Why buy an advent calendar?
Advent calendars are a small but fun way to track how many days are left until Christmas. They’re three-dimensional rather than the usual paper calendars. Though their appearance can vary considerably, every advent calendar features a set of numbered flaps or drawers. Inside each slot is some sort of food, toy, or other treat, generally accompanied by a festive picture, quote, or both. The idea is to open one a day every day starting on December 1st up until December 24th. Most are Christmas or winter holiday-themed, but in recent years, less seasonal-specific advent calendars have become more common. If you prefer, you can buy these any time of year and use them as a 24-day countdown to any event you want, be it a graduation, birthday, wedding, or anything else.
In addition to the fun little surprise that advent calendars provide each day, they can add a small decorative element to your home in the way that traditional calendars do. They’re rarely just a plain paper or cardboard box with the requisite flaps. Pretty much any advent calendar you buy will have a print, image, or other decoration to match the winter holiday season or the theme of the items inside the calendar.
What should you look for in an advent calendar?
- Contents: Traditionally, advent calendars open to reveal a small piece of chocolate inside each flap. These days, however, modern advent calendars have expanded possibilities quite considerably. That’s not to say that chocolate advent calendars aren’t still widely available, since they certainly are, but they are far from the only option. Advent calendars with cheese, jerky, wine, Funko Pops, assorted toys, tea, coffee, socks, beauty products, and even plants can be purchased.
- Target Audience: Consider who you’re buying the advent calendar for and which items inside will be appropriate and pleasing for them. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid buying a wine advent calendar for children. Teenagers probably won’t be thrilled with an advent calendar of socks. A dog advent calendar doesn’t make a good gift for someone who doesn’t own or like dogs, and so forth. With the wide variety of options available, there’s the perfect advent calendar for everyone, regardless of their age, dietary restrictions, and special interests.
- Price: Depending on the contents, the price of advent calendars can vary quite considerably, so it may help to have a budget or price range in mind ahead of time. Simpler models, like traditional ones filled with small pieces of chocolate, shouldn’t be too expensive. These tend to fall in the $10 to 15 range. More specific or specialty advent calendars, like those that contain Legos or beauty products, will be pricier, probably costing between $25 and $60. Whereas luxury advent calendars or those that feature full-sized bottles of wine or whisky will cost upwards of $100 or more.
Do advent calendars come in different sizes, shapes, and styles?
Very much so. Classic chocolate-filled advent calendars are usually tall, narrow, and rectangular or square in shape, but nowadays, this varies considerably depending on what’s inside and the calendar’s theme. Bite-sized pieces of chocolate or palm-sized figurines don’t need as large of compartments as, say, 24 days’ worth of 25-ounce wine bottles.
Beyond the size factor, many advent calendars have also branched out to feature a wider range of different designs, shapes, and styles. Countertop models can be shaped like nutcrackers, evergreen trees, angels, snowmen, sleds, stacks of presents, and a multitude of other winter holiday-themed shapes. Some hang from the mantle or Christmas tree like an ornament rather than being displayed on a countertop or tabletop. Some are made up of burlap sacks, miniature stockings, or other cloth or paper containers strung on a line together or are a bunch of pockets sewn onto a tapestry-like piece of cloth. The possibilities are nearly endless these days.
Funko Pop! Advent Calendar
If you enjoy Funko Pops or pop culture memorabilia, this unique advent calendar will be right up your alley.
Pros: If you’re after an advent calendar with contents that will last you a lot longer than a single bite of chocolate, consider this model that’s full of Funko Pop figurines. You get a new Funko Pop each day of the advent season, giving you a set of figurines that you can display and/or play with throughout the year. A staple of modern pop culture, these Funko Pops come in an aesthetically pleasing calendar box, and there are three different possible themes available. You buy this calendar with Funko Pops that feature characters from The Office, your favorite Marvel heroes, or Christmas-themed versions of Five Nights at Freddy’s creatures. Adults, teens, and kids alike will love these cute, colorful Funko Pop Figurines.
Cons: This calendar is much more expensive than the average advent calendar because you receive longer-lasting toys/figurines instead of single bites of chocolate. There’s also a chance that you might receive a repeat of certain Funko Pops, no matter which of the three themes you pick. For example, in the Marvel heroes calendar, you might get two Spiderman figures but no Captain Marvel.
Bottom Line: Classic chocolate advent calendars are great, but they’re not a viable option for anyone who doesn’t like or can’t eat chocolate. They’re also a one-and-done deal. This Funko Pop advent calendar, on the other hand, gives you 25 collectible figurines you can enjoy for years, whether or not it’s Christmastime.
Madelaine Chocolate Company Advent Calendar
You can't go wrong with a classic chocolate advent calendar, and this particular product is as classic and festive as it gets.
Pros: The classics are often considered classics for a reason, and this advent calendar certainly fits the bill. It’s a traditional, 24-day advent calendar with an individually wrapped piece of milk chocolate in each window, providing you and your family with a sweet treat every day leading up to Christmas. The physical calendar itself is a tall display box with a very festive Christmas/winter holiday toy shop picture, so it’ll add some extra holiday cheer and decor to your countertop, shelf, or wherever else you plan to stash the calendar. The individual wrappings for chocolates are designed to look like little Christmas presents, adding a further festive touch. There’s a little holiday-themed message in each window after the corresponding day has been opened, which young kids will love to read and discover each day. And the calendar as a whole is overall quite affordable.
