Family Advent calendars for the Christmas countdown

Family advent calendars

by Arabella Horspool |
Updated on

The days and weeks roll by quickly at this time of year so the festive season will be here before you know it, so now is a great time to get your family Advent calendars (or three, who's counting) sorted and ready to open for the 1 December. We love the idea of a family Advent calendar; one that you can take turns opening, one that has activities inside for you and your little one to do together or an adult calendar you can share with other grownups.

Of course, there are many different types of calendars you can enjoy these days, including Disney advent calendars. You can stick with the more traditional chocolate or you could opt for ones that include storybooks, crafts and games that promise fun for all the family.

Editor's choice:
Best toy Advent calendar: Playmobil Christmas Advent Calendar: Christmas Baking - View offer on Amazon
Best book Advent calendar: Mr Men Little Miss Advent Calendar - View offer on Amazon
Best jigsaw Advent calendar: Professor Puzzle Jigsaw Puzzle Advent Calendar - View offer on Menkind
Best craft Advent calendar: Plasticine Christmas Advent Calendar - View offer on Menkind

Whether you and your little ones are wanting tasty treats to tuck into, a new book to curl up with every evening, or something that needs building, such as a Playmobil set, we've rounded up our favourite family Advent calendars. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten the chocolate calendars!

The best family Advent calendars 2023

Best toy Advent calendar

Playmobil family Advent calendars
Price: $29.00

If you want something a little longer-lasting than choc treats, try this kit. With 92 pieces to unpack, this calendar tells a charming story of Christmas in the bakery. Plus, there's also multiple kitchen accessories a real biscuit stamp and cookie cutters, so you can all get baking together.

One reviewer said: "Playmobil is so much fun. My son has lots of sets and this set was perfect for him over Christmas/Advent; he really enjoyed opening it up each morning and still plays with it regularly, 4 months later."

Another reviewer said: "I have always been impressed with Playmobil advent efforts. This one is no exception, capturing a more civilised and contemporary feel to an advent calendar, instead of chocolate or cash ins. My son loves it."

Pros

  • Appropriately sized to fit in small hands
  • 24 pieces of real baking equipment

Cons

  • Due to small parts, this calendar may not be suitable for children under four years old
Suitable for:4+ years
Number of days:24

Best book Advent calendar

Mr Men Little Miss Advent Calendars
Price: $61.85

We're big fans of Mr Men and Little Miss so we were excited to see they have their very own advent calendar! It features 24 individual stories for you and your child to reveal during the Christmas countdown so you can curl up and read stories such as Mr Tickle Saves the Day and Little Miss Sunshine Cheers Everyone Up.

A parent reviewer said: "This is an excellent idea for an advent calendar, and I am so excited for my little boy to receive this. I grew up with these books, but had no idea that the advent calendar would have familiar characters with an array of new stories. Perfect for children who are perhaps too young for chocolate, or are young book lovers."

Pros

  • Clearly numbered envelopes
  • Packaged to look like one big book

Cons

  • As they're mini-books, your child may wish the stories were longer
Suitable for:1+ years
Number of days:24

Best reusable Advent calendar

Made out of super-soft faux fur, this adorable 3D penguin calendar from The White Company can be filled with all sorts of goodies, from sweet treats to Christmas jokes, decorations and little toys. We love how the numbers have been embroidered on.
Reviewed by Arabella Horspool, our Commercial Content Writer: "My gosh, The White Company Snowy Advent Calendar is one of the cutest Advent calendars on the market. It comes with 25 doors so you can fill each one with a small gift and I love how it can be brought out and reused every year, creating those precious memories that kids will remember."

Pros

  • Ribbon loop for attaching it onto things
  • Easy to fold and store

Cons

  • The pockets are rather small
Suitable for:All ages (depending on contents)
Number of days:25

Best jigsaw advent calendar

Up next we have a bit of cathartic brain training in the form of puzzling! Behind each of the 24 doors sits a 50-piece puzzle to put together. Once completed, each puzzle can be slotted together to reveal a bigger picture.

One customer reviewer wrote: "We enjoyed this as an easy way to come together and play a family game. The winner got to open a present which turned out to be "A Christmas Story" which we all watched afterwards. The 4 year old didn't want to stop playing and threw a fit! You know it's a good game when that happens."

Pros

  • Each puzzle set is individually packaged
  • Can be re-used for years to come

Cons

  • Small pieces aren't suitable for babies and toddlers
Number of days:24

Best Pokemon advent calendar

If your little one enjoys collecting things, this Pokémon card Advent calendar is a must-have (and big kids will love it too). Inside they will find trading cards, stickers, coins and booster packs because you "gotta catch 'em all", right?

