“Elf on the Shelf” Mod in 6 Easy Steps

IMG_0318I was so excited to run out and get “Elf on the Shelf” this year, I knew McKenzie would love it. At $29.99 it was a little overpriced if you ask me…but I figured we will use it for several years, so I considered it an investment. We named him Edwin “Eddie” the Elf.

Initially, I was a little surprised that he wasn’t more pose-able…he kept falling off the shelves I would put him on, so I googled a quick solution: Elf on the Shelf Hack. You simply add some wires, velcro, and magnets! I ran to Michael’s craft store and bought the supplies right away. After the modifications, he can now bend, hang, and climb to his heart’s desire! And I even gave him little feet, ’cause I though he looked a little weird with stick legs. Anyhow…

You’ll need:

  • White velcro
  • 16 gauge wire (I found it at Michael’s in the bead aisle)
  • Magnets
  • Needle & white/red thread
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Pliers/wire cutter
  • Stitch ripper (I don’t have one, so I used a pin to pull out the stitches, then a scissors to cut them free)IMG_0288IMG_0272


  1. Step 1: First, snip the thread connecting the hands. Then, gently rip 2 stitches from the end of your Elf’s hands…or enough to fit the wire. This was pretty easy and I didn’t have any issues. Start heating your glue gun for the velcro in Step 5.
  2. Step 2: Measure the wire to the size of his arm, adding about an inch so you can curl the wire ends over (you don’t want it to poke through!). Then measure another piece of equally sized wire and wind them together. This makes him/her stronger.IMG_0305IMG_0301
  3. Step 3: Fold the ends of the wire to the exact length of the arms, and insert the wire into your Elf’s arm. Be sure to get it all the way to the end. There are circular tubes in the arm…try to get the wire to go through them. It was tricky, but I managed after persistent wiggling. Then sew him up! (Be sure to use matching thread, and use whatever stitch you think looks best.)
  4. Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 with other arm & then the legs.IMG_0307IMG_0308
  5. Step 5: Next, you will add velcro to the bottom sides of your Elf’s hands. First, cut the pieces to size and use your glue gun to secure the velcro on both hands. This will make the elf easier to hang on things! (Be sure to use the different sides of velcro so they stick.) The velcro option is great…you can use it to have him display clever little notes! The possibilities are endless.IMG_0309
  6. Step 6: Get your magnets ready and cut velcro to size. Again, be sure to use opposite types of velcro. Also, ensure you are not using the sides of the magnets that stick together. I love the magnet option, because now he can “chill” on the refrigerator (get it? haha), but they’re still removable. That’s it! You’re done!IMG_0313


    Now he has feet!

This project was super-simple. I have very little sewing experience, but I pulled it off just fine! Feel free to share with me if you do the project too, I can’t wait to see how yours will turn out! What a fun little tradition “Eddie” will be. =) Pin away, y’all! And be sure to “like” Life So Lovely on Facebook to receive updates of new posts in your newsfeed. ;) Oh, and I also did a pretty rad tutorial for a DIY Christmas Tree Preservative, or if you have younger kids check out my post on 10 Awesome Holiday Gift Ideas for Preschoolers/Kindergarteners.


Jesse - December 1, 2012 - 4:15 pm

That’s such a great idea! Thank you =)

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Jocelyn - December 8, 2012 - 3:25 am

Thanks!!! I knew it was possible!

[…] super stoked that my tutorial “Elf on the Shelf” Mod in 6-easy Steps has gone viral on Pinterest. I had almost 1000 views here yesterday alone! That’s wayyy […]

erin - December 10, 2012 - 5:22 pm

i found you on pinterest. as soon as i read your tutorial i immediately called both my sisters and told them they had to check it out as we too were a little disappointed with the quality of our elves. one question about the wire… i have some but i have no idea what gauge it is. it is not that think, but seems like it should be thick enough. does the gauge really matter?

