11 Unique Advent Calendars That Are Perfect for Your Christmas Countdown

Target/Amazon
Target/Amazon

Counting down the days until Christmas is a wonderful tradition with some pretty old roots. The ritual dates back to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles counting down until December 25.

It was in the early 1900s when printed Advent calendars came about, and it's said they were invented by a man named Gerhard Lang, who began producing and selling them in Germany. Over the years, these calendars have certainly changed. Now instead of just an illustration or piece of chocolate, the daily treat can take the form of a soothing tea bag, a Ron Weasley figurine, or even a fun little science project.

Here are 11 of the coolest Advent calendars we could find online.

1. FUNKO Harry Potter Advent Calendar; $39

Funko Harry Potter Advent Calendar
Funko / Amazon

“Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Ring the Hogwarts bell…” Celebrate the season with miniature Funko versions of 24 witches and wizards from the spellbinding world of Harry Potter. Each character stands a little under 2 inches tall, so they won’t take up too much space. (Come to think of it, you could probably fit the whole lot in one of Dobby’s socks.)

Buy It: Amazon

2. 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar; $32

Tea Advent calendar
Uncommon Goods

Stay caffeinated this December with two dozen tea bags. This calendar contains an eclectic assortment of flavors, such as Chinese black tea and Scandinavian tea with cranberry and elderflower. Just thinking about them is already making us feel all warm and cozy…

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

3. Nintendo Super Mario Advent Calendar; $50

Nintendo Advent Calendar
Nintendo/Amazon

For the Nintendo fans out there, this Advent calendar features 17 characters and seven accessories from the world of Super Mario to unlock in the countdown to Christmas. From Mario and Princess Peach to a piranha plant and goombas, this set is perfect for anyone waiting to unwrap a Switch for the holidays.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Women’s 15 Days of Star Wars Socks Advent Calendar; $15

Star Wars sock Advent Calendar
Target

For $15, you get as many pairs of Star Wars-themed socks, a decorative box with a fun little quiz for franchise diehards, and—blessedly—zero references to that infamous 1978 holiday special. What else would you want to wear on your feet when you go see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?

Buy It: Target

5. Women’s Nightmare Before Christmas 15 Days of Socks Advent Calendar; $15

Nightmare Before Christmas Advent calendar
Target

Why should Star Wars fans have all the fun? Target also offers a Halloweentown-centered Advent calendar, complete with Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie hosiery. Speaking of animation, Disney Princess and Lilo & Stitch sock sets are available, too.

Buy It: Target

6. Handcrafted Caramel Advent Calendar; $30

Carmel Advent calendar
Uncommon Goods

If flavor names like “Hawaiian Sea Salt” and “Tapped Maple” make your mouth water, do yourself a favor and get this delicious calendar full of 24 handmade caramel samples. As a bonus, the box set features some charmingly illustrated animals from artist Cindy Hendrick. We’re partial to the apron-wearing fox.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

7. Yule Do Nicely: A Ghostly and Weird Advent Calendar; $6

Yule do Nicely Advent Calendar
Rhys Hughes / Amazon

Ditch the candy and toys, because if you like creepy and somewhat unsettling stories all year—not just Halloween—then this is ideal. The first 24 stories of this pocket-sized book form a weird Advent calendar leading up to the big day. Then on Christmas, enjoy 28 strange, short tales from "The Shocking Stocking" section.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Purple Ladybug Novelty Dinosaur Toys 2019 Advent Calendar; $22

Dinosaur Advent Calendar
Purple Ladybug Novelty / Amazon

Look, you’re never too old to channel your inner John Hammond. Purple Ladybug offers an assortment of prehistoric animal models and fossils in a 24-day advent calendar—and their (ahem) “dino-mite” set saves the very best critter for last.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Ooshies DC Comics Advent Calendar; $50

Ooshies Advent Calendar
Ooshies / Amazon

Countdown to the holidays with your favorite super heroes or villains—like Batman, Superman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman—in tiny pencil-topper form. The set even comes with eight exclusive Ooshies.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Edible Artwork Chocolate Advent Calendar; $35

Chocolate Advent Calendar
Uncommon Goods

This isn’t your typical chocolate Advent calendar. This 25-day calendar is full with melt-in-your mouth, handmade chocolate in the shape of martini glasses, flip-flops, cowboy boots, and more.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

11. STEAM Activity Countdown Advent Calendar; $25

Science Advent Calendar
STEAM / Amazon

This 106-page book includes two weeks’s worth of activities for the curious children in your life. Each one will bolster the little tykes’s appreciation for science, technology, engineering, art, and/or mathematics. Among other things, they’ll learn how to turn a Sierpinski triangle into a mesmerizing Christmas tree. How cool is that?

Buy It: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Novelty Socks That Make Perfect Stocking Stuffers

Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon
Good Luck Sock/OoohYeah/Amazon

There’s no reason socks should elicit groans when they’re given as gifts for the holidays. If you know where to look, you can find ones that reflect the tastes and personality of the person you’re shopping for. In addition to being a form of self-expression, they're also practical. Chances are that nearly all of the loved ones on your list could use an extra set. We pulled together a group of fun and colorful novelty socks that are perfect for Star Wars fans, Disney villain lovers, hikers, and everyone in between.

