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This year we started Elf on a Shelf with our newly 4 year old daughter! Of course beforehand I ran to Pinterest looking for fun ideas. Unfortunately 75% of the ideas that I found, included some sort of reading to understand the “funny”. I decided that I would document our 1st run of Elf on the Shelf for moms that may need ideas that don’t include, writing or reading.

So we made one big mistake in the beginning. I was in Hobby Lobby with Cassidy the week before Thanksgiving and Cassidy asked me if she could have a small elf ornament. It looked very similar to Elf on the Shelf but was $4.99. I thought – who cares, I’ll save a lot of money, she picked him out, cool. No. I didn’t know the story that went along with Elf on the Shelf, so I let her play with him. She had its head hanging on by a thread before December 1st. Reluctantly, I went to purchase the real deal.

In order to introduce our new Elf to Cassidy, we presented him with the book, some Christmas pajamas and some hot cocoa packets on December 1st. We made sure to read her the book and explain she could not touch him because he would lose his magic. We wove into the story how the new elf had to come help the old one because his head was hurting. Literally hanging on by a thread.

Meet Frost. His first name isn’t Jack, that’s his dad.

The key to Elf on a Shelf for beginners who cannot read is to make it absolutely obvious what type of mischief he is making. The first night, we opened a dum dum lollipop and propped it up into his hand and dropped some candy wrappers next to him. For an older kid, you frequently see parents spelling words with candy.

Naughty Frost is eating all of Cassidys leftover Halloween candy!
Here we posed Frost on top of a mini flocked Christmas tree that is slightly shorter than Cass. She loved it because she could take photos with him. We played, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.
Let’s pretend that she isn’t touching him here. Because that would be against the rules. But she loved it.

Cassidy put an Elf on the Shelf on her Christmas list for Santa this year. We thought it was only fair that Frost put hearts around him and his friends.

Frost making hearts around his picture on Cassidys Christmas list. Cassidy thought this was so funny.

On this particular day, Cassidy kept asking what Frost does at night and where he goes to sleep. We decided we would show her what he does when she is sleeping. A hammock out of toilet paper.

Frosts accommodations. Comfy right?
Inside our cereal dispenser! Cassidy really liked this one.

Now that Cassidy was starting to realize Frost was nocturnal it was time to step our game up. We brought in reinforcements.

Army men and some painters tape! I had army men in the Christmas tree, on the ground and even in the small tree. We played “I-Spy” to locate them all the next day. Cassidy loved it.
Frost helping himself to breakfast. Throughout the day, Darrin and I emptied the cereal out to make it look like he was snacking.
Frost went fishing for ducks.

I thought Cassidy would love this but she was so angry that he stole her ducks. She collects them from a local donut shop. It was so funny to me.

Next, we decided to start using different heights to make it harder for her to find him each morning. Above shows Frost hanging from the curtain rod. She found him right away.

Frost is reading Cassidys book craft from school.

This one was cute because Frost went through Cassidys school bag to find this craft she made. She loved it.

Frost went in for more cereal! I honestly thought this would take her a little bit to find, she located him right away.

After the pantry, I decided to stack some red solo cups like a tower for Frost.

Frost is taking a rest on a bench.

Frost was really enjoying the Rae Dunn home decor.

Frost helped us make wrapping gifts tons of fun!
This reel is the absolute cutest and was so much fun to make.

We started running out of ideas and places to set him, my mom made him a swing and we hung him from the microwave. She really liked this one.

The swing was made with a piece of cardboard and some string. You can get creative with things around the house that you already have.
Mm skittles for dinner. We decided to stick to the stove theme and borrowed some Skittles.

Cassidy still had so much candy leftover from Halloween. Frost said he could take care of it. Only down side to this was that Cassidy now thought the skittles were free game and chowed down before breakfast.

Frost tried to fly back to the North Pole but realized he didn’t have the man power. He ended up with an engine failure and made an emergency landing in the tree.

Frost was really missing the cold weather and found refuge in the freezer. Surprisingly, Cassidy found him right away. She’s really good at this game.

I was hoping Frost would clean my freezer while he was in there. I think I’m going to need a more thoughtful Elf for next year.
You could say Frost is getting desperate. What a daredevil.

One of the best things about starting Elf on a Shelf at this age is that pretend play and role playing is a really big part of play time for kids Cassidys age (4-4.5). A lot of the days when Cassidy finds Frost she comes up with a whole story on what he did during the night. It’s so much fun to hear her creativity. It’s almost like situational story prompts for her to branch off of.

If you are thinking about starting and worried it’s too early, I definitely encourage you to do it. Some days it’s hard because the evenings are hectic and you just want to go to bed, but Darrin and I had so much fun with this.

Cassidy loves firefighters and fire trucks. Frost wanted to take her truck for a spin.

Each family does Elf departures differently, but Darrin and I decided he would go back to the North Pole with Santa. We wrote a note letting her know he was leaving and would be leaving a present and a selfie he took while she was sleeping.

The picture quality isn’t the best, I literally snuck into her room and did this. I couldn’t use a flash and her night light/sound machine was glowing.
We printed this photo and put it with the note. She was so surprised and had no clue he snuck in.

We took one of her gifts and said it was from Frost – you don’t have to do this but I thought it would be cute.

Look at how adorable!

We used a Santa wrapping paper on this gift only to make it seem real.

I hope everyone enjoys this! I cannot wait to use some of my friend’s guides for next year when Cassidy can read. This has been so much fun. We are going to miss Frost.

  1. We started the elf last year and stepped it up this year. My daughter will be 6 next year, so it’ll be an even bigger challenge to come up with fun ideas.

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