The Christmas season is finally here, with all of the favorite family traditions that go along with it. Reading by the fireplace, drinking hot cocoa and decorating the tree are all activities that warm the heart when the weather is cold. To keep the Christmas spirit alive, many families focus on giving during the holiday season, from volunteering to picking out the perfect gift for loved ones.
Storytelling is another way families embrace the holiday. There’s no better way to tell the story of Christmas than through an Advent calendar. Advent calendars countdown the twenty-four days in December leading up to Christmas Eve. They traditionally included Bible verses along with a small gift. Today, there are many different types of Advent calendars, including those designed for children and families.
Wooden Advent Calendar
The Story of Christmas
Olive, the Other Reindeer Pop-Up Advent Calendar
3D Countdown Calendar
Eric Carle’s Dream Snow Pop-Up Advent Calendar
Fabric Advent Calendar
Play-Doh Advent Calendar
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar
3D House Advent Calendar
9 Traditional and Unique Advent Calendar Ideas
1. Wooden Advent Calendar
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree! This wooden Advent calendar from Melissa and Doug is a best-seller this holiday season. The calendar stands at 16 inches tall and will last for years to come. The tree includes 24 magnetic ornaments, which can be neatly stored in the box at the calendar’s base. The calendar will bring extra cheer with the special holiday poem inscribed on the back.
Perfect for: An heirloom to cherish for years to come
2. The Story of Christmas
This Advent calendar story book set, by Mary Packard, is perfect for families looking for a traditional telling of the story of Christmas. The calendar folds out to reveal twenty-four mini-books, which include stories like the Three Wise Men, Gabriel’s visit to Mary, and others leading up to Jesus’ birth. After reading, the mini-books can be hung up on your Christmas tree to be enjoyed throughout the season.
Perfect for: The traditional tale of Christmas
3. Olive, the Other Reindeer Pop-Up Advent Calendar
For 3D pop-up magic, check out the Olive, the Other Reindeer Advent calendar. Based on the beloved tale by Vivian Walsh and J.otto Seibold, this calendar brings the story of the dog-turned-reindeer to life! Open it up to reveal Santa’s castle. Then, help complete the scene each day, as the calendar numbers turn into reindeer, trees, and Olive herself! “By the time December 25 arrives, the calendar will have become a very merry Christmas scene!” For even more Christmas fun, buy the book and follow along.
Perfect for: Little literature lovers, unique 3D experience
4. 3D Countdown Calendar
This countdown calendar includes 25 cubbies that can be decorated and filled for any occasion, including Advent. The plain white cardboard boxes are 1.5 x 1.5 inches, and include a finger-slot for easy opening and closing. The final calendar stands at 8 x 8 inches, perfect for filling with fun-sized pieces of candy or tiny toys. Purchase a few and host an Advent calendar decorating party, or design one for a friend to give as a Christmas gift.
Perfect for: Crafty creations and repurposing
5. Eric Carle’s Dream Snow Pop-Up Advent Calendar
The Dream Snow Pop-up Advent Calendar brings you all of the wonder of Eric Carle’s Christmas tale. The popular author of books like the Hungry Hungry Catepillar published Dream Snow in 2000, and it has become one of the most loved holiday tales for toddlers. This Advent calendar features the tree from the story, which your child can decorate each day with a new ornament. Parents describe the calendar as a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday season with children.
Perfect for: Bringing a Christmas tale to life
6. Fabric Advent Calendar
Keep Christmas cozy with this fabric Advent calendar from Kubla Crafts. The quilted and stuffed calendar will add extra holiday spirit anywhere you hang it. Fill the twenty-four pockets with treats for your little ones to look forward to each morning. This cheery calendar can be used year after year as part of your family’s holiday traditions.
Perfect for: Decoration and giving small gifts
7. Play-Doh Advent Calendar
Give the gift of creativity with this Play-doh calendar. The kit includes a snow-themed play mat, five cans of Play-Doh, and 24 “surprises,” like snowflake stampers and tree molds. You’ll have fun building snowmen and reindeer in a wintery wonderland. Children love being able to interact with the calendar and parents love being able to give their child something other than candy. The best part is, your child can keep playing with the Play-Doh all year-long!
Perfect for: A candy-free alternative for crafty kiddos
8. Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar
This Advent calendar combines two things that children love: LEGO and Star Wars. Every day in December will be a new opportunity for adventure. Star Wars fans will love their countdown to Christmas with build your own spaceships and tools, eight mini-figures and assorted light sabers and weapons. The 282 piece calendar will make for an excellent addition to any LEGO fan’s collection.
Perfect for: An out of the box Christmas countdown
9. 3D House Advent Calendar
Check out this 3D house for a new twist on the standard cardboard chocolate Advent calendar. Imported from Germany, this kit includes an easy to assemble 3D house, and real German chocolates. Make constructing the house into a fun holiday activity for the kids, and enjoy the chocolates all month long.
Perfect for: Builders and chocolate lovers
Have you found any alternative advent calendars that are a firm family favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Anders Ruff Custom Designs.