Advent calendars are a great way to get your pre-teen excited for the holiday season. Bring the fun everyday from December 1-24! Lots of styles to suit your needs from reusable to disposable and hanging to table top. We’ve scoured the internet to bring you the best-of-the best for the 2021 holiday season.
There are some exciting options for pre-assembled, calendar only and DIY calendars. Pre-assembled options require the least amount of prep work because they are completely finished and ready to go. Calendar only gives you the chance to personalize the candy or small items you include.
While DIY gives you a chance to personalize both the calendar and the filler items. Plus you can get your pre-teen in on the crafting of the calendar as well. You really can’t go wrong with any of the exciting options.
If you’re looking for less candy or small toys/items you may want to consider a Christmas Countdown Calendar instead. Check out 20 Christmas Countdown Calendars 2023.
If you’re still unsure of where to go next after looking over this list make sure you don’t miss our Buyer’s Guide at the very bottom. We’ll go over everything you need to consider before selecting an advent calendar.
22 Pre-assembled Advent Calendars
It’s a one stop shop with pre-assembled options. Grab a calendar and you’re all set, easy-peasy.
If your pre-teen is a Fortinite fan this one’s for you! You’ll get extra “thank yous” this year with this fun and unique calendar. Every day for 24 days your teen will discover a new vinyl figurine from the world of Fortnite.
It’s time to head to the wizarding world of Harry Potter as imagined by Funko! Funko has long been making high quality vinyl figurines and this set is no different. Each day your pre-teen will be surprised with a new character figurine inspired by the books and films. A one-of-a-kind set that is not to be missed.
Another Funko option-I know, I know, but it’s hard to beat the quality at this price point! This calendar features favorite characters from Dragon Ball Z, one for each of the 24 perforated boxes. Walking away from an advent calendar with 24 high-quality figurines will keep the fun going all year for your pre-teen.
A fun option for anyone who loves fashion! This adorable calendar comes with one LOL doll who is ready for the winter disco! 24 unique surprises await your pre-teen each day including outfits, shoes and other accessories. If your pre-teen has other LOL dolls some of the fashions are mix-and-match so they can add to their ever growing collection.
This calendar is one of the more expensive on the list, but if you have a Marvel obsessed pre-teen this one is a can’t miss hit! This calendar is the 80th anniversary edition that comes with 24 mini Funko figurines. Each figurine is made from vinyl and features a different Marvel character. Fun to play with or keep as collectibles.
Your pre-teen will feel like they’re spending Christmas at Hogwarts with this festive advent calendar filled with cozy socks. This one is more of a 12 Days of Christmas calendar, but it’s well worth it. Inside your pre-teen will find 7 pairs of shorter socks and 5 pairs of longer socks. Each one with a unique Harry Potter design. The socks are unisex or one size fits most.
Brand NEW for 2021! This calendar is a new release. This one comes with keepsake style filler items such as cards, keychain, ornaments and a ticket for the Hogwarts Express. Pre-teens will enjoy collecting each item.
It will be a magical Christmas for any Potterhead with this fun assorted advent calendar. Behind the perforated doors lies 24 gifts including stationary, jewelry, small accessories, socks and more wizarding surprises. This one stands out due to the wide assortment of surprises. Pre-teens will bubble over with excitement for this one!
Send up the signal-it’s time to countdown to Christmas Batman! NEW for 2021 this calendar features small collectible items for all Batman fans such as ornaments, key chains, bookmarks etc.
If you’ve been looking for a high quality charm bracelet for your pre-teen, this one is one of the best on the market. Handmade with Swarovski crystals and silver plated pieces this one is a very unique can’t miss option. Included with the 12 day calendar is one bracelet, one necklace and 10 charms.
The chains on both the necklace and bracelet are not adult sizes; at 7 ¾ inches for the bracelet and 18-22 inches for the adjustable necklace.
A unique and different option for DC Comics fans-24 collectible coins. Each one is made from zinc and brass. Each coin is housed in protective plastic. Officially licensed by Warner Brothers, so you can be assured of quality.
NEW for 2021. This calendar is ideal for Marvel fans who don’t want figurines. Each of the daily filler items here are paper ornaments, gift tags, pens, a door hanger, etc. More collectible items and less toys.
