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Children’s Advent calendars have come a long way since the days of humble picturesque versions with simple scenes behind each door, with everything from Play-Doh to Playmobil and popcorn to pop-its now hiding inside.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the vast array of options, however, because we’ve collated the 25 best kids’ Advent calendars so that you can concentrate instead on Santa, sprouts and stockings.
All the picks in our seasonal selection were chosen with the help of numerous consumer reviews and countless recommendations from unbiased Mumsnetters, who revealed their festive favourites to give your child a welcome daily surprise in the run-up to the big day.
From playable to personalised and reusable to chocolate-filled, our roundup is sure to feature an Advent calendar to satisfy your child, whether they’re a tot or teen and whatever your budget. Now comes the hard part: preventing your little angel from opening more doors than they’re meant to.
Here are the best kids’ Advent calendars to buy this Christmas.
1. Best overall Advent calendar for kids: Divine Seriously Smooth Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
Price: £4.99 | Buy now from Traidcraft
“Divine chocolate Advent calendars are just what you need. A bit of chocolate every day and a Christmas Advent scene. You don’t need the toys ones.” SinoohXaenaHide
“Another vote for the Divine ones. They’re great.” Sarcobaleno
Certain to spread festive cheer within your household at Advent is this calendar from Divine that’s filled with ethically-traded milk chocolate and relates the true meaning of Christmas.
Far from ostentatious, it’s beautifully designed with a nativity scene and gigantic Christmas tree, plus it features activities for kids to complete.
Though it can be a little difficult to see the numbers on the windows, behind each one is a chocolate heart and info about one of the countries where Divine operates – such as the nation’s flag and a Christmas greeting in the native language – making it educational to boot.
Ideal for children of all ages, it can also be enjoyed by any pocket-size vegetarians.
Age: Not specified
2. Best budget Advent calendar for kids: Cadbury Dairy Milk Advent Calendar
Price: £2 | Buy now from Wilko
“My kids have a £2 chocolate Advent calendar.” SoupDragon
“For DS (six) I just let him choose a character one from the pound shop or Tesco. He's only really interested in the chocolate – and he doesn’t much care if it’s good chocolate either.” TheYearOfSmallThings
“£2 chocolate Advent calendars are enough for my kids.” LivingTheVieDaLoca
At the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the annual chocfest – and if you’re counting the pennies, a low-cost Advent calendar is a must. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be filled with cheap chocolate, though, as this Cadbury Dairy Milk calendar shows.
At just £2, it’s jolly enough to please ankle biters of all ages.
Age: Not specified
3. Best Advent calendar for preschoolers: Play-Doh Advent Calendar Playset
Price: £16.68 | Buy now from Amazon
“The Play-Doh one was very popular in our house.” Seafoodeatit
Play-Doh’s Advent Calendar Playset combines the fun (and mess) of arts and crafts with lots of Christmas-themed treats. The set includes a whopping 24 Play-Doh pots – albeit of mini size, bar one – as well as dozens of festive accessories like snowflake cutters and candy cane moulds. The tub of sparkle glitter Play-Doh is a particular hit.
4. Best Advent calendar for toddlers: Happyland Advent Calendar
Price: £29.99 | Buy now from Early Learning Centre
“We bought the Happyland one three years ago. I put the characters in a reusable Advent calendar. After Christmas, I round them all up and put them away for the next year.” Startaler
Happyland is a favourite with toddlers for good reason and this Advent calendar will help little ones begin to understand the magic of Christmas.
Perfect for children aged 18 months to five years, it features 24 easy-to-hold figures that are ideal for small hands. There’s a snowman, a gingerbread man and, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa.
