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18 Military-Themed Elf on the Shelf Ideas

There's countless holiday traditions that families enjoy together, but perhaps none as creative (or adorable) as Elf on a Shelf. Recently, Elf on the Shelf has been gaining popularity as a new tradition in many more homes.

According to tradition, this mischievous elf comes out every year before Christmas and checks in on little children on behalf of Santa Claus. While this elf visits your home, he comes alive at night and tends to get into a little bit of trouble.

If you're ready to give your Elf on a Shelf a new home, now's the time to get the ball rolling on your VA home loan.

Rumor has it that military elves visit military families, too, and like doing some of the same things that our deployed service members do. And with a bit of camouflage and a dog tag, Sgt. Peppermint was born.

These ideas for Elf on a Shelf can also double as some great activities to keep Mom or Dad involved if your family is going through a deployment over the holidays.

1. Elf on the Shelf Joins the Army

It wasn't hard to make Sgt. Peppermint's elf-sized ACUs from some camouflage duct tape and his dog tags from a bit of aluminum foil.

Elf on the Shelf with Camouflage
You can customize your elf outfit for your branch of service.

2. Elf Goes to "Basic Elf Training"

Create mini obstacles that your elf can do: hurdling ornaments, climbing the tree, chin-ups, and more.

3. Give "Elf Mail" to Your Kids from Mom or Dad

This is a great idea for during deployment. Have Mom or Dad who is deployed send a special letter to your child, then have your elf "deliver" it.

Deployment Letter from Elf on the Shelf
Getting mail is a delight in itself but getting it via "elf mail" somehow makes it seem more like magic.

4. Elf on the Shelf Visits the Troops

Elf on a Shelf will ship orders to APO addresses so you can order an elf (an elf double), ship it to a loved one overseas and have them take pictures or Skype with the kids to show that the elf visited them one day.

5. Studying Up on Geography

Kids awake to find that the elf is studying up on the country where their parent is deployed/stationed.

Elf on the Shelf looking at a map
You can make all sorts of fact sheets, maps or even a sheet showing the time differences that elf could be studying.

6. Elf Learns to Salute the American Flag

Pose elf saluting while facing an American flag.

7. Elf on the Shelf Does PT

Physical training is important for elves too. Elves need to be physically ready for the big day, so this elf is doing push ups.

Elf doing pushups with camoflage background
An added bonus would be a drill sergeant action figure to stand over the elf.

8. Elf Makes New Friends

Elf on the Shelf is always on the move. He knows how hard it is to make new friends at every new home. Have your elf hold a sign that says "Make New Friends but Keep The Old, One is Silver and the Other's Gold."

9. Operation Elf on the Shelf

Have the elf take part in a military operation with whatever toys you have. We just used walkie-talkies and a few action figures.

Elf on a Shelf talks to another soldier on walkie talkies
Time to break out the remote controlled Humvee, plastic tanks and GI Joe.

10. Zip lining with Soldiers

Sgt. Peppermint choose to zip line from our tree, but your elf could set up a zip line anywhere in the house.

Elf on a Shelf on a Zipline with Toy Soldiers
Be sure to tell your kids, this is one of those "do not try this at home" stunts.

11. Elf on the Shelf Cozies Up to the Marine Corps

You should make this your own, pose your elf with your troop's patches or your military branch's gear. We thought Sgt. Peppermint looked pretty cute in this Marine Corps cover.

Elf on the Shelf in a Marine Corps Cover
Elf loves to get into other people's things and even try them on for size.

12. Elf and Combat Boots

Your elf can take a ride in combat boots, or have him try to lace them up and tie them.

Elf learns to tie up combat boots
This is especially fun if your kids are learning to tie shoes.

13. Shine Your Dress Shoes

Elf loves to be helpful. He can shine your dress shoes/boots (pretending to shine your combat boots works for a substitute).

Elf shining military boots
Sgt. Peppermint has pretty good shoe shining technique.

13. Elf Reads a Story

You often see Elf on a Shelf reading a book, but you can add a military twist by having him read a book about the military or go the extra mile and find a military-Christmas book like The Soldier's Night Before Christmas.

14. Defending the Presents from an Enemy Toy Soldier Invasion

Sgt. Peppermint can play lookout and defend the presents under the tree.

Elf on the Shelf and Enemy Toy Soldier Invasion
All it takes is some play binoculars and some toy soldiers and you'll have a delightful scene.

15. Elf Leads the March

Elf lines up all your toy friends for a march through the snow. Bonus: Make up a Christmas-themed marching cadence.

Marching Toys and an Elf
Hey, Ho, Santa Claus! (Hey, Ho, Santa Claus!)

16. Elf on the Shelf Hangs with the Nutcracker

We have some military nutcrackers at our house, so we had Sgt. Peppermint spend a night out with the guys.

Army themed Nutcrackers pose with Elf on the Shelf.
It looks like they had a good time spreading Christmas cheer.

17. Elf on the Shelf Joins the Navy and Sets Sail

We outfitted elf with a sailor cap and set sail in the kitchen sink.

Elf on a Shelf as a Navy Sailor
Elf would make a very good sailor.

18. Elf on the Shelf Builds a Plane

Our elf likes to paint, and decided to paint a model Air Force plane. It also doubles as a surprise for the kids when they find out they get to finish the project and keep the plane.

Air Force Model Plane and Toys
Elf can even fly on the plane when your kids finish the model, just string it from the ceiling and have elf take flight.

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