Could these little guys be any cuter? Your child will be surprised with a new design each day for 24 days. The rings are stainless steel and the decorative pieces are made from silicone. Perfect for attaching to the zipper of a jacket or backpack. Also fun to add to a purse or lunch box. You can’t go wrong with these fun accessories!
Brand NEW for 2021! This is a great set for a pre-teen who doesn’t want or need mini figurines. Each of the surprises in this calendar are collectible trinkets such as a pencil, pin, cards, etc. A fun calendar for any fan!
Attention Star Wars fans there is another option for you! This calendar features 24 figures, 4 of which are holiday exclusives, and 7 stickers. Perfect as is or to use with your own calendar only option below. You could stuff one figurine per day in a mini-stocking with a piece of candy and you’re all set. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
This one is for all the aspiring ballet dancers out there! Made to resemble a jewelry box, this one is as adorable as it is clever. One day one, your pre-teen will discover a bracelet and each day after a beautiful charm. By Christmas day they’ll have a fun piece to wear to Christmas dinner or while lying around in their pjs!
What a fun calendar for gaming fans! Daily surprises include 17 mini figurines and 7 accessories. Pre-teens will have fun showing these to friends or displaying them in their room. A can’t miss for Nintendo gaming fans.
This calendar is perfect for pre-teens who already love Hatchimals or those who have never received one. This set is special because each Hatchimal figurine and accessory is Christmas themed. The calendar includes 10 Hatchimals, 12 accessories, 5 nests, 4 sticker sheets, 4 presents and 5 bows, so it looks like each day will hold more than one surprise!
Pokémon- let’s go! A fun set for Pokémon fans. This calendar includes 16 figurines and 8 accessories to stage the ultimate Pokémon battles. Pre-teens will have fun anticipating which character or accessory is coming next. Parents will appreciate that the pieces are well made and the extra festive packaging.
LOL Surprise dolls are already full of surprises so they make an even more fun advent calendar. This calendar comes with one LOL doll and each day a new outfit or accessory can be opened behind the perforated doors. Great for new LOL fans or those with an extensive collection. Get ready for hours of fun with this one!
This set looks festively spooky-perfect for Nightmare Before Christmas fans. The calendar comes with 24 mini Funko figurines with characters from the movie. It doesn’t get any better than that. Pre-teens can set these up along a shelf or desk for display or keep them in a pencil case for collecting. However they choose to use them, we know they’ll have fun.
What could be better than regular slime you ask? Fluffy slime! Always fluffy slime! This calendar includes 12 individual scented fluffy slime containers, and 22 accessories such as beads, glitter, and charms. You may have trouble getting them to do anything else once you start opening these fun surprises!
4 Calendar Only Advent Calendars
You can’t go wrong with any of these options. Each one brings its own personality and many can be customized. All you have to do is choose a calendar and then select your filler items. Be sure to check out The Perfect Filler Items For Your DIY Advent Calendar-by Age before making your shopping list.
Two great things about this one. First, the larger than average pocket size. Second, it can be personalized. The minimalist design will also age well with your pre-teen so you can use it for years to come.
The perfect one-time-use solution that isn’t a bag or mini-stocking. Quick and easy to assemble with plenty of space to fill with fun surprises.
A bright and festive option that doubles as decor. Ample space for lots of different goodies. Fill, display and you’re ready to go!
Everything you need to assemble a great budget friendly one-time-use calendar. This kit comes with bags and stickers. There’s an option to add on twine and clothespins for a small fee. It would look great with the Personalized Wooden Box below.
11 DIY Calendars and Accessories
Crafting a DIY advent calendar can be easy and enjoyable. It does take some time, but it can be fun to do together with your pre-teen. There are some reusable and fun one time use options here. I am loving the downloadable PDFs! If you’re looking to create an activity calendar make sure to see the last option for customizable wooden tokens-so perfect.
If you need inspiration for filler items be sure to read The Perfect Filler Items For Your DIY Advent Calendar-by Age.
What a great idea! This personalized wooden box will go so well with lots of bag style DIY or Calendar only options. It’s a great home base for the calendar to live if you prefer not to hang. Can be used over and over again!
This one comes in two options. One is a printable PDF file, the second is to order it pre-printed and have it shipped. Both are adorable and provide an opportunity to get your child in on the decorating and constructing before you fill the houses.