Age: 18 months to 5 years
5. Best reusable Advent calendar for kids: Artcuts Create Your Own Advent Calendar Kit
Price: £25 | Buy now from National Trust
“Get a refillable Advent calendar and fill it with small stuff they’ll actually want. It reduces landfill and you can tailor it, including snacks or notes.” 8by8
“We have a hanging bag for each day of December on a rope that goes over the fireplace. Sometimes I put sweets in, little mini-figures, stickers, stationery bits etc, but I also put our Christmas activities in.” Jelly0naplate
Simple yet effective, this DIY Advent calendar kit can be brought out every December as the big day approaches, as part of your family’s Christmas tradition. We love the idea of putting notes inside each drawstring bag to tell the kids what the day’s festive activity will be: buying the tree, watching a Christmas movie or seeing Santa, for example.
You’ll need to attach the wooden tags, which can either be left natural or decorated with paints or stamps to make this an undeniable festive keepsake.
6. Best conventional Advent calendar for kids: Traditional Advent Calendar Christmas Snow Scene
Price: £3.95 | Buy now from Amazon
“I got a traditional paper one last year from Amazon. It was lovely and I’ve got two on my wish list for this year.” Shodan
“I still enjoy the old-fashioned picture ones with the drawings behind the windows.” KittenKong
“I’m not religious but I used to boycott the chocolate ones in favour of the picture kind for my children. They love the picture ones and still insist on them in adulthood.” ItsReallyOnlyMe
While this conventional Advent calendar lacks the bells and whistles of its innumerable counterparts, it’s quite literally pretty as a picture and is a fine example of what would have been the norm for our ancestors.
Subtly finished with glitter, this antiquated version is a no-frills alternative to the more extravagant ones that are prevalent in the shops today.
Age: Not specified
7. Best Nativity-themed Advent calendar for kids: JoJo Maman Bébé Nativity Advent Calendar
Price: £35 | Buy now from JoJo Maman Bébé
“We’re not particularly churchy, but I think it's important that the kids learn that Christmas wasn't invented by or for Father Christmas.” EekThreek
“I’d like to get one with a traditional nativity scene ideally, or at least with nativity characters behind the doors.” MaggieFS
This beautifully festive Advent calendar is quite pricey, but it’ll last for years. There’s a different wooden figure in each little box so that the whole nativity scene is complete by Christmas Day.
The sides open out as a play scene and, while the calendar itself is made from card, it’s nevertheless a lovely way to count down to Christmas for Christian families or those who want to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Just be careful when filling it with the toys, otherwise you could end up with the same animal several days running.
Age: From three years
8. Best Advent calendar to pass down the generations: Boden Heirloom Advent Calendar
Price: £75 | Buy now from Boden
“I want a lovely one that I can fill myself, which could possibly become an heirloom.” EBDTeacher
Yes, this cotton-canvas Advent calendar has a hefty price tag that equates to almost £1 per centimetre (it’s a whopping 84cm long). That said, this is a long-term purchase that will adorn your home for many years to come and which can one day be treasured by future generations, ultimately making it good value – especially as it won’t end up in landfill.
With bold colours and embroidered, appliquéd pockets, it comes with a storage bag to keep it safe for the other 11 months of the year. And when it needs a wash, you can just pop it in the washing machine.
Age: Not specified
9. Best chocolate Advent calendar for kids: Hotel Chocolat Up to Snow Good Advent Calendar
Price: £8 | Buy now from Hotel Chocolat
“I always buy Hotel Chocolat ones for DD and DH because for us it kicks off the Christmas season.” hungryhippo90
“We only get the chocolate ones.” TheLovelinessOfDemons
“I have a trip planned to Hotel Chocolat on Monday and have devious spending plans!” Blabla81
Hotel Chocolat isn’t just for grown-ups – the Up to Snow Good AdventCalendar clearly has kids in mind with the 24 milk chocolate penguins, Santas and snowmen that are hidden within.
Including an extra-special oversized slab to be revealed on Christmas Eve, your child will enjoy a daily delight, even if they’re on the Naughty List.
