Do you remember how exciting it was to count down to Christmas as a kid? Whether you had a chain made out of construction paper or an advent calendar with bite-sized pieces of chocolate, there was something incredibly special about knowing Christmas was only 24 days or less away. Now, the best advent calendars for kids get pretty intense. A quick search will find you one of every kind, from candy and toys to jewelry and crafts. But like so many other things that have saturated the market for kids, many advent calendars for kids are just… not great. Just because it says it’s a holiday countdown calendar and looks good doesn’t mean it’s actually worth it.
When it comes to the best advent calendars for kids, you need a few things. You need a surprise factor (I especially love when things aren’t numbered in succession so kids have to search for that particular day), you need some kind of fun treat (whether it’s candy or a little toy), and you need it to not be an absolute hassle for you, the parent. Look, I love the idea of some big, incredible advent calendar that has both a sweet bite, a toy, and an activity for the whole family to do that ushers in a good, festive, holiday mood.
But I also love the idea of my own sanity.
So in this list of the best advent calendars for kids, you’ll find ones that have actually been tried by parents just like you. Parents getting through December and all it brings — the holiday parties and the gifts and the events — but still want a tiny bit of magic each day as their kids count down to Christmas. There are advent calendars for toddlers, kids, and tweens. There are advent calendars featuring the best candies, and advent calendars that come with gifts they’ll actually play with when the holiday season is over.
And there are advent calendars specifically chosen to give you just a tiny break.
But no matter which one you choose, these advent calendars for kids are the best of the best.
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LEGO City Advent Calendar
For the little builder who loves a LEGO set, the
LEGO City Advent Calendar is pretty spectacular. In this 24-day countdown, kids can find a minifigure or a LEGO accessory/item to build, leading up to a fun little Christmas set when they’re all done. LEGO has tons of options (there’s even a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed LEGO advent calendar), so if you know your kid loves building LEGO sets but wants something a little less holiday-themed, shop around! But this is easily one of the best advent calendars for kids thanks to the surprise factor and the fact that LEGO is always a great brand and isn’t just a bunch of cheap toys your kids will get bored with five minutes in.
Playmobil Christmas Baking Advent Calendar
Playmobil is known for its one-of-a-kind playsets, and the
Playmobil Christmas Baking advent calendar is seriously fun and unique. Open each of the 24 days to find figurines and accessories to build out a really cute Christmas baking set to play with all December long. The pieces will work well with other Playmobil sets, so it’s not just a wasted advent calendar toy. There are also a few full-size Christmas cookie cutters hidden within the set for your own little baker.
Christmas Countdown Wall Hanging
Not every advent calendar has to have candy or toys involved. Some are just about the joy of literally counting down to Christmas, like this
Christmas Countdown Wall Hanging. We have this in our home and it has brought so much happiness to my girls. It’s pretty large — it takes up a big portion of our kitchen wall — but it’s gorgeous, and it looks like you’re peeking into the homes of those who have decorated for Christmas. Instead of opening a daily door though, you move this sweet little plush Santa (with a bell at the end of his hat) to count down the days until Christmas.
If you want to be a little extra (I’m all for it), you could slip in a little chocolate in the pockets for your kids to grab as they move the Santa, or even fold up some Christmas activities in each one. Christmas jokes and riddles would also be sweet additions.
Lindt Teddy Sleigh Advent Calendar
Lindt is known for classic, creamy, perfect chocolate, and this
Lindt Teddy Sleigh advent calendar is just the best treat. Shaped like a literal sleigh, the advent calendar is pretty big and features different Lindt confections, like mini Santas, truffles, teddy bears, and more. Every day is a sweet little surprise, and it’s just the perfect amount of holiday chocolate.
National Geographic Advent Calendar: Rock, Mineral & Fossil
My 8-year-old recently became interested in rocks and gems, and I’m just flipping out about how perfect this
National Geographic Rock Mineral, & Fossil Advent Calendar is. Each day of December, kids can find a rock, mineral, or fossil by TK (chiseling/digging) and then keep it safe in a little leather pouch, collecting their very first rock and gem collection. The National Geographic advent calendar also comes with information on the rocks, minerals, and fossils, so your child can learn a thing or two as they have fun digging and exploring. And at the end of December, they have a beautiful set of stones to hold onto. Who knows, maybe this will start a whole new hobby for them?
