Advent calendars are an important part of Christmas for lots of children, adults…and pets!
But do you know how and when the Advent calendar tradition began?
Here’s a short history for you to impress your friends with and share with children.
German-born Gerhard Lang is considered to be the producer of the first printed Advent calendar in the early 1900s.
He came up with the idea when he remembered his mum attaching 24 biscuits onto a square of cardboard for him to eat in the run up to the festive season.
However, with the outbreak of World War II, cardboard became rationed in Germany and Lang was forced to stop making them.
After the war, Richard Sellmer of Stuttgart created and started selling a calendar based on a winter town scene.
These early calendars gradually became less religious, with sweets or toys replacing the original bible verses hidden behind each door.
In the last few years, calendars for every interest and taste have been appearing in the shops in the run up to advent.
So whether you’re a lover of beauty products, coffee, beer, gin, wine, cheese, DIY, Harry Potter or Lego (or pretty much anything else!), there’s an advent calendar for you!
1. Eco-friendly advent calendars
For those of you who are trying to reduce your impact on the environment, a ‘seeds’ calendar like this one from OwnGrown via Amazon could be the perfect option for you.
This calendar contains 24 seed varieties in small paper bags that can be hung on string with clothes pegs to create your eco-friendly advent calendar – and you can enjoy your advent gifts all over again when they begin to grow.
2. Family heirloom advent calendars
If budget isn’t an issue – or if you just like to window shop – then check out Fortnum & Mason’s Piccadilly Building Advent calendar.
It costs a sizeable £110, but this investment advent calendar is beautifully designed, made of wood, and decorated to look like the iconic Fortnum’s Piccadilly storefront.
It has 24 small numbered doors that you can hide sweets, chocolates or personalised gifts behind, and it can be used year after year.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to Fortnum’s offering, this refillable wooden advent calendar from Deuba via Amazon is a more affordable option at £31.95.
The drawers for your advent gifts are quite small, so bear that in mind when choosing what to fill them with: but sweets and mini toys would be perfect for children.
3. Create your own advent calendar
While there are loads of advent calendars you can buy in the shops and online, making a homemade advent calendar is a fun activity – and personalised calendars are extra special.
Raid your craft cupboard and create some pretty ribbon-tied boxes – or decorate paper cups with numbers and hide personalised advent gifts underneath them.
You can display your boxes or cups on a shelf decorated with evergreen foliage and pinecones.
If you’re using boxes you could also attach string to your wall and hang them from that.
Alternatively, your homemade advent calendar could become a unique dining table centrepiece.
4. Make an affirmations advent calendar
Lots of us discovered mindfulness techniques and meditation during the Covid-19 pandemic – and it continues to be a great way to look after your mental health in the busy run-up to Christmas.
One way of incorporating mindfulness into the festive season is to create an affirmations advent calendar, either for yourself or you could share some positivity with a friend or family member.
To make your own affirmations advent calendar, find 24 mini envelopes and add numbers to the front of each one.
Then print or hand-write positive messages on cards, decorate them and put one inside each envelope.
You can present them as a collage, attach them to string to hang on the wall, or display them in a decorated box or basket.
5. Advent calendars for pets
For many of us, our pets are an important part of the family, so why not include them in one of our favourite Christmas traditions?
There are lots of advent calendars available for both cats and dogs.
I like (or rather the beloved pets I’ve bought them for!) the Lily’s Kitchen Christmas advent calendars for cats and dogs which include a range of natural treats and have no added sugar.
At the time of writing the calendar for dogs is £9.99 on Amazon, and the cats calendar was £6.79 (check use by dates if you’re buying them now as they may need using up before this December!).
Meanwhile, if you love all-things Advent, I’ve included some extra facts and trivia below for your enjoyment.
I hope you find these advent calendar tips useful – let me know if you have some suggestions of your own!
Did you know?
- The word ‘Advent’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’
- Originally, the four-week period known as Advent began as a time for converts to Christianity to prepare for their baptism. It is now more commonly associated with the anniversary of Christ’s birth
- Advent calendars can be traced back to the 19th century when families would mark every day in December until Christmas Eve with a chalk line
- When Advent calendars started being mass produced, the first day was changed from the first Sunday in Advent to the fixed date of 1 December. This was so any leftover stock could be used the following year
- The first chocolate Advent calendar was produced in 1958 but Cadbury’s chocolate calendar wasn’t launched until 1971.
I will receive a small commission on products purchased via affiliate links on this page. This is at absolutely no cost to you and I only suggest products that I would recommend to my friends and family.