Age: Not specified
10. Best personalised Advent calendar for kids: Thorntons Premium Elf Advent Calendar
Price: £8.50 | Buy now from Thorntons
“Mine had expensive Advent calendars in the past, but this year we’ve gone for a personalised Thorntons one.” northerngirl2012
Make the Advent calendar ritual even more special this December with a personalised version like this one from Thorntons. Iced by hand, it adds a personal touch, with your child’s name featuring on a milk chocolate plaque that can be eaten once the festivities are in full swing.
As well as the treats concealed behind the numbered doors is a trio of cheeky chocolate elves – treat-sized bars with a toffee-flavour chocolate filling. Naughty but nice.
Age: Not specified
11. Best vegan Advent calendar for kids: Joe & Seph’s Vegan Popcorn Advent Calendar
Price: £20 | Buy now from Boots
“I bought my DD a popcorn Advent calendar.” Leeds2
“Wondering about Joe & Seph’s – we had two big jars of their popcorn last Christmas and they were fab.” MrsLCSofLichfield
“Joe and Seph’s is expensive, but I can vouch for its deliciousness!” AndiMac
There’s no need for vegans to miss out on tasty treats in their Advent calendars thanks to this gourmet popcorn version from Joe & Seph’s, which is a quirky choice for older children and teens. It opens up like a giant storybook and the front depicts a snowy scene of the popcorn kitchen at Christmas.
Over 24 days, there are eight unusual flavours of popcorn to taste, including Toffee Apple and Cinnamon. Yum!
Age: Not specified
12. Best Advent calendar for Harry Potter enthusiasts: LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar
Price: £20.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I got the Harry Potter LEGO one a few weeks ago.” Onetraumaatatimeplease
“I’ve gone for the LEGO Harry Potter one for DS1.” EvilHerbivore
“DD is 11 and has previously loved the Harry Potter LEGO one.” IsolaPribby
Transport mini Muggles to the wizarding world on a daily basis with this Harry Potter Advent calendar from LEGO.
Featuring six mini-figures including Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy and, of course, Harry himself, children can recreate the Hogwarts letters arriving through the fireplace, collecting gold from Gringotts Bank and more. And once all doors are opened, they can enjoy the fun board game that’s printed on the calendar.
13. Best free-from Advent calendar for kids: Moo Free Alternative to Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
Price: £5.03 | Buy now from Amazon
“I’d recommend Moo Free – they do Advent calendars.” mintyneb
“As a replacement for sugary milk chocolate, Moo Free is great.” Olivecake
“Moo Free is the favourite in this house!” StepMug
It’s not only dairy dodgers who’ll appreciate this Moo Free Advent calendar – those avoiding gluten or soya can enjoy it too. Even vegans can tuck in to the deliciousness inside. Mumsnet parents love that children with allergies don’t have to miss out on a chocolate Advent calendar and they report that Moo Free’s treats are super-tasty as well.
Age: Not specified
14. Best hands-on Advent calendar for kids: Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar
Price: £16.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“We’ve got this one. The kids love the tradition of seeing it come out every year.” Haudyourwheesht
“I have the Melissa & Doug one. DS loves it.” Luciferbox
This is a great option if you want a reusable Advent calendar that’s not full of chocolate, sweets or multiple mini gifts.
Made of sturdy wood, it has 24 magnetic ornaments – one for your child to place on the tree each day. There’s even a shining star for the top of the tree and a handy compartment to help keep all the pieces together.
Age: 3 to 7 years
15. Best wooden Advent calendar for kids: Homebase Wooden Light-Up Christmas Advent Calendar House
Price: £25 | Buy now from Homebase
“For DS’ second Christmas, I bought a wooden Advent calendar house with 24 little drawers. It’s so lovely. It makes me happy every time I get it out.” AlohaMolly
“I’d be inclined to buy a nice wooden, reusable one that you can fill yourself.” MrsR87
This light-up Advent calendar has 25 drawers waiting to be filled with surprises that you know your family will love. From chocolates and tiny toys to notes promising a festive treat, the compartments can be replenished every Christmas.
The illuminated woodland scene is the finishing touch to what we consider to be a fairly-priced and stylish Advent calendar.
