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? (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 Christmas. 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. Type Worship
If you love letters, then this advent calendar from Type Worship (opens in new tab) – official blog of 8 Faces magazine (opens in new tab) – is the one for you. Each day between 1 and 25 December, the Type Worship team will reveal a beautiful, custom designed number, created by one of 25 well-known artists from the type world.
Organised by typographer and illustrator Jamie Clarke (opens in new tab) and editor of Type Worship Ryan Gillard, each design will include a description of the designer's process and the opportunity to discuss the work on the blog with Gillard.
The selection of artists chosen represents the full spectrum of typographic disciplines, including; letterpress, drawing, painting, quilling, needlework, type design, logo design and sign writing. Above is a sneak peek of what's instore - and we can't wait to see what else the team have come up with.
Play Nicely (opens in new tab) have worked with chocolatiers, Mondelez (opens in new tab) to design and develop an Augmented Reality app to bring 2014 Milka advent calendar to life. But what makes this different from the usual offerings? The freebies! After you open the door of the real advent calendar – designed by Taxi Studio (opens in new tab)– you can unlock new digital content from your iOS or Android app.
Ranging from short tender messages to videos, photo activities and games. Adjust Your Set (opens in new tab) were responsible for the brilliant content available throughout the countdown. Unfortunately, the calendar is only available to download in France, Germany and Austria – for those that live there, enjoy!
03. 24 Trees advent calendar
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 (opens in new tab) created this design back in 2010 but the templates are still available to download should you want to give it a go.
04. Photo advent calendar
Sometimes the simplest of ideas can be the best - like this minimalist photo advent calendar by Carrie, founder of lifestyle blog Making Lemonade (opens in new tab).
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.
05. Google live advent calendar
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 (opens in new tab).
06. Inky advent calendar
This intricate advent calendar was created by illustrator Joanna Bashford (opens in new tab), 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.
07. It's a Shape advent calendar
Each year, Manchester-based creative and digital design agency Shape (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) or follow the event on Twitter (opens in new tab).
08. Giant advent calendar
You couldn't miss this giant Lego advent calendar when it was unveiled in central London's Covent Garden shopping area last year.
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.
09. Food-inspired advent calendar
This colourful design was created by food and lifestyle photographer & graphic designer Emilie, owner of Griottes palette culinaire (opens in new tab) 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.
10. Google Chrome advent calendar
In 2009, design agency We Are Magenta (opens in new tab) was commissioned by Flourish Creative (opens in new tab) 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.
11. Modern DIY Xmas advent calendar
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 (opens in new tab).
12. Fontdeck advent calendar
A couple of years ago, Fontdeck (opens in new tab) released this brilliant typographic advent calendar, which is still available to view online (opens in new tab). 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.
13. Chalkboard advent calendar
We absolutely love this beautifully designed advent calendar by Annie, owner of lifestyle blog Lovely Things (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab).
14. Porsche advent calendar
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.
15. Houses advent calendar
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.
16. Envelope advent calendar
Got any spare envelopes ling around the house? If so, you could recreate this stylish advent calendar design by all-round creative Veronika (opens in new tab) of design agency Sarah & Bendrix (opens in new tab). 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.
17. Holiday box advent calendar
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 (opens in new tab) for party and lifestyle blog Oh Happy Day (opens in new tab) is perfect for you. Jones has created this free advent printable, all you have to do is download the pdf file (opens in new tab), 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.
18. 3D chocolate advent calendar
Everyone loves a chocolate advent calendar, which is why, last year, London-based creative company Moving Brands (opens in new tab) 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.
19. Ginvent calendar
Spirit manufacturer Drinks by the Dram (opens in new tab) 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.
20. Minimalist advent calendar
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 (opens in new tab) of Shim & Sons (opens in new tab) 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.
21. 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 (opens in new tab). Most famous for his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab).
22. Angel advent calendar
Back in 2009, US-based illustrator Q. Cassetti (opens in new tab) 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.
23. KuosiKioski advent calendar
This beautiful illustration is just one of 24 drawings that formed a 2011 online advent calendar (opens in new tab) for design studio KuosiKioski (opens in new tab), created by its founder, designer Terhi Hyvönen (opens in new tab). Each image, which includes a family of bullfinches, bears, a squirrel, owl, and crow, is accompanied by an ongoing Christmas story.
24. Magical advent calendar
Rather than stick to traditional advent calendar designs, tech company Zappar (opens in new tab) has created this free augmented reality one instead. Using this brilliant illustration by Giedre Domzaite (opens in new tab), 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.
Bonus: advent doodles!
This brilliant online advent calendar comes from UK-based designer and illustrator Dan Bailey (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab).
Have you seen any brilliant advent calendar designs? Share them with us in the comments box below.
Primary image credit: 15: Paper Art by Yulia Brodskaya (opens in new tab)