Graphic designFeature

24 innovative advent calendar designs

Featuring 3D designs, illustrations, typography, photography, and more - check out these top advent calendar designs to inspire you.

An advent calendar is one of those festive items that really helps you get into the spirit of Christmas. Is there anything more exciting than opening those little doors throughout the month of December, with the anticipation building up and up until you hang up your stocking on Christmas Eve? (Er... when you're a kid, of course. We definitely don't still get the same excitement as adults. Ahem.)

Over the years designers of the have become more and more creative when coming up with concepts for counting down the days till Chrimble. So, if you think a chocolate advent calendar is as exciting as it gets, then you're in for a real treat with these 24 brilliant advent calendar designs. Which is your favourite?

01. 24 Trees advent calendar

Don't settle for one Christmas tree this year, have lots with this cool, quirky advent design

This brilliant advent calendar design caught our eye so we had to include it in this list. Here are 24 little trees, which can be filled with treats and surprises for the family to open each day from December first through Christmas Eve. The lady who runs craft blog Pink Suede Shoe created this design back in 2010 but the templates are still available to download should you want to give it a go.

02. Photo advent calendar

This design doubles as a photo wall as well as an advent calendar

This is a simple concept but we really like this photo advent calendar by Carrie, founder of lifestyle blog Making Lemonade. The design uses regular brown tags featuring a typeface with a Christmas feel, which covers another tag possessing a personal photo. Each day the brown tag is removed leaving you with a new photo wall just in time for Christmas day.

03. Google live advent calendar

Warmer... warmer... hot... BOILING!

In December 2011, Google hid prizes behind real doors all over central London. Then, using a smartphone app sent out notifications to users that a clue and picture of the door was ready to view. Inbuilt with the app was a Hot or Cold compass, which used GPS navigation to steer people in the right direction of the prizes. Genius! Find out more about the experimental promotion here.

04. Ornamental advent calendar

Feliz Navidad is the Spanish term for Happy Christmas

Kicking us off is this rather conventional looking advent calendar by designer and illustrator Robin Short. However, instead of tacky plastic gifts or chocolates, this stylish calendar offers DIY paper engineered Christmas tree ornaments. Cool huh? This, combined with its modern design makes it the perfect advent calendar for any creative. 

05. Inky advent calendar

Find the day, scan the code, and unlock a little hand drawn festive treat

This intricate advent calendar was created by illustrator Joanna Bashford, who describes it as 'the alternative Christmas countdown'. Not only is it pretty to look at, hidden amongst the detailed drawing are 25 QR codes, each of which opens a digital door to a little hand drawn festive treat. A brilliant twist on a traditional advent design. 

06. It's a Shape advent calendar

Follow Shape Christmas to get a new illustration delivered to your iThings every day in December

Each year, Manchester-based creative and digital design agency Shape ask ask illustrators, typographers, designers, photographers to help out with interactive advent calendar 'Shape Christmas'. During the month of December, a new piece of artwork will be revealed every day up until Christmas. The 25 artists collaborating with Shape on the project have now been confirmed although details of who they are are not yet known. To keep up to date with Shape Christmas, register online or follow the event on Twitter.

07. Giant advent calendar

The calendar is made of an astonishing 600,000 Lego bricks

You couldn't miss this giant Lego advent calendar when it was unveiled in central London's Covent Garden shopping area last year.

The doors of the advent calendar will be opened at 4pm each day

The huge sculpture was built from around 600,000 bricks by Duncan Titchmarsh, the UK's only certified Lego technician, and was a big draw to the covered market and popular tourist trap.

08. Food-inspired advent calendar

This food-inspired advent calendar forms the shape of both a tree and a tiered cake

This colourful design was created by food and lifestyle photographer & graphic designer Emilie, owner of Griottes palette culinaire blog. The 26-year-old artistic director is passionate about food, stating on her website, "I think the shapes, colours and materials of food are a great source of inspiration". So, last year, she created this advent calendar, which features a different colour for each day and details of recipes and food-related information on the reverse relating to that colour. 

09. Google Chrome advent calendar

In 2009, design agency We Are Magenta was commissioned by Flourish Creative to create a very special Christmas project for Google Chrome. In order to showcase the (then) new browser, the team was required to create an animated advent calendar, which was projected on the side of three 10m high walls at Westfield Shopping Centre, London.

Every day in December, exclusive illustrated content was behind each door for the 1.2 million people estimated to walk past it.

10. Modern DIY Xmas advent calendar

This modern design is a refreshing take on traditional advent calendars

If you're a fan of simple, clean styles with a slight retro edge then you'll love this design by photographer and designer Riikka Kantinkoski. Created this year, Kantinkoksi hammered twelve small nails into a plywood board before wiring thin black rubberstring around each to create the triangles. She then strategically placed printed numbers between each. You can find out more about how this calendar was created on Kantinkoksi's design blog Weekday Carnival.

11. Fontdeck advent calendar

Click on the different draws for a font related treat!

A couple of years ago, Fontdeck released this brilliant typographic advent calendar, which is still available to view online. The interactive design allows you to click on numbered draws, which reveals Christmas-themed text in various different fonts and information on that particular typeface. The cabinet also offers lettered draws that can be opened revealing lovely treats in the form of videos, such as the process of creating a letterpress poster. 

12. Chalkboard advent calendar

Got a chalkboard and some paper bags at home?