Meri Meri Winter Ballerina Charm Bracelet Advent Calendar
Look at how gorgeous this countdown is! The
Meri Meri Winter Ballerina Charm Bracelet advent calendar is perfect for kids who love dressing up and accessorizing (bonus points if they love ballerinas). Inside this adorable paper-cut ballerina box, there are 24 individual charms for your child to add to a gold bracelet so that by the time Christmas comes, they have a beautiful bracelet to wear. The colors are bright jewel tones, and building out the bracelet is such a fun, tangible way to count down to the big day.
Fisher-Price Little People Advent Calendar
Did you know that there’s no such thing as too many Little People? It’s true, ask my playroom. The
Fisher-Price Little People advent calendar was a huge favorite for my girls last Christmas, and we still have all of the little figurines and accessories for play this year. Little People often have Christmas and holiday-themed sets, but the advent calendar makes an adorable winter scene with a new little surprise every day. I love the diversity in the toys, along with the surprise of Santa at some point in December, and I also have to note that the actual calendar itself is pretty large — we kept ours under the Christmas tree.
If you have more than one child, maybe get them each a calendar? My girls were 7 and 3 last year and wow, there were a lot of fights over whose turn it was to open the advent calendar and also a lot of screaming over “It’s my turn!”
Barbie Dreamtopia Advent Calendar
Barbie advent calendars are so fun because hello, half the fun of Barbie is her accessories. The
Barbie Dreamtopia advent calendar might just be the best one yet. I mean, I have three daughters — I know what I’m talking about. You give them pastel colors, magical pets, and a mermaid tail? What else could they possibly need.
Both my 8-year-old and my 4-year-old absolutely love this advent calendar, which gives them plenty of little gifts to outfit Barbie with her most magical look and accessories ever. There’s even a tiny tea set, and of course plenty of little friends, so they have a new way to play with Barbie every day as they count down to Christmas. She, of course, pairs beautifully with the Barbies and DreamHouse we already own, so it’s not like you have to wait for each day’s window to open in order to fully enjoy the gifts from this advent calendar. And when Christmas is over? Wow, look at this beautiful Barbie set you have!
5 Surprise Mini Brands Disney Advent Calendar
Miniatures are the hot new thing, and chances are if you have a kid who likes to collect, they have some of these Mini Brands in their room right now. This
Mini Brands Disney Store Edition advent calendar combines Disney with Mini Brands to give your little collector 24 tiny surprises directly inspired by the Disney Store. The details in these are just so good, and they include everything from tiny packaged Minnie Mouse dolls to little Marvel figurines, just like you’d find full-size in the Disney Store. This is a super non-traditional advent calendar, but it’s a fun way to count down to Christmas Day for big kids who are beyond play sets or figurines to make a Christmas scene.
Fair warning: keep this one up and away from tiny sibling hands.
Playmobil Aqua Advent Calendar
Playmobil, as mentioned before, is a family favorite, but if you have a super little one who wants an advent calendar like their big sibling, the
Playmboil Aqua 1.2.3. Bathtime Fun advent calendar is so great. These toys in the 24 windows are specifically designed to enjoy in water, which means you can get a break every day in December by running a bath and letting your kids open their advent calendar. By the time Christmas comes, they have a full bathtime playset that has nothing to do with the holidays and they can play with it forever.
There are four figurines included, plus several animals, boats, and other fun water accessories. The pieces are also nice and big for little toddler hands, and if your kid is already a Playmobil Aqua fan, these items can pair well with their other sets.
Sesame Street: Advent Calendar Storybook Collection
Seeing Elmo in a Santa hat will always make me nostalgic for when my oldest was a
Sesame Street-loving baby during the Christmas season. She would’ve gone bananas for this Sesame Street: Advent Calendar Storybook Collection, which features 24 individual Christmas-themed books with your favorite Sesame Street characters. Each little mini-book is 16 pages long, so it’s great for little toddlers all the way up to beginning readers. When you open the calendar, there are little pockets numbered and the books slide right into them, so your child gets to use some number identification to find the date they’re looking for and then pick their book.