Nicole - December 10, 2012 - 5:33 pm

Hi Erin! No, I don’t think it matters exactly what gauge it is…I wound mine together because I didn’t think it would be strong enough (16 gauge was all I could find). If you want to, you could probably wind 3 pieces (instead of 2) together if you’re concerned it might be too thin! I hope it helps! Our Elf is a lot more fun nowadays. =)

Andrea - December 10, 2012 - 7:56 pm

I have been wanting to do this but wasn’t so sure how to go about it! Thanks for posting the tips!

jasmine - December 11, 2012 - 1:59 pm

I bought the wrong kind of wire last year… thanks for posting exactly what you used!

Becca - December 13, 2012 - 2:32 am

Oh my our Elf needs a surgery! He will get it tomorrow in his next trip to the North Pole! Love it!

Joanne Arvin - December 13, 2012 - 11:53 am

Do you know where I can find the heads for elf on the shelf?

Joan - December 13, 2012 - 3:00 pm

Barnes and Nobel

Nicole - December 13, 2012 - 8:21 pm

Sorry Joanne, I don’t know of anywhere with *just* the heads available. I got my Elf at Target, but I don’t think the heads are sold separately…sorry I don’t know more! Google didn’t turn up anything either. Does anyone else know?

Jane - December 14, 2012 - 7:53 pm

Maybe on the website they have replacement pieces? Thank you for the great idea!! I was so disappointed when I opened the box and he flopped out. YAY!

Jeff - December 17, 2012 - 7:15 pm

the head is a standard 2″ boy doll head. I was looking for the elf heads from the 6o’s, but they are hard to come by. I am able to find the boy heads quit easy. Most craft stores carry them. You can also use a santa head for “older elf on the shelf” Hope this helps.

Lynn - December 18, 2012 - 12:52 pm

Do you place the magnets in the elf’s body? Wasn’t clear how you use them. Or you just velcro it to his body as needed? Probably that option right?

Nicole - December 18, 2012 - 2:58 pm

No, the magnets aren’t strong enough to hold through the felt…I attached velcro to the magnets so they could stick to the velcro already placed on the Elf’s hands…that way, it’s completely optional!

Susan Faseler - December 19, 2012 - 11:17 am

Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! I am trying to make my own Elve (3) and ordered doll forms but tey are way to0 large. (14″ and fatter) I am thinking I can make my own form after looking at how they are actually constructed. You mentioned a tube inside the arm, do you think it is a doll form underneath? Can you tell me what the measurements are for the Elf, legs, arms and total length? I want to make one for all 3 of my grown children so they can start this tradition with their families someday. I think they will have a blast playing with them when they come home for the Holidays. Back to the project, I also found doll faces on e-Bay and I am waiting for them to arrive and then I will get started. I am thinking that the faces may be too big, they stated they are 2 x 3 inches, no hair, so I will have to make hair with “sculpty clay” . Thanks for any information you can give me, you did a great job on your tutorial!

Nicole - December 19, 2012 - 11:26 am

Hi Susan! Yes, I think it would be fairly easy to do oneself! His body is all felt, and I believe the tubes in the arm are a similar to a thick paper stock…they do allow some flexibility when they’re bent. His legs are approximately 5 inches, and I would say his arms are about 3-4 inches. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on your elves!

Susan Faseler - December 19, 2012 - 11:32 am

Thanks for replying! I hate to bug you but what is the total length and face size? I will let you see the finished product and let you know how it goes! I will take some pics too! Have a Merry Christmas! I thank you again for your help!!!!!

sonja king - December 26, 2012 - 8:58 am

there is now a snag-free Velcro
that would be perfect for this, both sides are the same so no worrying about getting a hook and a loop side

[…] It’s only been two days, but she really misses her daddy…in fact, I’ve brought Eddie back for a visit or two to cheer her up. And that’s the part that kills me: I am totally […]

Marianne Wrenn - April 5, 2013 - 11:47 pm

I purchased an elf after chistmas hoping the bookstore would have them on sale no such luck :( a few of my daughters class mates use the elf. And after talking-to a few parents thought it may be fun. The doll was a disapointment given the price im going to do this to our doll before the Christmas season starts. Wish there was more selection in hair coloring my daughters a redheaded all the dolls ive seen are brunettes.

