From eating elf-themed pancakes to seeing Scout centerstage in his new holiday musical, here's your complete guide to reveling in all things Elf on the Shelf during the 2019 holiday season.


When Carol Aebersold and her daughter's children's book The Elf on the Shelf was released in 2005, it quickly became a beloved holiday sensation. The book tells the story of Santa's day-to-day reporters, scout elves, who fly back to the North Pole every night and return to a family's home before kids wake up. The elf then plays an ongoing game of hide and seek by hiding in a new spot every morning. Parents have made it their mission to stay true to the book's premise and stage cute, funny, memorable set-ups for their family's scout elves.

Elf on a Shelf Around Christmas Decorations
Credit: Ursula Page/Shutterstock

It's no wonder the popular franchise has also expanded to include reindeer and a Saint Bernard, multiple books, a letters to Santa set, a clothing collection for the dolls, multiple animated Christmas specials, and even a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Of course, the 2019 holiday season presents new twists and turns and fun for scout elves and their families. Here's what you need to know about all things Elf on the Shelf this year.

When Elf on the Shelf Starts

According to, Scout Elf Return Week will take place November 24 to December 1 this year. That means this week-long window has been deemed the official time for elves to make their first seasonal appearance.

That said, the site points out to parents that "a number of things can affect a Scout Elf’s holiday homecoming," and they offer various reasons that elves might come back later than expected, such as their training was extended, a snowstorm held them up, or they made some fun, sightseeing pitstops along the way.

New Scout Options for 2019

If you want to add some snazzy new swag to your family's scout elf tradition, the American Girl brand has your back. They've released a new Scout Elf Set created just for dolls. So, your L.O.'s Julie or Addy doll can have her own scout elf experience. The $20 kit comes with:

  • A doll-sized Scout Elf
  • a doll-sized The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition Box Set
  • A fleece stocking with merry snowflake graphics
  • A pretend lollipop with a bow and a handle that dolls can hold
  • A letter to Santa and an envelope

The Elf Pets brand has a new adorable Arctic Fox set ($24.95) featuring an illustrated storybook, stuffed arctic fox cub, glow-in-the-dark snow globe, and official adoption certificate, as well as two new DVDs: Elf Pets: A Fox Cub's Christmas Tale ($9.95) and Elf Pets: Fox Cub and St. Bernard Animated Specials ($12.95).

And if you want to step up your scout elf's wardrobe, check out an array of new "Claus Couture" options, including Pastel Polar Princess and Merry Merry Mermaid ($9.95 each).

More Elf-Themed Family Fun

See the Elf on the Shelf musical

Watching the scout elf tradition come to life in an even bigger way is possible this year, too, thanks to the new Elf on the Shelf musical production, which features an original story and score, sets and costumes, and "wondrous moments that make even the most cynical believe."

The original stage production was developed by Sara Wordsworth (Broadway's In Transit, Disney's Frozen JR., Disney Cruise Line's Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) as writer and lyricist, Russ Kaplan (Broadway's In Transit, Dear Albert Einstein) as composer, and Sam Scalamoni (Elf the Musical, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Nickelodeon's StoryTime Live) as director.

The production will be on tour across the country starting on November 14. Head over to the musical's official website for a complete list of tour dates.

Eat from IHOP's Elf on the Shelf Menu

You can bring your kids to IHOP for a special Elf on the Shelf menu, available now until January 1. It features green pancakes called Jolly Cakes, Oh What Funnel Cakes, and more as part of a new limited-time Elf on the Shelf menu. The chain also announced a kids eat free promotion, which is valid every day from 4 to 10 p.m.

The national chain will also be holding breakfast events November 29 through December 1 for Scout Elf Return Week.