5 Fun Advent calendars for the holiday season

Nov 17, 2011 at 12:45 p.m. ET

The countdown to Christmas starts on the day you flip the calendar over to December 1st and if your kids are old enough to know that the holidays are coming, they're sure to be keeping track! Ditch the traditional cheap, chocolate-filled cardboard calendar this year and try one of these five fun Advent calendars that your kids are sure to love.

Lego City Advent CalendarLego City Advent Calendar

If you have a little LEGO fanatic at home, they will flip over getting to countdown to Christmas. The LEGO City Advent Calendar ($35) has a different piece of a LEGO city to open every day. From snowmobiles and Christmas trees that need to be assembled to larger buildings that will take them three days of Advent-calendar-opening to collect all the pieces they need, after 25 days, your kiddos will have an entire LEGO city to play with. LEGO also makes a Star Wars Advent Calendar set.

Share some Lego love: Father-child bonding >>

Customize your own Advent calendarCustomize your own Advent calendar

Make this year's countdown to Christmas a fun craft for your kids with a customizable countdown Advent calendar ($14). You can pick up one of these plain, inexpensive sets of 25-drawers online or at your local craft store and then let your little ones go to town decorating with Christmas stickers, paint, glitter and whatever else makes it festive. Add some number stickers to make the counting down easy. They're going to love checking the drawers every morning to see what the Christmas elves left the night before!

Try these Christmas Eve crafts to keep the kids (and you) from going crazy >>

Abacus Advent calendarAbacus Advent calendar

For families who want to count down the 25-days to Christmas but don't care to make it about gifts or candy, this Abacus Advent calendar ($38) from Garnet Hill is the perfect fit. There are 25 beads on the Christmas tree frame, so each morning, your anxious kiddos can move one more bead to the other side until they are all moved over on Christmas morning. Moms, you'll love this advent calendar because it will easily fit in with your other holiday decor!

Make your holidays special: Holiday decorating with your preschoolers >>

Advent calendar quiltAdvent calendar quilt

Whether this is your first year having an Advent calendar or counting down to Christmas is already a part of your holiday tradition, this Advent calendar quilt ($122), available on Etsy, is sure to become a special family heirloom. This quilt is special and also practical when it comes to Advent calendars -- the pockets are big and sturdy, so unlike some Advent calendars, you can easily tuck some little treats or goodies in there without having to worry about it coming apart at the seams.

How to create holiday traditions with kids >>

Christmas Book Advent calendarChristmas book Advent calendar

For a low-cost, low-effort way to make the countdown to Christmas special for you kids, create your own Christmas book Advent calendar. Gather up all your Christmas and holiday books and wrap them individually in some cute, festive wrapping paper, then tag them with numbers one through 25. Line all of the wrapped books on the mantle or put them in a basket (maybe out of reach so that the littlest ones won't be tempted to unwrap early!) and then have your children open one book a day. They'll love discovering all of their favorite holiday books again!

Need more books to get to 25? Check this list of Best Holiday books for kids >>

Tell us

Are Advent calendars part of your family's holiday tradition? Share how you countdown to Christmas in the comments!

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