Advent calendars are popular among Christian church-goers in the Western world, but the idea dates back to the fourth century. Scholars believe that four-week period beginning on the Sunday closest to the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and lasting the next three Sundays was a season of preparation.
Advent, which comes from the Latin word for “arrival,” eventually became synonymous with the countdown to Christmas, which Christians celebrate as the birth of Christ. Today, you can find advent calendars for virtually anyone on your list, but we’ve put together some of the best advent calendar options available in 2023!
What is an advent calendar?
Advent calendars started as a perpetual calendar people used to count down the days until Christmas Eve. The first known handmade Advent calendar dates back to 1851, which came to be from the tradition of hanging a devotional image every day until Christmas Eve. German Protestants used to mark the days by ticking off chalk marks on walls or doors, lighting candles, and placing straws in a Nativity crib.
Gone are the days of marking the walls with chalk. Now, advent calendars have taken on various forms. Some are reusable and can be stuffed with candy or other small trinkets for families to enjoy year after year. Many come in decorative boxes that are meant to be recycled or thrown away when the advent season concludes and all of the small gifts are removed.
When do you start an advent calendar?
Speaking of removing gifts, that’s exactly how advent calendars work. Modern-day advent calendars require that you open a flap, door, or box daily and remove the present inside!
This year, Advent takes place from Sunday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 24. But where do you start — day 24 or day 1? There has been much debate about where to start an advent calendar, with some thinking you should start at 24 since it’s a “countdown to Christmas” with others believing you should start at one.
No matter where you start, you’ll end up with 24 presents in the end, so there’s really no right or wrong answer. But most people start with one, which makes sense, especially if you think about the advent calendars of yesteryear where chalk marks were made or candles were lit. At the end of it all, you’d end up with 24 marks or lit candles, not one, hence the idea of starting there.
Where to buy advent calendars
You can buy advent calendars almost anywhere nowadays. Many retailers are in on the advent calendar trend, from Macy’s to Costco and even luxury brands like Dior. Whether in store or online, you can find advent calendars for almost every taste. Below are some of our favorites!
Best Advent Calendars 2023
- Lego Advent Calendars : Harry Potter Lego Advent Calendar
- Barbie Accessories Advent Calendar : Barbie® Dreamtopia Advent Calendar
- Disney Plush Advent Calendar : Disney Munchlings Plush 12-Day Advent Calendar
- Educational Advent Calendar : Around the World Advent Calendar
- Alcohol Advent Calendars : Beer Advent Calendar
- Gourmet Snack Advent Calendars : Harry & David Advent Calendars
- Wine Advent Calendar : Most Wonderful Wine Advent Calendar
- Williams Sonoma Advent Calendars : Peppermint Bark Advent Calendar
- Decorative Advent Calendars : Wayfair Advent Calendar Decor
- Beekman 1802 Beauty Advent Calendars : Slice of Kindness Advent Calendar
- QVC Advent Calendars : Cheryl’s 12 Day Holiday Cookie Advent Calendar
- Sephora Advent Calendars : Beauty Must Haves Advent Calendar
- Ulta Beauty Advent Calendars : Le Mini Macaron’s 12 Days of Nails Advent Calendar
- Saks Fifth Avenue Makeup Advent Calendars : Saks 25 Days Of Beauty Advent Calendar
- Saks Fifth Avenue Advent Calendars : Swarovski Disney 100th Anniversary Advent Calendar
- Uncommon Goods Advent Calendars : 12 Days of Hot Sauce Advent Calendar
- Music Lover Advent Calendar : Holiday Scratch Off Advent Calendar Playlist
- Beatles Lover Advent Calendar : The Beatles Collector’s Advent Calendar
- Etsy Advent Calendars : Christmas Movie Advent Calendar
- Trending Makeup Advent Calendar : LOOKFANTASTIC Beauty Advent Calendar
- Trending Jewelry Advent Calendar : Abbott Lyon Personalized Jewelry Advent Calendar
- Trending Gourmet Chocolate Advent Calendar : Compartés Chocolate Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars for Kids
From Harry Potter to Star Wars, Marvel, and more, Lego has an advent calendar for every kid on your list. Each kit comes with characters and mini-builds from the fan-favorite franchises that’ll keep little ones entertained all holiday season long.
Come on Barbie, let’s go party! This Barbie Dreamtopia Advent Calendar includes 24 gifts like skirts, wings, and mermaid tail for Barbie, plus tons of fantasy-inspired accessories like shoes, headbands, and necklaces to mix and match to create new looks!
Designed for kids 3+, this Disney Munchlings Advent Calendar is jam-packed with 12 micro plushes from the Season’s Sweetings series including Minnie Mouse Holiday Toffee Pudding, Mickey Mouse Mocha Cookie Cheesecake, Pluto Reindeer Rice Cereal Treat, Donald Duck Candy Cane Eggnog, and more!
Your little one can count down the days until Christmas while learning about different countries and cultures with this hands-on Advent calendar from Worldwide Buddies. Each day features an activity or DIY craft dedicated to a country’s specific holiday traditions. The best part is each activity doubles as a tree ornament!
Advent Calendars for Foodies
From beer to hard cider, bourbon, whiskey, tequila, and more, Give Them Beer has an advent calendar for any kind of alcohol. They even have a jerky advent calendar! Canned cocktails, craft beer — you name it, Give Them Beer has an advent calendar containing it.
