When I was little, it was a family tradition to always have advent calendars to start the month of December. Each day my brother and I would open a little door that revealed a piece of chocolate, with the final one being opened on Christmas Eve. The tradition of advent calendars continues in our house, even with teens. We still enjoy the chocolate ones of my youth but have also branched out.
The Best Age-Appropriate Advent Calendars for Kids
This new guide features some of the best advent calendars that are of the non-chocolate variety. Below you’ll find age-appropriate ones for preschoolers, early elementary ages, tweens, and teens. I even included some adult ones at the very bottom!
The ones for kids are designed to keep brains working and learning as they eagerly anticipate the arrival of Christmas. You’ll find dedicated advent calendars with 24 days of brain teasers, slime, art supplies, puzzles, and more below. By the way, order now to have in time for December 1 to enjoy the tradition of advent calendars in your home!
Advent Calendars for Preschoolers
Little People Advent Calendar ($26.99)
Keep the fun and excitement of the holiday season growing every day with the Little People Advent Calendar that features 24 surprise figures and play pieces for kids to “unwrap” each day. This advent calendar opens like a book to set the scene for endless holiday-themed pretend play with a festive living room scene complete with a cozy fireplace and Christmas tree. By Christmas Day, little ones will have a full set of Little People friends and holiday-themed play pieces to create their own festive scenes with Santa, his elves, and more! Best for ages 12 months+
Play Doh Advent Calendar ($21.99)
Give the gift of 24 days of sensory play where kids will discover a different colored 1 ounce can of Play-Doh modeling compound (plus a 2-ounce can of white Play-Doh Sparkle compound!) and a tool for a creative holiday activity each day. The box has tear-off playmats with snowman and gingerbread scenes. Use the surprises from days 1-12 to complete the snowman scene and 13-24 to complete the gingerbread scene. By the time your child has opened each door, they’ll have a fun collection of festive Play-Doh tools and colors to keep playing and creating all season long. Best for ages 3+
When my kids were little, we’d spend hours building tracks that snaked around our living room and under legs of our furniture. If you know a child who loves Thomas & Friends as much as my kids did, they’ll love counting down to Christmas with the Thomas & Friends Minis advent calendar that includes 24 miniature toy trains and other railway vehicles. By opening one window every day kids will have a whole railway of Thomas & Friends pals for exciting push-along train play by Christmas Day that strengthens fine motor skills and encourages imaginative pretend play. Best for ages 3+
Magnetic Tree Advent Calendar by Melissa & Doug ($25.49)
Preschoolers are naturally excited about Christmas coming but this darling Magnetic Tree Advent Calendar from Melissa & Doug incorporates numeracy along with the holiday. Kids will love hanging each of the 24 ornaments on the tree as Christmas nears. The shining star can be placed at the top on Christmas Day.
Hot Wheels Advent Calendar ($19.99)
The Hot Wheels Advent Calendar features 24 days of surprises to get your car enthusiast geared up for the holiday season. Behind each door lies either a super cool 1:64 scale Hot Wheels car or a holiday-themed accessory kids will love. The front panel converts into a playmat on which the vehicles and accessories can be used to inspire creative play, exploration, and storytelling skills in kids ages 3+.
Advent Calendars for Elementary Ages
The Super Mario™ Mushroom Kingdom Advent calendar is full of surprises! Countdown the days to Christmas by revealing a detailed 2.5-inch-scale figure or accessory each day to start or add to your collection. Includes 24 popular Super Mario characters and accessories, featuring Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, and more. Each figure and accessory is hidden behind a numbered door so you don’t know what you will get next. The Mushroom Kingdom-themed packaging allows you to open the front panel and use the pop-up environment to display and create your own Super Mario scene. This is a great gift for Super Mario fans of all ages.
