Looking for a way to celebrate the Advent season and connect with wildlife each day? We've shared some of the best wildlife-themed Advent calendars out there, some of which will also support wildlife conservation charities.

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Our colleagues over on Gathered have a range of great step-by-step guides for making your own advent calendars, including one made from different fabrics, and one involving embroidery, and a guide to buying Advent calendar craft kits.

Plus, BBC Countryfile Magazine takes a look at the best non-chocolate Advent calendars, and BBC Science Focus has this excellent guide to 10 cool Advent calendars.

And if you love luxury YourHomeStyle has the best luxury advent calendars from The White Company, Jo Malone and more...


Best wildlife and nature-themed Advent calendars 2022

Schleich Dinosaurs Advent Calendar

If your child loves dinosaurs then they will love this dinosaur advent calendar, which will help curtail Christmas excitement. The calendar contains a lot of great dinosaurs and all kinds of accessories for hours of playing fun, as well as helping bring these incredible prehistoric beasts alive.

All the Schleich figures are all modelled in detail and provide hours of entertainment. Suitable for 3-12 year-olds.

If you need more dinosaur gift ideas check out our best dinosaur toys and games for children of all ages and best dinosaur lego sets for adults and children

Traditional Secret Garden Advent Calendar

This year why not send a Christmas advent card instead of the traditional festive card? This beautiful magical woodland scene, which features foxes, owls and everyone’s favourite the robin, will delight any wildlife fan – young or old. Each of the 24 doors hides a traditional Christmas image and inside the card it says ‘Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’

Just note this advent calendar doesn’t include treats and is fairly small, measuring 158 x 158 mm, but is a bit of a bargain at £4.99.

Wild Life Advent calendar

Whether you're buying this for yourself, a child or a friend who is young at heart, this Wild Life Advent calendar from Schleich is a cute way to engage with nature this holiday season. Each window contains an animal or item, focusing on African (and Madagascan) wildlife including a hippo, an elephant, a cheetah, a meerkat, a ring-tailed lemur and two birds.

Some of the pieces are quite small, so it is not suitable for children under three years of age, and adult supervision is recommended. We're not sure about the inclusion of pirate treasure, as unsurprisingly we would prefer more animals! For those more interested in domestic animals, Schleich also have horse and farm animal Advent calendars available.

RSPB Advent calendar

Made from sustainably-sourced card, this Advent calendar from the RSPB features a snow-covered tree and British wildlife species, including a badger, hare, red squirrel, great-spotted woodpecker and owl. Each window opens to reveal a festive image.

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Woodland Trust silver birch Advent calendar

Printed in the UK on FSC-certified paper, this new Advent calendar was designed exclusively for the Woodland Trust by illustrator Amanda Loverseed. It features a silver birch tree in winter against a night sky and surrounded by snow. The windows open to reveal for illustrations, many of which are of wild animals, including a badger, a barn owl and a robin. The Woodland Trust also has an oak tree Advent calendar designed by Amanda Loverseed available.

National Trust Woodland Christmas Advent calendar

Featuring a deer, fox, badger and other animals gathered around a snowman in a wintery woodland scene. The windows open to reveal more illustrations.

Sustainable Animal Facts Advent calendar

Learn about wild animals with this eco-friendly Advent calendar, designed and printed in the UK on 100% recycled card. Each Advent calendar also provides a £1 donation to the World Land Trust's tree planting project in the Borneo rainforest. The cards are A5 in size, and include the animal's name, it's IUCN Red List Status and a fun fact about the species. There is also an activity card for each day, which can be turned into a paper chain after use.

The Urban Botanist Limited Edition Plant Advent calendar

Bring the outside in with this Limited Edition Plant Advent calendar from The Urban Botanist, in recyclable packaging. Each item comes individually wrapped to ensure that the plant is kept safe during transit, and the calendar includes 12 live plants and botanical-themed Christmas home items.

The plants are all carefully chosen to be able to survive in the calendar, and the back of the calendar has discreet light holes so they can receive light. A QR code sticker is sent which has a direct link to plant care instructions. Available for delivery from 1st November, the calendar will be made up the day before shipping to ensure they arrive in pristine condition.

