Best toddler advent calendar for toddlers and preschoolers. 18 age appropriate (and SAFE) advent calendars for kids ages 1 through 4.
Now that Halloween is in the bag and Thanksgiving is closing in, my thoughts are starting to flicker with thoughts of Christmas.
I’ve noticed a lot of trend pieces lately about how people are starting to prepare for Christmas a lot earlier this year, and I seem to fall into that category, too.
Recently, I saw a cheese advent calendar in the supermarket, and immediately knew what my advent calendar for the year would be.
Which led me to start Googling advent calendars for my toddler daughter, so she too can countdown to Christmas once December 1 hits.
This will be her first year with an advent calendar, and being a bit out of the advent calendar loop over the past childless decade (or decades), I had no idea how many options there are!
Back in my day, we had a $4.99 advent calendar from the supermarket filled with (let’s face it) pretty crappy chocolate.
Nowadays? Pretty much every major toy manufacturer seems to produce toy advent calendars that frankly look awesome! And there are plenty of cool activity advent calendars for toddlers, too (including my free printable Santa’s Beard Countdown craft!).
That said, many of the toy advent calendars are best for kids 5 and up, and there are fewer toddler advent calendars to choose from.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share the best advent calendars I found for toddlers and preschoolers, ages 1 through 4.
Best Toddler Advent Calendars At a Glance
Just here for some quick recommendations? Here are my for the best advent calendars for toddlers this year, with more details about each below.
- Best Advent Calendar for Young Toddlers (1 & 2 Year Olds): Fisher Price Little People, Playmobil 123 Christmas Forest, and VTech Go Go Smart Wheels Train
- Top Advent Calendars for 3 & 4 Year Olds: Thomas and Friends, Hot Wheels, Crayola, Play Doh, Super Wings, Melissa and Doug, Slime, Mochi Squishies, Mr Men & Little Miss Book Advent
- Advent Calendars for Older Preschoolers (Age 4+): Playmobil Christmas Toy Store, Santa’s Workshop, Christmas Ball, Horse Farm, and Farm Advent Calendars.
- Best DIY Advent Calendars for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Personalized and Reusable Wooden Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars for 1 Year Olds and 2 Year Olds
There aren’t a ton of options for little ones aged 1 and 2, because so many advent calendars have tiny pieces that are choking hazards. The three options below are all good from 12 or 18 months and up. Perfect for even the smallest toddler elves!
Little People are always a big hit for the littlest hands, and the Little People Advent calendar does a great job creating anticipation for Christmas. Every day during the countdown to Christmas, your kiddo will open a window and find a new person or accessory. When complete, they will have a whole Christmas-themed set complete with Santa and presents. This Christmas Advent Calendar is ideal for kids aged 1 to 5 (Amazon lists it for kids 3 to 6, but if you look at the Fisher Price Website or the Box, it’s listed as 1 to 5, which makes a lot more sense to me). Little People are also a great Stocking Stuffer for Toddlers.
Playmobil’s 123 lineup of toys is designed for younger kids ages 1 to 3 in mind, with larger pieces than regular Playmobil. That makes this Christmas advent calendar suitable for kids 18 months and older (my daughter LOVES her Playmobil 123 house!). Your kiddo will enjoy watching a bustling Christmas forest come to life, one piece at a time, with this Christmas countdown calendar. Every day reveals a new character or accessory, and they are thoughtfully arranged in an order that inspires imaginative play every day until Christmas. While some parents have complained some of the accessories are a bit boring (i.e. a bush), others have mentioned how these little accessories inspire more creativity (who should hide behind the bush?). Probably best once your toddler has demonstrated an interest in imaginative play.
The train is the star of this advent calendar, and the included accessories add to the fun. There are two “smart point” locations included in this Christmas advent. When you stop the train at these locations, your kiddo will be rewarded with different phrases. The train also has a push-button, which plays different phrases and songs when pressed. The advent calendar also comes with various train themed accessories (like tools and road signs) and Christmas accessories (like a Christmas tree and a star) to encourage creative play. One thing I love about this advent calendar is that it’s suitable even for the youngest toddlers (rated aged 1 to 5 years old). According to V-Tech, even the smallest part is larger than 1.24 inches.
Best Christmas Advent Calendars for 3 Year Olds and 4 Year Olds
There are a lot more Christmas Advent Calendar options out there for older toddlers and preschoolers. Once your kiddo hits 3 or so, and is out of the “tries to put small parts in their mouth” stage that necessitates all the childproofing (year round, and at Christmas), these kids advent calendars are great choices.