Suzanne, a reviewer said: "My son is going to be so happy... I ordered this on pre order and it was delivered before the expected date. I am very happy with my purchase. Mankind updated me weekly on the progress of my pre order and I have had no issues with them what so ever. Will happily order from them again."

Pros

  • 25 surprises to uncover
  • Plenty of characters on the box

Cons

  • More suited to older children
Number of pieces:25

Best advent calendar games

Disney family Advent calendars
Price: $26.19

Does your family enjoy completing puzzles together? By opening this fun Christmas Advent calendar, you can piece together a puzzle to reveal a Disney game board to play together on Christmas day.

One reviewer wrote: "My little girl loved this advent calendar - 16 figures and lots of puzzle pieces. She really enjoyed putting the puzzle together on Xmas day and plays with the figurines daily. Toy advent calendars are great for kids who love figure play. We're very happy!"

Pros

  • Two games in one
  • Up to 4 players

Cons

  • Some reviewers say that it could be more durable
Suitable for:4+ years
Number of days:24

Best Star Wars advent calendar

If the Star Wars movies are always playing in your home, your family will be pumped to receive this Star Wars Christmas 2023 Funko Advent Calendar. From Princess Leia and Yoda to Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker, there are plenty of figures to collect.

One happy reviewer said: "They look just like their characters. I lined them all up in front of my TV and they make me smile like you would not believe! They are super fun and Christmas themed, love the holograms and at this price it can’t be beaten. The best part is I get to take them out every holiday and enjoy them all over again. My favourite is the r2 d2 with the reindeer antlers. Too cool for school! If you love Star Wars and Christmas you have to get one of these! I mean where else are you going to find a miniature red Vader! I highly recommend this."

Pros

  • Officially licensed
  • Easy to store (Tallest Pop! is approx. 4 cm tall)

Cons

  • If sharing the calendar, you may have to divvy out the characters
Number of days:24

Best chocolate Advent calendar

Kick off your countdown to Christmas with Thornton's Santa advent calendar. This calendar is packed with 12 different chocolates for you to try and enjoy. From the classic pearls to caramels, there's lots to discover.

A reviewer said: "I have bought Thorntons chocolates for years (only as a treat), so I had to try the Advent calendar. These are some of the best advents I have bought, the selection of chocolates with the chocolate pearls were great."

Pros

  • Twelve different flavours
  • Mixture of milk, white and dark chocolate

Cons

  • Not suitable for anyone with a milk or soya allergy or intolerance
Number of days:25 days

Best for a Roblox advent calendar

ROBLOX family Advent calendars
Price: $35.14

Roblox is the online gaming platforming which is taking children by storm. It allows users to program games and play games created by other users. Roblox has gained enormous popularity over the last few years. The game will be high on lots of little ones' Christmas lists this year.

Mother&Baby Writer, Mother of Three, Hannah James, said: "My sons latest obsession is Roblox. So naturally, everything single he has now has to be Roblox themed. So when I saw this advent calendar I knew it would be an instant hit. He loves that this advent calendar comes with six of the Roblox figures as well as Christmas themed accessories. The advent calendar itself is large and has a great Roblox design, which is very exciting for any young fan."

Pros

  • Mix and match pieces
  • Accessories included

Cons

  • Some say that the contents hasn't been updated from previous years
Number of days:24

Best for tea Advent calendars

The Tea Advent calendar by Bird and Blend Tea is packed with their new Christmas tea blends as well as some traditional favourites, all selected by their tea mixologists. There are two bags a day behind each window so both you and your other half can enjoy them. You can also choose between a regular or a caffeine-free version.

A reviewer said: "I purchased the tea advent calendar last year and I loved it, so I bought it again this year. I can't wait to drink the tea. It's such a brilliant idea, the flavours were amazing. Thank you for bringing this on the market, I hope you'll do it every year, keeping the same price. Last year I had a sheet with 'meet the team' which was a very lovely personal touch. I also like the handwritten message on the card. Very lovely and makes it special."

Pros

  • Option to go caffeine free
  • Two tea bags per door

Cons

  • Only teabags - no accessories
Number of days:24

Best for a DIY Advent calendar

Made to last and the perfect gift from parents or grandparents, we love this traditional rustic wooden calendar. Fill the boxes with small gifts and you can reuse the calendar year after year.