Puzzles are great because the teach so many things and with a different puzzle each day, you’re helping to build cognitive and problem-solving skills. The 24 Days of Christmas Dogs Puzzle Advent Calendar features favorite breeds like a Golden Retriever, Corgi, Chihuahua, etc. each in a 42 piece puzzle. The puzzles are perfect for kids to complete on their own or together as a family as you count down the days to Christmas. Best for ages 5+
Brain Teaser Advent Calendar ($25.99)
Behind the doors you’ll find 24 different style brain teaser puzzles that encourage creativity and concentration. The advent calendar includes metal wire puzzles, unlocking interlock puzzles, mini cube brain teaser puzzles, and more that range from easy to difficult. The puzzles are perfect for elementary ages and up. Best for ages 6+
LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar ($35.99)
This year’s LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar is packed with daily collectible surprises including 9 Star Wars characters, 15 mini building toys and accessories to play out Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Bad Batch stories and to combine with other LEGO Star Wars sets. The set features 9 LEGO Star Wars characters, including Emperor Palpatine, an Ewok and a Pit Droid in holiday outfits, a Gonk Droid dressed as a reindeer and Omega with a sled. The calendar also contains 15 mini builds, such as The Justifier, a STAP speeder, The Mandalorian’s N-1 Starfighter, Clone Command Center and an Ewok village to discover new experiences and inspire imaginative play. Best for Star Wars fans ages 6+
The Christmas Arts & Crafts Advent Calendar provides kids with a daily arts & crafts activity for each of the 24 days before Christmas, perfect to decorate your tree and holiday table.
Fidget Advent Calendar ($33.99)
If your child is one who can’t be without a fidget toy, this advent calendar will gift a new one each day. Behind each door you can find such as Christmas trees, planets, French fries, decompression balls, squishy toys, stretchy strings, and more! These sensory toys can be a lifesaver for kids at home and in class and the ones in this advent calendar are said to provide diversity of playing methods, such as squeezing, stretching and flipping to keep small hands busy.
Advent Calendars for Tweens
The STEM teacher in me LOVES the Scientist Advent Calendar that features 24 exciting experiments. A different experiment is hidden in each box and each day kids get to practice science skills. The box contains everything a tween needs to conduct Chemistry, biology, mechanics, optics, and magnetics experiments at home during the month of December.
Advent Calendar of Family Games ($29.95)
For families looking for ways to get their kids off their phones and interacting more, the Advent Calendar of Family Games might just do the trick. Inside the big box are 24 smaller boxes, one box for each day before Christmas. Each box contains 1 unforgettable game like dice games (Farkle and Yatzy), all time favorites (Domino , Tic Tac Toe, War card game), party games (Mini Bowling, Frog Race, Candle in the Bottle, a spin the bottle Truth or Dare spin the bottle, Balloon Volleyball, Tag in the Dark, Doodle a Droodle, Lettergories, Donkey’s tail), nostalgic games (Jackstones, Marbles, Cat’s cradle, Pick up sticks (Mikado), Cootie catcher), and even outdoor games such as Jumpsies and hopscotch. Best for ages 5+
Magic & Tricks Advent Calendar by The Purple Cow ($39)
The Magic & Tricks Advent Calendar is perfect for tweens who love magic and want to learn about the science behind it. Each of the 24 boxes contain a magic trick, one for each day of the pre-Christmas season. The illustrated step-by-step guide accompanies each trick and includes pictures that go with the detailed instructions.
LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar ($38.50)
What could be better than Harry Potter minifigs, buildable models, and accessories that can be used to recreate the Yule Ball! Open a door each day in December to reveal Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil and Cho Chang, models like the miniature Beauxbaton’s carriage, and a dining table with ice-castle centerpiece. This advent calendar is sure to inspire endless imaginative play for Potterheads of all ages. Bonus if this set also cause tweens to pick up and re-read all the books in the series over winter break! If your tween isn’t a fan of Harry Potter, also check out the LEGO Avengers Advent Calendar, LEGO Star Wards Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars for Teens
Taylor Swift Inspired Advent Calendar ($20 for 12 stickers or $32 for 24 stickers)
If your Swiftie is in their advent calendar era, this is the gift for them! Choose from sets of 12 or 24 vinyl stickers featuring designs and lyrics any fan will love. Each sticker comes wrapped in an individually numbered envelope though true Swifties might not be able to wait to open each one if they’re in their impatient need-it-now era!