1. Injinji Toe Socks; $12

Toe socks
Injinji / Amazon

Toe socks are more than funky-looking footwear. They also reduce blisters, wick sweat, and align the foot in a way that’s more natural than conventional socks. That’s why Injinji chose the style for its running socks. They’re great for working out, or just lounging around the house and feeling comfortable.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Seirus Heatwave Socks; $30

Heatwave socks.
Seirus Innovation / Amazon

When hiking in the dead of winter, even the thickest wool socks aren’t always enough to keep your toes warm. Seirus’s Heatwave socks use a high-tech design to trap the heat from your foot inside your shoes. The “kinetic heat return system” converts the energy you generate into heat that gets reflected back onto your body. They’re knit from a blend of spandex and polyester, so they can stretch to maximize the insulation of any size shoe.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Star Wars Starry Night Socks; $39

Star Wars Starry Night socks.
Amazon

This five-pack of socks reimagines your favorite Star Wars characters in a post-impressionist art style. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, and R2-D2 along with C-3PO are all represented against a swirling background reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Studio Ghibli Socks; $12

Studio Ghibli socks.
Amazon

If you know a Studio Ghibli fan that can’t pick a favorite movie, this sock pack is for them. Each pair in the set of four features characters from a different movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, including Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and My Neighbor Totoro.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Christmas Sweater Dinosaur Socks; $10

Dinosaur socks.
Amazon

If you don’t think the person you’re shopping for would commit to wearing a full ugly Christmas sweater, buy them these socks. The festive apparel features dinosaurs like T. rex and Stegosaurus sporting knitwear for the holidays.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Takeout Sushi Socks; $20

Sushi socks in a box.
Amazon

The creative presentation of these socks makes them a great gift for the holidays. They come rolled like sushi and nigiri and are packaged in a classic plastic takeout box—fake green grass included. When they’re unraveled, the socks show off the patterns and color palettes of the sushi pieces.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Bob Ross Socks; $12

Bob Ross socks.
Amazon

Bob Ross’s “happy little accidents” saying originally referred to his painting, but it also makes for a sensible life philosophy. With these socks, wearers can carry the mantra—along with the artist’s glorious perm—on their feet wherever they go.

Buy It: Amazon

8. Stranger Things Socks; $7

Stranger Things socks.
Hot Topic

The striped design of these crew socks already makes them feel like they’re ripped right from the 1980s. The Stranger Things logo and the silhouette of Mike and Eleven on a bike, à la E.T., perfectly complements the retro style.

Buy It: Hot Topic

9. Smartwool Socks; $22

Smartwool socks.
Smartwool

All of the socks from Smartwool are made from Merino wool—a material that keeps feet dry, warm, and odor-free without compromising softness. Their socks are perfect for outdoors as well as staying comfortable in your day-to-day life. If you know the person you’re shopping for well enough, you can fill out a quick survey with their preferences for length, thickness, and outdoor activities to find the best socks for them.

Buy It: Smartwool

10. Disney Villain Socks; $15

Disney villain socks.
Hot Topic

This is the gift for your one friend who shrugs off the classic Disney heroes and instead embraces the company's villainous side. These socks feature the faces of classic evildoers like Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent, along with each villain’s catchphrase. Five pairs are included in a pack.

Buy It: Hot Topic

11. Dreidel Dog Socks; $8

Dreidel dog socks.
Amazon

Celebrate this Hanukkah by giving the gift of cuteness. These socks, featuring a delightful combination of puppies and dreidels, come in blue or black.

Buy It: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

What’s Better Than a Dog in a Sweater? A Sweater That Shows an Image of Your Dog in a Sweater

Sweater Hound
Sweater Hound

If you think the sight of someone walking their sweater-clad dog is just about the cutest thing in the world, you’re absolutely correct. But what if that person was wearing a sweater that showed an image of their dog wearing a sweater? If you think that sounds even cuter, you’re in for a treat.

According to People, New York-based apparel company Sweater Hound will knit you a sweater that displays an image of your dog in a sweater—all you have to do is submit your favorite photo of your dog. And, because not all dogs love wearing sweaters in real life, your dog doesn’t have to be wearing a sweater in the photo you upload.

Each sweater is made from a combination of acrylic and recycled cotton, and will prove to your pet that you truly do love them more than anyone else (unless you already own sweaters emblazoned with the faces of your friends and family).

The sweaters, which cost $98 each, come in both child and adult sizes, and you can choose between cream, navy, black, and gray. The options don’t stop there—Sweater Hound offers sweaters that show your dog wearing just a bow tie, a bow tie and a sweater, a Santa hat and scarf, reindeer ears and a sweater, or even a “Super Dog” cape and domino mask outfit.

sweater hound dog wearing a bow tie on a sweater
Sweater Hound

If sweaters aren’t really your style, there are also hoodies and sweatpants decorated with a smaller, logo-sized image of your dog. Or, you could snuggle with your prized pooch underneath a warm blanket bearing a rather giant image of said pooch.

blanket with an image of a dog wearing a bow tie and sweater
Sweater Hound

While the company does specialize in creating dog-related products, they’ll do their best to accommodate people who love salamanders in Santa hats, birds in bow ties, and other pets wearing clothes. You can email them at Hello@Sweaterhound.com to discuss your options.

If you’re hoping to get someone a gift from Sweater Hound this holiday season, you should act fast: You have to place your order by December 4 in order to guarantee delivery before Christmas, and that date will likely change as the days go by.

Adorable, customizable clothing is just one of the many perks of being a dog owner—here are 10 more scientifically proven benefits.

[h/t People]

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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