Christmas Forest Animals 3D Pop Advent calendar

It's a build-your-0wn Advent calendar with this adorable forest scene, with artwork by designer Katie Vernon. Two sheets of cardboard are provided with 24 pop out icons which neatly slot together to form this 3D Advent calendar.

This shop also has a range of other wildlife-themed 3D Advent calendars available, including Northern Lights also by designer Katie Vernon, Frosty Forest by designer Antoana Oreski, and Silver Stag by Kendra Binney. For each Pop & Slot Advent calendar sold, Roger la Borde will donate £1 to Tree Aid.

Peter Rabbit Music Box Christmas Advent calendar

Officially licensed, this Advent calendar features three dancing magnetic characters, 3d pop-up card models and stickers, and also plays music!

Personalised Wooden Advent calendar

This handmade wooden Advent ‘Christmas Countdown’ comes with engraved personalisation and is made using sustainable bird and oak stained timber. It features mini houses against a pine tree forest background, with a reversibly ‘countdown star’ that is red on one side and sparkly gold on the other.

Personalised Marching Band Woodland Advent calendar

Marching band Advent calendar

This wooden Advent calendar allows you to build an adorable Christmas woodland scene, featuring a marching band of animals – either playing musical instruments or holding gifts, surrounding a gold-etched wooden Christmas tree. Each figure slots upright into the discs, allowing them to stand up. You can personalise the wooden tag on the suitcase.

Winter Foliage Wreath Advent calendar

Advent wreath

A very stylish and elegant way to count down towards Christmas, this wreath features real foliage and 24 notelets. It comes accompanied with full care instructions on keeping the wreath fresh. The wreath is hung on a black metal stand, which can be reused. Will not be dispatched until Tuesday 29th November, via overnight courier to ensure the wreath is fresh for the first day of Advent

Christmas Tree Advent calendar

Tree ornaments Advent

This 3D wooden Christmas calendar features reusable lasercut and hand-stitched felt leaves in different tones of green, and comes in a sealed recyclable box. The tree is made from pure cellulose fibre, and all of the materials are FSC-certified.

Personalised Bears Wood Advent calendar

Personalised Bears Advent

Made in a studio in rural Essex from birch plywood and including jute hanging twine, this Advent calendar features a family of bears and can be personalised with an engraving. It features 24 cut holes from which to hand Advent treats.

Personalised Wooden Advent calendar

Colouring Advent calendar

Featuring Alexia Claire’s woodland animals illustration, this fun A3-sized Advent calendar can be personalised with your child’s name.

Animal Building Blocks

Build your own animals this Advent season with this Advent calendar from KreativeKraft, which comes with easy to follow instructions and a playmat. A wide range of both extant (living) and extinct species are included, such as an elephant, a turtle, a T-rex, a lantern fish and a bee. Due to the various small parts, this Advent calendar is advised for children aged three years and above.

KreativeKraft also has a Zoo Animals Advent Calendar, with 24 detailed figurines of a range of animals, including a lion, a giraffe, a panda, and a sloth, and a Dinosaur Advent Calendar with 16 dinosaur figurines, including triceratops, spinosaurus, and allosaurus, 8 accessories and a play mat.


What is the Advent season?

One of the key aspects of the Christian celebration of Christmas is the Advent period. The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’, and the Advent season is preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas.

There are many Advent traditions, which different churches and communities use to count down the period. One such tradition is the Advent wreaths, where a candle is lit during church services on each Sunday of Advent.

Discover the best Advent hymns and music in this guide by Andrew Nethsingha, choral conductor and director of music at St John's College, Cambridge, for BBC Music Magazine.

One of the most well-known traditions is the Advent calendar, counting down the days until Christmas Day. Modern Advent calendars are used between 1 and 24 December (sometimes also on 25 December), and are popular with Christian and secular communities alike.

A paper calendar was traditionally used, featuring scenes from the Nativity, and windows, one of which would be opened each day. These types of calendar remain popular.

In more recent times, there are now many variations of the calendar, which include chocolates or other gifts, and these are particularly popular among non-Christians. This kind of calendar is often themed around characters, games or activities.

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Main image: Homemade Advent calendar. © Switlana Symonenko/Getty Images

Authors

Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator, BBC Wildlife

Naturalist and writer

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