The holidays are a wonderful time of year when friends and family can get together to celebrate and create memories. For parents, they can also be a 24/7 minefield of temper tantrums. Routines are changed, stimulation is at a maximum, everyone is stressed, and there is pressure to get the perfect gift. All these things can often trickle down and leave kids feeling overwhelmed. One way to help reduce the focus placed on a single day is with an advent calendar for kids.
Advent calendars are typically used as a countdown to Christmas, but many nondenominational advent calendars are now available for kids and adults. For anyone that loves the Christmas season — and who doesn’t? — Advent calendars also make great early Christmas gifts. Using an advent calendar to mark the passing of time until the holidays can help kids conceptualize dates. Getting to open one new item each day also spreads out the gift-giving instead of having all the focus on a single day.
Not only are advent calendars great for the holidays, but we also find them beneficial for other major events. Nondenominational, non-winter-themed advent calendars can be used leading up to other celebratory milestones, such as birthdays or family vacations. They can also be used to help ease tension in children who are anxious about a major event, like traveling on an airplane for the first time, visiting the dentist, starting a new school, or moving.
Whether you’re counting down until Santa Claus visits or marking time until another major event, these advent calendars for kids are designed to please little ones.
1. LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2021
LEGO has unofficially cornered the market on advent calendars. If your child is a fan of Harry Potter, Minecraft or Friends, LEGO has an advent calendar for you. In 2021, the company has released its latest calendar that is perfect for fans of Star Wars. The Mandalorian-themed set features 24 doors that lead to a variety of LEGO minifigures, weapons, buildable vehicles, and more inspired by the Disney+ series. Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian get festive makeovers for the holidays and kids will have fun recreating episodes and using their imagination with Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders and more. The latest advent calendar will be ready to ship from a galaxy far, far away starting September 1, 2021.
LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2021
2. Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar 2021
BEST FOR BOOK LOVERS
Getting to open a new toy every day is heaven for kids, but this much excitement can be overstimulating at a time when the focus on presents is already high. That’s why we like the Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar, which features one new book every day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. Characters kids know and love, including Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Elsa and Anna, Wall-E, Wreck-It-Ralph and Minnie and Mickey are all featured in the holiday-themed books. The Disney Advent calendar is a great option for homes with multiple children, as everyone can enjoy the same bedtime story. Disney releases a new set of books each year and their 2021 collection, which can be pre-ordered now, will be available starting October 26, 2021.
Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar
3. Marvel: Storybook Collection Advent Calendar 2021
FOR THE MARVEL FAN
If Marvel is more the speed in your home, Disney will also release a new lineup of superhero-inspired books just in time for the holidays. Available now for preorder and scheduled to be released October 26, 2021, the advent calendar features 24 books with stories about Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and more. All the Marvel crew are back together to keep kids entertained in the days leading up to Christmas. Each day’s book is a secret waiting to be opened by the super kid in your life.
Marvel: Storybook Collection Advent Calendar 2021
4. Friends: The Official Advent Calendar – Updated
BEST FOR TEENS WHO STREAM
Everything old is new again in the age of streaming and Friends has seen a huge revival thanks to young viewers who are just discovering the 90’s hit show it for the first time online. If your pre-teen is too cool to celebrate the holidays, they may reconsider when they check out the Friends-themed advent calendar. The advent book debuted in 2020 and was updated with a new version for 2021 that will be available starting October 5, 2021. Teens will love opening the 25 days of Friends-themed goodies, which include ornaments, keepsakes, and booklets. ‘Tis the season for the holiday armadillo.
Friends: The Official Advent Calendar
5. The Elf on the Shelf North Pole Advent Calendar Train
FOR ELF ON THE SHELF FANS
For exhausted parents who have run out of shelves (and bookcases, bathtubs, bedrooms, and just about every other spot in the home) to hide their child’s Elf on the Shelf, there is a new Advent calendar that takes the leg work out of the holiday toy known for keeping kids on the nice list. First released in 2020, we loved counting down the days to Christmas last year with this popular Elf on the Shelf Advent Calendar, and it received glowing reviews from our young product testers. For 2021, the makers of Elf on the Shelf are continuing to expand their brand offerings of tiny tattletales who help keep kids in line during the holidays and are now making an Elf on the Shelf advent calendar.
This Christmas calendar comes with 24 individual boxes, each of which holds toys that kids will enjoy playing with throughout the holiday season, including elves, pets, mini cookies and baking sheets, a tree, a Santa sign, stickers and several other fun surprises. The boxes can all be placed together to form a train with a spot in the front for the child’s full-sized Elf on the Shelf. Kids will look forward to opening a new toy every day, which is also an activity that will give parents a few minutes to find a new hiding place for their elf.
Read More: Best Adult Advent Calendars
Elf Shelf Train Christmas North Pole Advent Calendar
6. Pusheen Holiday Calendar Surprise
BEST FOR OLDER KIDS
If you have a Pusheen fan in your home, they are going to love the advent calendar from Gund. The calendar comes with a super cute plush Pusheen and several mini friends. Older kids will have fun building a holiday setting with the soft toys includING a tree, a couch, a fireplace and presents. SPY was provided with one of the calendars and got to see the quality of each plush toy up close. The 12 toys can be set up and displayed in front of the open box, which features a faux-wooden floor with a holiday-themed backdrop. Pusheen fans will love opening each new daily surprise and playing with the toys long after the holidays have ended.
