Let’s plan advent calendars! I realize it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but the thing with advent calendars is it’s the lead up to Christmas. So you actually have to think about them before December, unless you’re doing an activity based advent calendar. So here are some toddler advent calendar ideas to plan ahead for a December 1 start! Last minute? You could always do a 12 day calendar starting December 13! So jump below for all the latest toddler advent calendars, but first, my annual obligatory reminder:
21 Toddler Advent Calendars for 2021
There seem to be a bunch of older kids advent calendar ideas, but I wanted to do a toddler advent calendar, so here are my ideas geared for toddlers: defined as 1 – 4 years old, but target range more like 2-3*, so borderline preschooler and young kids. The latest advent calendars for toddlers, plus a few classic standbys – from toys, to art, DIY, and craft kits.
1. Play-Doh Advent Calendar
Have you met a toddler that doesn’t like PlayDoh? I doubt it! I love this advent calendar for it being something useable like Play-Doh and not just little trinkets. When our toddler had just turned two years old, he was obsessed with PlayDoh and would wake up in the morning and shout “Let’s DOOOO PlayDoh!” So this toddler advent calendar would have really fit the ticket for that stage. Amazon $20, or Target $20.
2. Schleich Animals Advent Calendar 2021 – Farm World
This is one of the small part advent calendars that would be fine for older toddlers but not younger babies. Our child started playing with the larger Schleich animals around 14 months at Christmas time, as he had stopped mouthing things at that point anyway. He wouldn’t have been ready for this advent calendar until 3. But it’s super cute and I like that it’s a toy we already have some of, so it’s not just a holiday toy and it can be used in the future. It looks like they also have a Schleich Wild Life Amazon – $29 and Horse club (Ages 5-12) advent calendars this year Amazon $34.
3. playmobil 1.2.3. Advent Calendar – Christmas in the Forest
I have great memories of playing with playmobil as a kid. So I love the idea of doing a playmobil advent calendar. They also have a few different options to choose from for playmobil calendars. Although regular playmobil is best for older toddlers or preschoolers as they do have a lot of little pieces. So I also love that they’re offering a playmobil 1.2.3. option – Christmas in the Forest for ages 18 months and up. Amazon $28. Other playmobile advent calendars: Santa’s Workshop Amazon $25, Horse Farm Amazon $24, Christmas Ball Amazon $24, Fire Rescue Amazon $22
4. Little People Advent Calendar
This Little People advent calendar would be great for kids who already have a collection going of Little People or any of the Fisher Price toys that little people would fit in like the farm or airplanes etc. Amazon $31
5. DIY Duplo Advent Calendar with Duplo sets
We are of course, really into Duplos right now. Last year, I made a DIY Duplo Advent calendar with a duplo set we’ve had on our list. (And check out or IKEA lego table diy). I looked for a set that had at least 24 pieces, and that would be interesting to split up over 12 days (holiday or winter theme optional). The train set Amazon $53 is great, I used the the Alphabet set (Amazon $20).
6. Hot Wheels Advent Calendar
Each year, Hot Wheels does a car advent calendar. These are great for older toddlers. However, be forewarned that you’re only getting 8 cars, and the kit is $20. With Hot Wheels and Matchbox being about $1 a piece, my toddler would be more impressed with 24 cars doled out one a day until Christmas. But the packaging and advent calendar concept is of course cute, so depends on your kid. Amazon $20
7. Thomas the Train Advent Calendar – MINIS
Calling all Thomas the Train aficionados. This set comes with 24 engines and some special edition trains. Pretty cute for kids that are into Thomas and Friends, and also great that it can be used for other train play. Note however, that this is part of their minis collection so it doesn’t work on regular wooden train sets, which I didn’t realize at first! Amazon $38
8. Peppa Pig Advent Calendar
Note: this advent calendar is the same as 2020! I know of a couple little friends who would be super excited for this Peppa Pig advent calendar. Pretty cute musical, skateboard, bike etc accessories that come with this one. I like that it’s holiday themed, but not just for Christmas play. Amazon $30
Non-Toy Ideas: Activities, Art, and more
We have no shortage of gift ideas for our toddler. And with a birthday closer to Christmas, it can feel like there are just too many new things in the fall already. So I really like these activity and art based calendar ideas as an alternative to toy based advent calendar. Especially since kids already get so many little toys as stocking stuffers.
