Dating back to the late 19th Century, it's said that the first advent calendar was created for a little boy in Germany called Gerhard Lang by his mother. She tied 24 sweet treats to a piece of card and numbered them so that he could have something special to open each day in the countdown to Christmas.
As an adult, Lang created his own version of the calendar in 1908, with coloured pictures that you could stick to the calendar each day. Some years later, he followed it up with a new design that involved opening a numbered door each day to reveal a surprise.
Fast forward to 2020 and advent calendars now come in all shapes and sizes, some purely decorative, others filled with chocolates, gifts, candles and even alcohol, adding excitement and expectation to every day in December before Christmas Day finally arrives.
We've gathered our favorites from the selection on offer this year and listed them below, with a selection for our readers in the US and others for those in the UK.
Hopefully you'll find something you love in our picks below, for yourself, or your friends or family, wherever they may be in the world.
Best advent calendars for the US
Start your countdown to the holidays with one of these beautiful designs for Stateside shoppers
1. Best for year-round beauty
Botanical Ornament Advent Calendar, $228, Anthropologie
Hang one of the 25 exquisite pressed botanical ornaments to the simple wooden bar to mark each day in December in the lead up to Christmas. Problem is, it's just so beautiful that it may be hard to pack it away come January...
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2. Best for adding a magical touch
Nordic Winter LED Countdown Calendar, $39.99, 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, 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.
4. Best for his and her scents
Acqua Di Parma Advent Calendar Gift Set, $550, Bloomingdale's
Shaped in the brand's classic hatbox design, this stunning calendar opens out to reveal four quarters, packed with a daily mini gift for each of advent's 25 days.
Expect to find soap, body cream, shower gel, cologne and even a candle, all in a selection of scents that suit both men and women alike.
5. Best for keeping with tradition
Kurt Adler Wooden Santa Advent Calendar Nutcracker, Was
$126, Now $62.99 , 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.
It's discounted by 50 per cent for Black Friday, between now and November 28th so its worth buying now as it's bound to sell out soon.
Best advent calendars for the UK
Treat yourself or a loved one to any of these beautiful advent calendars, all available in the UK
6. Best for a White Christmas scheme
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Winter Scene Wooden Advent Calendar, £49.99, Lights4Fun
Keep your scheme coordinated with this delicate wooden advent calendar. Featuring an atmospheric LED lit forest scene on one side and 24 number drawers ready to be filled on the other, it folds neatly together like a book when not in use for easy storage.
7. Best nostalgic advent calendar
Gramophone Musical Advent Calendar, £45, 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.
8. Best future heirloom
Wedgwood Christmas Advent Calendar book, £650 at Amara
Containing 24 mini white porcelain Christmas tree decorations, this delightful set is an heirloom piece that is bound to be stay in the family for generations to come.
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9. Best for a visual build-up
Wall-hung Advent Calendar, £12.99, H&M Home
Skip the 24 gifts this year and instead decorate your home with this traditional townhouse wall hanging. Below each date, you'll find a ring from which you hang a decoration of your choice for each day in December.
10. Best for exciting little ones
Woodland Christmas Advent Calendar, £45, Great Little Trading Co.
Made entirely from wood, this set features a Christmas tree with a set of woodland animals and festive decorations, one for each day in advent. Children can easily perch them on the tree 'branches' each day as they countdown to Christmas.