We’ve also divided up all our favorite calendars into neat little categories so that you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Toy Advent Calendars
If you’re in the market for something that your little ones will be playing with well after Christmas, these sets are your best choice. Here are our top picks for the best toy advent calendars in 2020.
For this year’s Christmas countdown calendar, Playmobil pulled out all the stops with this show-stopping set. The first, and possibly most stunning piece in the entire calendar, is the festive and colorful backdrop. In addition to the gorgeous backdrop, your kids will also get four adorable figurines to play with.
But what kind of advent calendar would it be if there were only four little people? Well, not one that’s approved by us, we’ll tell you that much. Aside from the shiny, happy people, there are also presents, pets, a tree, and a whole load of accessories.
- Recommended Age: Ages 4 and up
- Number of Pieces: 93
- What’s Included: Set includes backdrop, four figures, decorated tree, presents, table and chairs, candelabra, cat and kitten, violin, sleigh, and tons of other accessories
There was no way that we could write the ultimate Christmas countdown calendar list, and not mention the Fisher-Price Little People one. It’s just too good! This advent calendar includes, as the name suggests, 24 little people figurines, all of which are Christmas-themed.
There’s Santa, Mrs. Claus, an elf, and a couple of fun-loving boys and girls. Also, you’ll find a ton of presents, as well as a reindeer (we think that it’s Prancer), and a mini snowman in this Fisher-Price set.
- Recommended Age: 12 months – 5 years
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: Advent Calendar includes 24 Little People friends & holiday-themed accessories
You know what they say, When it rains, it pours, and right now, it’s raining Fisher-Price calendars. This particular one is the ideal gift for all your little rascals who love Thomas and his friends. The first thing that’s cool about it (and there’s plenty more) is that the set doubles as a backdrop.
Also, unlike the majority of calendars we’ve mentioned so far, the Thomas & Friends one doesn’t have numbered windows. So your kiddos can pick out whichever one they fancy that day, and discover the surprise within.
- Recommended Age: 3 years and older
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: Comes with 24 MINIS train engines, including 6 exclusive holiday-themed toys
In addition to Fortnite, Minecraft was one of the most popular games this year, so this advent set could make the best present for the gamer in your life. We’d like to throw this out there, but this calendar doesn’t necessarily have to be for kids. We’re certain that both kids and adults who love Minecraft would get an absolute kick out of it.
But getting back to the matter at hand, the Minecraft 2020 calendar features a ton of (or 24 to be exact) figurines. There’s people, animals, and a bunch of other bits and pieces.
- Recommended Age: 6 – 10 years
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: 12 Minecraft characters figurines and 12 stickers
If you’ve ever wondered what a tiny Santa looks like riding around in a supercar, now’s your chance to find out. The ultra-cool advent calendar from Hot Wheels boasts some of the fastest, pint-sized cars in the world. But a few fancy wheels aren’t what make Christmas, right?
Well, Hot Wheels was a couple of steps ahead and included some rather festive pieces in the calendar. There’s a snowman, a tree, two reindeer, and, of course, a whole bunch of sleds.
- Recommended Age: 4 – 8 years
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: Eight decorated Hot Wheels vehicles and sixteen accessories for every day leading up to the holiday. It also includes a foldout playmat for kids to play with their new Hot Wheels vehicles and accessories.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we’ve stumbled upon the greatest Star Wars advent calendar. Honestly, if you or your kids are die-hard Star Wars fans, it doesn’t get much better than this (well, except Lego).
It is the ultimate 24-piece calendar set, which features all the greatest characters from the entire Star Wars universe. You’ll see, of course, Luke, Jabba, R2D2, Yoda, Darth; basically, the whole gang. But there are also four exclusive figurines, which you can’t find anywhere else.
- Recommended Age: Ages 4 and up
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: The Micro Force Advent Calendar includes 24 small-scale, squishable figures from the Star Wars Galaxy as well as 7 exclusive stickers for kids to collect
The Mega Bloks Minions advent calendar is probably one of the cutest ones out there. And yes, we know that we’ve already said that, but this thing is so freaking adorable, it’s crazy. In this set, you’ll see, who we’re assuming are Kevin, Bob, and Stuart, and they’re looking for a new adventure.
Alongside those three rascals, Mega Bloks also included a bunch of different holiday-themed accessories. So there’s a Christmas tree, a stocking, a sled, and a whole lot of knick-knacks.
