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Waking up each morning in December filled with excitement in anticipation of opening the next door on their advent calendar is a highlight of the pre-Christmas fun for children.
Where once kids were enthralled by tiny pictures to reveal or daily chocolates to devour, advent calendars have come a long way (much to dentists' relief), and now there are a plethora of options with a miniature toy to uncover on each of the 24 days before Christmas.
But this leaves parents with one problem: deciding which of the many, many toy advent calendars to buy.
To make your shopping a little easier, we've rounded up some of the best advent calendars for children – from Lego to fidget poppers, stationery to stories – there is something here to delight children of every age.
Best 2021 advent calendars for kids in the UK
Best for Lego fans
Lego Friends Advent Calendar 2021 | £20.99 from Amazon
Currently the bestselling toy advent calendar on Amazon UK and out of stock on Lego's own website, this new release is filled with 24 micro-dolls and mini builds, including a Christmas tree, a postbox for letters to Santa and a roaring fire. Ideal for little Lego fans to create festive scenes. Suitable for children aged 6+.
Best for kids who can't keep still
Fidget Advent Calendar 2021 | £28.99 from Amazon
Fidget poppers are the latest playground craze which is showing no signs of abating just yet. You may find yourself fiddling with the gifts as much as your kids as they're great stress relievers, which could come in handy during the Christmas prep! Suitable for children aged 3+.
Best for wannabe superheros
Lego Marvel The Avengers Advent Calendar 2021 | £24.99 from Lego
This is the first ever Marvel themed Lego advent calendar and it is already delighting customers, as some who couldn't wait till December have already left reviews saying how impressed they are with the detail on the mini-figures. Suitable for children aged 7+.
Best for kids who want their own toy shop
Playmobil Christmas Grotto Advent Calendar | £17.44 from Amazon
Like Lego, Playmobil launches new advent calendars each year, but surprisingly it is not one of their new releases that has made it onto our round up. This set, – which is filled with characters and toys to create a mini Christmas toy shop complete with Santa's Grotto – has stood the test of time and remains one of Amazon's best-selling toy advent calendars two years after it was launched, with more than 11,000 customer reviews rating it on average 4.8 out of 5 stars. Suitable for children aged 4+.
Best for sending in the post
The Night Before Christmas Pop & Slot Advent Calendar | £12.95 from Trouva
If you're planning to send an advent calendar to loved ones in the post, this will make a wonderful surprise. It comes flat-packed and contains everything you need to create a festive 3D house. Each day there's a new element to pop out and slot in to gradually build up a magical night before Christmas scene. Suitable for children aged 3+.
Best for Baby Yoda fans
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar | £24.99 from John Lewis & Partners
Currently the bestselling calendar on John Lewis, this festive countdown contains buildable Star Wars toys from The Mandalorian Season 2, including minifigures of The Mandalorian and the Child (otherwise known as Grogu or Baby Yoda) in festive outfits, as well as buildable vehicles , which Star Wars fans will recognise, such as The Razor Crest, TIE Fighter and the Child’s hoverpram. Suitable for children aged 6+.
Best for gamers
Minecraft Advent Calendar 2021 | £21.99 at Amazon
A gaming calendar with goodies that actually encourage kids to spend a bit of time away from a screen, what's not to love? From notebooks and pens to stickers, charms and badges, your child's pencil case will be filled with Minecraft goodies by Christmas. Suitable for kids aged 3+.
Best for calm evening activities
The Gruffalo & Friends Advent Calendar Children's Book Collection | £8 at John Lewis
If you have trouble getting your children to go to bed as the Christmas excitement builds, we'd recommend getting this calendar based on the bestselling picture books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. If you wait till the evening to open each day's door, then you can settle down with one of the 24 mini activity, song and rhyme books for a spot of calming colouring, drawing or singing. Suitable for children aged 3+.
Best for a first Christmas
Keepsake Personalised Baby's First Advent Calendar | £20 from Not On The Highstreet
This keepsake calendar allows parents to jot down a memory from their baby's first December, whether it's their first Christmas party or the first time they tried a Brussels sprout, this is sure to bring joy when brought out again in years to come. Suitable from birth.
The best for stationery lovers
Advent Calendar 2021 | £20 at Smiggle
Smiggle's fun stationery has earned it a place in many a child's heart (even Harper Beckham is a fan), so little stationery-lovers will be delighted to find no less than 25 exciting gifts inside this calendar, including a rainbow pencil, stacking highlighters and a spy pen. Plus, there's also the chance to find one of 30 winning “lucky tickets”, which will entitle the holder to a Smiggle shopping spree. The first ten to claim their winning ticket will also have their prize matched and donated to a school of their choice. Suitable for children aged 6+.
Best for vehicle loving kids
Thomas & Friends Fisher-Price MINIS Advent Calendar | £19.99 from Amazon
There's no filler in this calendar - every day wannabe conductors will be delighted to discover a new engine to add to their collection and the box even flips open to reveal a track. Suitable for children aged 3+
Best for starting a tradition
Hanging Fabric Fill Your Own Advent Calendar | £24.99 at Lakeland
Part of the excitement of Christmas comes from the familiar – unpacking much-loved decorations year after year always gets the family reminiscing about times gone by. Start a festive tradition for your loved ones with this fabric calendar with pictured pockets that can be filled with new treats each December.
Read more: Our editors' picks on all the best advent calendars for 2021
Watch: What are the best deals on beauty advent calendars?