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Which Elf on the Shelf accessory is best?

Pulled from Carol Aebersold’s 2005 children’s picture book “Elf on the Shelf,” the little cloth and felt elf that was once relinquished to sitting solemnly on a shelf can now be seen on ski slopes, ice fishing and drinking a hot chocolate with his little-girl counterpart. 

There are a number of accessories available for the little elf today. Accessory kits typically come with an illustrated children’s book and the clothing and tools the elf will need for the book adventure or any other a child’s mind can imagine. If you’re in the market for an Elf on the Shelf kit that includes multiple accessories along with an illustrated adventure story, Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Kit is a top choice.  

What to know before you buy an Elf on the Shelf accessory


Elf on the Shelf is suitable for young children because its body is soft and made of cloth and felt, making it light, pliable, machine washable and easily sanitized when it gets dirty and sticky from play.


The doll’s size is perfect for children of all ages, but the size of the accessories in some play kits may be unsuitable for younger children, who tend to put things in their mouths. Moreover, Elf on the Shelf accessories poses a swallowing or choking hazard, making them unsuitable for younger children.

Gender and color

While the traditional Elf on the Shelf is male with a lighter complexion, there is a female version and versions with darker skin tones to represent children of all genders and ethnicities. 

What to look for in a quality Elf on the Shelf accessory

Original set

You can purchase the original “Elf on the Shelf” book and figure in a starter gift set for families just getting introduced to the Elf on the Shelf Christmas holiday tradition. The set comes with the doll, an illustrated storybook and an adoption certificate.  

Collectible box

Official Elf on the Shelf accessory kits come in collectible boxes, keeping them in good shape for safe storage and maintaining the collection’s value.


There are soft plushie versions of the Elf on the Shelf for the littlest children who are too small to appreciate the accessory kits for the original, traditional elf.

How much you can expect to spend on an Elf on the Shelf accessory

Depending on the size of the accessory kit, prices can range from around $20-$50. The plushie boy and girl versions can be purchased separately or in a bundle for approximately $15-$40.

Elf on the Shelf accessory FAQ

How did Elf on the Shelf begin?

A. Carol Aebersold was a stay-at-home mom when she created the Elf on the Shelf for her family.

How did the “Elf on the Shelf” book become a part of the tradition?

A. Carol’s daughter Chandra Bell approached her mother after growing up with the Elf’s annual Christmas appearance and suggested doing more with the doll. They wrote the book, and the accessory kits followed. 

How many “Elf on the Shelf” original books and dolls have been sold?

A. Aebersold went to market with 5,000 books and turned that number into more than 10 million adopted worldwide.

What’s the best Elf on the Shelf accessory to buy?

Top Elf on the Shelf accessory

Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Kit

Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Kit

What you need to know: This kit comes with 15 tools, including a candy cane cable, two glacier clips, Christmas climbing boots, peppermint grappling hook, holiday harness, cheery chair, snowflake swing, holiday hook, merry message cube and five scout elf message cards with dry-erase markers. The toy is recommended for older children. 

What you’ll love: The kit includes a 100-page picture book. The pictures show the scout elf playing with the items in the kit to give children 100 ideas for playing with the elf scout and the tools inside the box.

What you should consider: The kit does not come with the Elf on the Shelf doll. The doll must be separately purchased for children to have fun with the items included in this kit. Additionally, small accessories can be a choking hazard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Top Elf on the Shelf for the money

Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Snow Set

Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves at Play Snow Set

What you need to know: This is a 12-piece set that includes a set of snow skis and poles, snow shovel, plaid scarf, snowflake patterned scarf, goggles, ear muffs, snowman cutout and snow.

What you’ll love: The Elf on the Shelf pack comes with fake snow, so to help parents control the mess, a double-sided mat is included to keep the snow from getting on furniture or floor surfaces and for easy clean-up.

What you should consider: The kit is not for younger children because of the small size of the accessories. In addition, the doll is not included in this kit and must be purchased separately.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Elf Doctor Elf Flex Elf Upgrade Kit

Elf Doctor Elf Flex Elf Upgrade Kit

What you need to know: This do-it-yourself kit is an upgrade for your Elf on the Shelf doll, making it flexible and bendable so children can pose it and have hours of fun playing with accessories in other kits.

What you’ll love: This upgrade kit will let your Elf on the Shelf hang, grip, stick and bend, giving kids more play options and parents more ways to hide the elf for the Christmas holiday hide-and-seek, which has become a tradition for many families.

What you should consider: The kit comes with 12-gauge wire, six hook-and-loop tabs, needles pre-threaded with red and white thread, a seam ripper and four magnets. Adult assembly is required, and magnets and other items in the kit are unsafe for small children.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Etsy


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Jodi Shafto writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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