The Advent of Change from The Body Shop ($89)
I’ve loved The Body Shop since I was a teen and their Mango Body Butter remains a favorite to this day. I love the idea that you can gift a teen the daily joy of self care as they countdown to Christmas Eve. The Advent of Change includes 24 surprises hiding in the pop-up beauty advent calendar. This year’s box is bursting with body-loving best bits to pamper from head-to-toe like couple of The Body Shop’s best selling fruity shower gels, a creamy Body Butter or two, or even a hardworking hand balm. Since The Body Shop is committed to a future where a more responsible way of living benefits our planet, they’re celebrating the small acts of positive change inside each of your treats, whether that’s more recyclable packaging or Community Fair Trade ingredients. So with every day opened, and every action your teen takes, they’ll have a positive impact on their beautiful body and beyond. Best for ages 13+
25 Day Advent Calendar Playlist ($9.99)
The North Pole is far removed from the rest of society, but Santa and his helpers are pretty tech-savvy. Take, for example, this one-of-a-kind Advent calendar that—dare we admit—puts candy to shame. Each day, you’ll scratch off a number to reveal a QR code. Scan the code, and your phone will download a carol sung by an emerging artist. The clever design will delight kids from 1 to 92. Made in Florida and New York.
Creative teens will love having a new art challenge and art supply each day to spark their imagination. Among the artistic surprises behind each door on the calendar are acrylic markers, an acrylic paint brush, iridescent acrylic paint, gel pens, acrylic and everblend markers, watercolor half pans, acrylic paint, metallic gouache, paintbrushes, and directions. There are also 2 bonus gifts included, making 26 gifts total.
Damn, Man’s 12 Days of Winter Wonder – Savory Meat Sticks and Nut Medley presents a new snack surprise of either gourmet nuts or savory meat sticks. With 6 tins of delicious, flavored nuts and 6 meat sticks ranging from original to spicy, your teen will get to enjoy a variety of salty and savory snacks, packaged together in a winter wonderland scene straight from the Alps.
Advent Calendars for Adults
Spice Advent Calendar ($49.95)
An unforgettable treat for your favorite foodie, this advent calendar from Williams Sonoma spices up the holiday countdown thanks to spices from Parisian spice specialist Le Comptoir Colonial. This gorgeously packaged advent calendar contains a selection of 24 premium spices – 6 for vegetables and side dishes, 7 for fish, 9 for meat and 2 for dessert recipes. Made of cardboard with plastic spice pouches to conserve scents and aromas, this is a sophisticated alternative to traditional advent calendars, and provides inspiration to try a range of global dishes during the holidays and beyond.
New Yorker Puzzle Advent Calendar ($199.95)
Celebrate the season with a different puzzle each day! The festive 12” x 12” outer gift box comes filled with 24 individually boxed, 100-piece, 7” x 9” puzzles, each featuring iconic cover art from a classic holiday issue of The New Yorker. Each puzzle is just right size for completing in a day—or open several at a time for a group activity. The ultimate gift to help get puzzlers in the holiday spirit.
Book Lovers Advent Calendar ($29.99)
Add a little more bookish magic and wonder to the holiday season with this unique advent calendar for bibliophiles. Each of the twenty-five pockets has a unique literary surprise for each day including readerly ornaments, a Winter Reading Bingo Card, a colorful magnetic page-clip bookmark, bookish gift tags, reading-themed stickers and so much more!
My husband loves Bonne Maman so when I first learned they had an annual advent calendar, this has been a holiday staple in our house since. He loves the beautifully illustrated holiday calendar whose doors reveal a special jar of Bonne Maman. This year’s calendar features 24 unique Bonne Maman flavors including exclusive new holiday flavors such as Caramel with Cinnamon, Raspberry Chocolate, Pineapple with Ginger, and much more! The flavors are made with simple ingredients that delivers a rich homemade taste that we love. And yes, I plan to steal tastes from every jar like I do every year!
Enjoy some cozy quiet time every day in December with Amanda Watson’s countdown-to-Christmas embroidery kit. I love this crafty take on the traditional Advent calendar that provides a merry new design to stitch every day from the first of December to the 25th. Amanda’s easy-to-follow instructions are welcoming to newbies, and with 12 different stitches, this is also an ideal project for needlers who want to learn some new techniques. The finished pattern will be a homespun decoration to enjoy every Christmas for years to come.
VineBox 12 Nights of Wine ($129)
I love VineBox for the chance to try different wines and this year you can elevate your holiday season with their annual 12 Nights of Wine. This box provides an exclusive journey into the world of fine wines as you savor hand-picked selections from prestigious wine regions like Italy, France, Spain, and the heart of American wine country, California. Choose from The Cozy Collection that includes 12 delicious reds curated for fireplace chats and wool blankets or The Chill Collection. The Chill Collection features a delightful mix of rich whites, invigorating rosés and even a few chillable reds. Or don’t decide and combine Cozy + Chill Collections for the ultimate wine lover’s Advent: 24 Nights of Wine ($199).
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