MSA is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read the full disclosure.

Everything Advent Calendars: History, Today’s Best Picks, and More

All About Advent Calendars

What is an Advent Calendar and why are they so special?

Here at MSA, we’re pretty wild about advent calendars. Not only do we love a good countdown, but we also think the curations offer a fantastic value, and the concept is great for gifting. But let’s put our giddiness over today’s advent calendar offerings on pause for a moment, and rewind back to the beginning.

Advent Calendars have been around since the 19th century, originating with religious significance as a celebration of the Advent season. Over time the tradition has evolved to be enjoyed by all as a festive countdown to Christmas—or other holidays, like Hanukkah as in the case of these Sugarfina and craft beer calendars. Opening a new door each day to find candy, ornaments, cards, or other small treats inside has long been a way of building holiday excitement for children, but in recent years adults have joined in on the fun, too. Advent Calendars are even gaining popularity for year-round holidays such as Halloween, Mother’s Day, and even birthdays. Anyone who celebrates their full “birthday week” or month will easily understand the “why” behind this concept.

The beauty Advent Calendar concept began in the U.K. in 2014, when Liberty London released an Advent Calendar to coordinate with its beauty hall’s reopening. How did something so specific spread around the world so quickly? The answer: beauty influencers. Now they’re made and sold by hundreds of companies here in the U.S., with price points averaging from $50 to $200.

MSA joined the party in 2016, and this Look Fantastic announcement was one of our first posts about beauty Advent Calendars. Now, there are 170+ Advent Calendar announcements on our site for 2020 alone, and you can count on more being posted through December!

Our 2020 Advent Calendar focus has been on a few of our favorite topics: beauty, alcohol, and cute stuff for kids, but there are so many more options out there in a variety of categories. They come in a wide price range, too, so there’s definitely something out there to fit every budget. On our site alone, we feature everything from the $9.99 HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolates Holiday Advent Calendar, serving up 24 days of bite-size treats, to the $700 Wedgwood Advent Calendar, filled with 24 miniature blue-and-white porcelain ornaments. For those who really want an Advent Calendar experience that wows, Tiffany & Co is selling 4 of their $112,000 Very, Very Extraordinary Gifts Advent Calendar—filled with jewelry and objects in all their silver, gold, and diamond-studded glory, each wrapped in a Tiffany Blue box. (Yeah, we’d like to meet the fancy four who end up with those epic Advent Calendars, too!) Most of the Advent Calendars we feature fall into the $50-$200 price range, putting them right in that sweet spot of justifiable as a gift-to-self and just-as-reasonable as an exciting present for someone you love.

Take a stroll down memory lane with us to see how Advent Calendars have grown on MSA:
Advent Calendar Infographic


Our feed is continually being updated with info about Advent Calendars we think our readers will love, and here are a few of the most unique options we’ve recently found:

1. 10 Days of Magical Self-Care Powered by Smudge

The Cost: $99.95
Available on: Available now!
Number of Doors: 10
About: Centered around self-care, this 10-day Advent Calendar offers a different Brazilian crystal paired with a ritual, so that you can explore new means to wellness this season.

2. 12 Nights of Wishes Candle Set

The Cost: $28. Available now!
Number of Doors: 12
About: The twelve colored, numbered taper candles in this Advent Calendar set the tone for 12 evenings of quiet—of gratitude, meditation, or just a pleasant ambiance. Each has a burn time of 2 hours, so set a new candle in the single holder each night to bring peace as you herald the holidays.

3. Jerky Advent Calendar – Cow Carolers

The Cost: $79.99. Available now! Enter your zip code to see when the earliest arrival for your address might be.
Number of Doors: 25
About: This Advent Calendar features a new flavor of beef and exotic jerky—how’s that for festive snacking? From classic and black pepper to orange habanero and sarsaparilla, these jerkies range from classic to experimental, and all 0.5 oz packages are quality.

4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Cost: $199.99. Available now!
Number of Doors: 23
About: Fans of this cult classic will agree that this kitschy resin house, with doors that open to reveal delightfully backlit Christmas scenes, is the perfect blend of “big-ticket score” and “total gag”—for the right person on your shopping list, nothing else will do!

