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You can get a cool gift for kids, and be the hero of the day. Or, you could get one of the best advent calendars, and they'll get a gift every day for a month. And it's not a moment too soon, because if you ask kids, the wait leading up to December 25 is the longest wait for the whole year.
Which one to get, though, can be a difficult decision. You could go with a traditional chocolate advent calendar, which gives them a momentary sugar rush. Or you can give them an advent calendar filled with toys, which could last until the holiday decorations are put away. Even narrowing it down to toy advent calendars, kids are spoiled for choice: There are advent calendars for everything from LEGO and Barbie to squishies, fidgets and slime. Here, some of the best advent calendars for kids.
Our Top Picks for Best Kids' Advent Calendars 2023
Manaror Squishies Advent Calendar, $27 on amazon.com
Disney 100 Storybook Advent Calendar, $24 on amazon.com
Barbie Cutie Reveal Advent Calendar, $34 on amazon.com
Fisher-Price Little People Advent Calendar, $55 on walmart.com
LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, $45 on amazon.com
But there are so many more than these: From toddlers to tweens, there's sure to be one that satisfies their craving to open up something before Christmas morning.
Disney 100 Storybook Advent Calendar
If you're thinking this might be the best advent calendar for the kids in your family, don't wait — this one sells out every year. And we can see why: It comes with 24 different, individually wrapped storybooks featuring favorite Disney and Pixar characters. This year, they're also celebrating Disney's 100th anniversary, making it extra special. Each story is 24 pages, making it the perfect bedtime read in the month leading up to Christmas. Ages 3+
Star Wars Advent Calendar
Every year, it's a big deal to see what minifigures will be unveiled in the annual LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar (at least in my house). This year does not disappoint, with Emperor Palptine and an Ewok dressed in holiday sweaters, a Gonk droid with reindeer antlers, Omega on a sled and Princess Leia bearing sweet treats. In addition, it comes with 15 other mini builds, including vehicles and accessories. If they aren't into Star Wars, there are also LEGO advent calendars for Marvel, Harry Potter, LEGO City and LEGO Friends. Ages 7+
Barbie Cutie Reveal Advent Calendar
If there's one thing this year has shown us, it's that it's Barbie's world, and we're just living in it. Go with it getting this "Cutie Reveal" advent calendar. On the first day, they'll open up a Barbie doll in a wintery, furry silver deer costume — adorable! The rest of the days offer surprises like outfits, accessories and pets. Ages 3+
Harry Potter Holiday Magic: Official Advent Calendar
This year's Harry Potter advent calendar theme is "Creatures of the Wizarding World," so if the kids in your life love magical animals, they'll adore poring through the surprises in this 25-day calendar. All the items are paper-based, like coloring pages, fact sheets, recipes and collectible cards. If they're not Potterheads, you can also opt for Insight Editions'other paper advent calendars, including ones themed around Star Wars, Batman, Marvel, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, Home Alone or Dragon Ball Z, among others.
Christmas Baking Advent Calendar
Some kids might really relate to the wintry scene that unfolds as this advent calendar is opened — a scene of a family baking delicious treats for Santa. This is one that kids can definitely use for imaginative play as they await Santa's arrival. Playmobil also offers other advent calendar themes, including Wiltopia DIY Advent Calendar, Horses of Waterfall Christmas Sleigh Ride, Novelmore: Dario's Workshop and Princess Magic Christmas Under the Rainbow. Ages 4+
L.O.L. Surprise! Advent Calendar
What is an advent calendar if not a series of surprises to unbox, just like the L.O.L. dolls? This one comes with a new collectible doll, Makeover Babe 2.0. And then kids can do just that — make her over — with the 24 outfits and accessories that are reveled as the month goes on. Ages 4+
Super Mario Advent Calendars
After The Super Mario Bros. Movie, kids are going to want to spend as much time as possible in the Mushroom Kingdom. Indulge them with this advent calendar, which features 17 two-and-a-half-inch figures and seven accessories (like stars or mushrooms). We call this a 1Up! Ages 3+
Squishies Advent Calendar
No, the squishies trend has not yet abated, and you give them just a little something to squeeze every day with this calendar. By the end of the 24 days, they'll have a menagerie of kawaii squishy animals, along with some seasonal squishies like Santa or a smiling tree. There are even a few glow-in-the-dark items. Ages 3+
Construx Pokémon Holiday Advent Calendar