Every Thomas fan will adore this Christmas advent calendar, complete with 24 Thomas and Friends collectible toys. It is packed as a box set with 24 cardboard windows hiding the toys, one for each day. As a bonus, there is a fold-down train track on the back of the box that is the perfect size for the mini trains. This advent calendar is recommended for kids aged 3 and up.
A great choice for your little car enthusiast, the Hot Wheels Advent Calendar not only includes eight Hot Wheels cars but also includes 16 other accessories. When it all comes together on the twenty-fourth day, they will have an entire Christmas scene to accompany the fold-down Christmas shop play mat that is included. The Hot Wheels advent calendar is ideal for kids aged 3 and up.
This calendar makes the Christmas countdown go a little faster by providing a different craft for each day. A pocket of project cards is included, one for each day. Each card is numbered to match its corresponding advent window where a craft supply is hiding. This advent calendar is recommended for kids aged 3 and up.
Designed in the classic shape of a Christmas tree, this advent calendar is large and magnetic with 24 magnetic Christmas ornaments that are placed on the tree one day at a time. As a bonus, there is a sweet Christmas poem on the back that can be read aloud as a new family tradition. It is perfect for kids aged 3 to 6 years old. I love that it’s less toy focused and more tradition focused.
Seemingly the toy of the century, nothing will keep them occupied like slime. And this advent calendar features 12 different mini tubs of non-toxic slime and 12 corresponding tiny Christmas-themed decorations, one for each day of the month until Christmas. Manufacturer’s age recommendation is 3 and up, because there are tiny pieces (the charms) that could pose a choking hazard for younger kids who like to put things in their mouths. Although the slime is made of non-toxic PVA, I wouldn’t give this to a kid who’d be tempted to put the slime in their mouth. For these reasons, this kids advent calendar is best for older toddlers who’ve conquered the “everything must go in my mouth” stage.
This fun and adorable advent calendar includes a fold-up Christmas scene, complete with a warm fireplace and a friendly Santa Claus. Each day reveals a cute new squishy character to add to your kiddo’s collection, all of which are made with toxin- and BPA-free materials.
Arriving in the shape of a large book that opens to reveal two pages of pockets, your child will enjoy a new mini-book for every day of the month with cute and humorous Christmas-themed stories. If you want to do a book advent calendar but don’t have enough books or time, this is a nice alternative to ramp up the Christmas season, and your toddler will surely look forward to story time each day! We also have a list of Christmas books for babies if you’re shopping for a littler one!
Best Advent Calendar for Preschoolers Aged 4 and Up
Once you get into the pre-elementary and early elementary stage, there are a lot more toy advent calendar options.
Around age 5 or so, you can also start to get into the Lego advent calendar series (The Lego City Advent Calendar series is recommended for ages 5 and up and the Lego Friends Advent Calendar series is recommended for ages 6 and up). I haven’t covered those in detail here, as I like to focus on babies, toddlers and preschoolers. However, Amazon has a wide range of Lego City and Lego Friends advent calendar versions from various years that you can check out if you’re so inclined.
This holiday themed set is everything your kiddo needs to create a busy Christmas toy store, complete with a beautiful fold-out backdrop. Each day will reveal a new character or toy, complete with Santa, a couple of elves and all the mini toys you can imagine. It is perfect for kids aged 4 and up.
Take your little one on a daily adventure to the North Pole with this exciting advent calendar featuring characters and accessories from Santa’s workshop. Once your kiddo has opened all 24 doors to reveal the entire set, they can stuff Santa’s sleigh with tiny toys and pretend to deliver them on Christmas Eve. It’s recommended for kids aged 4 to 10 years old.
Your little princess will squeal with delight at the discovery of each little toy hidden in this calendar. When complete, she will have everything she needs for a Christmas ball, including the tree, a fancy dinner table with dishes, and plenty of guests and accessories. Ideal for kids aged four and up.
Your little horse fanatic will love revealing an entire horse farm, one piece at a time, with this calendar. Included are five high-quality horse figurines, three friends and a multitude of horse farm accessories for hours of imaginative play. It is great for kids aged 4 and up. As with the Farm advent calendar for kids, this one isn’t holiday themed.
