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!

Rosetta Stone Is Offering Up to Half Off Language-Learning Software for Black Friday

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

It’s no secret that learning another language has numerous benefits. But if going back to school and memorizing lists of vocabulary isn't an option—or something you particularly want to do—you can turn to Rosetta Stone, which now offers subscriptions to their language-learning software. And through November 27, language enthusiasts can take advantage of the company's Black Friday deals and receive up to half off Rosetta's regular prices by heading here.

These deals include a three-month subscription for $39.50, a one-year subscription for $89.50, a two-year subscription for $124.50, and a lifetime membership for $199. Over 30 languages are offered on Rosetta Stone, such as Spanish, Japanese, and French, and your online subscription to the language courses comes with numerous other perks, including:

  • Phrasebooks: These teach you quick expressions and greetings that are perfect for traveling
  • Mobile app: Get access to Rosetta Stone's iOS app, where you'll find conversation practice and short 10-minute lessons that fit your schedule.
  • An audio companion: Download and listen to lessons even while offline.
  • Stories: Written and narrated in the language you're studying, these stories include poems, tours, and narratives that expose you to new words and help you understand the culture better.
  • Games: Practice your language skills by yourself or with other users (available on all devices but mobile).

For an additional fee, you can also get live sessions. The sessions are 25 minutes long and are taught by a tutor who is a native speaker of the language you’re learning.

Rosetta Stone language program on mobile
Rosetta Stone

Mastering new languages can open up new ways to communicate with others you may have not been able to before, and over the past few years, studies have shown that being multilingual can help slow cognitive decline and strengthen neural pathways as you age.

Alongside using a program like Rosetta Stone to learn a language, it can help to have periodic conversations in the dialect you’re studying—even if they are with yourself. Check out our other tips for mastering another language.

Sign up now for the three-month ($39.50), one-year ($89.50), two-year ($124.50), or lifetime ($199) subscription.

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!

10 Thoughtful Gifts for DIY Enthusiasts

Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

It can be tough to find the perfect gift for the people who make everything themselves. Why not give them the tools and supplies they need to create works of art with their own personal touch? Check out these gift ideas for every DIY enthusiast on your list.

1. Prismacolor Premier Hand Lettering Advanced Set; $15

DIY Prismacolor Hand Lettering Set on Amazon
Amazon

With this set of high-quality pens and pencils, your artistically minded giftees will have the tools to add a personal flourish to letters, signs, greeting cards, and more. The kit includes two graphite pencils, seven illustration markers, two dual-ended art markers for bold lettering, an instruction guide, and—perhaps most importantly—an eraser.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Beanie knitting kit; $55

A knitting kit
We are the Knitters

Have a friend who loves knitting, but hates buying supplies? Surprise them with this knitting kit that comes complete with knitting needles, a unique pattern, and your choice of yarn. You can purchase beginner, easy, intermediate, or advanced knitting kits to create everything from hats and sweaters to blankets and wall art.

Buy It: We Are Knitters

3. Olfa Rotary Essentials Kit; $40

Olfa Rotary Essentials Kit on Amazon
Amazon

Perfect for paper crafters and scrapbookers, this kit includes two rotary cutters (in 45-millimeter and 18-millimeter sizes) and a self-healing mat. These tough tools will cut paper as well as leather, cloth, vinyl, film, photos, wallpaper, and more.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Miniature library; $20

Mini books
Uncommon Goods

Recreate your bookshelf in miniature form with this adorable kit from Uncommon Goods. The set comes with 20 illustrated miniature books that you can actually read (the selection includes titles like Thumbelina and The Snow Queen), plus 10 blank books you can write and illustrate yourself. Best yet, the set comes with a miniature bookcase, so you don’t have to worry about where to store your tiny library.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

5. Impressart Metal Stamping Kit; $113

ImpressArt Metal Stamping Kit on Amazon
Amazon

This slightly intimidating kit contains everything a crafter needs to stamp impressions into metal jewelry or objects. Along with the 1-pound hammer and small steel anvil, the Stamp Straight Tape helps you make impressions in a straight line and keep letters evenly spaced. The stamps themselves feature the letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case kits are available) and special characters.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit; $35

Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit from Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Your bestie will be weaned off Sriracha when he concocts his own sauce with dried guajillo, chipotle, and arbol peppers. The kit contains the essentials (like gloves and bottling materials), plus all the ingredients needed for six custom-made bottles of the hot stuff.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

7. Solar Photography Kit; $15

Solar Photography Kit and photo examples from Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Popularized in the 1840s by Anna Atkins, the first female photographer, solar photographs (also known as cyanotypes thanks to their blue color) use sunlight to develop images on chemically treated paper. Just lay a photo negative or object on the paper, place it in the sun for a while, and voilà. This kit includes six sheets of photosensitive paper, a light-proof storage envelope, and instructions. Fabric kits are also available.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

8. Southern Bourbon Stout Beer Brewing Kit; $20-$45

Southern Bourbon Stout beer brewing kit from Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Why fight the drunken hordes at your local craft brewery when you, or your gift recipient, can brew your beer in the comfort of your home? This artisanal kit includes the hardware—a fermentor jug, racking cane, funnel, and more—and malt extract, specialty grains, fresh hops, and yeast to make one gallon of homemade brew. This particular formula relies on oak chips soaked in bourbon (booze not included) to add woodsy vanilla notes to your beer.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

9. Cavallini Flora and Fauna Rubber Stamp Set; $25

Cavallini flora and fauna rubber stamp set from Amazon
Amazon

Create woodland scenes on mail art, gift cards, holiday decor, and more with these rubber stamps on wood blocks. Vintage designs include an owl, songbird, deer, dogwood flower, and other forest friends. The stamps come in an attractive tin with a high-quality black ink pad.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Molecular Gastronomy Kit; $50-$65

Gastronomy kit for kitchen
Uncommon Goods

This kit encourages people to play with their food. Get this for the friend who loves to experiment in the kitchen and wouldn’t mind turning honey into jelly-like cubes or strawberries into delicate foam. The set comes with four different food additives (20 sachets), three pipettes, and a variety of other kitchen ingredients. For $16 more, you can purchase a molecular gastronomy book that can help guide you through recipes.

Buy It: Uncommon Goods

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!

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