Cons: Some chocolate advent calendars offer some variety within the chocolates inside. A mix of dark and milk chocolates, perhaps, or different fillings on the inside. This isn’t the case with this advent calendar; each individual chocolate is identical. And even though they’re plain milk chocolate, there is a cross-contamination risk, so you’ll want to avoid this calendar if anyone in your family has a nut allergy. The plastic casing underneath will show through once a window has been opened and the chocolate removed, as there aren’t any pictures inside (another common feature of some advent calendars).
Bottom Line: Who among us doesn’t want an excuse to eat a piece of chocolate every day? This classic advent calendar will give you and your family just that. As long as no one in your household has any sort of nut allergy– be it hazelnut, peanut, or otherwise– this affordable, traditional advent calendar will be enjoyed by the whole family.
ORIENTAL CHERRY Fluffy Slime Advent Calendar
If you want something a little less traditional from your advent calendar, this uniquely-themed model may be more your style.
Pros: There is a wider variety of advent calendars than ever, especially among those that contain figurines or other toys instead of edible offerings. This particular model comes with an even more unusual and unique toy theme—slime. Inside this calendar is 12 pieces of scented slime to play with, while the other 12 days contain add-ins and accessories to add to the slime to make it even more fun to play with. These add-ins include foam beads, glitter, and even little charms to encourage more creative and imaginative play. Kids of all ages—and some adults—will love squeezing, shaping, and swirling the slime into all kinds of shapes. As long as you store it properly when it’s not being played with, the slime is reusable and will provide long-lasting fun for days and weeks to come. And despite the unique theme of this advent calendar, it’s quite affordable.
Cons: Some of the slime or add-ins may shift around inside the box, resulting in some pieces appearing in a slot they’re not supposed to or even some empty compartments (which may upset younger kids when they open it up). There’s also a chance that some of the slime inside may dry out and harden before it’s opened or that you’ll receive the same color more than once instead of getting a uniquely colored slime every day.
Bottom Line: If you’ve got kids, preteens, or even teenagers at home, this unique advent calendar is sure to be a big hit. Like a toy-filled advent calendar, it offers longer-lasting returns than standard chocolate ones. As long as you don’t mind giving your children access to slime and running the risk of the slime inside appearing missing or imperfect at times, this calendar is a great option for households with kids of any ages—or even adults who just love slime.
Pukka Tea Advent Calendar
Tea drinkers will love this tea-themed advent calendar, which also makes an excellent present for the tea lover in your life.
Pros: A perfect choice for tea lovers, this is another unique advent calendar that’s perfect for those who don’t like chocolate or want something a little more unusual. There’s a tea bag for each day, offering an excellent variety; unlike some advent calendars, you don’t have to worry about flavors repeating themselves. There’s a different flavor of tea for every day of the advent season, so you’ll get to sample 24 different types of tea in all. Regardless of flavor, every tea in the calendar is herbal-based and organic. And the whole container, from the box they come in to the bags that hold the tea, is made from recyclable, eco-friendly material.
Cons: Another way this advent calendar is different from classic models is that there’s no surprise reveal when you open each day’s treat; all the flavors are listed on the tea bags, which are visible when the box is unfurled. This probably won’t be an issue for adults but kids may be disappointed by the lack of a small daily surprise. This calendar also isn’t the best choice for anyone who is sensitive to strong smells as some of the teas’ scents are quite powerful.
Bottom Line: Not everyone has a sweet tooth or can eat chocolate. If you’re looking for an alternative to classic chocolate advent calendars but still want something consumable rather than toys or figurines, this advent calendar of tea bags should fit your needs nicely, especially if you or someone is your family aren’t alcohol drinkers.
LEGO City Advent Calendar
It's Christmastime in the city with these cute LEGO toys that the whole family will love, regardless of age.
Pros: Toy-filled advent calendars have become more popular in recent years, and it’s no wonder why. They have all the fun of counting down to Christmas while also gifting the owner with figurines or toys that will last and can be played with for weeks and months afterwards. If you want a toy-based advent calendar, you can’t go wrong with this LEGO model. After all, who doesn’t love LEGOs? This advent calendar not only features Christmas/winter holiday themed pieces and figurines but it comes with a matching playmat where you and/or your family can arrange and display your new LEGOs. You can move them around and change the scene as often as you want, and play with them as desired; this is a much more interactive advent calendar than most, one that will inspire imaginative, creative play in kids. And since it’s made by the LEGO company, this set will be compatible with most other other LEGO sets. Once the holidays are over (or even as they’re ongoing), you should be able to mix and match it with any other LEGO toys you own.
Cons: As is common with LEGO sets, this calendar is on the pricey side for an advent calendar. Some of the larger pieces may be tricky to assemble, even with the included instructions in each compartment, especially for young kids. And this calendar does have very small pieces, which are a potential choking hazard, so you’re better off springing for a different calendar if you have children under the age of 5 or so.
Bottom Line: People of all ages love LEGOs, so this one is sure to be a hit with the whole family. As long as you don’t have any toddlers or really young children, everyone will enjoy putting together the LEGO vehicles, playing with the set, and positioning the figurines into festive scenes—and you’ll have a brand new LEGO set to add to your collection even after the Christmas season is over.
Advent calendars are a fun, modern holiday tradition that the whole family can enjoy together. After all, who doesn’t like extra chocolate, toys, or other treats? And the surprise, not knowing what you’re getting each day, only adds to the enjoyment.