A brand synonymous with gift giving, Harry & David has a vast selection of gourmet snack advent calendars. From cookie advent calendars like the one pictured to chocolate and their best-of advent calendar which contains Harry & David’s best-selling snacks, you can’t go wrong with any selection from America’s premiere choice for gourmet gifts.
Who doesn’t love a bottle of wine during the holiday season? Give the gift of 24 bottles of expertly sourced wine from around the world with this advent calendar from Total Wine & More. Most reviewers have purchased two — one as a gift and one for themselves!
Advent Calendars for the Host or Hostess
If you’re looking for the perfect host or hostess gift this holiday season, Williams Sonoma has a variety of advent calendars that will do the trick! From this Peppermint Bark advent calendar to advent calendars with chocolate truffles, hot cocoa, or even this self-care crystal advent calendar, there’s something for every host and hostess on your list.
Looking for an advent calendar that can be used year after year? Wayfair has a variety of evergreen advent calendars that double as holiday decor. With options like this Christmas Transportation Advent Calendar (pictured) and perpetual advent calendars for all of the fall and winter holidays, there’s an advent calendar for every kind of homemaker this holiday season.
From Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer comes this Slice of Kindness Advent Calendar packed with 24 cult-favorite bestsellers for face and body, plus warm kindness messages in every slice. It’s the perfect gift a neighbor or someone in your your own family, this indulgent advent calendar is sure to make a BIG impression this holiday season.
No matter how much a host or hostess prepares, they can never have too many desserts on hand! This advent calendar from Cheryl’s cookies comes complete with 12 fan-favorite and seasonal flavored cookies from Cheryl’s, each individually wrapped and ready to enjoy! QVC’s selection of advent calendars also includes MUK LUKS 12 Days of Socks and Wabash Valley Farms Popcorn Advent Calendar with Bowls, among others, making it easy to find a host or hostess gift.
Advent Calendars for Makeup Lovers
If you have a beauty lover in your life, Sephora’s advent calendar selection includes options like this Beauty Must Haves Advent Calendar, which features trail size products of best-selling brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Drunk Elephant, and more. Sephora’s selection of beauty advent calendars also includes this lip kit option and a classic beauty advent calendar from L’Occitane, among others.
Ulta Beauty also has a selection of beauty and makeup-related advent calendars to choose from this holiday season, including this 12 Days of Nails advent calendar from Le Mini Macaron. You can also find advent calendars from The Body Shop, Bobbi Brown, bareMinerals, and more at Ulta.com.
Valued at $560, this gift-able beauty advent calendar features top-rated products from Guerlain, Clé de Peau Beauté, Cellcosmet, Sisley, Augustinus Bader, and more, perfect for the makeup enthusiast in your life. You’ll also find beauty advent calendars from Charlotte Tillbury, MAC, and more.
Unique Advent Calendars
Saks Fifth Avenue has an array of advent calendars, like this Disney 100th Anniversary Advent Calendar from Swarovski. It includes 22 colorful ornaments, two necklaces, and a playful set of stickers perfect for any Disney lover in your life.
Known for their unique gifts, Uncommon Goods has a variety of advent calendars you won’t find anywhere else this holiday season, like this 12 Days of Hot Sauce set. It comes with various hot sauces in range of flavors from sweet and savory to mild and hot. The retailer’s unique advent calendar options don’t stop there. There’s also an advent calendar for puzzle lovers, brain teasers, and more.
If you have a music lover in your life, they’ll enjoy this scratch off advent calendar that reveals a new QR code each day, which can be scanned for a download of a carol sung by an emerging artist! Give the gift of new music this holiday season with this unique advent calendar.
If you have a big fan of the Beatles in your life, they’ll love this Sgt. Pepper Drum Advent Calendar full of 24 exclusive, premium-quality gifts like a metal bookmark and keyring, dish towel, cookie cutters, socks, limited-edition pin badges, and a reproduction of the Beatles’ Christmas card to fans. With a combined retail value of more than $200, each item will be treasured by any Beatles fan.
This movie advent calendar gives your loved ones a unique way to countdown to Christmas. Each box contains 24 Christmas films to watch along with a bit of interesting trivia on each.
Trending Advent Calendars
Delight the beauty queen in your life with this makeup advent calendar. Valued at over $700, it includes 27 beauty delights (12 of which are full-size) across 25 days from brands like Color Wow, Sol de Janeiro, ELEMIS, and more.
Available in gold or silver options, this personalized jewelry advent calendar features jewelry with the personalized initial and birthstone of your choice. It includes necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings from the British brand Abbott Lyon.
Compartés’ garden-themed Gourmet Chocolate Advent Calendar Gift Box features 24 exquisitely handcrafted chocolates made from ripe succulent flavors from California’s bountiful orchards. With flavors inspired by the garden, you’ll find unique and chic chocolate flavors like Honey Lavender, Caramel Apple, Peanut Butter Banana, Lemon Poppyseed, Passionfruit, Strawberry Cheesecake, Coffee Toffee and Raspberry Rose inside.
Want more holiday gift-giving ideas? Keep reading!
Woman’s World aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Questions? Reach us at email@example.com