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.
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
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
2. Best for adding a magical touch
Nordic Winter LED Countdown Calendar| $39.99 at World Market
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
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
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
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
Christmas Tree 3D Wooden Advent Calendar | £59.99 from Lights4Fun
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
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
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
4. Best for a garland effect
Felt Stocking Advent Calendar| £15 at Marks & Spencer
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
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.
Lake Tahoe is the best place to own a second home in the US – here's why
If you're thinking of purchasing a vacation home and renting it out, there's no place like Lake Tahoe
By Anna Cottrell •
Front yard cottage garden ideas – that create a pretty first impression
These front yard cottage garden ideas will give your home characterful, charming curb appeal
By Holly Reaney •
How to care for a Christmas tree – our guide to having the healthiest centerpiece this season
Everything you need to know to for buying and caring for your Christmas tree
By Thea Babington-Stitt •
How to wrap gifts this Christmas – plus 20 stylish gift wrapping ideas for Christmas Day
Guarantee your gifts look as gorgeous as the tree on Christmas Day with help from these beautiful present wrapping ideas
By Ginevra Benedetti •
Christmas recipes – to spoil your friends and family with this festive season
Our celebrations may be a little different in 2020 but these Christmas recipes – perfect for New Year, too – are the ideal indulgence we all need
By Homes & Gardens •
Christmas living room ideas – celebrate the festive season surrounded by style
Our favorite ways to create a seasonal scheme in your sitting room this winter
By Thea Babington-Stitt •
Christmas table ideas – celebrate in style with these gorgeously festive looks
Want to make your Christmas table look really special this year? We've curated a whole collection of super stylish looks - with help from some of the world's best designers - to help you dress your table for success
By Rhoda Parry •
Christmas hallway ideas – create welcoming looks with a sense of occasion
Nothing says welcome to Christmas quite like a magical festive entrance
By Rhoda Parry •
Christmas decorating ideas – set the scene for the festive season
Bring a festive feel to your home by adding a touch of Christmas to every corner
By Jennifer Ebert •
18 Christmas fireplace ideas – make your mantlepiece the star of the show
Give your home the wow factor by decorating your fireplace for the festivities
By Thea Babington-Stitt •