Wednesday 8 November 2023

20 Advent Calendar ideas for autistic children

The days of buying advent calendars are finally over for me, a fact I'm both happy and sad about. For a few years the first of December would begin a period of joy in our house, with the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf. We had a cute elf to begin with, but that soon expanded into a family of four. Our elves definitely didn't threaten or scare the girls, they were just here to have fun! 

Our Elf would bring a calendar for each of the girls - chocolate initially, until we realised that wasn't being eaten by our youngest. At that time the only chocolate she would eat was a Nestle Animal bar, and they didn't come as an advent calendar... for the last few years she has only eaten one supermarket's own brand chocolate, so there hasn't been any point in us purchasing the branded chocolate calendars that are sold in their thousands.

That meant I had to get creative about what type of filled advent calendar we would buy. I'm sure there are a few parents who would rather their child was not eating more chocolate every day (I am not saying there's anything wrong with that, it just didn't work for our youngest) so I thought I'd share a few of the ideas we had about different types of advent calendar. 

For our younger girl, none of the beauty or make-up or jewellery ones were of interest either, so I've left them off my list. I've tried to pick out the more unusual or 'quirky' options after the obvious choices, just to mix things up a little! Just a quick note to say that these are all affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you visit a link and buy something, but it won't cost you any extra.


LEGO City Advent Calendar

I felt obliged to go with the brand leader first because as a previous Toy Buyer I know there's a reason why it's such a popular choice! Even if your child doesn't usually have much patience for building and creating, these little items in the LEGO City advent calendar are fun and easy to put together. The fact that this is unisex/not gender specific is a big selling point although there is a Lego Friends option to choose from if that's what your child prefers: 

Playmobil Advent Calendar

This year's Playmobil advent calendar is a Baking version, which means a baking scene can be created, plus Christmassy additions of Santa and a tree. Biscuit stamps and cutters for making home-baked biscuits are also included. 

We have had a few different Playmobil advent calendars over the years because they were always well received and had lots of play value. Timeless classics - so if you're feeling thrifty and your child has been careful with the packaging, you can bring them back every December! Another top tip is to look around for the different versions that have been released over the years, sometimes still available in packaging from different countries. There's also a super pink option:

I've also just spotted another slightly pricier version but one which I think could go down well with all those children who love animals - the Wiltopia DIY advent calendar. DIY in so far as an adult needs to build the little boxes in advance but then lots of cute little animals are ready to be dropped in:

Character advent calendars

Harry Potter advent calendars

There are lots of children, young and old, who adore Harry Potter. I would ask, 'who doesn't?' except for the fact that our eldest was a huge fan, but youngest was not interested at all. She called him Horry Patter just to annoy her big sister! First up is this Lego Harry Potter Advent Calendar. Yes, Lego again, but such good quality and product (at an even better price than some of the other options) that will last for ever, to be played with or displayed:

On the pricier end of the scale but super cute is this Funko Pop Harry Potter advent calendar:

There are a few other options but none of them are standing out as items that would be hugely appreciated or cherished....

Pokemon advent calendars

Pokemon seems to be loved by many neurodivergent individuals of all ages - and that includes our younger daughter! This Pokemon festive calendar is at the lower end of the price scale and it contains pokeballs to make out of card, story books, mini guides, activity books, riddles and crafts.

There are several other versions to be found, lots of which include characters, like the one below. My top tip would be to check the details of what's included and also take a look at the reviews (and delivery dates!). This Pokemon advent calendar with figures seems to be the best I've seen:

There are some characters that have seemed to last for several years - ones I remember my girl liking when she was much younger. This Paw Patrol advent calendar is one of those and it comes with some mini figures. 
Then there's the Peppa Pig advent calendar which is actually a mini book collection that could make a nice change from all the plastic that tends to be added at this time of year:
Or if the individual you are buying for is more of a Disney fan, there's this cute Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar:
Both my girls went through a Polly Pocket phase so I'm including this Polly Pocket Advent Calendar for the happy memories. It's actually a very cute little playset that I think many children might love, especially if you have other accessories and dolls in this range (note to self, must get the old ones out of the loft and pass on for some younger children to enjoy now!).

Nintendo is a brand loved by many so my guess is this would be a hit with lots of children. It is the priciest on the list, but looks like great quality - there are lots of cheap imitations out there and i would definitely say buyer beware on those. There's always a chance of badly painted characters or ones missing eyes. But this Super Mario & Co. with Golden Mario & Bullet Bill advent calendar looks great!


Fidget toy advent calendars

This fidget toy calendar contains lots of small brightly coloured toys such as push pop bubble toys, spinners, squishies and a small rubiks cube. We always knew our girl would show no interest in most of these items, so instead we bought her a little squishy animals advent calendar. So cute! These brought great joy a couple of years ago... I miss those days!

Dinosaur advent calendar

It's not unusual for Dinosaurs to feature as a special interest so whilst they weren't something my girls were ever interested in, I'm sure this Dinosaur advent calendar would make a few children happy!

Vehicles advent calendar

Carrying on with the special interests theme, anything with wheels seems to be popular so this car and trucks advent calendar could be worth a try for some families - the reviews sound good.

Bath toys advent calendar

This Christmas Advent Calendar from Zimpli Kids contains bath bombs, slime and jelly type bath products. Skin safe, drain safe, easy clean and stain free, and perfect for those who love to play in water!

Jigsaw advent calendar

Family fun, something everyone can get involved in maybe? There's a little part of the bigger puzzle in a little box for each day.

I'll let you into a little secret... I've treated myself to a Jigsaw advent calendar this year, seeing as no-one else in my house is all that bothered about advent!

So that's twenty but here's an extra one for good luck.....

Cheese advent calendar

OK, so last on my list may be a bit of a curveball and not for everyone, but I definitely know a few people who would like one of these Ilchester Cheese Advent Calendars so I thought I would add this one for all the parents and carers out there! Enjoy (I know I would...!).


  1. Thank you for the reviews. I especially like how the toy ones work with the need for novelty for my wee pda kid

    1. yes that's a great point - novelty worked well, until it didn't, for our girl!!


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