The first advent calendar supposedly dates back to late 19th Century Germany, when a mother fixed 24 individual sweet treats to a sheet of numbered card so that her son, a boy called Gerhard Lang, would have something special to open every day in the run up to Christmas (opens in new tab).
When Lang became an adult, he recreated his mother's tradition using with coloured pictures that you could fix to the calendar every day and later introduced numbered doors to the design, so each day you'd have a surprise waiting behind each number.
These days advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes, from the beautifully decorative, to the gifting ones filled with chocolates, alcohol, candles, beauty products and more.
As a time is of the essence - today is the 1st December after all - we've collated our very favorites for the ones on the market and listed them below, with picks for our readers in the US and ones for those in the UK.
Quick - get one now so you don't miss out on a full countdown!
- Jump to : Best Advent Calendars for the UK
Best advent calendars for the US
Start your countdown to the holidays with one of these beautiful designs for Stateside shoppers
1. Best for a gift-free countdown
Danielle Kroll Treetops Glisten Advent Calendar | $24 at Anthropologie (opens in new tab)
Perfect if you just want to mark each day of the countdown rather than fill it with unnecessary gifts, this pretty 3D card tree is perfect for placing on a sideboard or cabinet.
- Discover our pick of the best Christmas hampers and gift baskets (opens in new tab)
2. Best for adding a magical touch
Nordic Winter LED Countdown Calendar| $39.99 at World Market (opens in new tab)
Backlit beautifully by LED lighting, this traditional Scandi town and forest scene features laser cut woodland animals and hanging stars. Each day is represented by a tiny drawer which can be filled with chocolates, candies or a little note.
3. Best for tabletop simplicity
Courtly Check Deer Countdown Calendar | $68 at MacKenzie-Childs (opens in new tab)
If daily gifts or treats are not you thing but you still wish to countdown the days to Christmas, this handsome deer design is perfect for you. Simply swap around the two numbered blocks to change the date each day. There's free shipping all today, too.
4. Best heirloom calendar
Villeroy & Boch Christmas Toys Memory 3D Advent Calendar Tree |
$700 $350 (save $350) at Bloomingdale's (opens in new tab)
Available with a huge 50 per cent discount today only, now's your chance to get a future family heirloom for a great value price. Open a numbered drawer each day to discover a delicate ornament that you hang on the accompanying tree.
5. Best for keeping with tradition
Kurt Adler Wooden Santa Advent Calendar Nutcracker |
$126, $43.99 (save $82.01) at Macy's (opens in new tab)
Measuring 15 inches tall, this fun design takes the form of a classic festive Nutcracker soldier with the addition of adjustable number blocks to help you countdown the days to Christmas.
Best advent calendars for the UK
Treat your family to one of these beautiful advent calendars, all available in the UK
1. Best for a classic scheme
- Get inspiration for your festive scheme with these gorgeous Christmas living rooms (opens in new tab)
Christmas Tree 3D Wooden Advent Calendar | £59.99 from Lights4Fun (opens in new tab)
Keep your scheme coordinated with this delicate wooden advent calendar. The tree is lit by 20 warm white LEDS that can be set on a time to switch on at the same time each day, while the numbered drawers are empty for you to fill with whatever you like.
2. Best nostalgic advent calendar
Gramophone Musical Advent Calendar| £45 at Fortnum & Mason (opens in new tab)
Featuring 24 numbered mini vinyl records, this enchanting gramophone by Alison Gardiner will play a different Christmas tune each day in the run up to Christmas.
3. Best luxe advent countdown
Dr Vranjes holiday Advent Calendar| £370 at Amara (opens in new tab)
Each day brings another beautiful treat thanks to this gorgeous selection of treats from Italian home fragrance brand, Dr Vranjes. The 24 drawers contain 14 assorted 25ml room sprays and 8 golden metal tree decorations.
- Make a start on your Christmas list with our wonderful gifting round-up (opens in new tab)
4. Best for a garland effect
Felt Stocking Advent Calendar| £15 at Marks & Spencer (opens in new tab)
Fill each of these super cute stockings with whatever you choose, then drape this advent garland across your room or down your stair bannister.
5. Best for a present-free countdown
Activity Advent Calendar | £8 at John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab)
With a focus on activities rather than presents, this fun, family-orientated calendar will provide something for everyone to do together (donate something to charity, be kind to a neighbor, make hot chocolate, and so on...) each day before Christmas.
Ginevra Benedetti is Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. She has been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens. This naturally lead her into writing for websites like HomesandGardens.com.
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