Advent Calandars in Switzerland

Advent Calendars in Switzerland

While the days of December seem to fly by for us parents, to our kids Christmas Day feels like an eternity away. The way Swiss Families help with the nagging question of “when is it finally Christmas?” is with an Advent Calendar. 

Count down the days to Christmas with an Advent calendar.


Using an Advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas is a popular tradition in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. From what started as a simple tradition in the 19th Century of receiving a holy picture each day over the Advent season, the advent calendar has developed into a highly commercialised event where you can now buy calendars filled with chocolates, teas, the alcohol of your choice, makeup, play dough and lego. You can buy sets of 24 empty bags ready to fill with tiny gifts and even the supermarkets now try to attract shoppers with a different item on sale during each day of the Advent season. 

What type of Advent Calendar does the modern Swiss family have? 

Different types of Advent Calendars

From my research on how the modern Swiss Family celebrates the holiday season, the answer to “do you have an Advent calendar” was a resounding yes, with just a few not participating in the tradition. Sometimes they are store bought, but more often they are made personal with participants from the survey citing such calendar formats such as their angel that has 24 pockets to fill up with goodies, to a homemade felt Christmas tree filled with felt ornaments to hang each day

Mum of 2 Nadia, and co-founder of Mamalicious, kids’ are hoping for a Lego themed advent calendar. Kristin from Canton Zug leaves the advent calendars up to the Gotti (Godmother) and Götti (Godfather) for her three children.

Growing up in Australia before I moved to Switzerland I only knew the type of Advent calendars which were filled with cheap chocolates. Living in Switzerland has exposed me to all kinds of lovely calendars—this year I am excited to enjoy a tea advent calendar I received as a gift. I loved the idea of having a different tea to enjoy each day over the “crazy season” that I purchased the same Advent tea for all of little Z’s teachers. 

Irene from the Swiss blog “mit Strich und Faden”whose children have grown past the Advent calendar age isn’t about to miss out on the fun and is participating in a homemade advent calendar with her friends. Twenty-five women create 25 of the same gift which are then collected and distributed to each participant to open over the advent season. (Check out #instakaländergörls to see what they created). Martina from north of Zürich has not only an advent calendar for her kids but also a “photo Advent calendar” for her husband as well. 

But not everyone is on board with the idea of more stuff leading up to Christmas. Andrea from the blog Any Working Mom has given up the commercialised idea of Advent Calendars and decided to embrace the imported US tradition of Elf on the Shelf

I must admit, last year I had enough of the commercialism too and decided to create a new idea “The Secret Helper”, the concept of an advent calendar crossed with random acts of kindness. Each day a different person in our family is spoiled by acts of kindness from the other members of the family. I will admit the kids were not 100% last year but this year they were the ones asking if we can do it again. 

We call this the "Secret Helper" a different take on an advent calendar
Different Advent Calendars in Switzerland

Even though today is the 1st of December there is still time to create an Advent tradition of your own. Here’s a list to inspire you: 

1. DIY 

- Check our Pinterest for cute ideas

- Assemble 24 days of experiences 

- Wrap up 24 Christmas books you have around the house

2. Store bought

- Toy themed everything from Lego to Playmobile-themed 

- Chocolates 

- For the adults, tea, beer, gin, or wine

- Buy a book with 24 Christmas stories 


Do you have an Advent tradition or an idea for an Advent calendar that your family loved?  Please share your ideas—it’s never too early to start thinking about Advent 2019!


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What is an Advent Calendar? Suggestions on creating an advent calendar of your own.