If they love building toys and love Pokémon, this is the calendar for them. It lets them build some of their favorite Pokémon characters, namely Pikachu and Eevee, along with other items that'll put them in a holiday mood. There are 24 surprises in all. Ages 6+
Fidget Advent Calendar
Fidget toys and sensory toys are more popular than ever, and this toy advent calendar delivers 24 days of hands-on fun, including pop fidget toys, cubes to spin, marbles to roll and toys to keep their hands busy. It'll give them some anxiety-free stimulation when they need it the most, during the busy holiday season. Ages 3+
EXIT: The Game Advent Calendar - The Silent Storm
If they love working out puzzles or trying escape rooms, they'll dig this brain-teasing advent calendar. Players are working in Santa's workshop, when a storm blankets the whole thing in snow. In order to get out, they must solve a riddle or a puzzle every day, each of which brings them closer to escape. Ages 10+
Animal Eraser Advent Calendar
School supplies aren't always the most fun to get as a gift — unless they're cute, like these animal erasers. They'll get a veritable zoo of characters, which can be pulled apart and reassembled like a building/fidget toy. There are 24 in all. Ages 3+
Minecraft Mob Head Minis Advent Calendar
Bring the Overworld to the real world with this calendar, which holds five pixelated characters — including Steve who can wear a Santa hat! — along with accessories, animals and backgrounds. Kids can also scan a QR code to see more of the story of the play set. Ages 6+
Slime Advent Calendar
If the kids in your live love to stretch, squeeze, twist and otherwise keep their hands in slime, this calendar will give them nine new pots of slime to work with. The slime is in scented and fluffy varieties, and the other days kids can open accessories, charms and other mix-ins. There's also a version that comes with slime in Christmas scents. Ages 4+
Micro Machines Holiday Advent Calendar
Toy collectors, car enthusiasts and kids who like all things "mini" will be excited to open this calendar, which is filled with Micro Machines versions of classic cars, planes and even a sleigh! There are 25 surprises in all. Ages 4+
Christmas Countdown Activity Advent Calendar
Their art supplies probably need a refresh anyway. In addition to markers, crayons, paint pots and craft supplies like eyes and glitter glue, this also comes with activities to do each day. It's great for keeping them busy, so you can get other holiday-related chores done! Ages 3+
Funko Pop! Marvel Advent Calendar
Kids love to collect Funko Pop! figures, and this advent calendar gives them 2.25-inch "Pocket Pops" featuring all of their favorite Marvel characters. Some of them are even in their festive holiday garb! If they're not into the MCU, there are also Funko Pop! advent calendars for DC Super Heroes, Star Wars, Disney, Harry Potter, Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z.
Disney Princess Advent Calendar
Fill their days leading up to Christmas with palatial, princessy thoughts. This calendar comes with four small princesses dolls in their finest dresses, plus plenty of friends (like Flounder or Jaq) and other accessories. Ages 3+
Roblox Action Collection Advent Calendar
You get six surprise figures in this Roblox advent calendar, along with clothes and accessories to dress them up. Best of all, this one comes with two codes to unlock virtual items in the Roblox game. Ages 6+
Crazy Scientist Advent Calendar
If the kids are into at-home science experiments, this will give them a different project to do each day, covering everything from biology to mechanics to magnetics. Or, if they're not into science, The Purple Cow also has advent calendars for magic tricks, family games, science tricks or arts and crafts. Ages 8+
My Very First Advent Calendar
For real little ones, this one offers 24 wooden farm animals, so they can practice their "baas" and "moos." The pieces are almost block-like, so toddlers can set them up themselves and use them for imaginative play. Ages 2+
Hot Wheels Advent Calendar
For kids who love Hot Wheels, this advent calendar will add eight cool cars to their collections. In addition, it'll also get them into the festive spirit, with cute accessories like snowplow or sleigh add-ons, plus scenery like a snowman or a Christmas tree. Ages 4+
This calendar comes with pieces and instructions for more than 25 festive builds — totaling more than 600 pieces in all. And after the holidays, since every Plus-Plus fits with every other Plus-Plus piece, they can take everything apart and use the pieces for open-ended play. Ages 5+
CoComelon Holiday Advent Calendar
Now they can play with their favorite CoComelon friends without firing up the Netflix. It comes with nine characters, including JJ, Cody, YoYo, Nina, TomTom, CeCe, Bingo, Grandma and Grandpa, along with accessories to make a holiday scene. Ages 3+
Little People Advent Calendar
