getting in trouble by running out of time before morning comes and freezes it in place again. The Elf doesn’t want to make Santa mad and asks the children to help it finish its daily task.


Puzzles are a great way to engage with your Elf. Since you can get any style from four or five large pieces to thousands, it is simple to pick a puzzle that suits your kids’ skill level. Have the kid(s) work on the puzzle for a little while, placing a few pieces or sorting them into piles on the first day. Have the Elf do just enough to finish before the holiday is done. Set limits so that between the children and the Elf, the puzzle only gets enough new pieces placed each day to finish by Christmas Eve Day.

Elf on The Shelf Kit - Word SearchPin

Consider getting a new puzzle each year and use mod podge to glue it together when it’s finished. Your child or children will have a beautiful poster-like wall hanging to put up on Christmas Eve, and looking at it throughout the year will remind all of you of the fun you had.

Elf Kit - Connect the DotsPin

Hide and Seek

The Elf on The Shelf is a natural for hiding games, and hide and seek is easy to adjust for all skill levels. Have your children do more than find the Elf doing a new activity every day. Instead, hide it somewhere easy for your kids to find. Challenge them to find the Elf each morning and then return it to ‘base’ on the Shelf, where it can watch the day’s activities.

Since the Elf can’t run, consider offering a small prize like a candy cane to the first person who finds it for the day, and if it’s not found before bedtime, then all that happens is the elf moves, and no one gets a candy. Encourage the winner to share as an act of kindness.

Final Thoughts

The Elf on the Shelf has become a wonderful, magical tradition for many families. Although it can be challenging for the youngest children to understand that this is not the same as their other dolls, action figures, and stuffed toys, that doesn’t mean you can’t play with your Elf. Even without touching it, there are plenty of ways a kid can gain hours of fun and enrichment from playing Elf on the Shelf games. Try all these games, and then make up some of your own.

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Photo of NicoleMy name is Nicole and I created this website to share the tools that keep me organized and productive and help me reach my goals. I hope that you will find them helpful too.

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