Elf on the Shelf: Molly's Tips & Tricks

*WARNING: This post is not for little eyes. In order to maintain the magic of the elf, adult eyes ONLY past this point!

It's the most wonderful time of year...if you're a kid! For adults, the holidays are actually THE most stressful time of year. Our "to do" list is a mile long: decorating, shopping, baking...and don't get me started with that damn elf! Well - that's why I'm here. To ease a bit of your holiday stress when it comes to that "damn elf"!

If you don't have an elf, you might think it's obnoxious, annoying, a waste of time, etc.

If you DO have an elf, you might wish you never started because it's such a nuisance to move it every night.

Trust me - I get it. I've felt ALL of these things at one point in my life. But, one day, I bit the bullet, brought an elf into our house...and everything changed for me the minute I saw Riley lay eyes on Zippy for the first time.

Zippy is our Elf on the Shelf, named by Riley, and this will be our 4th holiday season with her. Words cannot even begin to describe the love and adoration Riley feels for that elf. She talks about Zippy LITERALLY all year long!

"Oh Zippy would LOVE that!"

"I wonder what Zippy is doing right now!?"

"You think Zippy would like this movie!?"

Zippy has become a staple in our house and has brought so much magic and joy into that little girl's life! So, from my perspective, Zippy can stay as long as she'd like...and I'm actually dreading the day she flies off for good!

Along with the magic Zippy has brought to Riley, it has been such fun for me to share Zippy's adventures with you! I can't tell you how many messages I get about Zippy! People giving me ideas throughout the year. Others simply telling me they can't wait to see what she'll be up to this holiday season. And my favorite - people telling me they can't wait to have kids some day so they too can have a Zippy in their household!

If by me sharing Zippy's adventures brings joy into someone else's life...then I've done by job!

That being said, the whole purpose of this blog is to share some of Zippy's greatest ideas! Some are SUPER easy. Others take a bit more time, but nothing a sidekick glass of wine can't assist with ;) I've linked every product and detailed every scene...so HOPEFULLY...this post will make your holiday season a little less stressful!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How do you get Zippy to bend?
  • WHY these elves don't come bendable is beyond me - it's nearly impossible to position them! I found this amazing kit that helps you add wire to your elf and it's SUPER easy to do (no, you do not need sewing experiece!
  • Flex Elf Kit: $14.99 on amazon
  1. How do you get Zippy to hold things?
  • GLUE DOTS! These things are the #1 tool you need for a fun elf season! It's gives your elf the capability to hold on to things without ruining the actual elf!
  • Glue Dots on Amazon
  • These can be found at any craft store as well!
  1. Where do you buy all of Zippy's accessories?
  • I try to use as many props as I can from our house: Barbie toys, American Girl accessories, etc.
  • Etsy has been a great place to find custom accessories & outfits
  • Amazon has all of the "Elf on the Shelf" branded gear, but you can also find "miniature" everything here!
  1. Do you plan Zippy's adventures in advance?
  • Yes - I have a general outline of what Zippy will do each day. For example, knowing Riley has gymnastics on Mondays, I'm going to plan for Zippy to wear her gymnastics leotard on a Monday! Of course, this plan is fluid because life happens! For example, if Riley falls and breaks her arm (heaven forbid)....you better believe Zippy is going to show up the next morning with a broken arm too!
  • I have Zippy in the back of my mind all year long, so if I ever come across something miniature, I grab it, knowing it could make a perfect item for Zippy. For example, I came across a mini recycle bin at the dollar store in February! I saw it and immediately knew how I could use it...so I pack it away in a plastic tub in my garage until it's time to plan!
  • I typically take one day in November to go through everything I have and lay out the "game plan" (but note, it's November 18th, and I have yet to do that for this year, so I don't work too far in advance)!

Zippy's Letters:

Zippy can't talk to Riley, so she started leaving a note for Riley every day. I do type up a new letter every night, and I know that seems like a big task, but it honestly takes less than 5 minutes to do!

The letter serves 3 purposes:

  1. It describes the scene to Riley, in case Riley doesn't understand what Zippy is doing and why?
  2. It leaves words of encouragement for something Riley did the day before or will be doing that day.
  3. It teaches a lesson - some elves are mischevieous...our elf is silly, but kind-hearted. Like I said, Riley is obsessed with Zippy and if she tells her to pick up her toys...Riley is going to do it!

If your elf would like to start leaving a notes, here is some holiday paper you can use.

I've also linked a clipboard stand for you to display your letter next to you elf!

Zippy's best adventures:

I pulled together a few of our favorite moments with Zippy. Note, some of these are very simple and can be done using items you already have at home. Others take a bit more time to pull together and require some items to be purchased - which I've linked below!

I hope this gives your elf some great ideas for the holiday season & please share your pics with me! I LOVE seeing what your elves come up with! You can DM me on Instagram: @MollyMesnick

HUGE Bubblegum Bubble

Supplies Needed:


  1. Blow up the balloon
  2. Stick it onto your elf's mouth with a glue dot!

Spa Day

Supplies Needed:


  1. I used green play doh to make the cucumber rounds
  2. Print out the Elf Magazine, assemble, and prop in elf hands with glue dots
  3. Apply shaving cream to elf's face - it did start to fade away by morning, so you might try using something a bit thicker than shaving cream?

