I love chocolate. Really, I do. But I don’t like cheap chocolate much, and unless you’re going to fork out a fortune for a decent quality chocolate advent calender, which is quite frankly wasted on kids, it’s worth going a different route on advent calendars.
Whether your reasons are that you don’t want to start each day with chocolate, or that you need a dairy free alternative, or just that you want something a little different, there are a plethora of ideas for Christmas Advent Calendars that aren’t bad for your teeth, your waistline or your taste buds.
For me and my family, Christmas is a time of togetherness and fun. That might sound strange, since we home educate, which means we’re together pretty much every single day anyway, but there’s a difference between together and together. To me, Christmas is a time of drawing in, staying in, cosying up, and having as much fun together as we can.
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Activity Advent Calendars
There are about as many empty box advent calendar ideas as there are people who celebrate Christmas, I think! Pretty much every store that sells Christmas items has their own versions and designs, so it’s up to you to decide what you love best. Keep in mind what you want to use it for (strips of paper? home made cookies? what needs to fit INTO the box)
We use a peg string that I can attach a slip of paper to, or an organza bag containing a chocolate coin and an activity, or the first clue in a treasure hunt, or whatever it is. It’s a similar idea to this Christmas Tree Advent String (£4.95) and it allows us fantastic flexibility – for example we can put a note on it to find *today’s* advent activity in the airing cupboard, for example.
On a similar trend, and something I’ve seen done as a DIY project, are Advent Buckets. Like the pegs and the boxes they can be filled with sweets, small toys, notes, tickets (to Santa’s Grotto or a pantomime, for example). Unless you happen to have 24 buckets lying around though, I think the £22.99 for this, to be used year after year, is pretty reasonable though.
Another popular idea is the Wooden Advent Calendar, and this beautiful one from Hobbycraft can be personalised (£15)
Another version of the same, and more colourful and child like is the Gingerbread House Advent (£26.99) – I love this one – I think it’s one of the prettier of the ‘house’ style advent calendars.
And on the topic of what children will love, there are other ‘themed’ advent calendars, like the Advent Train (£22.99), which is just beautiful. I’m a grown woman and it makes me feel all Christmassy – I can imagine a child being over the moon with excitement collecting something from one of these boxes every morning. There’s also a Hobbycraft version for £8.
Finally, Picture Advent Calendars have a place on the market too. Ideal for someone who doesn’t need/want anything, but wants to be part of the daily excitement too, art calendars are really sweet too. Not only do you have a lovely wintery or Christmassy scene to look at every day, but open your daily door and there’s a mini picture inside too. These calendars by Alison Gardiner (£7.40) are sure to put you in the right mood!
Toy Advent Calendars
Another really popular alternative to chocolate is a toy advent calendar, where you normally build a ‘scene’ from the toys in the calendar. In my experience from previous years, while these toys may be Christmas themed, they are played with and loved all year round.
We’ve also had a Playmobil Advent Calendar before.
Aside from Santa’s Workshop, you can also choose from Fire Rescue, Princesses and other Christmas themed Playmobil Advent Calendars too.
There’s also the Lego Advent Calendar, which is always popular and the price pretty much never drops particularly much lower. There are Lego Friends calendars, Lego Star Wars and Lego City calendars – pretty much something for every Lego fan out there.
When my kdis were smaller I really liked the WOW Toys Advent Calendar as the girls were able to get involved – (specially when one had Lego and the other wanted a toy too) but I didn’t have to worry about small parts.
And if you’re a sucker for punishment, there’s always the Play Doh Advent Caldendar (£16.84) too! 24 days of cleaning the carpets. Yay! (But the little people love it. My daughter asks me for Play Doh all the time)
For Her Advent Calendars
This year I’ve done something I’ve never done before. I’ve got an Advent Calendar for myself. Well, no one else was going to, so now I can join the kids every morning! I’m not much of a beauty blogger (at all) but I have the Just My Look Beauty Calendar (£12.95), and I’m really excited about it – not least because I’m actually running out of most of the make up I have. What’s not expired is just about done, so this is both practical and exciting. At £14.99 delivered, and containing 7 nail polishes, 3 eyeshadows, 4 lipglosses, 6 lipsticks, 3 glitters & one mascara, it’s going to be a fun month for me too!
There are a few others on the market, and some really posh ones from super stores, but those are beyond my beauty needs, but I did also quite like the look of the Find Me A Gift beauty calendar (£11.99).
And while I know this is a huge ’cause women love stationary’ generalisation – you’ll know if the person you’re buying for does or not – but Smiggle has a brilliant looking Stationary Advent Calendar (£25) which is perfect for older girls who may not be into toys anymore either.
For the Yankee Candle lovers the Yankee Candle Advent Calendar is popular.
For Him Advent Calendars
Men get the raw end of the deal when it comes to gifts sometimes, with the options pretty much involving something to eat, and something to drink. Gift makers – there’s a gap in the market here! Never the less, here are a few advent calendars for men that play to all the stereotypes.
Not On The High Street have beer, sweets, seeds, and coffee advent calendars to choose from.
The Naga Chilli Vodka Escalation Advent Calendar (£99.95)looks pretty cool actually. Behind every window is a 3cl dram of naga chilli vodka, except each day they get hotter so by the end of advent he’ll pretty much be getting his head blown off before breakfast. (Yes, I’m aware of the unintended innuendo there.)
On the same trend, but a little more long drink after work, and a little less quick shot than the vodka, is the Craft Beer Advent Calendar (£64.90) from Ails By Mail.
Have a very happy and fun fill Advent!