- Recommended Age: Ages 5 and up
- Number of Pieces: 24
- What’s Included: Features all your favorite characters from the hit movie. Also, includes three never-before-seen buildable Minions in special festive outfits
Funko Advent Calendars (Various Styles)
Funko is know for making cute collectable figurines from movies and video games. They have taken those figures and hidden them in these fun Advent Calendars.
These are all recommended for ages 6 and up. They make a bunch of different styles, but I have only listed my 4 favorites below:
Fortnite is one of the biggest games right now, and kids of all ages are playing it. That’s why the Funko Fortnite calendar could be the ideal choice for the little gamer in your life. It’s chock-full of some of the coolest characters from the game, all pint-sized, and game ready.
What we like about this Christmas countdown calendar is the fact that all the toys in it are made out of vinyl. That means that they’re super durable, and kids can still play with them long after Christmas.
Are the kiddos in your life obsessed with superheroes, and maybe even dream of becoming one themselves? If that’s the case, you absolutely need this Funko Marvel Christmas calendar.
The bite-sized superheroes in the calendar are all vinyl, and given that it’s a special 80th Anniversary edition, they’re all incredible. Inside, you’ll probably find some superheroes (and villains) that even you grew up with, and loved as a child. Honestly, the 24 mini pops are bound to impress all Marvel lovers.
Watching The Nightmare Before Christmas every year is a staple in countless people’s holiday traditions. That’s why this Funko Advent calendar is an incredible gift for any fan of the charming/eerie movie.
Inside the Christmas countdown calendar, you’ll find all your favorite characters, looking delightfully spooky. Now, the sizes of these mini pops do vary depending on the actual character. However, the tallest one is about two inches, which is still pretty itty bitty.
Are your kids desperately waiting for their 11th birthday, so that they can get a letter from Hogwarts? Well, while they’re waiting, you could give them this Funko Harry Potter advent calendar to tie them over a bit.
The ador(k)able Christmas countdown calendar from Funko features all the greatest characters from the Harry Potter saga. Also, there’s the added mystery of never knowing exactly who or what will be in your calendar. Honestly, if you kids love Harry Potter, you can’t go wrong with this countdown calendar.
In case none of those strike your fancy, here are 3 more Funko Advent Calendars:
LEGO Advent Calendars
A company that needs no introduction, Lego has been dominating the Christmas present game (probably) since the dawn of time. But instead of the traditional Lego sets, we thought that we should give the calendars their moment to shine.
And just keep in mind that these sets are all compatible with other LEGO sets, so unlike some of the other Christmas countdown calendars on the list, your kids can use these forever.
Earlier in this review, we mentioned the Funko Harry Potter Christmas countdown calendar, which is undeniably awesome. But Lego sure is giving them a run for their money with this amazing set.
In it, your kiddos will find all the greatest wizards of the Potter-verse, like Harry, Hermione, Ron, Padma, and Cho. There are also some cool accessories to go along.
But what makes this calendar such a standout piece is that there’s a total of 24 presents, but 335 pieces. Everything in the box has to be assembled, and that’ll provide a lot of entertainment in the days leading up to Christmas.
- Recommended Age: 7+
- Number of Pieces: 335
- What’s Included: Includes Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil and Cho Chang minifigures, plus buildable models such as a miniature Beauxbaton’s carriage and dining table with ice-castle centerpiece
The Lego Star Wars advent calendar is a game inside a game, which is not something that you see that often. It’s a bit smaller than the Harry Potter set but still boasts an impressive 311 pieces. Again, all the biggest faces of the Star Wars universe are here, and they’re all ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
So you may be wondering what makes this a ‘Christmas Themed Set” – how about Darth Vader in a Christmas sweater or a Tauntaun with a red nose… Cute!
What we like about this Star Wars set, and the other Lego ones for that matter, is that they’re something you can do with your kids. It’s a present that can bring you closer, and you can spend a lot of quality time together, working on the set.
- Recommended Age: 7+
- Number of Pieces: 311
- What’s Included: 6 LEGO minifigures and 6 LEGO figures and 12 mini build toys including the Millennium Falcon, an A-wing, TIE Fighter, X-wing, Droid Control Ship, Anakin’s Podracer and Darth Vader’s Castle. Plus a foldout playmat with a Millennium Falcon image for role play
If your kiddos have already built some amazing Lego sets, they can make them truly come to life with this City advent calendar. It is the biggest set by far and comes with a whopping 342 pieces. Your kids can build and play along, and create their ultimate Lego world with this calendar.