Some of the stories are more about the ABCs and 123s, and some are just full-on Christmas stories to enjoy. Big and little kids alike will find joy in these, and it’s such a cute way to display a whole bunch of Christmas books.
Elf on the Shelf North Pole Advent Train Calendar
If your Elf on the Shelf is a favorite with your kids, then this
Elf on the Shelf North Pole advent train calendar is so sweet. These aren’t accessories for your elves, but it is a calendar of little figurines — Santa’s pals, like reindeer, elves, and elf pets — and acessories so you can build out a whole fun North Pole scene. Your kids will need a little help constructing the cardboard train, but then they are ready for all the advent calendar fun.
Polly Pocket Winter House Advent Calendar
Do you know how much I would’ve coveted this
Polly Pocket Winter House advent calendar as a kid? Like, honestly, I still kind of want it. The outside of the house is adorable and decorated for Christmas, while the inside has little holiday and Christmas scenes set on the walls. Kids can open a surprise for 25 days, and each one will be either a little figurine, a piece of furniture, or an item to set in one of the rooms so they can play out their own holiday stories. There are also little holiday-themed pieces included as surprises, like a Christmas tree, fireplace, ski accessories, and more.
Felted Wool Christmas Countdown Wall Hanging
Give me anything felted wool for the holidays, and I’m in love. This
felted wool Christmas countdown wall hanging is so lovely. It’s cute enough to hang in your living room or kitchen, but it’s also child-like and delightful enough as a playroom or bedroom decor. Just pop in a little treat or even an advent calendar activity — like Christmas movie night, a plan to make ornaments, a simple request to read The Grinch before bed — and your kids will be in love. Seriously, for the price, this calendar can’t be beat. It’s like heirloom-quality sweet.
Minecraft Mob Head Advent Calendar
There is no age limit on advent calendars, but if your child is way more into video games and creating entire worlds with pixels, might I suggest the
Minecraft Mob Head Minis advent calendar? The extra fun is that each little character or figurine comes in three easy pieces to snap together, and the other items, like the paper blocks, require a little bit of folding to make them. There are also some Christmas themed items inside, and a QR code on the actual advent calendar plays out a story on your child’s device for them to follow along.
Jurassic World Dominion Holiday Advent Calendar
For the dinosaur-obsessed member of your family, there is this super detailed
Jurassic World Dominion advent calendar. Count down to Christmas by opening a window each day to either discover a miniature dinosaur, a mini human, or a piece of the gate and platform to Jurassic Park. At the end, they’ll have a whole scene they can build and interact with and keep long after Christmas is over.
I especially love it because the variety of dinosaurs is incredible, and they aren’t all just pastel colors or anything. The detail is really fantastic if you have a kid super into dinosaurs and/or
Thomas & Friends Minis Advent Calendar
For all of the little Thomas fans out there (and I know there are a lot of you), there is this cute
Thomas & Friends Minis advent calendar from Fisher-Price. The Minis brand is super popular anyway, and having them in advent calendar is such a fun treat. Open one window each day leading up to Christmas to find a mini engine or other railway vehicle from the Thomas the Tank Engine world, including some fun Christmas designs like lights and gingerbread on the actual trains themselves. The box also includes a train track on the inside so that by Christmas, you can have a whole Sodor Railway party.
Meri Meri Wood Marching Band Advent Calendar
This one just makes me so happy, and if you also love sweet, rustic, whimsical holiday decorations, you’ll love it, too. The
Meri Meri wood marching band advent calendar comes in this absolutely adorable suitcase, and each day of December is represented with a numbered tray where there is a an etched wooden animal to put in a stand and create a literal woodland marching band of wood animals. Each day, your child will add to the marching band, and it’s such a gorgeous way to count down the season. Use it as decor on a mantle, a centerpiece, or even on a shelf in your child’s room for a holiday touch.