A fun activity to do together! If you order the PDF file to print at home you could use different colors of paper for the houses!
Similar to the paper village above this is a great opportunity to work on a project together. Ideal for kids who love art or crafting. This is only available as a downloadable file. Print at home or your local print shop.
How amazing are these mini stockings?! The rainbow colors are non-traditional but wow are they ever fun! A great size for lots of different filler items. You can easily add numbers or small tags (see below) to make this a one-of-a-kind set.
This will be ideal if you want to make two, 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendars as opposed to one full 24 day calendar.
Classic candy cane stripe bags are a perfect solution for a one time use calendar. These would be ideal to give as a gift as they stack easily for shipping or can be arranged upright in a pretty box or basket to display. Ample space for trinkets and candy too. Just add numbers and you’re all set.
These are oh so cute and unexpected. The beautiful blues and unique shapes make this one extra special. This set is sold as a downloadable PDF. Fun to assemble and display.
This wooden box is a great reusable option. Imagine how much fun the kids (and you) would have using it year-after-year. It could be left unfinished, painted, decoupaged, or stained. You could paint on numbers or glue on small wooden numbers. You could make it Christmas or even character themed. The variety of box sizes gives flexibility for surprise items too!
Leave this one unfinished or add a coat of paint or stain. Keep it minimal or elaborate, rustic or even gingerbread themed. You make the choice here. The drawers are all the same size so keep that in mind when selecting filler items. Don’t forget to add numbers too.
Advent Calendar Wooden Activity Tokens
These little cuties come with 24 activities engraved for quick and easy use. Ideal for a fun DIY calendar that features activities instead of, or in addition to filler items.
There’s also an option to customize with your own activities. This would be so much fun to customize and use again and again! A great bargain for such a personalized option too!
Festive ornament shape and a great bargain for a full set of unique numbers. Customize with your own choice of ribbons.
Brightly colored in traditional red, green and white these are a great addition to any DIY calendar. Add them to bags, or boxes, etc. The options are endless.
Advent Calendar Buyer’s Guide
There are a few key things to keep in mind when purchasing an advent calendar for the pre-teen in your life. They are hard enough to buy for as it is, so hopefully this helps.
As you get ready to start shopping, consider your budget. There are lots of great advent calendar options at every price point. Set a price range and stick with it.
There are three main types of advent calendars; pre-assembled, calendar only and DIY. Pre-assembled is ready to go and takes the least amount of time to prepare. Calendar only is next in terms of time commitment. It also offers you the chance to customize the filler items. DIY will take the longest amount of time to prepare and assemble as you have to create the entire calendar.
Consider how much time you have to prepare the calendar before you begin. There are really fun options for each type. Your pre-teen will love them all.
Food V. No-food
There are two main types of pre-assembled advent calendars, food and non-food.
Most calendars with food are perfect for pre-teens because they are mostly candy.
You can find chocolate calendars at grocery stores, local shops or online during the festive season. These are generally light weight cardboard calendars with small pieces of chocolate for each day. Who doesn’t want a little piece of chocolate every day?
Other calendars are focused around one brand or type of specific food. For example M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, gummies, etc. If your pre-teen has a favorite treat, this is a great place to start your search.
Non-food calendars are just that, advent calendars that include only non-food items. These can be anything from trinkets, figurines, jewelry, craft supplies, etc.
Don’t forget to consider theme as well. Themes are the characters, tv shows, films, or interests. Does your pre-teen love Harry Potter or the movie Star Wars? If so, there are calendars for fans. Does your teen love Fortnite or Super Mario? There are calendars for this as well.
If you don’t know where to start, consider their favorite things and start with theme.
You will definitely want to keep size in mind if you plan to ship your calendar. Does the pre- teen in your life live far away? Enjoy the season together by sending them an advent calendar. Smaller and lighter items are the most inexpensive to ship. Keep this in mind if you plan to send one in the mail. Some online retailers also offer the option to ship directly after purchase which can be a cost effective choice.
No matter how you choose or where you start, you can’t go wrong with a festive advent calendar to celebrate the season! Trust us, your pre-teen will thank you.
Feel like you’re still a bit in the dark about advent calendars? Not sure to start with day 1 or day 24? Wondering if you should choose an advent calendar or a countdown calendar? If you answered yes to any of these questions make sure to check out our 14 Advent Calendar FAQs.