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Top Elf on the Shelf Shots via Pinterest

Surprise! It's an elf on the shelf showing up in some unexpected places. Check out some of our favorite shots of this Christmas doll in some surprising spots.

Have you ever wondered how Santa knows just who belongs where on his naughty and nice list? If you're a mom or dad chances are you're familiar with the popular Elf on the Shelf tradition, but in case you're new to the job, we can fill you in.

This recent Christmas tradition began back in 2005 when a mom and daughter team published the illustrated children's book Elf on the Shelf . In addition to the book though, there is a little pixie elf just like the one in the story, who acts as Santa's scout that comes along with your purchase.

A rhyming tale, the plot of the story is simple: everyday from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, one of Santa's elves hunkers down with a family, keeping watch over the children to see if they're behaving like good boys and girls. At night, he flies off to the North Pole to report back to Santa, then returns to hide in a new spot in the house before the family awakes.

Not only does this offer an endless game of hide-and-seek for the elf and family, it's also an opportunity to get the kids in the holiday spirit teach them about Santa and his elves, and make sure they make it onto YOUR nice list!

Parents have gotten really creative with their Elf on the Shelf photos in the past few years. We've rounded up some of the favorites we've found on Pinterest to inspire your own hide-and-seek game this holiday season.

Give it a try if you haven't already - it's an all-around hit when it comes to Christmas family traditions!

  • Snow angels? Inside, this little elf on the shelf plays havoc with Christmas baking, making his own version of a flour angel.

    Image via A Small Snippet

  • Bubbles, schmubbles - we prefer to bathe in marshmallows! At least after seeing this creative elf on the shelf shot, we do!

    Image via Living Locurto

  • HAHA! Watch out for your home office - little elves have a sense of humor, too. His small tush may not waste a ton of toner, but it's sure to give the kids some ideas.

    Image via Lil Blue Boo

  • Use your little elf on a shelf as an excuse to give your kiddies some red Rudolph noses!

    Image via Rae of Light Photography

  • Wake up to a BIG Christmas greeting like this family did - can you see the little elf on the shelf in the family photo, too?

    Image via Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abounds

  • We saw a few fishing shots, but this one trumps them all. Love the extra blue toilet water and little goldfish floating inside!

    Image via A Small Snippet

  • Elves have other hobbies outside of toy building. This little one is a bit of a card shark...

    Image via Elf on the Shelf Ideas

  • Even little elves love a good s'more now and then! After all that scouting, he's bound to be hungry and s'mores do seem like the perfect treat!

    Image via That's Country Living

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