It won’t be long until Christmas is upon us, and with the countdown already on for some, you might be thinking about what kids’ Advent calendar to buy this year.
Advent calendars are one way to add a pop of excitement to the start of each day in December, and there are lots of creative options to choose from.
When it comes to edible offerings, we tested a selection from brands we rate to bring you our favourites, from the classic chocolate and sweetie fillings, to vegan and allergy-friendly picks. Even gourmet popcorn makes an appearance.
Fill-your-own Advent calendars give you the option to tailor the treat with your favourites. These are sometimes so ornamental that once invested in, they can complement your Christmas decor.
Or, if you’re keen to ditch the sugar entirely, we’ve included plenty of toy and activity options featuring everything from Disney to Harry Potter, that should invoke that excitement only Christmas can.
Have some festive fun in the lead-up to Christmas with our picks of the best kids’ advent calendars to buy this year.
For more than 400 buyer’s guides, visit our reviews section to find our ultimate foodie gift guide, spirits reviews and the results of our 2020 Christmas Taste Awards. Discover more Christmas gifting inspiration with our best letterbox gifts, kids’ gift guide and best baking gifts.
Best edible kids advent calendars
Joe & Seph’s popcorn Advent calendar
Joe and Seph’s have taken the simple fun of popcorn and tripled the joy with 19 playful flavours, that turn it from movie snack to gourmet treat. We’re talking vanilla cheesecake, apple and custard, and – if your kids will let you sneak a couple – there are some more sophisticated flavours to wrap your mouth around, including brandy butter and gingerbread. This is the perfect calendar for adults and kids alike, its contents is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians.
Candy Kittens Christmas Advent calendar tree
For fans of tangy, sour sweets, this vegan-friendly advent calendar by Candy Kittens is a good one to consider. It arrives flat-packed but is simple to assemble; an activity that actually becomes a nice part of the process. Two sweets are held in each small box to open and enjoy throughout Advent. Flavours include sour watermelon, tropical mango, blueberry bliss and wild strawberry.
PLAYin Choc vegan Advent calendar
Out of all those we tested, this PLAYin Choc advent calendar went down best with our team of tiny tasters. Every box contains a tasty treat accompanied by a 3D shape to assemble, simple enough for small hands to achieve. PLAYin CHOC is consistently one of our favourite vegan chocolate brands. The chocolate is creamy, rich and smooth, unlike other vegan chocolate which can have an oily mouthfeel. Gluten-free, organic and completely plastic-free, this is a real winner.
Cadburys Dairy Milk Advent calendar
Cadbury’s Advent calendar design is a big selling point. Behind each door not only lies a single chunk of chocolate (in caramel, plain and hazelnut flavours), but a friendly prompt and festive activity idea. Our favourites: ‘donate something to a local food bank’ and ‘wish a neighbour a happy Christmas’. During testing, the message became as exciting as the chocolate. For kids who like simple, tasty chocolate, each chunk is the perfect treat-size.
Hotel Chocolat Up to Snow Good kids Advent calendar
For fussy chocolate fans, all the chocolate in Hotel Chocolat’s Up to Snow Good Advent calendar is the same good-quality milk chocolate. Each foil-wrapped mouthful comes as one of four detailed Christmas charms; Santa Claus, a snowman, a penguin and a Christmas bell. There’s also a proper sized chocolate bar slab for tucking into on Christmas Eve. The amount of chocolate is the perfect size for smaller kids or as a first-time Advent calendar.
Best alternative kids’ advent calendars
Paulownia train Advent calendar
This wooden train is the kind of creative Advent calendar alternative we get excited about. Made from Paulina-wood, its carriages are formed of 24 pull-out compartments ready to fill with little treats of your choice. It’s not a novelty bit of kit, only the numbered draws give it away so there’s no reason why this train couldn’t be enjoyed as a toy before or after the festive period.
Personalised treehouse Advent calendar
Why shouldn’t the lead-up to Christmas feel like a fairytale? This 3D advent calendar is an eco-friendly, interactive alternative to traditional choices, which arrives flat-packed and pops out into a woodland treehouse. Festive extras including baubles, stars, bunting, woodland animals and ladders, which all slot into the main body. Just match the numbers each day to find the right place. After Christmas, everything unfolds and can be saved to re-use the following year.
Petit Collage Advent calendar
For children aged upwards of four years, 24 characters made from recycled paper await inside this Advent calendar. The lid of this calendar folds down to reveal a play-scene floor. Only vegetable inks have been used for printing, which is good for peace of mind.
Disney Frozen storybook collection Advent calendar
If Disney’s Frozen is a firm favourite of your child’s, this is a chocolate-free opportunity to transport back into its world throughout the festive period, with 24 short story books, each individually packed in their own envelopes. There’s a different adventure to discover every day with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven.
Wooden truck Advent calendar with LED Lights
It’s big, it’s grand, it’s a project in its own right. This wooden festive truck holds nothing back. Driven by Father Christmas himself, its roof also features a winter village scene including chalets, snowmen, lampposts and snowy trees. The village scene is illuminated by LED lights, powered by two AA batteries. It transforms the calendar, which features 24 small wooden drawers, into a warmly-lit ornament. It’s arguably as much for adults as it is for kids.
Harry Potter 24-day cube Advent calendar
This is another one for older kids. The novelty of an Advent cube is a refreshing change from the traditional flat shape. For lovers of the legendary books, this would be a real treat. Models of the main characters Harry, Ron and Hermione are accompanied by Hagrid and pin badges with backpacks, wands and a Harry Potter snow globe.
Plasticine Advent calendar
Another alternative kids advent calendar, this one features 450g of plasticine in a variety of colours, along with sculpting tools and modelling instructions for making a variety of Christmas characters. Suitable for kids aged three years and over.
Melissa and Doug wooden Advent calendar
Part ornament, part Advent countdown, this calendar has 24 magnetic wooden buttons to pop over the number of each day, plus a gold star for placing at the top of the tree. It presents the opportunity for the daily ritual without the sugar and plastic. For little ones, it’s also a great way to reinforce their familiarity with numbers. Suitable for kids aged three years and over.
Personalised children’s activity Advent calendar
Why not set your family some festive activities this Advent? With sustainably sourced maple wood veneer printed with names of your choice, this Advent calendar is a good way to get the whole family involved. It arrives with suggested activities for some added inspiration. Simply download after ordering and print them out.
Gift ideas for Christmas
The best foodie gifts for kids
12 of the best letterbox-friendly gifts by post
The best kitchen kit for kids who love cooking
The best fitness trackers for kids
Our ultimate foodie gift guide
The best Advent calendars for Christmas 2020
This review was last updated in November 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@.