It can seem as if we spend an increasing amount of time each year avoiding mentions of Christmas, gritting our teeth at the shopping centre tannoy’s first play of Last Christmas, and steadfastly ignoring the mince pie section in the supermarket - usually somewhere around October. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve made a valiant effort, but it’s time to get serious — what advent calendar are you getting your child this year?
We know, we know... but if you’re planning on getting something other than the standard supermarket fare, when you’ll only have to elbow another panicking parent out of the way for the last Smarties calendar anyway, our advice is to check out our guide to interesting and unusual calendars that will bring a little more excitement to the festive season.
Here, in our pick of the best children’s advent calendars for 2017, you’ll find sweet treats galore, including creamy milk chocolate, gummy sweets, and jelly beans. But if you’re averse to the idea of giving them sugar first thing in the morning (it is, after all, adding fuel to the fire of Christmas excitement), there are some great alternatives. Toys, stickers, and stationery appear in full force, too.
This advent calendar from quirky stationery purveyors Tinc is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does each individual box hide a unique well-made gift (last year’s included keyrings, lanyards, badges and more), there’s also a joke inside to put them in good spirits. Plus, when you turn each box around, it begins to form a puzzle, with the full picture revealed on Christmas Eve. A whole heap of fun to get everyone involved.
Little ones love LEGO, so if you’re looking for the one thing that’ll get them more excited than chocolate, you’ve got it. This LEGO City advent calendar includes buildable items like a Christmas tree and a gingerbread house, and six minifigures, including the man himself. As with all LEGO pieces, they’re universal, so they can fit into existing collections or make a lovely Christmas scene at the end. A lovely, lasting gift for aspiring master builders.
If your little one isn’t fussed on chocolate, or has trouble with dairy, this sweet offering from Haribo is an excellent alternative that ensures they don’t miss out on the fun. Featuring a mini bag of Haribo sweets behind each window, with a mix of fruit and cola gummies, marshmallows, and liquorice to look forward to, it’s a lovely treat to pop into their lunchbox if you’re not keen on them eating sweets in the morning.
With PAW Patrol advent calendar is a must for any kid who loves the show (that would be all of them, then) — they can find all their favourite characters inside, as well as some seasonal friends, to ramp up their excitement for the big day. When everyone has been unwrapped, they make a lovely play set or display, and a fun, long-lasting alternative to chocolate. Be sure to get a wriggle on though, because it’s certain to sell out.
Concealing 25 limited edition Smiggle stationery surprises — that’s right, 25! — this is the best advent calendar for lovers of stationery and the perfect countdown to Christmas for Smiggle devotees. In-keeping with the calendar’s sweet gingerbread house stylings, they’re also in with a chance to find a Willy Wonka-style golden ticket which permits lucky recipients to a £500 Smiggle shopping spree.
Another great option for dietary needs, and anyone who just loves a jelly bean. However there’s some caution required: while you could be treated to a Tutti-Frutti surprise, there are a few not-so-nice flavours thrown into the mix to test your nerve, including spoiled milk and dead fish, so this calendar isn’t for the faint-hearted! Devilishly good fun for brave kids.
Lindt chocolate is a perennial family favourite, whether you like it in grown-up bars, bunnies at Easter or teddies and reindeer at Christmas. This advent calendar takes the latter and makes the joy last for a full 24 days, with some tasty truffles and napolitains added to the mix. Plus, it looks adorable and very, very festive. For a lovely quality chocolate calendar with variety and a sweet design, look no further.
Gruffalomania is back for another year, and aren’t we glad? The calendar shows a magical snowy scene with special numbered places for the stickers inside, and each day brings a new exciting addition, including the Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s child, and all of their very best friends to add to it. Uncovering and adding the stickers is a great way for little ones and parents to bond, and when finished it makes a lovely picture. Great fun for parents and little tots, even if they’re not 100% sure what’s going in.
Check out our guide to the best women's advent calendars this Christmas.