Twenty-Four Day Rollercoaster
November 21, 2008 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I want an advent calendar that will give me a genuine thrill of surprise and delight every day. I've been disappointed too many times. Give me spoiler-free recommendations.

It's getting close to December, and I'm thinking of getting an advent calendar. Now, somewhere in the back of my mind resides a notion of what an advent calendar should be; although it has about it the aura of a childhood memory, I can't locate a concrete childhood experience to pin it to. There should be a real note of suspense before opening each window - What will it be today? What new delight awaits? - maybe even a note of uncomfortable urgency, so that you're tempted, though you'd never dare, to open all of the windows at once.

Concrete, actual advent calendars haven't done this for me for a good while now. I'm particularly despondent when I get one with a lovingly detailed front image, only to find there's nothing behind the little doors that goes beyond 'A Christmas Star' or 'A Bauble' or 'A Nangel'.*

Clearly the chocolate/sweets direction advent calendars frequently take is an attempt to simulate this sensation on the plane of physical appetite. But I want to generate pangs of curiosity, not gluttony. I like mystery novels, getting jumpily hooked on serialised television, and pressing refresh on MeFi. Help me make this experience part of my run-up to Christmas.

*My cynical side compels me to wonder whether the economics of the situation don't compel this; in its standard presentation, an advent calendar will be a one-off pig-in-a-poke purchase, making it almost inevitable that a vastly disproportionate share of the investment and labour will go into the front-end, on-display elements. But it's going to be Christmas, goddammit, and I'd like to give cynicism and microeconomics a good hearty smackdown.

P.S. Bonus points if it's easily obtainable in London, though I'm OK with having to purchase it online - hence asking this question a good while in advance.
posted by Acheman to Shopping (19 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: P.P.S. Yes, I am using this as a proxy for many things: my disappointment in the world as I grow older; my fear of authentic risk-taking; my lack of religious faith. But I was raised to believe that there was a month in the year in which you transformed all of your personal problems into questions about which decorations to hang up, and it's served me pretty well so far.
posted by Acheman at 3:45 PM on November 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

Please forgive me if I'm misinterpreting your question: If you like Advent calendars, and you like kiddie toys, Playmobil and Lego make some pretty neat ones.
posted by box at 3:56 PM on November 21, 2008

LEGO City Advent Calendar 2008 - note that you can sometimes find last year's Lego advent calendar in specialty toy stores at a discount.

Playmobil has several Advent calendar sets: Playmobil Advent Calendar Pirates is probably the only pirate-themes advent calendar out there.

Those are Amazon links but I'm pretty sure they sell Playmobil and LEGO in Europe.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on November 21, 2008

Last year my girlfriend and I opened something from the LEGO City Advent Calendar every day and not one day was disappointing. Every item requires some assembly.

Don't expect to build a LEGO city from it, though. It's mostly figures and small LEGO people accessories. Best $30 advent calendar you'll ever buy.
posted by plasticbugs at 3:57 PM on November 21, 2008


stupid holidays
posted by GuyZero at 3:57 PM on November 21, 2008

Beaten by a minute!
posted by plasticbugs at 3:57 PM on November 21, 2008

What about a Lego advent calendar (linked to 2007 version in case you're worried about spoiling any surprises. My husband's family always did these, and as a Lego-loving kid he adored watching as the theme and scene unfolded everyday. Plus...Legos!
posted by handful of rain at 3:58 PM on November 21, 2008

DANG IT!! Jinx...
posted by handful of rain at 3:58 PM on November 21, 2008

A personalised DIY option, that I'm only suggesting half seriously, could be to take the final 24 pages (or 48, considering they are double sided) of a mystery novel you have not read yet and seal them in see where I'm going with this.

Then spend the time up until advent reading the unsealed portion of the book and then rely on your home-made calandar to bring it on home.

If you could overcome the temptation to break out all pages, this could be the most tantalizing advent calandar in history! Particularly since the pages will stop mid sentence nearly everyday...who could resist?
posted by man down under at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

man, i miss leslie harpold.
posted by lia at 4:24 PM on November 21, 2008 [6 favorites]

I have no answer for you. Your question re-awakened something that had been hidden in me for years though. Thank you.
posted by sanka at 4:55 PM on November 21, 2008

My plan is to make one and fill it up, but, yeah, that kind of ruins the surprise.
posted by batmonkey at 4:56 PM on November 21, 2008

Find 24 small opaque containers (plastic eggs, origami boxes, pirate treasure chests, what have you) and write a number on each one, 1-24. Then hand them out to friends and family and ask them to put anything they want in the container, the more creative and unexpected the better. Collect them back from everyone before December 1st. Voila, instant personalized, completely unpredictable advent calender!
posted by platinum at 5:16 PM on November 21, 2008 [13 favorites]

Go over to metsy and pay an artist to make you one now. That way you get the surprise while having a gift tailored to your personality. Aren't you worth it?
posted by saucysault at 5:20 PM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

My friend, Beck, who has created Karma Sutra and Halloween advent calendars is hosting an online advent calendar film festival at with contributions from some pretty interesting fllm-makers and artists. Personally I can't wait until the fun begins on 12/1...
posted by eve harrington at 5:51 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey, I just bought the Lego calendar. I love it when I read an Ask Metafilter question and learn about something so delightful! Thanks, Acheman (for asking a great question), GuyZero, plasticbugs, and handful of rain.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 6:39 PM on November 21, 2008

For me as a kid it was always the fun of anticipating the little gifts my mom and dad put in the advent thingy (we had a big felt wall-hanging with 24 pockets big enough to fit tiny gifts like decks of cards and such). And so I like platinum's and saucysault's ideas. Another similar idea would just be to find a friend who also likes advents and make a deal to each make one for the other with personalized surprises. That would be fun.
posted by lampoil at 7:24 PM on November 21, 2008

I asked something similar last year, and will say that having just obtained a case of Kinder Eggs, I'm surprised at how excited I am for the season to begin. I would like to think that they'd be easier for you to obtain in the UK than here in the States (I had a Canadian friend mail them to me - they're really hard to come by here).
posted by librarianamy at 7:59 PM on November 21, 2008

Response by poster: If anyone's interested, in the end I got this calendar, though a bit after the start of December. It's not exactly what I was after, but it's certainly the most delightful advent calendar I've had for a long while; the concept - a family receive daily mysterious penguin deliveries, and gradually the penguins take over their whole house - is fairly off-the-wall and it's coming from a strange enough place for each new installment of penguin antics to be a real surprise each time. The artwork is charming, and not at all cutesy. Highly recommended.
posted by Acheman at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2008

« Older How to buy a domain from a squatter?   |   Overweight --> Warm --> More Sweat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.