We absolutely love this beautifully designed advent calendar by Annie, owner of lifestyle blog Lovely Things. Everything about is, well, lovely - from the from the chalkboard wall with brown bags to the little vignettes of jars and goodies. These and the gorgeous, warm colour scheme really captures the feeling and charm of Christmas. You can find more about how Annie created the inspiring design here

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13. Porsche advent calendar

Porsche's 2010 advent calendar housed 'surprises' including gold cuff links, the most expensive pair of trainers money can buy and a yacht

Back in 2010, Porsche created five of these extravagant advent calendars, one for every continent on which the German car manufacturers do business. Standing at nearly two metres, made of brushed aluminium and with windows that open upon touch, the design housed treats, which including a watch, customisable Porsche Design kitchen and a yacht, naturally.

14. Houses advent calendar

Stop by the next house for a new treat each day in this gorgeous calendar design

Unfortunately, we couldn't find any details about the person or agency behind this design but we love the concept. A simple road runs through a set of houses, created by what looks like cardboard with a matchbox stuck between, which then slides out, acting as a door, to reveal the treat for that day. A unique take on the annual product. 

15. Envelope advent calendar

Even the simplest of items can create beautiful, stylish designs

Got any spare envelopes ling around the house? If so, you could recreate this stylish advent calendar design by all-round creative Veronika of design agency Sarah & Bendrix. Each mini envelope contained gold coins and a small treat for her 3-year-old daughter. A perfect example of how a simple design can be incredibly stylish and beautiful.

16. Holiday box advent calendar

Create your own advent calendar with these gorgeous designs from graphic designer Amanda Jane Jones

If you want to have an advent calendar to remember for a little or loved one then this holiday box advent by freelance graphic designer Amanda Jane Jones for party and lifestyle blog Oh Happy Day is perfect for you. Jones has created this free advent printable, all you have to do is download the pdf file, cut out each day and stick to 24 3x3inch boxes. Then the only thing left to do is fill each one with little gifts and treats. Just lovely. 

17. 3D chocolate advent calendar

Everyone loves a chocolate advent calendar, which is why, last year, London-based creative company Moving Brands boasted that they'd created the 'the world's highest resolution 3D printed chocolates'. The team modified its 3D printer to work with chocolate, then every day in December, a different Moving Brands employee created a new design, which included a skyscraper, dog, champagne cork, and the initials of one designer and his new wife.

18. Ginvent calendar

Anyone fancy a little tipple?

Spirit manufacturer Drinks by the Dram recently stated on its website, "We love the excitement of advent calendars, but we've always longed for something a little more interesting than a small piece of cheap milk chocolate on the other side of each door." The solution? They joined forces with Gin Foundry to create an advent calendar housing 24 3cl samples of delicious gin behind each window, with a vintage-style design from Gin Foundry designer Olivier Ward. Genius. The 2013 Edition will cost you £99.95, and there is a Craft version available for an extra £10.

19. Minimalist advent calendar

We love this simple but elegant advent calendar by designer Sally J. Shim

Upon first glance, there's really not a lot to this minimalist advent calendar. But on further inspection, it has fine, intricate detail which makes it a beautiful piece of design. After printing numbers on 24 small craft boxes, designer Sally J Shim of Shim & Sons secured them to a white linen covered pin board and filled some with treats and others with a gorgeous print detailing a family activity for that day. Simple but incredibly elegant. 

20. Pop-up advent calendar

Author and illustrator Eric Carle is the man behind this beautiful pop-up advent calendar

No chocolates included in this advent, just a lovely mixture of beautiful illustration and 3D pop-up effects created by well known author and illustrator Eric Carle. Most famous for his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the artwork on this advent calendar is instantly recognisable as Carle's handiwork. The theme based on the author's charming Christmas book Dream Snow.

21. Angel advent calendar

How illustrator Q. Cassetti had time to create 25 of these detailed drawings, we'll never know!

Back in 2009, US-based illustrator Q. Cassetti created a body of work from December 1st to the 25th and posted a new illustration online every day for advent. The detailed drawings included everything from angels, images from the creche, nutcrackers and mice, St Nicholas and his companions from around the world. 

22. KuosiKioski advent calendar

In this Christmas story, Miss Foxy Lady is getting ready for a night out on the tiles with her girlfriends

This beautiful illustration is just one of 24 drawings that formed a 2011 online advent calendar for design studio KuosiKioski, created by its founder, designer Terhi Hyvönen. Each image, which includes a family of bullfinches, bears, a squirrel, owl, and crow, is accompanied by an ongoing Christmas story.

23. Magical advent calendar

Rather than stick to traditional advent calendar designs, tech company Zappar has created this free augmented reality one instead. Using this brilliant illustration by Giedre Domzaite, the Zapper team developed the project so that when a smartphone was pointed at the image, one of the characters would burst into animated life each day in the run up to Christmas. 

24. BMW advent calendar

Fancy a test-drive anyone?

In an attempt to boost test drives, BMW Italy mailed this advent calendar to its customers on December 1st last year. The design replaced the traditional doors of the calendar with rolling garage shutters which, when opened, revealed a parked BMW model. It appears it had some effect too with the company reporting a 6% increase in test drives in January this year.  

Bonus: advent doodles!

Brilliant illustrations combined with witty comments make this advent a winner in our book

This brilliant online advent calendar comes from UK-based designer and illustrator Dan Bailey. The talented artist drew a doodle for each day of December 2010 in the run up to Christmas and the result was a series of funny, sarcastic, and witty depictions of various Christmas scenes. We particularly liked the Superman and Snowman illustrations but you can check out the whole lot on Bailey's blog.

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Have you seen any brilliant advent calendar designs? Share them with us in the comments box below...

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