For those looking for a good first-ever advent calendar, this one comes with 24 Little People figurines and accessories, which are perfectly chunky for little hands. Figures include a snowman and a Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Ages 1+
MINIS Advent Calendar
Choo-choo! There are so many engines and other rail yard vehicles to collect in this 24-day character, they'll never be without a locomotive again. Some of them even come in Christmas designs! Ages 3+
Imaginext DC Super Friends Advent Calendar
If they love everything superhero, this calendar will give them a chance to enter the DC Universe. The 24 surprises include eight DC Super Friends characters, plus accessories and one vehicle. Ages 3+
Elf Advent Calendar
Get this Elf advent calendar and re-create your favorite parts of the holiday movie. If Elf isn't their favorite, you can also get A Christmas Story. Ages 4+
My Kindness Advent Calendar
This is a reverse: Instead of getting a toy or treat each day, kids have to give something back into the world. There are 25 kindness decals with challenges like, "donate to a food bank" or "give toys to kids in need" that children can stick on to a wintry tree once they've finished.
Christmas Village Advent Calendar
Kids who love to build will get to make their own DIY Christmas villages with this advent calendar. They'll get to make a cozy house, a reindeer, an evergreen tree and so that at the end of the month, they'll have a whole holiday display. You can also get a similar calendar with a holiday train theme. Ages 5+
Dinosaur Advent Calendar
Dinosaur fans will love getting six different dinosaurs, along with a human and other accessories, all with the detail that Schelich is known for. Or, if they don't like dinos, Schleich also has advent calendars from their Farm World, Wild Life and Horse Club lines. Ages 4+
Wooden Advent Calendar
Each day, add one magnetic ornament to this tree, and, by Christmas, it'll be full! Then, pack it away and bring it out again next year. Ages 3+
Makeup Advent Calendar
If they love experimenting with makeup, give them this set of play cosmetics (so they stop ruining yours). It comes with lots of makeup and tools, including brushes, jewel stickers, a hair clip hair chalk, nail polish, lips gloss, powde, blush and even a mirror and a cosmetic bag to keep it all in. Ages 3+
Bratz Minis Advent Calendar
Bratz fans can get all their Y2K-fashion nostalgia in miniaturized form with this advent calendar. It comes with 25 surprises, including 10 mini Bratz figures, plus mini cosmetics and replica packages. Ages 6+
Army Advent Calendar
Christmas just got a lot more muscle! With this set, they'll add loads to their battalion, including 12 pose-able army men, a dog, three vehicles and a whole lot of gear. Copy that! Ages 3+
Pokémon Holiday Advent Calendar
When they open all 24 doors of this advent calendar, they can say they caught them all! This calendar features some of their favorite Pokémon characters, including Pikachu, Eevee, Piplup, Growlithe, Torchic and others, along with some holiday accessories. Ages 4+
Disney Junior Advent Calendar
This countdown set features characters from kids' favorite Disney Junior shows, like T.O.T.S., Mickey Mouse Mixed Up Adventures and Puppy Dog Pals. It comes with 11 mini surprise figures, five card decorations, five sticker sheets, five stickers and three stickers in three gift boxes. Ages 3+
12 Days of Christmas Crafting Kit
This comes with all the craft supplies kids need to make a different ornament or holiday decoration every day for 12 days. You'll never know where their creativity will lead them! Ages 6+
Kids' Short Story Advent Calendar
Hingston and Olsen, the publishers behind the famed short story advent calendar for adults, also has a kid-sized version. The box is filled with tales from Jacqueline Woodson, Jerry Spinelli, Terry Pratchett, Kenneth Oppel, Beatrix Potter and others. Ages 9+
Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar
Every day brings a new activity, be it stickers to put on a tree or a new card game to play. The activities are designed to boost memory, social-emotional and communication skills. Ages 5+
Arteza Advent Calendar
For creative kids, each day of this 12-day advent calendar comes with an art supply and a creative challenge. Kids also have the chance to find one of six golden tickets that'll earn them a year's worth of art supplies! No age recommendation given
Breyer Horses Holiday Advent Calendar
These horses are truly magical! In this calendar, you'll get 24 surprises, including 15 colorful "Mini Whinnies" unicorns. There's also a special surprise animal friend. Ages 8+
How We Choose the Best Advent Calendars for Kids
When it comes to toys, the Good Housekeeping Institute does year-long toy testing to evaluate for safety, durability, and ease of use, then hands the toys over to real kids to make sure they have the all-important fun factor.