Age: Not specified
16. Best interactive Advent calendar for kids: Playmobil Santa’s Workshop Advent Calendar
Price: £26.97 | Buy now from Amazon
“Playmobil does some great ones – we have years of toys from them from Christmas Advent calendars.” SonjaHeniesTutu
“My DD loves them (she's almost eight). She plays with quite a lot of Playmobil and still uses the Advent calendar pieces on a regular basis so, for me, it’s worth the money.” macnab
Thousands of parents sing the praises of this uber-cute calendar from Playmobil that includes Father Christmas and three of his elves working hard in preparation for the long-awaited festivities.
While some doors reveal better prizes than others, a reindeer and sleigh are among the highlights. It also comes with a cardboard Christmas scene in which to place all the colourful pieces.
Age: Four to 10 years
17. Best Advent calendar for stationery addicts: Smiggle Advent Calendar
Price: £30 | Buy now from Selfridges
“DD had one last year and I thought it was really good. Well worth the money.” Hunlife
“It was excellent. Lots of items are still in use now, so I will be buying again.” Sloegin2
If your children can’t see the bright Smiggle colours without buying some stationery, then this advent calendar is a must-have.
It has 25 days’ worth of limited-edition Smiggle surprises, including a spy pen, glitter glue and scented stickers. Plus, if you find one of 30 lucky tickets inside, you’ll win a huge Smiggle shopping spree, with the first 10 claimants having their prize matched and donated to a school of their choice.
18. Best Advent calendar for sweet-toothed kids: Haribo Advent Calendar
Price: £5 | Buy now from Ocado
“Both my girls really loved DH’s Haribo calendar, so I’ve got them one each this year.” Parttimeworker42
This Advent calendar from kids’ favourite Haribo is a great alternative to more widespread chocolate versions.
Containing a selection of mini bags and wrapped sweets, it’s reasonably priced and has the added bonus of being glow-in-the-dark. This will, of course, mean that your child is likely to want it stationed by their bedside. Whether or not they’ll be able to resist its temptation remains to be seen.
Age: Not specified
19. Best Advent calendar for young bookworms: Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar
Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I’ve done a book Advent calendar every year since my two were tiny.” PinotAndPlaydough
“I love, love, love Christmas books – I am a little bit obsessed!” Myfanwyprice
Unwrap a new mini book every day with this Disney Advent calendar, which includes 24 magical tales featuring characters such as Cinderella, Donald Duck and Aladdin.
It is huge at 54cm tall, but it also means that each book is generously sized, offering value for money and longevity that chocolate simply doesn’t afford. Plus, there are no plastic figurines in sight and it encourages your child to read. Win-win!
Age: 4 to 6 years
20. Best Advent calendar for Frozen fans: Disney Frozen II Advent Calendar
Price: £18.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“Frozen is still very much a thing. Frozen stuff is everywhere.” ShesMadeATwatOfMePam
“Frozen isn't going anywhere.” EdgeOfACoin
If your children still can’t ‘Let it Go’, then this Advent calendar will bring even more magic to their Christmas. The doors reveal 22 Frozen II-themed charms, plus a bracelet and necklace to which they can be attached.
Featuring everything from film characters to pretty snowflakes and fluffy pom poms, each jewellery piece is as enchanting as the forest they’re inspired by.
While there’s no age specification, this calendar would be best suited to primary-aged kids or older.
Age: Not specified
21. Best 3D Advent calendar for kids: Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Crystal Christmas Advent Calendar
Price: £24 | Buy now from Amazon
“The kids have Hatchimals Advent calendars.” Curious2468
“The kids love the tiny Hatchimals.” Wilhelminawonka
There are more than 50 surprises hidden behind 24 tiny doors in this Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Advent calendar. With each new accessory or character, your child can build a 3D holiday scene and on the last day will hatch their own exclusive character from a special snowflake-adorned egg.
There are stickers too and these festive Hatchimals come with attachable accessories like toboggans for lots of winter fun. Just be careful when opening the windows as the box is on the flimsy side.
