Christmas is on the way and, for many of us, that means investing in the obligatory annual advent calendar to see in the 25th. Gone are the days when the countdown just consisted of chocolate treats behind cardboard doors; there are now hundreds of fun kits designed to ramp up the excitement during December.
In fact, some of these showstoppers would work as gifts in their own right. Some involve building your own gadgets, while others feature collectibles or food packs to help you create delicious meals and snacks. And all of them give you something that’ll last longer than chocolates would – unless you have a lot of self-restraint.
Treat yourself or someone else to one of these cool advent calendars for a Christmas countdown you won’t forget in a hurry.
- Looking for even more advent calendar ideas? Try these wildlife and nature-themed advent calendars from BBC Wildlife or the best non-chocolate advent calendars from Countryfile
10 cool advent calendars for December 2021
Eight Innovation electronic games advent calendar
If you’re a fan of retro games or have an interest in electronics, this cool advent calendar is a must. Every day, you can open up a different component, giving you the tools to play 24 different electronic games by the end of the month.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert; this kit comes with easy instructions for each game, as well as all the bits and pieces you’ll need to play them.
By 25 December, you’ll be able to enjoy a full-on retro gaming session, playing old favourites including Whack-A-Mole, Ping Pong and Code Breaker.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Pop! Vinyl advent calendar
Funko Pop! Vinyl figures are becoming increasingly popular, and if you’re a fan of the miniature models you can bump up your collection with a themed advent calendar.
This one is official Disney merchandise and contains 24 mini characters from the classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas. There are also versions covering several other films and TV shows, including Marvel, The Office (US) and Harry Potter.
Harry Potter sock advent calendar
Most cool advent calendars come with collectibles or games, but you probably won’t find one with a more practical set of gifts than this Harry Potter-themed box. It contains 12 pairs of socks to replenish your underwear drawer in time for Christmas – seven short ones for trainers and five longer varieties.
Each pair comes with a fun Harry Potter-themed design, so expect to see references to Dobby, Hedwig and, of course, ‘you know who’.
Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn advent calendar
If you’re not ready to say goodbye to the classic food-filled advent calendar just yet, try this fun alternative. Every day, you’ll get a 7g sachet of gourmet popcorn in one of 12 festive flavours, including banoffee pie and toffee apple & cinnamon.
This isn’t your average popcorn either; it’s made in the UK with natural, vegan-friendly and gluten-free ingredients.
Volkswagen Camper advent calendar
Make your very own VW Camper with this fun advent calendar kit. Between 1 and 25 December, you’ll accumulate all the accessories you need to construct not only the vehicle, but a diorama to surround it as well.
The best bit? It has a speaker to recreate the classic campervan sound. Also included is a comprehensive instruction manual and an illustrated guide to teach you all about the extensive history of the ‘VW Type 2’ and the people behind it.
Retro radio advent calendar
Like the electronic games advent calendar, this one gives you all the components you need to build a working gadget in 24 days. This time, it’s an FM radio and behind each door you’ll find a different part to add to your project as the month progresses.
Thanks to the detailed instruction manual, you can work on experiments every day. All you need is 2 AA batteries to power up your radio at the end of the month.
Star Wars X-Wing Fighter advent calendar
Perfect for anyone who loves a project, this alternative advent calendar involves building and painting a Star Wars X-Wing. The pack is official merchandise, and comes with everything you need to create your very own replica, including a modelling knife and paints.
Over the course of December, you can work on your X-Wing before proudly unveiling it for your friends and family. And when Christmas is over, you can keep the model on display for years to come.
12 Days of Bond advent calendar
If you’re after an advent calendar with a bit of class, this beauty is for you – what else would we expect from a James Bond-themed product? Not only does it include an authentic prop from the iconic film franchise, but it’s also made from the highest quality materials.
The drawers and doors are finished with embossed paper, and each opening is magnetic and tied with a ribbon. Inside, expect to find items like a martini cocktail jig and a Dr No-esque silk pocket square, as well as a real gambling chip from the Casino Royale film. Plus, there are plenty of tasty treats too, like truffles and popcorn.
This set comes with a fairly hefty price tag, but it’s got to be one of the frontrunners when it comes to cool advent calendars – ideal for true Bond fans.
12 Curries of Christmas advent calendar
Curry fans and food aficionados alike will appreciate this unique advent calendar. It contains 12 spice blends, each accompanied by a simple recipe to create a variety of mouth-watering meals – all with a nod to the 12 days of Christmas. It swaps the five gold rings for onion bhaji rings, 12 drummers for butter chicken drumsticks… you get the idea.
Just follow the recipes and toss in a few fresh ingredients like tomato and coconut milk, and you’ll get enough to feed four people per day. The spice mixes last over a year, so you could cook your curries throughout December, stick to the actual 12 days of Christmas or serve one a month in 2022. The choice is yours.
Bespoke Marvel advent calendar
For something a little more long-lasting, try this handmade wooden Marvel advent calendar. Designed to be used year after year, the drawers are empty for you to fill with your own goodies.
Each drawer front features a different character from the franchise, and is decorated with a foil-embossed number tracking the Christmas countdown.
This advent calendar would also make a fantastic gift for a loved one, as you can personalise it with treats you know they’ll enjoy. As a special finishing touch, it comes gift-wrapped.
- Buy now from Etsy UK (£40.00)
Looking forward to the big day itself? Prepare your itinerary with these fun games you can play virtually.