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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

19 Creative Elf On The Shelf Departure Ideas

Does your elf leave on December 23rd so it's gone on Christmas Eve, or December 24th with Santa? Over the years we've done a mix of both, but now the kids are getting a little older {aka not toddlers} we're sticking with Santa takes the elf back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve after he drops off the presents. No matter what happens in your house, here's 19 different creative ways for the elf to say goodbye.

Just like the elf arrives in style, the elf can leave in epic, subtle, funny or heart warming ways too. Even if the elf is hitching a ride with Santa, they can still leave their mark behind for the kids. Have a look through our huge list of elf departure ideas below and let us know which one you'll be doing this year.

elf in front of christmas tree


1. Cuddle Goodbye 

elf cuddles
Image | Simplify Create Inspire

Many families who have an elf visit have the rule that the elf can't be touched or it can loose it's magic. However, because they'll be hitching a ride back to the North Pole with Santa, the elf can be touched on Christmas Eve. Have the kids give the elf a big goodbye cuddle and take a photo so they can keep it during the year when the elf isn't here.

2. Goodbye Letter

personalised elf goodbye letter
Image | Juniper Plum Paperie

Whether your elf leaves on Christmas Eve or stays for the day, they can leave a goodbye letter for the kids to let them know either they've already left to go to the North Pole, or they will be leaving. You can get personalised elf goodbye letters online to print at home, or hand write out a letter from the elf.

3. Elf brings Christmas Eve box

elf bringing Christmas eve box
Image | Advent Elf

If your family does a Christmas Eve box, the elf can either bring it on December 24th and stay for the day, or leave the box behind for the kids to find after they've left. Christmas Eve boxes generally contain items such as Christmas pjs, Christmas movies, popcorn and crafts to do as a family on Christmas Eve.

4. Write a goodbye message in flour

Similar to the popular elf snow angel in flour idea, you can write a goodbye message from the elf in flour on the kitchen bench {or if you're game, on the carpet}. If you don't want to use flour, you can substitute with bicarb soda, desiccated coconut or fake snow.

5. Elf sleigh

elves riding in a sleigh
Image | elf.on.the.shelfx3

Have the elf {or elves} in their own sleigh ready to leave on Christmas Eve with Santa. You could also add an elf pet reindeer or other reindeer figurines if you have them {we love the collecta reindeers}.

6. Snow window

elf snow message on window

Use some snow spray on a window and leave an outline of the elf and a message {e.g. see you next year} to make it look like the elf magically transported through the window. This can also be done on a glass sliding door or mirror. The Nerds Wife have a free elf outline you can download to make it easier to set up.

7. Sneaky Selfie

Have the elf leave behind a sneaky selfie of them with the kids while they were sleeping. You can print out the photo and leave it for them to find or take the photo on their devices then set it as the screensaver image.

8. That's a wrap

door wrapped up for christmas
Image | Social Nesting

Wrap the inside of the front door with Christmas wrapping paper and leave a note saying "that's a wrap". Alternatively you can wrap the kitchen cupboards, Christmas tree, toilet or, if you're super dedicated.... the car!

9. Remove elf door

If your elf has a special door or elf house, once they've left for the last time remove the door or house as if it vanished by magic.

10. Bags packed

elf leaving with suitcases
Image | Elf on the shelf

On the last day have the elf set up with their own suitcase packed and ready to head to the North Pole. You can get an official elf suitcase, use a Barbie suitcase or make your own using a small box and these free travel stickers and instructions at DIY Inspired or the free printable suitcase from Elf on the shelf.

11. Return elf envelope

return to santa envelope for elf
Image | Roxys Personal Makes

If your elf arrived in a special envelope they can be posted back to the North Pole in a return envelope to Santa. You can buy various premade felt envelopes or if you have an embroidery machine you can buy the files here to make your own at home. Alternatively you can make your own using an oversized envelope and cutting a hole for their head.

12. Elf road trip

Set the elf up in a Barbie car, or any other toy car that's big enough, as if they're ready to leave on a road trip.

13. Elf memories

elves leave polaroids of all their antics as a goodbye gift.
Image | @elfontheshelf_sahmstyle

Print off photos of all the antics the elf has done throughout December and stick them on the wall to create a memory wall. If you're really organised you can print off a photobook so the kids can keep it all year round.

14. Elf leaves magic key

santas magic key free printable
Image | Hey Let's Make Stuff

If you live in the southern hemisphere where it's hot at Christmas, or you just don't have a fireplace and chimney, then the elf can leave behind a magic key so Santa can get in on Christmas Eve. You can get special magic keys from dollar stores or online, or use any key and download the free magic key printable from Hey Let's Make Stuff.

15. Elf going away party

elf and barbie party with photo props

Before the elf leaves they can throw a going away party with other toys. Use these free elf photo booth props from Living Locurto to set up some fun selfies for the toys. You can set it up with your phone or a camera so the elf can capture a heap of photos before the kids wake up.

16. Elf leaves a copy of Night Before Christmas 

elf on the shelf night before Christmas book.

If your elf leaves on the night of December 23rd they can leave behind a copy of The Elf on the Shelf Night Before Christmas so the kids can read the book on Christmas Eve. You can get a copy of the book online from Amazon or Amazon AU.

17. Elf brings Santa plate

personalised Santa wooden plate.
Image | BibbidiBub

The elf can leave behind a special Santa plate or tray to leave out with cookies, milk and carrots on Christmas Eve. If you don't have a Santa plate the elf can leave out an empty plate with a note reminding the kids to leave out milk and cookies before bed.

18. Message on the fridge

elf message on the fridge

If you have alphabet magnets, the elf can leave behind a message for the kids on the fridge. If you don't have enough of the right letters, mix up uppercase and lowercase ones to spell out the words you want.

19. Elf leaves a postcard from the North Pole

elf postcard from the north pole
Image | Advent Elf

When the elf has gone they can leave behind a special postcard from the North Pole to let the kids know they arrived back home safely. You can get a personalised printable postcard here.

elf on the shelf goodbye ideas.

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