There’s also a festive backdrop that comes with it, so your children can start from scratch. The only thing to keep in mind is that all the pieces are pretty small. That’s why we would recommend the City advent calendar only for kids who are five and up.
- Recommended Age: 5+
- Number of Pieces: 342
- What’s Included: Comes with 24 gifts, including Christmas tree and Santa’s sleigh miniature builds, 6 LEGO City Adventures TV series minifigures, including Chief Wheeler with Santa costume, plus a city play mat with snow-cleared roads
Another adorable Lego set that can make your kids’ fantasy world feel bigger is the Friends advent calendar. The set comes with a beautiful little Lego doll called Emma, and she’s accompanied by Mrs. Claus and two elves.
The other pieces that make up the Friends set are all part of Santa’s workshop. There are different little stations where Emma and her friends can make cookies, wrap presents, and much more. It’s also important to mention that this calendar is the smallest in the Lego series, and the recommended age is six and up.
- Recommended Age: 6+
- Number of Pieces: 236
- What’s Included: This LEGO Friends Advent Calendar comes with a LEGO Friends Emma, Mrs Claus and 2 elf mini-doll figures, as well as a buildable toy penguin and a host of other cool buildable festive treats; Some models also come with fun, dynamic features
Classic Cardboard Countdown Calendars
This next section covers the classic cardboard style advent calendars you may remember from grade school. They feature folding doors (one for each of the 24 days leading up tp Christmas) and usually have some sort of treat or prize behind every door.
A twist on an old classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas advent calendar and the pop-up book is scary good. Unlike Funko’s calendar, the presents inside this one are a bit different, and we mean that in the best way possible.
Everything inside the calendar/pop-up book doubles as a cool little tree ornament. Of course, you could put it on the tree in the book, or your actual one. The choice is totally up to you.
If you love the idea of a pop-up tree that your kiddos can decorate, but want one that’s cute and glitzy, we recommend L.O.L. Surprise! That’s because behind every little door is the cutest surprise ever. Some have fashionable dolls, blinged out to the max, while others contain a sweet message. Either way, it’s absolutely irresistible.
But what we love about the L.O.L Surprise Christmas countdown calendar is the bright, pink tree. Instead of tossing it to the side, you and your kids could save it, and decorate it year after year. It would make such a cool tradition for the whole family.
Disney Storybook Advent Calendars (Various)
Now, let’s move on to some advent calendars that tell a story. Whether it’s about a scary dragon and brave prince, a powerful princess, these cute countdown calendars by IglooBooks have you covered.
If you love reading bedtime stories to your kids every night but are running out of inspiration, you need this Disney Story Book calendar. IglooBooks made a genuinely wonderful kids advent calendar and has included the greatest stories of all time.
So instead of the traditional bits and bobs, inside the set, there are 24 popular Disney tales. They’re all tiny paperback books that you can read to your little ones in the nights leading up to Christmas.
Are your kids Frozen-crazy? Well, now’s definitely not the time to Let It Go, but embrace it with this adorable Disney Frozen Storybook calendar. If your kiddos are die-hard Frozen fans, you can give them the best surprise ever by reading them a new tale every night.
Like with the previous storybook collection calendar, the Frozen one features 24 individually wrapped paperback books. They all tell a different story, and each is more spectacular than the last.
The heroes in this Marvel Storybook Collection Advent Calendar are honestly what we all need to save 2020. In the adorable IglooBook calendar, you’ll find tales of a ton of different superheroes, all fighting for justice.
The pint-sized paperback books feature stories and heroes that both you and your kids probably grew up with. There’s Spidey, Hulk, Black Panther, and, of course, the whole Avengers gang. Also, like the previous calendars we’ve mentioned, the stories in this one are all individually wrapped in paper sleeves.
Over here at Big Happy House, we are huge Super Mario fans, which is why we had to include this awesome calendar. In addition to being able to open all the fun little doors, your kids can also play with the Mario-inspired pop-up environment.
Inside the windows, your children will find their favorite characters from Super Mario. There’s Peach, Luigi, and, of course, Mario in a few different costumes. Among the 24 pieces, 17 of them are actual figurines, while the rest are awesome accessories.
At this point, you’re probably noticing a theme, and that’s that we absolutely adore Frozen. But bear with us because we wanted to show you something really cool, and that’s the Frozen II Christmas countdown calendar.
Just like Super Mario, this calendar features a pop-environment that kids can fill out using the presents from the boxes. Not only are the things made to fit the castle, but there’s also a bunch of stuff for Elsa and Anna.
