Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best advent calendars

The first Advent calendars appeared in Germany and quickly spread to other nations. It didn’t take long for them to become the traditional way to count the days until Christmas. Traditionally, each day on the calendar featured a religious picture or symbol, but today, treats of all kinds are a favorite way to celebrate the coming of Christmas.

There is an Advent calendar out there for almost everyone. You can find high-end versions with luxurious perfumes and lotions behind each door or children’s calendars with a new toy every day. Your personal beliefs, circumstances, and preferences will play the deciding factor, but you have a lot of choices.

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Many early Christians believed Christmas should be celebrated and anticipated for the entire month, which eventually led to Advent calendars. “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival.”

Types of Advent calendars

You can find Advent calendars in almost any design, shape, and form. However, there are some basic types that might help you focus your decision.


These traditional Advent calendars are made in the Christian tradition. Many religious Advent calendars feature a Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, and angels. Others feature Bible verses or a different religious scene behind each door.


These Advent calendars might feature a snowy winter scene, Santa Claus, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Many people prefer to celebrate Christmas without any religious affiliation, so these calendars have grown in popularity. They usually have candy, toys, or a movable calendar marker.


Children’s Advent calendars can be religious in nature, though many feature Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or favorite cartoon characters. If your child has a favorite television show, there is probably an Advent calendar that features the characters. Disney, Peppa Pig, and even Lego put out their own Advent calendars for kids. Some have candy behind each door while others have a toy.


Themed Advent calendars typically target adults with a specific interest. For example, gourmet chocolates, high-end perfumes and lotions, rare teas, and candles are all coveted favorites. There are even travel Advent calendars with all your favorite travel-size necessities. These calendars make wonderful gifts either for yourself or a friend with sophisticated tastes.

Advent calendar features to consider

Single year or multiyear

Do you want an Advent calendar you can pass down to your children, or are you simply looking for something fun to use this year?

  • Single year: Calendars made of cardboard that hide candies and other treats are often only usable for one year. Once their doors have been opened, they can’t be closed. Depending on what’s inside, these calendars can be just as expensive as multiyear models.

  • Multiyear: These Advent calendars are made of wood, plastic, or fabric rather than cardboard. They might have pockets for each day of the month and a marker that can be moved closer to Christmas with each passing day. Others have doors or drawers into which you can put a treat, Bible verse, or other goodies for members of your family. You’ll get more for your money with a multi-year Advent calendar, but you have to store it for 11 months of the year.


The materials make a big difference to a calendar’s longevity and durability. Wood, plastic, and fabric calendars are far more durable than cardboard. Some wooden designs that include intricate scrollwork can be more delicate than plastic or fabric models. These Advent calendars will need special attention and care when being stored. If you have children, you’ll probably want a plastic or fabric calendar that won’t be easily damaged by little hands.


Advent calendars can either be hung on the wall or displayed on a shelf or countertop. Hanging calendars don’t take up any square footage, whereas countertop models have drawers or doors that hide surprises. The best style for you will depend on your available display and storage space, as well as your home décor.

Prefilled vs. you fill

If picking the treats behind each door is your favorite part of Christmas, you’ll be happier with a multi-year calendar with drawers or doors. But life is busy. Prefilled Advent calendars can typically only be used for one year, but they reduce your workload, and some are filled with luxurious treats.


Countertop Advent calendars made of wood or plastic take up more storage space than fabric models. Fabric Advent calendars can often be rolled and stored with any loose pieces inside the roll. Models with doors or drawers might require special care to keep from breaking handles or hinges.

Shape and size

It’s a calendar, so it should be square or rectangle, right? Not necessarily. Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like traditional calendars while others are shaped like Christmas trees, houses, or even trains. If you want something outside the norm, you can find an Advent calendar in almost any form.

Advent calendar prices

You can expect to pay from under $10 to over $150 for an Advent calendar, depending on the maker and materials.

Inexpensive: For less than $10, you can find a cardboard Advent calendar with verses from the Bible, a favorite Christmas story, or traditional Christmas scenes behind each door. Most of these calendars can only be used once, but if you open the doors carefully they might last two.

Mid-range: In the $10 to $50 range, the calendars take on more creative shapes and designs. Hanging fabric calendars, Christmas tree-shaped cardboard calendars with drawers, and children’s calendars from some of their favorite toy manufacturers can all be found at this price. Some are good for a single year and others can be used for years to come.

Expensive: As the price increases, in the $50 to $150 range, you’ll see more multi-year calendars made of wood with intricate scrollwork. These calendars are likely to house more luxurious treats and toys. They also require more display and storage space.

Premium: For over $150, you’ll find Advent calendars from design brands like Estée Lauder, Villeroy & Boch, and specialty whiskey manufacturers. You’ll also see large wooden Advent calendars with intricate designs and scenes that can become family heirlooms.


  • Match the calendar to your other holiday decorations. If you want to use your Advent calendar for several years, pick one that fits with your personal style and matches the rest of your Christmas décor.

  • Keep the original packaging. It can serve as a handy storage box for your Advent calendar, and it might include foam packing that can help protect fragile pieces.

  • Get two calendars. Parents might want to get two Advent calendars: one for themselves and a second with plastic pieces and goodies for kids.
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You can be creative when filling your Advent calendar. Candy and toys will always be at the top of the list, but you could also put questions, service ideas, or a Christmas ornament in each one.


Q. Are fabric Advent calendars durable?

A. While fabric quality affects durability, more important is the construction. A well-made fabric Advent calendar with stitched details rather than stickers or fabric paint can hold up for years if you take care of it.

Q. Do all Advent calendars have the same number of days?

A. Most calendars have 24 days because, of course, Christmas Day doesn’t need a reminder or extra gift. That said, there are some Advent calendars that include Christmas in the countdown.

Q. Can countertop Advent calendars be hung on the wall?

A. A few wooden models include wall hooks. However, they are heavier than fabric calendars and might take several nails to hang properly. To make the hanging process easier, remove all the drawers until the body of the calendar is secure.

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