We absolutely love Christmas here in The Madhouse and I always think the best part is the huge build-up to the big day itself, with Christmas CDs and Christmas crafts and Christmas baking, getting everyone in the festive mood. One very important element in increasing excitement levels (and not just for the kids !) is the Advent calendar.
When I was a kid, you used to open the windows and get just a little picture with, if you were lucky, a sprinkling of glitter. These days, it seems that almost every single one on the market has a little chocolate for each day of the month (and some of them go up to the 31st December instead of the 24th - what's that all about ?!). But if you want something a bit different, Playmobil have a huge range of advent calendars available.
I always assumed that the Playmobil advent calendars would be full of Santas, elves and angels or maybe a Nativity scene but most of them aren't the slightest bit Christmassy in fact. This initially put me off a bit, but the whole point is, the toys hiding behind each window can be added to your Playmobil collection and played with all year round because they're standard-sized Playmobil figures and accessories. As they say at Playmobil, " Let your little one’s imagination run free for longer than just Christmas". There ARE some Christmassy scenes available (see the top picture with Santa's Post Office or the Santa Feeding the Forest Animals one below) and, let's face it, if your kids are huge Playmobil freaks and want one every year, how many Santas do you actually need in your collection ?!
There seem to be absolutely zillions of Playmobil advent calendars available but here are some of the faves for this year !
4155 Christmas in the Forest £14.99
4160 Dragon’s Land £14.99
4159 Pony Ranch £14.99
4157 Police £14.99
4158 Unicorn in Fairy World £14.99
Each kit contains a variety of figures and accessories that all go together to create the scene shown on the box so for the whole run up to Christmas, your little ones will be all excited to see which part they will receive today to add it to the rapidly expanding scene. Each advent calendar comes with a sturdy cardboard playscene that makes it even more fun but do make sure you set aside in advance a flat space that you won't need for the whole of December ! If you set it out on the dining room table, you'll end up losing some of the tiny (and oh so precious !) little accessories when you have to move it.
Speaking of "in advance", you should also be aware that Playmobil make you work for your Christmas magic ! The advent calendar is a self-assembly kit and is at least as challenging an an Ikea flat-pack piece of furniture so set aside some time to put it all together in advance - without the kids if you want to maintain the element of surprise or together as a new festive tradition if you're reusing the advent calendar from last year.
As I mentioned, I initially wasn't keen on the un-Christmassy themes of some of the advent calendars, but it did also make me think that you could use these Advent calendars to count down to anything, like a birthday, a family holiday or a deployed parent coming home in Armed Forces families. Playmobil sets are always guaranteed to provide hours of creative play and the advent calendar format adds a real element of excitement in there. I always thought they were quite expensive but when you look at everything you get in the box, it's actually pretty good value, especially as the fun lasts so much longer than the usual chocolate advent calendars. They're also a great alternative if you have diabetic or lactose-intolerant children who can't eat chocolate. I think we've definitely started a new tradition in our house !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £14.99
for more information : www.playmobil.co.uk
You can purchase the advent calendars direct from Playmobil’s online shop, www.playmobil.co.uk but they can also be found at Toys R Us, The Entertainer, and all other good toy shops.
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