Next up is another L.O.L Surprise! Christmas countdown calendar that is full of bling and pizzaz. In it, there’s the ultra-stylish doll, Tricksta B.B., who’s dying to get into some new clothes, and hit the runway. And who better to style her than your little fashionistas?
The L.O.L. Surprise! calendar features three-tier packaging, and behind every door, there’s something incredible. There are boxes that contain clothes, accessories, and even shoes, all of which look amazing on Tricksta B.B.
The Grinch Advent calendar might be a Big Happy House favorite, simply because it’s so darn festive. You’ll find the notorious Dr. Seuss character, Grinch, all dressed up, and ready to ruin Christmas. Right alongside him, there are quite a few other figurines, as well as some tiny presents.
But the star of the calendar has got to be the big, bright, and beautiful pop-up Christmas tree. A couple of the pieces also double as ornaments, and your children can use them to decorate the stunning cardboard tree.
The Disney Junior Advent Calendar is arguably the cutest little box that you’ll ever see. It features a bunch of different characters from Puppy Dog Pals, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Adventures, and T.O.T.S.
What we like about this particular Disney Christmas countdown calendar is that it is super versatile. In it, there are 11 figurines, as well as sticker sheets, card decorations, and a total of eight stickers. It’s definitely a hoot and a half, and a surprise your little ones won’t forget.
If your kiddos love Barbie as much as we do, then they’ll get a huge kick out of this Dreamtopia kids advent calendar. It’s so bright and beautiful, we honestly don’t know what’s not to love.
The Dreamtopia calendar features a total of 25 pieces because it comes with a gorgeous Barbie and 24 surprise gifts. Essentially, this calendar holds absolutely everything kids need to give Barbie her dream makeover. What’s more, they can even make her into a mermaid or a fairy!
The last storybook Christmas calendar that we wanted to mention is from Crayola, and, as you’d imagine, it’s insanely colorful. Full disclosure: if your little ones are artists in the making, there’s literally no better present than this calendar.
In addition to the standard crayons, there are also Silly Scent markers, watercolors, glitter glue, googly eyes, white clay, and so much more! Crayola has also provided some festive coloring papers, as well as games. The calendar is so comprehensive, and it provides an immersive experience.
Structural Countdown Calendars (Wood, Plastic & Other Materials)
In this next part, you’ll find the most wonderful and creative Christmas calendars ever. They’re all made from either wood or cardboard, and they’re built to stand the test of time. Of course, there’s something for everybody, and you’re guaranteed to find a gift that your kids will love.
Melissa & Doug’s fantabulous Christmas countdown calendar is one of Amazon’s top sellers, and we can easily see why. It’s a magnetic Christmas tree that holds loads of different decorations, complete with a shiny star. There’s also a beautiful and inspiring poem on the back of the tree.
When creating this calendar, Melissa & Doug also thought about the parents. That’s why this advent calendar has a box attached to it, that’s perfect for storing the little presents. Of course, since the tree is also wooden, it’s pretty durable, and you’ll be able to put it up for many more Christmases.
The Wooden Gingerbread House is truly a staple among calendars, and it has that timeless holiday appeal. But the reason this particular Christmas countdown calendar stands out is that it’s 3D!
Now, the Gingerbread house doesn’t have any particular theme to it, which makes the ideal gift for almost any child. In it, there are treats, toys, notes, and so much more. What’s cool about this Christmas calendar (or at least we think so) is that you can actually reuse it. When the next holiday season rolls around, you can fill the boxes with things you like, and it’ll still look amazing.
The Christmas tree-shaped kids advent calendar from Juegol is a whopping 15 inches tall. It’s made out of high-quality wood, and it’ll last for many Christmases to come. You can also get it in a smaller, rectangular version if that’s more up your alley.
But what’s interesting about the Juegol calendar is that it’s actually empty. It’s sort of a make-your-own-adventure thing, and you get to place all the presents that you think your kids would like. You can also rearrange the windows, and do whatever countdown you’d like.
Again, a twist on an old classic, the Rustic Wooden calendar from Pottery Barn comes completely empty. So you’re the one who has to fill it up with gifts and treats that would suit your little ones. They don’t even have to be for the kids.
The wooden calendar from Pottery Barn looks elegant and timeless, and there’s no reason you couldn’t give it to an adult. There are also 25 cubbies, which means that there’ll be one more gift on Christmas day.
There was no way that we could make a Christmas countdown calendar list, and not talk about a slimy one! The WloveTravel kids calendar is the ultimate slime calendar, and it’s absolutely the best in show.