5. Annie Howe Papercuts Advent Calendar

The Cost: $24. Available now!
Number of Doors: 25
About: Papercutting artist Annie Howe has teamed up with Anthropologie to create this gorgeous paper Advent Calendar. Behind each door is a different, intricate papercut image to delight you as you count down to the holiday you’re celebrating.


Do you have your eye on an Advent Calendar? Which one do you like for yourself? Which one do you plan to gift?

Visit our lists of Advent Calendars by category to explore more of what you love:

Written by Christen Russo

Christen Russo

Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and appreciator of soggy French fries. Her favorite subscriptions involve eco-friendly products and clothes, nature supplies, stationery, and coffee. She can be easily won over with a good sheet of stickers.

Posted in Subscription Box News| 16 comments

Comments (16)

  1. I would love to see a best of Lifestyle/Home advent calendars – are there enough options to create a category for them?

    • Same! Candles, plants/planters, decorations etc

  2. Love the infographic!

    • I’m a sucker for a good infographic, too, Carol. Thanks for reading!

  3. This was a fun post to read, and being a numbers girl, I loved seeing the stats! 🙂

    • Yay, Luna, so happy you’re here and that you enjoyed! You have totally been part of this journey with us. 😁

      • What can I say… advent calendar season is one of my favorite times of the year! 😀

  4. I just checked out the 4 year old announcement, for Look Fantastic, and much (not) to my surprise, they was a breakdown by product by…Luna.
    The chic is in it for the long haul

    • We love Luna! She’s such an active member of our community, and been so helpful with advent calendar insights. 🙂

      • If you’re ever able to talk her into an Ask Luna feature, I’m guessing that would be really popular…

      • Hi Dawn 🙂
        What would you like to know??? 😀 No promises on how informative the answers will be though (lol!). 😉

        And thanks Christen for your kind words! I really love & appreciate being a part of the fabulous MSA community. 🙂

      • I second Dawns request!

        Personally, I would love if you did a post on rituals with Beauty Heroes items. I had fun creating a “ritual” with the Biophile items this month. I ended up using votary and biophile but it took me a while to cross check-reference ingredients to make sure I was not going to harm my skin.

        One of the things I get more worried about is mixing skin care that should not go together. example; can retinol, vitamin c serum and glycolic acid be used at the same time? (I think no… but would love a monthly “Luna talks clean skincare” column 🙂

      • Hi Gloria!
        Ironically, as much as I love slathering myself in skincare I’m actually quite uneducated when it comes to ingredients and the chemistry behind them (what works well & not so well together). Sorry to disappoint you! 🙁 A while ago, I really did try to read some articles to educate myself on ingredients & how they work together, but between my brain just not retaining all of that info, confusion on conflicting information on the topic, and me not willing to take the time to critique all of my incoming products from boxes, I failed at my attempt, lol. I actually don’t read ingredients on my products, and thankfully since my skin is quite resilient to different types of skincare my approach is to basically try everything I receive that I like from boxes (once I’ve finished what I’m currently using as I only use one product at a time) then see how my skin reacts to it. I know I’d get tsk tsk’d by a lot of skincare experts on my approach, but it’s worked for me and it’s allowed me to try a lot more products that I probably would have bypassed if I was diligent about critiquing its ingredient list. But if I had sensitive or reactive skin, then I’d definitely take the time to do my research…. and I most likely wouldn’t be subbed to beauty (mystery) boxes. 🙂

    • LOL! I’m on the tail-end on year 5 of reading MSA on a daily basis, lol. I guess this addiction has really stuck! 😀

      • We love & appreciate you, Luna!!! Thanks for being such a loyal reader 🙂

      • Awww, thanks Mallory! 🙂
        I think I’m just as addicted to MSA as I am to my beauty boxes, lol! No joke, I don’t think a single day as gone by that I haven’t checked MSA at least twice (I usually do a morning & an evening check at the bare minimum, lol) since I discovered it in January 2016. 😀

Please do not enter your email address in the Name field or in the comment content!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember to post with kindness and respect. Comments with offensive language, cruelness to others, etc will not be approved. See our full comment policy here.