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50 Insanely Easy Elf on the Shelf Hiding Spots (Updated for 2021)

Take the stress out of this holiday tradition with these super easy elf on the shelf hiding spots; perfect for when you forget to move the elf…again!

Elf on the Shelf is a cute helper that can do nice activities like wrapping small gifts for your kids. | Elf on the shelf hiding spot in the presents.

Does the thought of an elf sneaking into your house every night to make a mess while you sleep kick your OCD into overdrive?

Me too, but my kids love their little elf!

So, what’s a mom to do?…..

Today I am sharing my favorite completely mess-free Elf on the Shelf hiding spots so your kids can have fun and you can have your sanity.

The Best Elf on the Shelf Hiding Spots

Elf in cooking utensil holder.

Ok, let’s get real here for a second.

I simply do not understand the messy Elf on the Shelf ideas that you see all over Pinterest.

  • First, you have to go to the store and buy all the items involved in the nightly mischief. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have extra money to spend during the holidays.
  • Second, you have to be insanely creative on the daily in order to come up with new shenanigans every night.
  • Lastly (and this is the part that blows my mind) YOU have to clean up the mess that little sneaky critter makes – every morning!

Sorry, but this busy mama ain’t got no time for that!

That being said, my kiddos absolutely love their elf (his name is Squiggles).

Without fail, they start asking about his day-after-Thanksgiving return each year as soon as Halloween hits. As soon as they ask, I brainstorm and try to come up with a creative (no-mess) elf on the shelf hiding spots.

I am sure the same thing happens in your house, and that’s why I am here to help.

Stop straining your brain to come up with Elf on the Shelf ideas (we all know he can’t just stay put on the shelf). I’ve come up with a bunch of great elf hiding spots.

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Easy Elf on the Shelf Hiding Spots

To take the stress out of the situation (because really, who needs more stress during the holidays? Not me!) I am sharing over 50 places to hide your Elf on the Shelf. These elf hiding spots are easy and don’t require a trip to Michaels or hours of preparation in the middle of your Christmas madness.

These last-minute elf on the shelf ideas are just what you need to surprise the kids while keeping your sanity. I promise your kids will smile, you will enjoy it, and everyone will stay on the nice list this year for Santa!

Elf on the shelf in silverware drawer.

Finding Perfect Elf on the Shelf Hiding Ideas

First, there are a couple of ground rules I’ve made for Squiggles. This is how the Elf on the Shelf works in our home:

  • No, silly pranks.
  • No disasters to clean up.

Each night the elf is still moved to a different location in the home. He does something that makes us all smile. This keeps all of the fun of the Elf on the Shelf Tradition without all the added stress and mess.

Simple and busy-mom approved!

In the morning the kids cannot wait to wake up and discover where Squiggles has hidden after his return from his nightly journey to the North Pole to report back to Santa.

The key is to have him hide in hysterically funny spots around the house.

The idea is to keep the Elf on the Shelf tradition creative and fun, but no clean-up required.

If you’re wondering how the whole Elf on the Shelf tradition began, there are several books (below) that can help you get the backstory of the elf.

The basic premise is that the elf is a “spy” for Santa. He sits on the shelf keeping an eye on kids as it gets close to Christmas.

Many people had these elves growing up, so they were somewhat traditional Christmas decorations. Then thanks to the book “The Elf on the Shelf,” people started to get creative with these little guys, and the elf moved from the shelf to other elf hiding spots around the house.

Now the Elf on the Shelf universe has expanded to include pets, accessories, and an array of different activities.

Some people have the elves create a ruckus around the house—pouring out flour on the floor, leaving footprints around the house, and doing quite a few things that would generally get them added to the naughty list.

If that sounds stressful, it can be.

But the Elf on the Shelf tradition doesn’t need to be that way. It can be easy and fun. Learn more by checking out the books below (and get yourself an elf), then check out the list of mess-free Elf on the Shelf hiding spots!

The Best Places to Hide your Scout Elf on the Shelf

This cute blue-eyed Elf on the Shelf sits by the window and watches kids for Santa.

No-Mess Elf on the Shelf Hiding Ideas

Here’s the deal:

  • You’re a mom
  • Your days are already packed with to-do lists, work and kids activities
  • At the end of the day you are exhausted

Do you know what you need to be doing at night in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Sleeping!

Not scurrying around your house, setting up some elaborate scheme for your Elf on the Shelf.

Trust me on this one – just move the elf to a funny spot and the kids won’t complain one bit.

(Unnless you have already set the bar high with craziness and treats – then you’re gonna have to slowly wean them from their expectations).

