Anticipation is on the rise in a holiday season that began extra early this year, with adults and kids alike spending more hours at home than ever before. Maybe that’s why advent calendars are suddenly all the rage. We’re all eagerly anticipating the coming of Christmas, leading to the pressing question, “Are we there yet?” And who can blame us for asking? A little Christmas spirit might be just what the doctor ordered.
Counting down to Christmas from December 1, Advent — derived from the Latin word meaning arrival — began in the Middle Ages with early Christians paying homage to the coming of the Christ Child. The tradition took form as German Lutherans began to observe the days leading up to Christmas, and it became a full-fledged commercial enterprise with the first printed Advent calendar credited to Gerhard Lang in the early 1900s. As is often the case, Lang’s inspiration came from his mother who made him a calendar of 24 colored pictures she’d attached to cardboard. He simply turned the pictures into little doors and voila — the calendar we know so well came into existence in all of its unpredictable glory.
After an attempted appropriation by the Nazis who, uncomfortable with Jesus’ Jewish origins, sought to turn Christmas and all its trappings into a celebration of the fatherland, the advent calendar made its way to America. Once the idea was set upon US shores, it was cemented in the hearts and minds of children young and old upon seeing a photograph of President Eisenhower opening an advent calendar with his grandchildren in the national news. Bearing some resemblance to gifting throughout Hannukuh, the various manifestations of advent calendars have carried us to Christmas for years and this year — a year like no other — can actually comfortingly resemble seasons past, with a return to this age-old tradition.
Here are a few of our favorite calendars and some savvy out-of-the-(calendar)-box ways to celebrate Advent. Yes we know we’re already a few days into the season, but opening a handful of days in one round takes less time than binge-watching The Queen’s Gambit this weekend. Just don’t get ahead of yourself or Santa may get fussy.
FUN FABULOUS WAYS TO CELEBRATE ADVENT
Treats and Sweets
Our own Clayton Crawford knows how to brew a perfect cup of joe, from roasting the beans to the perfect grind and final pour. This season, he’s drinking a cup a day from Yawn Brew’s delicious advent calendar. But since it’s so popularly out of stock, treat yourself to Copper Cow’s 12 Days of Christmas, which you can celebrate anytime.
A jam for every breakfast from here to Christmas is in this yummy Bonne Maman Advent Calendar. Get fancy – and festive!
Tea with your toast? Try a different cup of Pukka Organic Tea every day till Christmas.
What’s for dessert? A Lindt Chocolate Teddy Bear of course.
For the Kids (In All of Us)
Awake to action and adventure every day till Christmas with the 80th Anniversary of Marvel Advent Calendar.
More of a Star Wars fan? How about a Mandolorian the Child milk chocolate advent calendar complete with a maze to solve on Christmas Eve?
Miss going to the theater? How about 24 days of perfect popcorn from William Sonoma? Pair that with your favorite holiday movies and you’ll be feeling fine in no time.
Get creative — color your way to Christmas in this Advent Colouring Book for kids and adults alike.
COVID has put a halt to our more luxurious beauty routines, including those holiday trips to the spa, so why not splurge and make every day a moment of self-care fun?
Bright up your every (holi)day with this Wild Wishes Advent Calendar from Sephora.
Journey through a whimsical holiday market in this L’Occitane en Provence calendar with a luxurious surprise each day.
For a fragrant holiday splurge, try 24 Days of Jo Malone to last well beyond Christmas.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Light a candle each day — we recommend battery-powered tea lights, to practice the ritual of anticipation with this festival of lights calendar.
Countdown the days with this custom classic Christmas calendar from Lindsay Letters — less to do, more to experience, and can be used again next year.
Have a Fixer-Upper Christmas with this Hearth & Hand Magnolia Wood Tree Advent Calendar from Chip and JoAnna Gaines.
24 Cheers for Christmas
If you tend to spend the holidays cocktail party hopping, simply hop on over to your local liquor store to fill up this jolly snowman with your favorite shooters and you’ll be on your way to a happy holiday.
More of a beer drinker? Check out this fun numbered box to fill up with your favorite brews. Or even better, give it as a gift so the results are truly surprising.
For serious aficionados, here’s a Christmas tree that will hold 24 bottles of wine, whiskey, or your favorite holiday schnapps.
A Bespoke Holiday
Get personal with this beautiful wooden keepsake calendar destined to become a family heirloom. Simply fill up each box with a special treat of your choosing.
Get nostalgic. Try a one-of-a-kind vintage advent calendar made where they started in the first place, Germany.
Or go total DIY with a magnetic board, 24 small mason jars, magnets for each, and a glue gun. Design and print or hand paint your own numbers on the lids, like this one given to Sam by her mom who found it on Etsy.