22. Best Advent calendar for Pokémon devotees: Pokémon Advent Calendar 2021
Price: £34.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“DD2 has a fancy Pokémon calendar with little figures. She was super-pleased to get Eevee.” Hemskis
“DS has the Pokémon one. Just need to make some room to display it.” UndertheCedartree
“Both kids are really into Pokémon this year – I might buy the advent calendar for them to share.” Figgygal
There’s no sign of Pokémon’s popularity waning and this Advent calendar will certainly win parents brownie points from their Pikachu-loving kids.
Behind each numbered door is a holiday-themed accessory or one of 16 Pokémon battle figures with a special pearly finish, including Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Vulpix and Eevee. Get it quick, though, as it’s likely to sell out fast.
23. Best Advent calendar for creative kids: Hama Beads Advent Calendar
Price: £17.61 | Buy now from Amazon
“My daughter loves Hama Beads. We got her the Advent calendar last year, which gave us enough beads that we’re only halfway through them 10 months later, even with regular use throughout the year.” Mothersruin123
Artistic children – and possibly parents – will get right into the festive spirit with this Advent calendar from Hama. Behind every door is a wintry design to follow, such as a reindeer, penguin or candle.
As well as more than 5,000 beads in a rainbow of colours, it also contains five different-shaped pegboards so that all the family can get stuck in. The only downside is that you’ll probably be finding pesky beads around the house until next Christmas.
Age: 5 to 12 years
24. Best Advent calendar for fidget toy fanatics: Fidget Advent Calendar
Price: £15 | Buy now from The Works
“Fidget toys. Like everlasting bubble wrap.” dollophead
“I have a fidget Advent calendar.” RevolvingPivot
“I find it fascinating that we have a generation obsessed with tactile fidget toys.” GingerAndTheBiscuits
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for several months, you’ll be all too aware of the fidget craze of 2021. Including all types of toys – from a pea popper to a simple dimple and everything in between – this Advent calendar provides 24 days of fidget fun and is sure to keep little hands busy. Temporarily at least. Autistic kids in particular may appreciate this one.
25. Best Advent calendar for puzzle lovers: Gibsons Merry Mischief Jigsaw Puzzle Advent Calendar
Price: £28 | Buy now from Selfridges
“We had the Gibsons jigsaw one last year and it was excellent. Will definitely have this year’s.” Floralnomad
“I like the idea of the Gibsons jigsaw Advent calendar.” thosetalesofunexpected
“Jigsaw Advent calendars look good.” wildone81
Parents puzzled about which Advent calendar to buy their jigsaw-loving offspring need wonder no longer. Gibsons is repeatedly lauded by Mumsnetters for producing Advent calendars that offer a triple whammy of being unusual, innovative and educational.
Ideal for older children, this calendar includes 22 festive jigsaw puzzles in the shape of a stocking, snowman, Christmas tree and bauble, as well as glue and ribbon that will turn them into delightful decorations.
Age: Not specified
What’s the best Advent calendar for kids?
The best Advent calendar for kids is Divine’s Seriously Smooth Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar. Barring any dietary restrictions, it’s perfect for children of any age and it’ll also please parents who want no more plastic tat around the house.
Beautiful yet unpretentious, it’s joy-inducing nevertheless, teaching children the real message of Christmas and giving them a sweet treat to enjoy each day and festive activities to do. They’ll also learn about other countries and the importance of Fairtrade for cocoa farmers.
At under a fiver, it’s within reach of most parents and is a delicious take on the traditional Advent calendar.
How we chose our recommendations
We believe that, when it comes to products for children, the real experts are parents who’ve already been there and tried them out. As a result, most of our recommendations for Advent calendars in 2021 have come from Mumsnet users themselves.
We made sure that we covered a range of price points and age brackets, as well as ensuring that there was something for everyone – calendars that included food (taking into account dietary requirements) or toys, plus reusable options for eco-conscious families.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.
Main image credit: LEGO