Jade - October 12, 2013 - 7:44 pm

Thank you for sharing! Found via Pinterest. I wish our elves were only $29.95! In Aus they are $50! Hopefully my lack of sewing skills doesn’t get in the way of upgrading our elves.
Thanks again.

It’s That Time – Elf on the Shelf - November 7, 2013 - 7:26 pm

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Wanda Ball - November 9, 2013 - 10:35 am

Love it:)

Rebecca McClinton - November 21, 2013 - 8:25 am

Hello! Cant wait to start this tradition with my children this year! But, Im confused as to where you put the magnets! Did you put them in both his hands and his feet? and how did you get his feet to stick out like feet? Thanks for the help!!

Nicole | Life So Lovely - November 21, 2013 - 8:58 am

Hi Rebecca! I put the magnets on velcro, which can optionally be placed on the hands. For the feet, I simply bent the wire that I inserted into the legs! Hope this helps!

Jessica F - November 24, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Our elf has stitches running across the legs at his knees…suggestions for getting the wire through that?!?!

Nicole | Life So Lovely - November 25, 2013 - 9:32 am

Ours did too, I just gently ripped the stitches!

Rachel - November 26, 2013 - 4:58 am

Thank you for this … I performed “elf surgery” yesterday and can’t wait for him to arrive here next week after he has recuperated.

Nicole | Life So Lovely - November 26, 2013 - 9:42 am

I’m so glad I could help! It certainly makes things easier! It’s such a fun tradition. =)

Michele - December 2, 2013 - 6:42 pm

Help! Our elf got burned when he sat on a lamp yesterday and now has a hole at the bottom of his torso. I went to purchase another one but it looks totally different than our original elf. Any suggestions as to how to fix this? I need a miracle right now!

Nicole | Life So Lovely - December 7, 2013 - 10:44 am

Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been in the midst of a big move! Anyhow, that’s a tricky one…if it were me, I might make a cape or something? Or perhaps a patch out of green felt? Anyone else have any ideas?

Ophelia - December 9, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Michele – maybe you could purchase some red felt and sew it on to the bottom where the hole is? Or make him pants/shorts with green felt. Or tell your child that Santa had to send in his twin and make your elf a skirt so that it is a girl. Hope you find a solution :)

Juli Barton - October 26, 2014 - 12:03 pm

Thanks for these tips! My grandchildren love my elf, Reginald, and it will be even more fun now that I can bend him!!

[…] and I find it very hard to place in interesting positions. If you’re good with a glue gun, Life So Lovely has some tips for surgery where you can add fasteners, velcro, and other devices to make your Elf more […]

Nicole | Life So Lovely - November 26, 2014 - 9:44 am

So happy to help, Juli! It really makes a big difference!

[…] 15. Does your elf just flop around like mine?  Make it pose-able with velcro, wires and magnets!  Genius! […]

Phyllis - November 30, 2015 - 7:52 pm

A girl in my classroom shared a wonderful alternative to the expensive Elf. She has a Christmas Kitty that visits and replicates the same spirit as Elf. Darling!!

Amanda - December 1, 2015 - 9:21 am

Thank you SO MUCH! I pinned this quite a while back. And forgot that I wanted to buy my elf earlier to do this. Our elf is showing up today. I was able to find my pin, buy my elf, buy the few supplies I didn’t have, teach a class, come back home at midnight and get the job done. Lol it’s definitely a quick project and will be the most beneficial thing to getting all his shenanigans done. And I was working with those little cheap red tipped “scissors” that come with the little sewing starters pack. Yes, I am not an expert by any definition.

Nicole | Life So Lovely - December 1, 2015 - 12:21 pm

So happy it helped!!! Enjoy your new bendy Elf! =)

Connie G - December 6, 2015 - 7:19 pm

Making clothing for the elf and looking for his body measuements

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[…] Elf on the Shelf, but it can be a challenge for mom and dad to find new places to put him each day. Life So Lovely has a fantastic tutorial about how to make your elf posable using wire, magnets, and […]

Michele - December 17, 2016 - 1:30 am

What a great idea. I just threaded floral wire through without ripping any seams, he bends just great. I am so excited about the velcro and magnet idea!! So using them…YAY!!