Pusheen Holiday Calendar Surprise
7. Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar
BEST FOR TODDLERS
For an advent calendar that kids can use year after year, we like the Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar. The wooden Christmas tree sits on top of a holiday-themed box, which acts as storage for the magnetic numbered pieces. Children can match the corresponding magnet with its place on the tree in the days leading up to Christmas, which helps improve their fine motor skills and counting. The Melissa and Doug calendar provides an alternative for parents who don’t want to add more toys to the holiday season but still get kids in the festive mood.
Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar
8. Fisher-Price Little People Advent Calendar
BEST FOR BABIES
Babies may not grasp that the holiday season has arrived, but for families who want to start annual traditions with their little ones, we recommend the Fisher-Price Little People Advent Calendar. The brightly colored calendar arrives in a cardboard box with fun and engaging winter and Santa-themed images. Each day, the baby or toddler can open one of the doors to find a Little People toy that is safe for babies 12 months and older. This is a great option for families with children of various ages as older kids and toddlers will both enjoy the toys.
Fisher-Price Little People Advent Calendar
9. Playmobil Advent Calendar – Santa’s Workshop
BEST PLAYMOBIL FOR YOUNGER KIDS
It’s tough to be more popular than old Saint Nick around the holidays, so give younger kids an advent calendar that lets them bring Santa’s workshop to life. The advent calendar from Playmobil features 24 surprises, including presents, elves, reindeer, and more, which together help to create a whimsical village that will be bustling with activity on December 24. The calendar comes with a backdrop that features both the inside and outside of Santa’s workshop, giving kids plenty of opportunities to let their creativity flow.
Playmobil Advent Calendar - Santa's Workshop
10. Playmobil Advent Calendar – Battle for The Magic Stone
BEST PLAYMOBIL FOR OLDER KIDS
For older kids who want a scene that is more in line with their interest, Playmobil just released their Battle for the Magic Stone advent calendar. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, the calendar includes 24 pieces that can be opened each day and added to the Magic Stone backdrop to create an engaging and exciting battle scene. Fans of the Novelmore Knights and Burnham Raiders will have fun acting out battles to see who will be victorious in winning the precious stone and becoming the most powerful army. Not only is the set fun for counting down the days until Christmas, but kids can also continue using the figures beyond the holiday season.
Playmobil Advent Calendar - Battle for The Magic Stone
11. The Crazy Scientist Advent Calendar
FOR THE SCIENCE FAN
Just because school is on break for the holidays doesn’t mean your little scientist has to way until January for their next experiment. With the Crazy Scientist Advent Calendar, little lab techs can have fun learning with daily science experiments. The advent calendar comes with everything young learners will need to engage in experiments that focus on biology, chemistry, mechanics, and more. A full-color instruction manual provides the steps necessary for each experiment, which kids can follow alone or with some parental supervision.
The Crazy Scientist Advent Calendar
12. Coogam Wooden Puzzle Advent Calendar
BEST FOR YOUNG PUZZLE FANS
If you have a little one that can’t get enough of puzzles, they’re going to love the Coogam Wooden Puzzle Advent Calendar. The puzzle comes with 24 doors that open to reveal a daily wooden puzzle that features a bright drawing of an animal. The animal’s name is also printed in bold text, helping children to begin recognizing letters. At the end of the month, the puzzles can be combined to create one large puzzle that kids can enjoy building again and again throughout the year.
Coogam Wooden Puzzle Advent Calendar
13. D-FantiX Christmas Advent Calendar 2021
BEST FOR BUILDERS
The D-FantiX Christmas Advent Calendar 2021 is a great option for young builders who love using their hands and for parents who want their kids to improve their fine motor skills. The calendar features 24 STEM building toys made from blocks that can be turned into helicopters, construction vehicles, fire trucks, and more. Each piece is made with 100 percent non-toxic ABS plastic. Although the D-FantiX may not boast the same quality of pieces as its more famous block competitor, it still provides hours of fun and at a much lower cost.
D-FantiX Christmas Advent Calendar 2021
14. Crayola Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar
BEST FOR CRAFTY KIDS
For kids who love to create, the Crayola Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar has everything they need to put their own personal touch on this year’s Christmas décor. Each of the 24 boxes reveals a new tool kids can use to paint, color, and debut a holiday-themed masterpiece. Crayons, markers, glue, paint, and more supplies are included in this crafting kit, as well as several coloring pages and instructions on how to create new decorations. Crayola also offers a free app to help kids and parents develop ideas on fun projects they can create using their new advent calendar.
Crayola Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar
15. Christmas Gift Advent Calendar 2021
BEST SQUEEZIE TOYS
New for 2021 is an advent calendar that toddlers and little kids will love playing with all year. The Christmas Gife Advent Calendar 2021 features 24 different squeezie toys that kids can open each day leading up to Christmas. An assortment of animals and holiday-themed characters will delight little ones who will enjoy squeezing the soft toys. The small items are the perfect pocket-sized present to bring to family and holiday events and keep kids entertained with their new toys.
Christmas Gife Advent Calendar 2021
16. Play-Doh Doh Vinci Advent Calendar
BEST FOR SIBLINGS
Whenever possible, buying an individual advent calendar for each child is the best way to avoid fights. On the other hand, the holidays are already ex-pen-sive. If you have kids that are of different ages, a calendar they can play with together is a great buy. We like the Play-Doh Doh Vinci Advent Calendar, which includes tools, design pieces, and of course, Play-Doh. The Play-Doh is safe for younger kids to play with, while older siblings can help load and use the Deco Pop tube to create 3D lines.