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10 Tips to Get Ready for the Elf on the Shelf Arrival

Are you ready for it? It’s one of the most exciting days of the year – when your Elf on the Shelf arrives! I’ve got 10 tips to get you ready for Elf season and your Elf on the Shelf Arrival to make it the best December yet!

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My girls look forward to their elf, Criddle, arriving every year. They talk about her all throughout the year, even. She has actually even shown up at my daughter’s birthday too! But her Christmas arrival is by far, their most excited day of the entire season – even more so than Christmas morning!

In this post, I’ve got everything you need to get ready for your Elf on the Shelf’s arrival! Keep scrolling or click on the tips you’re most interested in:

  1. Buy your Elf on the Shelf, if you don’t have one already.
  2. Plan your Elf on the Shelf arrival date.
  3. Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas: Note or Printable
  4. Elf on the Shelf Breakfast Plans
  5. Get ahead of the game, be ready with these cute Elf on the Shelf printables – all free!
  6. Buy or Make an Elf on the Shelf Kit
  7. Is your elf in quarantine? Cute ideas for Elf on the Shelf 2021!
  8. Plan ahead for Elf on the Shelf questions.
  9. Be ready for your elf to say goodbye.
  10. Tips for storing Elf on the Shelf until next year.

First things first – if you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf just yet, there’s still plenty of time to get one. You can find Elf on the Shelf at Target or even Amazon. [<— Amazon usually has the best deal, especially with free 2 Day Prime Shipping]

If your kiddos get curious about the Elf on the Shelf being in a box with a book like mine did when they were younger, I explain it in a way that the elf doesn’t receive it’s elf magic until you take them home and you name him or her!

Need Elf on the Shelf name ideas? This list has over 100 names to help you choose!

I have no idea what caused them to love their elf so much. I’ve never been one to plan elaborate scenes, but I’m telling you – Criddle is still their absolute favorite Christmas tradition at 9 and 11 years old.

When does Elf on the Shelf Arrive?

According to the official Elf on the Shelf book, elves are supposed to arrive the morning after Thanksgiving. Our elf has always arrived on that Friday morning. But I have heard of others starting on December 1st.

Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas

Our elf is pretty lazy, but she does usually write a letter sharing her excitement of being back with the girls. I hand write small notes, but there are tons of free Elf on the Shelf printables that you can also use. I love this adorable Elf on the Shelf arrival letter for the elf’s first day back! And here’s a few more arrival ideas too.

Hosting an Elf Breakfast is always a great arrival idea also. We actually usually do a North Pole Breakfast on a random weekend, but it would definitely be a big way to come back!

I wrote a blog post all about Elf on the Shelf Breakfast Ideas plus how to make these adorable Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls!

Plan Elf on the Shelf Ideas, Games, and FREE Printables

One of the first things you really need to plan is… how active is your elf going to be. It’s no secret that our elf Criddle is L-A-Z-Y like me! I just know that I am not up to planning elaborate scenes, so she never has.

If you are, GREAT and if you’re not, GREAT too! There’s no shame in this Elf game.

But I have found that using free printables and easy Elf on the Shelf games are a great way to make even the laziest of elves a little more fun. Most that I share are simply print and go… and they are all FREE!

One of our favorites is this Candy Cane Hunt and printing an extra Christmas BINGO card for our elf!

Buy an Elf on the Shelf Kit

If you’re looking for even more ideas or you are up for have a little more active elf, consider buying an Elf on the Shelf Kit. You’ve probably seen some of these floating around instagram and Etsy. There are a ton to choose from, but here are a few that I think are super fun:

Photo courtesy of Elfin Around Kits on Etsy

Looking to save money? I’m LOVING these ideas on how to make your own kit with Dollar Tree supplies!

Bonus Tip: Elf on the Shelf is even more fun with pets! Check out this post about having an Elf on the Shelf pet.

The official pets are sold separately, but you could always just “adopt” a special animal and give them to your elf as a pet! Then celebrate with these adorable Elf Puppy Cupcakes!

Elf on the Shelf Questions from Kids

I feel like the official book answers a lot of questions your kids might have about their elf and it’s magic. It lays out simple “rules” and how things are going to work when he/she is in town for the month of December.

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions about the elf by most kids is… “Why did our Elf on the Shelf not move last night?” OOPS!

Luckily, here’s a list of reasons why your elf might not have moved to have you prepared:

  1. You were naughty!
  2. You woke up too early.
  3. You went to bed too late.
  4. He/She is tired from all that flying!
  5. The dog was on guard last night.

Find even more ideas on why the elf didn’t move here.

But if your kids are like mine, they are bound to ask even more questions. Especially now that my kids are getting older – at 9 and 11, they both still believe in Santa Claus. I’ve been careful at how I answer questions always talking about the spirit of Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas.

I’ve been fully prepared for the point blank – “Is Elf on the Shelf real?” and “Is Santa real?” questions for a couple years now, thanks to having this book on my closet shelf. It’s written so beautifully about the Christmas spirit of giving and love that I feel adequately prepared when I have to answer the real question.

But until that question arises, be prepared for “How did she know?!” or “How does she get here every night?” This list of Elf on the Shelf rules [free printable] is a great one to use as it goes back to some things shared in the book.

Elf on the Shelf Quarantine Ideas – Perfect for 2021

Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, there have been some creative Elf on the Shelf quarantine ideas shared. Here are a few of my favorites:

Plan Your Elf’s Goodbye

When December 24th finally arrives, it’s time for your elf to say goodbye. It’s a good idea to go ahead and have a plan for your Elf on the Shelf Goodbye.

Our elf usually leaves a note saying goodbye and how much she’ll miss the girls. Here are 21 super fun goodbye ideas from the Play Party Plan blog.

Where to Store Your Elf on the Shelf Until Next Year

This is my BIGGEST tip in this post and I saved it for last – so glad you’re still reading! After all the plans for the whole month of December and even though you are tired of your elf moving every night, don’t just toss it in with your Christmas decor!

Believe me, you’ll be wondering which Christmas tote it’s in come next Thanksgiving night! Have a special spot where you store your Elf on the Shelf all year and remember it! Put it somewhere that little eyes and hands won’t find it and you’ll be so thankful you did!

That’s it – those are my Top 10 Tips on getting ready for your Elf on the Shelf arrival. If you plan and think ahead, these tradition really can be so much fun and less stressful than some people make it out to be!