Sustainable Holidays | Advent Calendars

Sustainable Holidays | Advent Calendars

High-Style, Non-Disposable Advent Calendars You Can Use Year After Year

By Nina Wolf

In recent years, it seems, specialty pre-filled advent calendars have been popping up from every brand, with 24 tiny gifts of every variety imaginable: beauty potions and teas, chocolates and soaps, and trinkets for kids, dog lovers, and whiskey aficionados alike.

Charming though they are, the problem with these pre-filled designs is that they’re single-use: Generally made from cardboard, plastic, and other disposable materials, they can only be opened once and are inevitably discarded come December 26th. What’s more, the fillings generally come with their own packaging—24 days of unnecessary waste.

In lieu of one-year-only versions, we like advent calendars that are timeless, made from quality materials, and designed to last, so you can enjoy them year after year. Many we like are by small, individual makers (there are endless options on Etsy) or eco-minded shops. Even better? The creativity that goes along with filling them, if you choose a version with pockets: Opt for any number of minimally packaged treats like beeswax tea lights, plastic-free hair ties, seeds, papier d’arménie, peppermints, or even pressed flowers or pinecones. Or, slip in small cards printed with holiday activities that you can scramble and reuse next year. 

Want each day to truly be a surprise? Organize an advent calendar swap amongst family or friends.

Small Advent Calendar, Gathre, $93

This bonded leather advent calendar is ethically and responsibly made and comes in three colorways. It can be filled with pocket-sized bits and bobs of all sorts and even decorated on a whim by clipping sprigs of holly or greenery to a corner. $93.


Wooden Postcard Advent Calendar, FormesBerlin, $13.85

Brilliant for tiny spaces or sending holiday greetings from a distance, this postcard advent calendar is designed in Berlin and made from sustainably harvested cedar wood (and can actually be sent in the mail, too). Thread each tiny cutout with ribbon or string and hang on the tree each day in December.


Advent Calendar, Vellabox, $34 

This advent calendar from Vellabox, the small-batch, eco-conscious candle subscription company, is made from tiny reusable canvas bags in seasonal patterns and comes with minimal packaging, too.


Reusable Woodland Christmas Calendar, GoGo and Martin, $137.09 


A whimsical pick for kids (or just about anybody): This woodland-themed calendar is made from linen and cotton acorn- and mushroom-shaped pockets for stashing surprises. Hang them from a fallen tree branch for extra rusticity.


Heirloom Wooden Advent Calendar, Anna Wiscombe, £250

This calendar is made from sustainably sourced wood and hand-painted in London; it’s on the pricier end, but with 24 charming paintings beneath each wooden puzzle piece, it’s sure to become an heirloom for Christmases to come, no filling needed. It also comes with a wooden stand for easy displaying.


Coral & Tusk Advent Calendar, $168 

This fanciful embroidered advent calendar from women-run company Coral & Tusk is ethically made in India from 100 percent natural, undyed linen, which minimizes the use of water and pollutants used to make it.


Modern Heirloom Ornament Advent Calendar, Haus and Home LA, $189

Handmade in LA, this canvas and linen calendar makes use of vintage and antique fabrics for its 25 stitched ornaments in a pretty palette—no disposable parts included.