The best personalised, DIY and self-filling advent calendars

There are lots of amazing advent calendars out there, from pampering beauty and grooming ones to food and wine ones, and even ones for pets! But sometimes the best things in life are hand-made, or at least personalised. Last year I made my own advent calendar for the Mr, filling envelopes with clues to find presents hidden throughout the house (I’d hide one each morning). That meant that I could give things that I knew he wanted or needed, from phone chargers to grooming products, and from T-shirts to wine glasses. It was also a lot of fun, starting each morning with a little treasure hunt! A quick scroll through Pinterest and you’ll find lots of inspiration for DIY advent calendars you can make, but who has the time make a whole display from scratch? Thankfully there are lots of shops selling empty advent calendars in the form of wooden houses, sack garlands and even personalised photo calendars. Here are 15 ones you can buy – plus a few DIY ones thrown in for good measure.

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1. Numbered bags

A super simple advent calendar idea, number paper bags and fill them with beauty / grooming miniatures, confectionery, and any other small gifts you think they’ll like.

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Image Credit: Buzzfeed

Image Credit: Buzzfeed

2. Hang these advent boxes

These 24 Victorian Christmas Houses could be hung from the mantelpiece, the stairs, your Christmas tree, or maybe a garland hanging across the wall or pinboard. Each one can be filled with whatever you think they’ll love most. £15 for 24, available here.

3. Fill and decorate cardboard boxes

A simple DIY idea is to collect boxes, fill them, number them and decorate them. You could pile them under the Christmas tree, or arrange them into a shape.

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4. Wooden Telephone Box Advent Calendar

A family heirloom to ignite excitement year after year, this advent calendar has 25 little drawers set into a traditional British telephone box. Create your own festive countdown, filling each drawer with sweets, tiny treasures or ideas for Christmas activities written on strips of paper. £99, available from Harrods.

5. Make a loo-roll advent calendar

Collect your old loo rolls, fill them with surprises, then cover them in parcel paper and number them. Arrange them one top of another in a box to keep them organised. Each morning they can pop a hole through each roll and fish out their surprise!

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6. Wooden LED Lit Advent Calendar

A wooden advent calendar that you can bring out bring after year and fill with your own treats is a popular choice. Firstly, it allows you to be more imaginative with what’s revealed each day – it could be as simple as a handwritten happy daily mantra or even cracker jokes. £45, available from

7. Envelopes

Fill envelopes with love notes, date ideas, vouchers, jokes, pictures and memories.

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8. Hanging Envelope Advent Calendar

Consisting of 24 Christmas themed pocket envelopes, 24 mini wooden pegs and 3 lengths of festive gold string, you can either place little treats in each of the envelopes or write a clue inside and create a treasure hunt for any items that may be a little on the large side.Each envelope is illustrated with a Christmas illustration and a number representing the 24 days of advent. £8, available here.

9. Fillable Advent Garland

This beautiful Fillable Advent Garland with its 24 little linen bags offers a delightful new twist on an old tradition. Each detachable bag comes with a red ribbon so you can hang them individually from your tree, or attach them to the red garland rope to display along a banister or hang on a wall. £24, available here.

10. Create an open display of gifts

An ambitious DIY idea (but not impossible) is to up-cycle a dolls house or make a cardboard house, numbering rooms and presenting little wrapped boxes in each compartment.

Image Credit: Style and Cheek

11. Light-Up Chocolate Advent House

With 24 foil-covered milk chocolate balls ready to pop into the individually numbered drawers, there’s still plenty of space to add your own treats too. It’s a beautiful advent calendar to reuse year after year. £29, available from Lakeland.

12. Advent Calendar Village

This advent calendar features 24 houses with numbered doors and removable roofs. Lift the roof to fill the house with your own personal sweets and gifts. Displayed in a wooden case which forms shelves for the houses to sit on, this advent calendar makes a lovely festive display. £52, available here.

13.Photo Advent Calendar

For something totally different, have a personalised photo calendar made, with a memory behind each little door. Order before Friday 18th November to ensure delivery by 1st December. £6.99, available here.

14. Musical Advent Calendar

This stunning Wooden Musical Advent Calendar will become a treasured keepsake for years to come! Decorated with the façade of Fortnum’s Piccadilly store, it contains 24 spaces to hide sweets, toys and other treats. On opening each door, a different Christmas tune will play. £165, available from Fortnum’s.

15. Christmas Tree Wooden Advent Calendar

This Christmas Tree Advent Calendar has 24 little doors, behind which a tiny gift or chocolate treat can be hidden. £90, available here.

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