While not every advent calendar on our list is evaluated in the Lab, editors still look for gifts put out by trusted brands, gifts with great reviews from purchasers, best-sellers and editors' favorites. The list is then vetted by Good Housekeeping editors, who, after years of curating gift guides and keeping track of trends, tries to match the items with what is popular now and what Good Housekeeping readers and families have loved in the past.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute has provided expert reviews and advice on everything parents and children love, including STEM toys, educational toys, sensory toys, board games and outdoor toys.
Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's Senior Parenting and Relationships Editor, has included brands and toys that Good Housekeeping and its readers have found trustworthy in the past. Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy (and advent calendar) collectors.
Ready to get shopping for the best holiday gifts for kids?
Looking for more great gifts for kids? Let the experts do all the hard work for you!
Top-tested items: See what toys, gifts and books ranked the very highest in our Lab tests with our Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards, our Good Housekeeping Best Kids’ Book Awards and our Good Housekeeping Parenting Awards.
Tech for kids: Our lab experts are often asked for recommendations for digital devices for kids, and we've tested kids' phones, kids' smartwatches, kids' tablets and game consoles and to see which ones held up the best for families.
Great learning toys: While all toys can be helpful vehicles for supporting developmental growth, we love to spotlight notably exceptional educational Toys and STEM toys as well as ones that can support social-emotional growth, like those included in our lists of the best sensory toys, pop fidget toys and autism toys.
Gifts for babies: Please the newest members on your gift list (and their parents) with these useful baby registry items, as well as gifts for babies, gifts for baby girls and gifts for baby boys. Of course, you might want to get something for new parents to help them through the hectic newborn stage.
Gifts for toddlers: The coolest new toys in this space pull double-duty, whether it's social-emotional learning combined with motor skills, or creative play combined with language, as you can see in our gift guides for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds and all toddlers, as well as our stocking stuffers for toddlers.
Gifts for preschoolers: As they begin to explore the world around them on a deeper level, help them explore with STEM sets, art kits, creative toys and toys that inspire their imaginations. Find our favorites in our gifts for 3-year-olds (including gifts for 3-year-old boys and gifts for 3-year-old girls), gifts for 4-year-olds (including gifts for 4-year-old boys and gifts for 4-year-old girls) and gifts for 5-year-olds (including gifts for 5-year-old boys and gifts for 5-year-old girls).
Gifts for big kids: By these ages, they've developed their own interests. Help them dive deeper into the subjects that most interest them, from coding to art to cartooning to history and geography, with these gifts for 6-year-olds (including gifts for 6-year-old boys and gifts for 6-year-old girls), gifts for 7-year-olds (including gifts for 7-year-old boys, gifts for 7-year-old girls), gifts for 8-year-olds (including gifts for 8-year-old boys and gifts for 8-year-old girls,) and gifts for 9-year-olds (including gifts for 9-year-old boys and gifts for 9-year-old girls). It's also fun to shop for some of our best-reviewed and top-selling stocking stuffers for kids.
Gifts for tweens: Sure, once they get old enough for an iPad or gaming console you might be at a loss of what to get them. We have you covered with engaging picks for gifts for 10-year-olds (including gifts for 10-year-old boys and gifts for 10-year-old girls), gifts for 11-year-olds (including gifts for 11-year-old boys and gifts for 11-year-old girls) and gifts for 12-year-olds, or see what's trending with boys or tween girls as a whole.
Gifts for teens: We decode what's on the lists for this picky age group, from the hottest accessories to the most-wanted tech gifts, with gifts for 13-year-old boys, gifts for 13-year-old girls, gifts for 14-year-olds, gifts for 15-year-old boys, gifts for 16-year-olds, gifts for teen girls, gifts for teen boys and even fun stocking stuffers for teens.
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