First off, the packaging is so cute and bright, no one could resist opening it. But then you get to the slime, which is equally bright and beautiful, and so squishy and fun. It’s also non-toxic, and safety tested by CPSC. In addition to the slime, there are also some charming toys inside.
A lot of the advent calendars that we’ve mentioned so far have pretty high age limits, starting with at least three years old. But because we don’t want to leave anyone behind, we wanted to include The Elf on the Shelf calendar train.
It is for the younger members of the family, and the manufacturer’s recommended age is three months and up. The calendar itself doubles as a train, and your kiddos can use the toys they find inside to play with it. It’s a fun concept, and one we’re sure your babies will appreciate.
The Jollylife DIY Felt Christmas Tree Set is another pretty interesting calendar that breaks the mold of what regular advent calendars look like. It’s basically a felt Christmas tree that comes with 33 decorations. You can hang the tree up, while your kiddos take care of the rest.
Like the calendar train, the Jollylife set is the ideal gift for younger kids because there’s absolutely no choking hazard. But the whole family can get involved, and you can make decorating a felt tree a new Christmas tradition.
If you’re searching for a Christmas countdown calendar that’s educational, as well as entertaining, we recommend Step2. It’s designed to look like a snowy cottage, and there are a ton of decals that make it feel more realistic.
Again, it’s totally up to you what you want to put inside the boxes, and how you want to delight your kids. But you can use this opportunity to teach your children about numbers, patience, and even the concept of time. It doesn’t get more educational than that!
The Iphungo Christmas countdown calendar might not have the most innovative design, but it’s still an absolute blast to unbox. It’s made out of thick art paper, and it’s pretty durable, so you can definitely reuse it in the future.
Every box in the calendar has a unique design, which makes it really fun and colorful. Again, the Iphungo is one of those sets that you can gift to your parents, friends, partner, and it’s not just for kids.
You could say that we’ve saved the best for last, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong. Well, maybe it might not be the best, but it certainly is the most delicious one. You see, the Madeleine Christmas countdown calendar features 24 individually wrapped pieces of milk chocolate.
In addition to the mouth-watering chocolate, each window also contains a special little message. The Madeleine calendar is something that we’d recommend for kids and adults of all ages because you can honestly never be too young or too old for chocolate.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Christmas Countdown Calendar
When Is the Best Time to Give Someone an Advent Calendar?
Oddly enough, advent calendars have a pretty long history, and they were first used back in the 19th century in Germany. Back then, the ideal time to start a calendar was on the first Sunday of Advent. However, since that date can vary, and it might be difficult to keep track, most people stick to December 1st. Then, there’ll be exactly enough presents until the grand finale, which is Christmas day.
What Should You Put in an Advent Calendar?
There’s really no one thing or present that you have to put in a Christmas countdown calendar. It’s a pretty subjective thing across the board and depends on what you and your kids like. But if you’re stuck for inspiration, we think that treats are always a good idea. Also, you could put a cute message, a piece of jewelry, an ornament and of course you can never go wrong with small toys.
What’s the Meaning of a Kids Advent Calendar?
There are a ton of meanings behind advent calendars. Most people believe that these were church calendars and that they marked the period of preparation for Jesus’ birthday. Over the years, their meaning has pretty much stayed the same, but it’s all a bit more lighthearted nowadays. To get your kids excited about one of the biggest holidays of the year, you get them an advent calendar. That way, they can slowly open one box at a time, and start the celebrations early.
How Many Windows/Boxes Does a Christmas Countdown Calendar Have?
Most Christmas calendars have 24 boxes for you and your kids to open. That’s because you’re supposed to start opening them on December 1st and finish on Christmas day. However, some calendars, like the Jollylife one, for example, can have more, which shows that it doesn’t have to be a fixed number.
How Does an Advent Calendar Work Exactly?
The whole idea of an advent calendar is pretty straightforward. You, your kids, or your loved ones open one door/box per day, in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Most calendars have numbers on the windows so you know what their order is.
With these 37 advent calendars, we’ve just scratched the surface of all the magic that lies within. But these are genuinely some of the most beautiful and entertaining ones we could find, and we have no regrets.
Our advice for finding the absolute best Christmas countdown calendar for your kids is to have fun with it and enjoy the process. Think about what your children or grandchildren enjoy doing the other 11 months of the year, and follow your instincts. But no matter which you end up buying, we’re certain that your loved ones will get a kick out of it.