9. Melissa & Doug Advent Calendar – magnetic tree
This one would be great for the kid who constantly wants to redecorate the tree. While the pieces might be too small for younger toddlers, the magnetic ornaments would be a fun activity for most toddlers. Amazon $19
10. Fabric Tree to Decorate – Wondershop
Another great option for the toddler messing with all the Christmas stuff. This felt tree is great to distract younger toddlers and as a Christmas activity. Target $10
11. Crayola advent calendar – Christmas Countdown
Note: this is the same Crayola kit as 2020! This one is on the list with a caveat of it being adult supervised. I love the idea of this one for older toddlers and preschoolers. Or if they had an older sibling. The drawback to this one is that depending on how your December looks, this calendar will likely result in them wanting to do that days art IMMEDIATELY. So I don’t feel like adding 7:30am painting projects to my life right now. :P Maybe next year! Amazon $22
12. Kid Made Modern Advent Calendar – DIY Kit
I love Kid Made Modern stuff, and we usually stumble across most of their craft supplies at Target. This craft advent calendar kit seems a bit more doable for me this year. Yes, it will still require adult supervision because of small parts, but not as many paint and super messy items. Phew, I need my coffee first, please! Amazon $20
13. Meri Meri Paper Craft Advent Calendar
I love Meri Meri’s sweet projects. I found them last year via their Adveent calendar stamp kit, which was a fun idea for older toddlers with supervision. And a nice way for to invest in their art supplies instead of just trinkets. This year, they have two calendars, a paper craft doll house one and a wooden festive village. Meri Meri
14. Petit Collage Advent Calendar
15. Tomte with Birds Advent Calendar
A more original style advent calendar with beautiful artwork and a little windows that open and reveal surprises. Simplicity at it’s finest. Maisonette $5.30
16. Disney Story Book Advent Calendar
This book set is 24 Disney stories in paperback version to create a book advent calendar. We’re not really a Disney family, but if you are, this seems like a cute idea. I’ve seen DIY versions of Christmas and holiday or winter book advent calendars, which is a really fun idea. If you feel like wrapping 24 books individually isn’t a torturous use of time. Amazon $17 (released October 26, 2021).
17. Forestland & Arctic Hanging Advent Calendar
This is an empty advent calendar for use as a wall hanging. The nice thing about this is it can be up out of reach of toddlers and you could fill it with things or activity ideas and use year after year. Anthropologie $78
18. Rifle Paper Co Advent Calendar
My toddler would love this advent calendar, for the opening and closing of doors and lift the flap style house. Anthropologie $18
19. Jam Advent Calendar by Bonne Maman
Ok, this one might make you laugh and you’d need to keep it out of reach, but wow this one would be fun for the whole family. What toddler wouldn’t want to open a jam every morning to taste on toast or yogurt?! Amazon $35
20. Wood Block Advent Calendar – DIY or look on eBay
A couple years ago, I found a wood block advent calendar from Hearth & Hand Magnolia from Target. I didn’t buy it and the next year I was thinking about it and of course was no longer available. I looked on ebay and found one for a great deal. It’s been a few years, but this block set still seems to be popping back up on ebay and poshmark (but at pretty high prices). You could also DIY a set by looking on Etsy ($43 for 30 houses) or cutting your own. ebay (originally $25)
21. Wondershop “Fill your own” Advent Calendars from Target
And last, but not least, Target always has a bunch of cute advent calendar ideas in their Wondershop and Dollar Spot areas (definitely more than a dollar, lol). They have this galvanized advent house, a red wooden one, and also have a house with drawers too. Target $25
22. Advent Calendar for Baby – DIY
Our baby was 3 months old for his first Christmas. And we actually did an advent calendar for our baby. Just kidding! It was for us! Babies don’t know what’s going on at that age. But since we’d been doing an activities (grown-up) advent calendar for a few years already, we wanted to continue the tradition. But we were tired parents of a newborn! So we used our chalkboard wall and just wrote fun things like: “First stroller ride!”, “Get a tree!”, “Put up the tree”, “decorate the tree!” (it’s a 3 day affair when you have a baby), “Slept 5 hours at night!”, etc. It was a fun, low pressure way to do an advent calendar with a baby.
I hope this gives you some ideas for doing a younger kids or toddler advent calendar. I still haven’t narrowed down my exact calendar, other than a family activity one that we follow very loosely. But I’m leaning on making a DIY Duplo advent calendar out of a set he’d be really into. We will see!
And obligatory reminder: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO ADVENT CALENDARS TO BE A GOOD PARENT AND HAVE A FUN CHRISTMAS! There I said it. Don’t feel guilty if you opt out of advent calendars. Personally, I think they’re fun and have been doing DIY activity based ones for the last eight years! Check out my adult advent calendar ideas here.
*Note on safety: you know your child best. For younger toddlers, just be careful of small pieces or parts. Our toddler would have loved the Little People set at age 1, but probably not the Hot Wheels until 2 and the art supply ones we would still only do with supervision, even at 3.
Originally published October 2020, updated for 2021.