Advent Calendars unboxed: what you get inside toy and chocolate calendars

There's hours of fun in these toy Advent Calendars from Lego and Playmobil, and the Star Wars and Frozen calendars are as chocolatey as you could wish for...

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Oh, Advent Calendars. Long gone are the days our lot were happy with a picture of an elf behind a window.

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These days, those little windows better be full of joy in the shape of toys or chocolate. Yes, it’s the season for giving, but what better way to count down to the day when all their Christmas wishes will come true than by giving them a little tiny present every day for a month?

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Lego Friends Advent Calendar, £21.96

Age: 5-12

Excitement factor: 9/10

Available from: Amazon

Lego is always a big hit – but are their Advent calendars really worth it? In short, yes.

As soon as you open the box, it folds down into a snowy scene that’s just waiting to be filled with toys.

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But behind door number 1 is a minifigure in a wintery get-up just waiting to be played with.

And there was an audible *squee* in the office when we opened the sweet little penguin with lilac bow on her head.

Yes, it’s very pink, but adorable. And it has excellent play value – the bricks and minifigures can be used long after Christmas is over.

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You can also get Star Wars and Lego City versions for children not quite so into Lego Friends.

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Playmobil Dragons Treasure Battle Advent Calendar, £16.99

Age: 4-10

Excitement factor: 8/10

Available from: Amazon

Ok, so we admit dragons have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. But who cares when a calendar is this exciting?

It has everything: knights, a firing canon, and an actual dragon.

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We’ve taken one point off because the cardboard backdrop was a right faff to put up.

But once it’s up you can look forward to 24 surprises. Although there’s not always something to build like in the Lego calendars, one day you get a trading card game – so there are other ways you can play with it.

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Playmobil also makes a Santa’s Workshop calendar and Unicorn Fairyland one among loads of other themes.

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Hama Christmas Time Bead Set, £17.51

Age: 5+

Excitement factor: 7/10

Available from: Amazon

This isn’t strictly an advent calendar – it doesn’t have little windows. But, this giant giftbox has 24 different Christmassy designs for your little one to make.

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The set contains 5,000 beads, 2 pegboards, 34 bead supports and a design sheet with 24 different designs inlcuding snowmen, Christmas trees, reindeer and more.

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Light Up Advent Calendars, £3.50

Age: 3+

Excitement factor: 8/10

Available from: Asda, Star Wars and Frozen

Character advent calendars don’t come any better than this… Darth Vader’s lightsaber lights up red and Elsa’s magic snowflakes light up blue.

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The chocolate is typical Advent calendar choc: sweet but satisfying. They have character messages and images behind each window too.

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Holland & Barrett Advent Calendars, £3.99

Age: 3+

Excitement Factor: 6/10

Available from: Holland & Barrett in Dairy Free and No Added Sugar

These are great alternatives if your child has an allergy to dairy or you’re trying to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet.

We love the bright and colourful designs.

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On opening, the calendars are a little disappointing as there’s no festive pictures or message inside the window.

The chocolate in the dairy-free calendar is delicious: sweet and creamy cocoa. The chocolate in the sugar-free one is odd and nowhere near as sweet as we’d like, but if you don’t know the difference, it’s definitely eatable.

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Godiva Advent Calendar, £23

Age: 5+

Excitement factor: 10/10 (if you’re a mum with a very sweet tooth)

Available from: John Lewis

In fairness, we did get this Advent calendar thinking we’d try it out for the kids. But considering the steep price tag and sheer quality of the Belgian chocolates we’ve decided it’s much too good for children.

Basically a luxury box of milk, white and dark chocolates cleverly divided up into windows so you can make it last a whole month (though we’re not going to lie – it’s pretty hard to eat just one of these at a time. You have been warned.)

Not so great for children (they’d be happier with the cheaper chocolate one just below) but it’s ideal for mums. *Hint, hint for any partners reading this…*

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