17 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas for lazy parents

This story originally appeared on Babble and is reprinted with permission.

For years I have witnessed the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon from afar. How ridiculous were all of those parents, wasting so much time, energy, and money, dressing up a little felt elf in stupid outfits and posing him around the house?

Then, my son turned 3 and started to understand the phenomenon of Santa Claus and Christmas, while simultaneously terrorizing the household with his typical toddler behavior. The whole concept of using a cute little elf to manipulate my child into good behavior finally made sense, and off to Kohl's I went to purchase our household's little guy.

My son named him Sodor (after the fictional island where Thomas the Train and all of his pals live), and he began his daily trek back and forth between our home and the North Pole, showing up every morning in random places around the house. Sure, I could have taken the boring route and stuck him on a different shelf every day, but where is the fun in that?

Here are 17 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas that don't take too much effort.

Day 1: The Elf on the Shelf

Image source: Leah Groth

It only made sense for Sodor to make his grand entrance ... on the shelf. After spending the previous evening reading my son the Elf on the Shelf book, he was pretty excited to find his very own elf perched on this shelf.

Day 2: Hanging out ... over the dining room table

Image source: Leah Groth

My son is a very picky eater, so I decided to give him a nudge to eat a little bit more by hanging his elf from the chandelier, in a perfect position to watch over him during mealtime.

Day 3: On potty training patrol

Image source: Leah Groth

As we are in the process of potty training, we reminded our son that if he pooped on the toilet, Sodor would report the great news back to Santa.

Day 4: On spin cycle

Image source: Leah Groth

Oops! Sodor attempted to help mama with the chores and got stuck inside the washer.

Day 5: Locked out

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor couldn't get in the house last night, but he's still watching from outside (praying it doesn't rain or snow!).

Day 6: Rescuing cats out of the tree

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor works with the fire department to ensure kitty cats don't get stuck in the Christmas tree.

Day 7: Digging and loading

Image source: Leah Groth

My son is a huge fan of construction vehicles, so why not let him see his elf having some fun on the site? The only problem with this configuration is that my boy wanted to play with him, and as elf moms know, there is no touching of the elf allowed!

Day 8: Emailing with Santa

Image source: Leah Groth

Like mama, Sodor can correspond with Santa via email.

Day 9: ... and working out!

Image source: Leah Groth

Like mama, Sodor is a big fan of breaking a sweat on the WaterRower.

Day 10: Indulging in wine o'clock

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor knows how to get into the holiday spirit!

Day 11: Hiding in Jackson's stocking

Image source: Leah Groth

Because, why not?

Day 12: Straight chilling in the freezer

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor missed his habitat in the North Pole, so he decided to chill out for a day in his elf snow vest.

Day 13: Hanging with Santa -- literally

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor is missing Santa, so he's hanging out next to his portrait.

Day 14: Cuddling

Image source: Leah Groth

Even Sodor likes to cuddle!

Day 15: Building stuff

Image source: Leah Groth

Sodor sometimes helps out with the other elves in Santa's workshop, so of course he would gravitate toward the tool bench.

Day 16: On the potty

Image source: Leah Groth

Because even elves have to go number two.

Day 17: Sodor gets a gift of his own ... a pet reindeer!

Image source: Leah Groth

Like any great toy franchise, the Elf on the Shelf has plenty of accessories to add onto the experience, like Elf Pets. Now Sodor has a pet reindeer to look after. Which means mom has another felt object to creatively hide every day.

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