The Holidays

A child opens day 13 in a Christmas Countdown calendar.
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Christmas Countdown Calendars To Make The Long Wait A Little More Fun

Because the anticipation is part of the celebration.

One drawback to busting out the Christmas music and lighting up the evergreen scented candle the day after Halloween (is that just me?) is that, especially for little kids, it makes the lead up to Christmas day seem like an eternity. For kids (or adults) who are anxious for the day to finally get here, a Christmas countdown calendar can be a joyful way to wait it out. These calendars (sometimes called advent calendars) are a great way to illustrate how many days are left until Christmas, because without a visual representation, you can expect to be asked the question by your excited child about a billion times.

Whether you like a countdown calendar with chocolate or other treats (there are even wine advent calendars for adults), or you prefer to keep it simple with an illustrated paper calendar or one you can print for free at home, the options on this list will make patience easier. There are also wooden and magnetic calendars, one that’s vintage (and from Germany), another for Disney fans, and one for Potterheads. Read on for the best countdown Christmas calendars, because the wait for St. Nick is a little easier when there’s something to look forward to each day.

A Wooden Melissa And Doug Calendar That Will Become A Family Heirloom

If you like the idea of giving your child a way to countdown to Christmas, but you’re not sure they need more gifts, a simple Christmas calendar like this is fun and festive. From Melissa & Doug (who can do no wrong) this wooden advent calendar has magnetic ornaments that stick right on the tree with ease. There’s also a wooden box for keeping all the pieces organized, and on the back of tree you’ll find a Christmas poem. Advent calendar purists will appreciate that this one has a shining start to put on the tree on the 25th (many other calendars stop on Christmas Eve).

An Illustrated Advent Calendar With A Vintage Feel

This Christmas countdown calendar is taking me back to a time when advent season was more about opening little paper doors than getting a plastic toy every day (not that those LEGO advent calendars aren’t amazing). From British artist and illustrator Susannah Garrod, this calendar has a pretty and whimsical design that will make you want to go for a snowy walk in a city. As one reviewer said, “I’m now a fan Susannah Garrod art. And this fits my budget..and it’s aesthetically pleasing. It’s as simple as a Xmas card. The illustration is so lovely and could honestly stare for hours. It’s printed on both sides and very vintage like to me.”

The ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Calendar With Toys

Who wouldn’t want a side of spooky with their holiday cheer? This Nightmare Before Christmas advent calendar from Funko is a fun and slightly subversive way to countdown to Christmas. Behind each of the 24 doors is a cute plastic Funko Pop character from the now-classic movie. Fans of Tim Burton will love collecting everyone from Jack Skellington to Sally, Dr. Finkelstein, the mayor, and more. If you’d rather forgo the toys but still be in the ghoulish spirit, there’s a cool The Nightmare Before Christmas pop-up advent calendar where each day you’ll unveil a figure to put on the pop-up tree.

A Printable Advent Calendar That’s Free

It’s no big deal if you missed the pre-order window and it’s already Dec. 1 (there’s just too much to keep track of this time of year). This printable Christmas countdown calendar is free and it’ll save you at the last minute. It looks especially nice printed on heavier cardstock paper and even laminated (you can use dry erase markers to mark off the days with a slash). A printable advent calendar can also be clutch if your kids are always fighting over who gets to open the daily advent door; this way, they’ll have their own (and it costs you nothing more than ink to print two).

A Gourmet Chocolate Advent Calendar

There’s really nothing sweeter than a chocolate filled Christmas advent calendar; a tradition the whole family will enjoy (and it won’t bring a ton of clutter into your home). Inside you’ll find almonds and hazelnuts coated in milk chocolate, almonds and hazelnuts coated in dark chocolate, praliné chocolate bonbons, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, malted crunchy cereals coated in blond dulcey chocolate and malted crunchy cereals coated in dark chocolate, all from iconic French chocolate manufacturer Valrhona. The biggest treat of all is saved for Christmas Eve and it will have you wishing everyone a very Joyeux Noël.

A Wooden Advent Calendar With Drawers For Treasures

If you like the look of a vintage advent calendar without the fragility of actual vintage, this wooden Christmas calendar from World Market is a great option. As one reviewer said, “It’s super cute, not too big and would fit nicely into a display. Wood is thin and light. It does not have a 25th drawer either so if you are a stickler for that this is not for you.” LED lights illuminate the glittering Christmas village above the wooden drawers and it looks so festive to see the skiers, reindeer, and snowy cabins glittering at night. Just note that the drawers are small and best for tiny gifts or candy.

A Harry Potter Advent Calendar With Treats

Whether you’re Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff, you can appreciate this Christmas countdown calendar that’s full of treats enjoyed by Harry Potter and his pals. Inside you’ll find lemon sherbets, two packets of “Fizzing Whizbees”, butterscotch drops, Bertie Bott's “Every Flavor Beans” (and you really should expect every flavor including some disgusting ones like earwax or liver). There are also gummy frogs and slugs, and something called Dolly mix, a British confection of different color fondant shapes. The calendar itself showcases Hogwarts at night, and behind every perforated door is a surprise. This is a great way for Potterheads to gear up for the season and try some new sweets along the way.

A Narrow Calendar For In-Between Spaces

Sometimes you need a Christmas countdown calendar that will fit in a really narrow space like next to a doorway or on pantry door. This calendar is a made of a durable cotton canvas material (spot clean only) and it comes in this cream color or in black with white numbers. It has tiny pockets that can be used for storing treats like small pieces of candies or little gifts or notes. The cute starry accents give this a wintery vibe, and if you prefer a wider calendar, the brand also has one that’s four squares across, six down.

A Disney Advent Calendar That’s A Collector’s Item

Disney fans, rejoice: This Christmas countdown calendar will give you a ton of heirlooms with which to decorate your tree for years to come. The tree itself is made of a study wood composite, and inside each of the 12 stockings is a small key designed with Disney and Pixar movies and characters in mind. The keys have loops just like the stockings and can hang like an ornament. Designs include Buzz Lightyear, Alice in Wonderland, Tinker Bell, WALL•E, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Monsters, Inc., Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Stitch, The Lion King, and The Incredibles, so there’s something for everyone.

A Vintage Advent Calendar

Here’s a vintage Christmas countdown calendar that Der Weihnachtsmann (aka the German Father Christmas) will definitely approve of. This German calendar is from the ‘80s (yes the ‘80s are vintage) and each of the 24 days has a cute little red bag that you can fill with a small token or gift. This is a rare find and is decorated with felted images stitched on cotton and string for hanging at the top. If you like the idea of a vintage advent calendar but this one isn’t right (or sells before you get there), Etsy has a ton of cool ones to browse.

A DIY Advent Calendar With Gifts

If you’re into fun craft projects, this DIY advent calendar from Kara of A Kailo Chic Life is cute and festive (and pretty easy!). Here’s how it works: You pick out small toys or treats for your kids (the Target dollar section is a good place to look for that). From there, you take party crepe paper to make the cute ornament balls. The tutorial will tell you exactly how to pull this off with not much more than paper and a hot glue applicator, and it makes a major impact. If the gifts inside are light enough, you could also hang them for a tree for a fun and interactive calendar.