Your kiddos will still be amazed to find your family’s elf in one of these no-prep, last-minute hiding spots that you can shove that elf into quickly and easily. In the morning, they’ll be delighted to find all the Elf on the Shelf hiding spots you’ve come up with.

50 Elf on the Shelf Hiding Spots

Easy Elf on the Shelf Hiding Spots | Elf holding toothbrush in bathroom drawer.

1) In the butter dish

2) Under a washcloth “blanket” in the freezer

3) Tucked into the end of the toilet paper roll

4) In the utensil drawer

5) On top of the ceiling fan blades

6) Wrapped through the handle of the milk jug

7) Inside the box of cereal

8) In their underwear drawer

9) Hiding among their stuffed animals or other toys

10) Sitting inside a remote-control car

Elf toy hiding in refrigerator hanging on to the milk jug handle.

More Elf on the Shelf Ideas:

11) Hanging from the rear-view mirror of the car

12) Holding on to the Christmas tree topper

13) Hiding in the branches of the Christmas tree

14) Inside the mailbox

15) Placed in a sandwich bag with the bath toys

16) Tucked between the cushions of the couch

17) In the kitchen utensil holder

18) Inside the toothbrush drawer

19) Buckled into the car seat

20) In the opening of a tissue box

Elf on the shelf between couch cushions.

21) Peeking out between the window blinds

22) In a shoe

23) Hiding in their favorite mug or sippy cup

24) Hanging from the top of the showerhead

25) Popping out of the top of their backpack

26) Tucked inside their lunchbox

27) In their sock drawer, using a sock as a sleeping bag

28) Sitting on the bathtub faucet

29) Lounging in the holiday wreath

30) Chillin’ in a bin of Legos or blocks

Scout elf using sock as sleeping bag.

31) In the nativity scene

32) In the arts and crafts drawer

33) Hanging from the curtain rod

34) Hanging from the shower curtain

35) In the cookie jar

36) Sitting on top of a gingerbread house

37) Hanging from the outdoor Christmas lights

38) In a dollhouse

39) In a baseball glove

Elf on the shelf hidden in house plant.

40) Playing a musical instrument

41) In the dog kennel or bed

42) Exploring the jungle of houseplants 

43) Under a pillow

44) “Stuck outside” (peering in the window)

45) On top of the TV with the remote

46) Wedged between books on a shelf

47) Lined up with a Nutcracker or another Christmas friend

48) Perched under a lampshade or light fixture

49) Sitting atop the family portrait or a mirror

50) Listening to headphones on the stereo

Elf toy hanging from showerhead.

Want a printable checklist of the hiding spots? Sign up right here!

25 Days of Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

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Good luck with your Elf on the Shelf ideas! Remember that the hiding spots for Elf on the Shelf don’t need to be complicated or messy. Have fun with it and keep it silly and simple.

More Ideas For Holiday Family Fun

Easy Elf on the Shelf hiding spots.

50 Easy Places to Hide Elf on the Shelf

13 Comments

  1. These are such wonderful ideas!! Elf on the Shelf is one of our favorite Christmas traditions but it’s easy to run out of ideas!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. If your not supposed to touch the elf how do
    You do some of these? Like the backpack milk jug etc? How do you then use

      1. That’s brilliant! I had the same question about the elf on the shelf. Adding these to my repertoire. We also just do hiding – no complicated shenanigans!

  3. my babe doesn’t believe any more. so that made me a little sad. so .i’ll probably pack him/wife ..and clothes, suitcase ..and books up until we get another grandchild. unfortunately.,I enjoyed doing the mess didn’t mind cleaning up after him. I just didn’t do a big mess. lol.

  4. A Most Sincere THANK YOU!!! I did not grow up with this tradition and it has become my nemesis. Thank you for adding some sensibility to this rather insane, ridiculous concept. I wish more people saw it from such a practical standpoint.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Yay! I hope that these ideas will help you to allow your children to experience the fun of the elf without all the stress, expense and mess. I know there -are a lot of moms who skip the tradition altogether because they feel like it has to be over-the-top every night. I promise that if you keep it simple your children will still have fun finding the Elf on the Shelf every morning.

  5. This is the very idea I had when our elf arrived. I don’t like the elf getting into trouble and making messes. Fred put on her best dress and opened up the music book from the piano. I have photos to share!

  6. Nursing home activity professional here. We got our elf this year and the residents ADORE her. We even had the receptionist make her an OFFICIAL name tag with her picture. Every day the residents tried to be the first to find her hiding spot. We are already trying to think up ideas for next year and be,ie e she will appear in an Easter bonnet in a few weeks.

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