Knowing the Elf on the Shelf rules is important in keeping any Scout Elf safe.  Learn the official rules and download the free printable to hang in your home this holiday season. 

An elf on the shelf hangs from a candy cane on a chandelier. Text overlay reads "ELF ON THE SHELF OFFICIAL RULES"

Elf on the Shelf has been visiting our family for many years now. It’s a fun holiday tradition that brings extra magic into the home. 

While this is not a complicated tradition, there are a few official Elf on the Shelf rules. These rules are created by Santa and mentioned in the book that accompanies each Elf upon adoption. They are easy to follow and helpful for parents and kids. 

Elf on the Shelf is a great way to get children excited about the magical holiday season. With these Elf on the Shelf rules, you can have a fun, safe holiday season with Elf on the Shelf. Enjoy!

Getting Started with Elf on the Shelf Two Elf on the Shelf dolls are tied up in a microwave while a third pretends to turn it on. A silly elf on the shelf idea.

Once you’ve adopted a Scout Elf, or one has adopted you, it’s time to get familiar with them. Many families like to start with an Elf on the Shelf Welcome Letter. 

First, read the book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. This will explain everything you need to know about this Christmas tradition, including the Elf on the Shelf rules. 

Each night, your Elf will report back to Santa at the North Pole. They will inform Santa of what’s been happening at home. However, sometimes our elf skips nights or returns to the same spot in the house. 

Scout Elves have been known to get into some mischief. Here are some silly ideas for Elf on the Shelf

Official Elf on the Shelf Rules 

An Elf on the Shelf sits next two two small Christmas trees and a printable that says "Elf Rules" with a list of the Elf on the Shelf Rules.

There are only a few Elf on the Shelf rules. These rules were created by Santa to keep Scout Elves safe while visiting families. It’s important we protect our Elves’ magic. 

1. Never touch Elf on the Shelf.

Elves lose their magic when touched by humans. Santa advises that no family member should ever touch an Elf on the Shelf. 

However, Elf accidents happen, and it’s important to remain calm. If you accidentally touch your Elf on the Shelf, they must return to the North Pole immediately. However, we have found that sprinkling a little cinnamon on the Elf can revive them at home after a minor incident. 

Sometimes elves can fall from places like Christmas trees. We have found that parents can safely pick elves up by their hats using kitchen tongs.

2. Talk to your Elf. 

Your Scout Elf can’t talk, but they are always listening! They love to hear from you and are always listening. Feel free to share your Christmas list, hopes, and dreams! 

3. Elf on the Shelf must return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Families often wonder when Elf on the Shelf comes and goes every year. While the arrival date can vary slightly, your Scout Elf must go back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. 

Santa requires the help of all Scout Elves on this important date and in preparation for the following Christmas. 

Elf on the Shelf Rules Printable 

A list of Elf on the Shelf rules written in black with a "free printable" banner over the center.

While the official Elf on the Shelf rules is listed and explained above, it’s nice to have a list of kid-friendly printed rules as well. We’ve found these to be the most helpful rules. DOWNLOAD THE ELF ON THE SHELF RULES PRINTABLE HERE

More Holiday Ideas

Three snowflake salt dough ornaments with twine hangers on a marble countertop.

Wrapping Up

Elf on the Shelf is a fun and magical holiday tradition. Once you’ve adopted a Scout Elf it’s important to keep them safe by following the official Elf on the Shelf rules. Kids enjoy having a printed list of rules, which you can find here. Happiest holidays to you and your family.