Reese’s Holiday Countdown Advent Calendar
Again, sometimes an advent calendar just requires chocolate. This
Reese’s Holiday Countdown advent calendar is a great choice for your little chocolate-and-peant-butter fiends. There is a mixture of miniature Reese’s Cups and also Reese’s Pieces behind the little doors, so it’s still a bit of a surprise each day, but always delicious. And unlike so many other chocolate advent calendars, your kid knows they’ll like each treat every day and won’t get something like a dark chocolate coconut cluster. (Which sounds delicious, but you know how picky kids can be.)
Disney Princess: Storybook Collection Advent Calendar
When my oldest was about 4, someone gave her this advent calendar and it was an absolute
hit. The Disney Princess Storybook Collection advent calendar literally has 24 little books inside, featuring all of your child’s favorite princess from Snow White and Mulan to Merida and Pocahontas. The 24 books are all paperback and come in a little paper sleeve for your child to open each day. But not all of the books are holiday-themed! There are some that are just fun princess stories, which means you can keep them in a basket or something for the rest of the year. They are also just the right size for early readers, and are short enough to keep their attention span!
Also, maybe it’s silly, but I absolutely love that the 24 paper sleeves are not in numerical order. Kids have to look for each day’s sleeve because the numbers are out of order, which is way more fun in my opinion.
Play-Doh Advent Calendar
My kids can’t get enough Play-Doh, especially my 4-year-old. For her birthday, like eight different relatives bought her packs of Play-Doh and the tools and she was just absolutely thrilled. If you want to delight your own little crafter, the
Play-Doh advent calendar is so sweet. There are 24 windows to open, and each one comes with a can of Play-Doh and some little tools. The tools can be used to make whatever they want, but there are also pieces so that for the first half of the month, they can make a snowman, and for the second half of the month, they can work on a gingerbread scene. So much fun, and such a cute idea for keeping kids occupied during a month that requires you to be doing a whole lot of things.
Jelly Belly Harry Potter Jelly Beans Advent Calendar
For kids with a sweet tooth that also love a theme, there is this perfect
Jelly Belly Harry Potter jelly ben advent calendar. Unlike the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series, the jelly beans in this advent calendar are all good flavors, and there are 10 of them inside, including cherry and tutti-frutti. I’ve always loved having my kids run down stairs to open their advent calendars each morning, and if you’re the same, but don’t love the idea of wrestling a toy away from them before school or begging them to eat breakfast after a bunch of chocolate, this advent calendar might be the perfect option. Just a couple of jelly beans? It’s the right amount of sweetness. Accio advent calendar!
American Girl Pop-Up Advent Calendar
As a millennial who coveted the holiday book in the Samantha Parkington American Girl series and desperately wanted a 1904-era Christmas tree and decorations, I’m in love with this
American Girl pop-up advent calendar. When your child opens the book, inside is a sweet, but sturdy, 12” paper Christmas tree to decorate. Each day, they’ll find a paper ornament to hang on the tree featuring one of 12 classic American Girls and one of their companions so that by the time Christmas comes, they have a fully decked out American Girl tree in their room. It’s actually really beautiful, and my favorite part is the guidebook it comes with that shares holiday and winter traditions for each of the American Girls on the ornmanets.
CoComelon Advent Calendar
OK, regardless of how you really feel about the earworms that are
CoComelon songs, you have to admit that this CoComelon advent calendar is pretty cute — and you know your kid is going to love it. Featuring 24 characters, one for each day, your kids get an entire playset of CoComelon figurines and accessories so they can act out their favorite holiday moments from the hit TV show. Put on the CoComelon holiday episodes and let ‘em rip! Again, the best part of this advent calendar is that the toys are fun to play with once the holidays are over (or you can put up in the decorations box to bring out next year), and they aren’t just tiny little bits of plastic that are going to disappear as soon as they’re opened.
Counting down to Christmas is a whole
thing, and these advent calendars promise to make it as fun as possible. Go ahead and pick your favorites so you’re ready for December 1.
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