Almost every kiddo loves farms and all of the friendly animals that go along with them. This advent calendar features a new friendly face, tiny animal or farm accessory for each day. A tractor with a trailer, an animal hutch and even cows complete the set, along with a sunny backdrop. It is ideal for kids aged 4 and up, and isn’t holiday themed, meaning it will be fun all year!
Best DIY Advent Calendar Options for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Another option is to create your own Christmas countdown calendar. Etsy has plenty of great empty DIY advent calendar options which you fill yourself.
This would be a great way to do a scavenger hunt advent calendar, kindness calendar, or activity advent.
You could also fill it with used toys you pick up from a local used marketplace. This is a great way to make your Christmas traditions a bit greener every year.
I’ve found a cute option that would make for a great toddler advent calendar this year. But they could also be reused every year as your kids get older. However, if you want more options just do a quick search for DIY or personalized advent calendar on Etsy.
This beautiful calendar is made of wood and shaped like an adorable house with 24 tiny wooden drawers. You can personalize the drawers to your own or your kiddo’s taste and then fill each one with whatever you want, allowing for a little more creative freedom, personal touch, and eco friendliness.
Why Buy Advent Calendars for Kids?
If you’re on the fence about buying advent calendars this year, I get it.
Christmas is so expensive as it is.
And some of the coolest kids advent calendars – while not expensive, per se – are definitely enough to consider before adding to the shopping cart.
So why bother?
The Countdown to Christmas Teaches Patience
One of the things I like about a kids advent calendar is it can be used to teach patience. This is especially true in the toddler and preschool years.
Kids this age aren’t exactly known for their ability to wait a long time for something they want. Putting 24 potential toys in front of them, and telling them they only get one a day? In my mind, it’s a valuable lesson. And it’s a nice way to use the holiday season to teach a lesson.
Choose a Toddler Advent Calendar That’s a Bit Greener
One of my big objections to advent calendars is the waste. With some advent calendars, I could see my kid playing with the toys for a few days. And then abandoning them to the back of the toy shelf.
I’ve already started gathering Christmas books, toys and accessories. I’ll use them to fill my daughter’s Christmas Eve box, Christmas stocking, and under the tree presents this year. And for environmental and budget reasons, I’m grabbing up a lot of used stuff from local marketplaces where I can.
My 2.5 year old doesn’t care if Little Blue Truck Christmas is brand new from the store or gently used!
But advent calendars don’t work as well if they’re used. If you want to make a greener choice with your kids advent calendar this year, I have a few suggestions:
Choose An Advent Calendar with Year Round Appeal
That doesn’t mean it can’t channel the holiday season in terms of its contents. But it should be something your kid won’t loose interest in immediately. My daughter currently loves cars, imaginative play, and building things. I’m pretty confident she’d love a lot of the advent calendars on my list well into the next year. However, some of the other calendars I’m pretty sure she’d quickly lose interest in. Buying those would be a shame, and a waste of money, raw materials, and fossil fuels.
Buy a Reusable Advent calendar and Fill it With Used Toys
My other suggestion is to get one of the reusable advent calendars on Etsy. You can fill it with a theme of toys you find off of local used marketplaces.
In my area, I’ve seen moms and dads selling bundles of small toys, such as Playmobil or Fisher Price Little People.
Buying a reusable wooden advent calendar and filling with used toys is a great way to reduce environmental impact. Plus, you’ll be able to re-use the actual calendar for years to come.
A Final Note About the Kids Advent Calendars Included on this List
You’ll notice I’ve mostly left out Lego advent calendars from this list. It’s not a glaring omission or an accident – I did it on purpose.
I wrote this list after Googling the best advent calendars for kids for my own kiddo this Christmas.
I found most lists about toddler advent calendars included LEGO advent calendars.
When I went to look at them? I realized they were completely inappropriate for toddlers.
In fact, most LEGO advent calendars are for ages 5 or ages 6 and above. The pieces are too small and finicky for toddlers to comfortably deal with them. And they pose a choking hazard for young toddlers. I decided to write my own list focusing on advent calendars for kids I’d actually give to my own toddler.
You’ll also notice I don’t have a Paw Patrol calendar on here. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find the 2020 Paw Patrol calendar on Amazon. You can get the 2018 Paw Patrol and 2019 Paw Patrol calendars still. So if you have an absolute Chase nut, that’s an option.
I hope this list has been helpful, and you find the perfect countdown calendar or calendars for your own family.
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