Piñata Elf

Supplies Needed:

  • Mini Piñata
  • Stick - you can use a pen/pencil, kabob stick, or anything else you find around the house!
  • Tissue paper
  • String
  • Candy


  1. Wrap up a stick, pen, whatever you're using with tissue paper
  2. Attached to elf's hand with glue dot
  3. Hang the piñata using string
  4. Place an assortment of candy under the piñata

Garbage Day

*This is a great scene to teach kiddos about recycling and/or cleaning up their messes!

Supplies Needed:


  1. Cut garbage bag into smaller pieces
  2. Gather "stuffing" onto garbage bag and tie in a knot or wrap with string to close & seal
  3. Attached elf's hand to garbage bin with glue dot

Painting Elf

Supplies Needed:

*I purchased ours as a whole set from Etsy (similar one here), but you can also have it be more DIY with the supplies listed below!


  1. Cut cardboard into the shape of a paint board
  2. Add dots of color using markers
  3. Draw design on canvas to look like the elf painted it
  4. Prop paintbrush in elf's hand using glue dot

Tailgating Elf

Supplies Needed:

  • Team Sweater
  • Cornhole set
  • Poster board (or paper) for team signs
  • Additional figurines to be playing cornhole (I just picked some Riley already had)


  1. Using poster board, create "team" signs & attach to the wall
  2. Set up cornhole w/ additional figurines & attached "bean bags" using glue dots

Fuse Bead Creation

*Of all the scene's Zippy has created, this one, BY FAR, took the longest! Making that little ole elf with fuse beads was quite a project, but I just poured myself a glass of wine, threw on some trash TV show and got to work!

Supplies Needed:


  1. Pour self glass of wine & get cozy - haha
  2. Follow the color pattern in my photo below!

Elfbucks Coffee

Supplies Needed:

  • Elfbucks Kit
  • Small Box (For counter - I think mine is a box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese from our pantry! haha)
  • Plain wrapping paper - I just used craft paper we already had


  1. To create coffee stand, wrap small box in plain paper & attached Elfbucks signage
  2. Use a sewing pin to attach the mini latte to your elf's hand (the Elfbucks kit includes one)

Video Game Elf

Supplies Needed:


  1. To make mini tortilla chips, cut a tortilla into small triangle pieces
  2. Toss the tortilla triangles in a pan of hot vegetable oil for 30 seconds (or until brown)
  3. Prop elf with controller, bowl of chips & salsa

Photo Booth

Supplies Needed:


  1. Stick towel rack to surface (I placed it on my stone mantel so it didn't ruin anything when removing)
  2. Cut fringe curtain to size and tape to towel rack
  3. Print photo props, cut and tape to toothpicks
  4. Stage scene with mini trees, counter w/ props etc

Beach Day

*Believe it or not, I did this entire scene with items found around our house! But...I did link everything for you as well!

Supplies Needed:

  • Hammock
  • Mini sand toys
  • Additional figurines - Riley's LOL dolls were perfect for this, and they come with the sunglasses & beachbags!
  • Mini umbrella
  • Sand = BROWN SUGAR (how easy is that!)


  1. Set the scene as you wish: make a few sandcastles, position the elf, etc.
  2. Fun Idea: if you have one of those inflatable drink floaties, blow that up, put it in the sink/tub filled with water, and add a character to it! It becomes a pool!

Movie Night

*Zippy has done movie night with Riley every single year! Riley LOVES it because it becomes a fun activity that she gets to do WITH Zippy!

Supplies Needed:

  • Mini Sleeping bag
  • Big bowl & little bowl
  • Popcorn
  • Optional: a fun new Christmas movie for them to watch!


  1. Set the scene as you wish
  2. I break apart the popcorn into pieces to make Zippy's portion
  • Note: Pop the popcorn during the day or when the kids are gone. It will smell up your house, as you know, and that could be a dead giveaway to your kiddo!

Baking Elf

*This scene is much easier than it looks. When I'm baking my own Christmas cookies, I always cut a few miniature ones (when Riley isn't looking) and I tuck them away until needed - along with some extra dough that I'll keep in the fridge!

Supplies Needed:

  • Elf baking outfit
  • Mini cookie cutters
  • Cookie dough (I'll keep a small ball of this hidden in the fridge until needed)
  • Prepared mini cookies
  • Rectangular piece of cardboard, covered in foil, to act as the baking pan
  • Frosting bag
  • Prepared frosting


  1. As mentioned, bake a few mini cookies as you make your own batch of holiday cookies!
  2. Cover rectangle cardboard with foil to create the baking sheet
  3. Cut top 2 inches off of a frosting bag, fill with frosting, and secure with a rubber band to create the "frosting bag"
  4. Decorate a few cookies
  5. Set the scene w/ props, flour, sprinkles, etc


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