One reviewer said: "We decorated this for my 2.5 year old niece. My daughters and I (15 and 12) loved it. We bought so many mini toys - window sticker snowflake and a pair of sticker earrings and a chocolate! What more could you want every day in December as a 2 year olds! The boxes are small. But it was great fun to find mini presents. Loved it. Lovely product."

Pros

  • Can be filled with treats of your choosing
  • Durable drawers

Cons

  • The design could be more decorative
Number of days:24

Best for a Cadbury advent calendar

Cadbury Heroes family advent calendars
Price: £6 (was £7.25)

www.ocado.com

How could we miss Cadbury's off of the list? If your favourite chocolate is Cadbury's, you're bound to love waking up every morning knowing you have a Hero waiting for you. Filled with all the Heroes miniatures, you'll no longer feel the chore of waking up in the morning in the lead-up to Christmas!

One parent reviewer said: "Cadbury Chocolate is one of the better flavoured chocolates available for the money. This Cadbury Advent Calendar was excellent at providing several tasty chocolate treats for 24 days before the holiday. Each day provides a small chocolate candy with a good variety of samples."

Pros

  • 100 per cent sustainably sourced cocoa
  • Individually wrapped

Cons

  • May comes across a few repeats

Best for a personalised advent calendar

This fantastic advent calendar is packed with 24 acts of kindness for your family to do. Specifically designed to be sustainable, it can be used year after year to get your whole family into the Christmas spirit. It comes complete with a traditional tartan ribbon, ready to hang and can be personalised with your family's name.

A parent reviewer said: "A good quality product with brilliant ideas for the family. My kids love it."

Pros

  • Option to add a dry-wipe pen
  • Comes with festive ribbon to hang it up

Cons

  • Eraser not included
Suitable for:All ages
Number of days:24

Best Advent calendar for dogs

Lilys Kitchen - best family Advent calendars

Of course, we couldn't leave the pets out! If you have a pooch at home, they'll love this Lily's Kitchen Advent calendar. It features three of their popular grain-free dog treats: Bedtime Biscuits, Rise & Shines and Cheese & Apple Training Treats.

Reviewed by Arabella Horspool, our commercial content writer: "My dogs range from 15 years old to 8 months and all of them were excited by the treats in the Lily's Kitchen Dog Advent Calendar. There's a nice variety of snacks inside which contain no-added sugar and the texture isn't too tough for them to chew. I absolutely love the festive packaging design!"

Pros

  • Three types of treats
  • Pretty packaging

Cons

  • Some of the treats may slip behind other doors
Suitable for:Puppies and adult dogs (4 months +)
Number of days:24

Best craft advent calendar

Make a fun festive model every day with this plasticine advent calendar which contains instructions hidden behind each day’s window as well as the Plasticine needed to model festive favourites like reindeer, snowmen, holly and Father Christmas.

A reviewer wrote: "My son loves it so different and fun to do instead of just having chocolate it’s creative a wonderful idea."
Another reviewer said: "What a brilliant present. There are different things to make each day and plenty of plasticine. Not suitable for children that are too young as some of the objects were fiddly but fun."

Pros

  • Six colours
  • Plasticine never dries out

Cons

  • Some reviews mention some children had difficulty copying the picture provided for the models
Suitable for:5+ years
Number of days:24

FAQs

How many days is an Advent calendar?

The number of doors on an Advent calendar can vary. On Advent calendars aimed towards younger members of the family, they will typically have either 24 or 25 days. There's no particular reason why some have 24 and others have 25. Some people think that you only need 24 days because an Advent calendar is counting down to Christmas day. By the time the 25th comes, Christmas has arrived so the countdown is no longer needed. Another popular thought is that there are plenty of other presents being received on Christmas Day so you don't need the additional gift from the Advent calendar.

What can you put in a DIY family Advent calendar?

If you want to make your own family Advent calendar, it's completely up to you what you put in it. The great thing about doing it yourself is that you can choose the gifts and tailor them to exactly what your family likes. If you're looking for inspiration, here are a couple of things you include.

Sweets and chocolates (of course!)

Storybooks.

Your favourite drinks (tea bags, coffee pods, hot chocolate spoons for little ones).

Make-up/beauty calendar bits for mums.

Small toys/games for kids.

Keyrings and other trinkets for adults.

Arabella Horspool is a Commercial Content Writer for Mother&Baby and Yours at Bauer Media. She's a bookworm who enjoys cooking and spending time with her many pets.

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