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Classic Advent calendars mark Christmas countdown

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 5:45 p.m.
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes
Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes

Kids and grown-ups alike are counting the days until Christmas. Since the early 1900s, youngsters have counted those days by opening up a little paper door to reveal small gifts on the traditional Advent calendar.

Handmade Advent calendars have been traced to the 1800s. In 1908, German printer Gerhard Lang applied modern mass print production methods to the concept to create the first commercially available Advent calendar.

In America, the tradition didn't take a firm hold until the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s when his grandchildren were photographed with one of the calendars. The photo appeared in newspapers nationwide, and soon families rushed out to get their own.

Over the past 60 years, more and more companies have gotten in on the act, adding their modern twists to the classic countdown. Here are a few Advent calendars to help you track the days until Santa Claus shimmies down the chimney.

For the sporty kid

Playmobil offers several lines of themed calendars, including a holiday farm scene and dress-up party. But for Pittsburghers, one calendar is the perfect choice: An NHL-themed action-figure calendar titled “Rivalry on the Pond.” It includes 24 surprises for each day leading up to Christmas. Reveal the final piece just in time for Santa to referee a game for the Stanley Cup. $26.99

For chocolate-loving adults

Belgian chocolate-maker Godiva offers a limited-edition chocolate Advent calendar. Behind each of the doors is a delicious chocolate surprise, including delectable delights such as dark caramel embrace, white praline heart, milk ganache bliss and more. The toughest part will be resisting the urge to open all the doors at once. $35

For Disney fans

The adorable collectible Tsum Tsum figures are one of the hottest toys this Christmas. Disney characters are taken to a whole new level of cuteness when transformed into the small stackable figurines. The gingerbread-house-themed calendar is filled with the lovable figures and holiday accessories to complete a charming seasonal scene. $39.99

For kids and kids at heart

Lego lends itself well to the calendar concept. The classic Lego minifigure has been around since 1978, and its popularity has grown into a media empire with movies, TV shows, books and, of course, toys. The themed calendars offer figures and accessories to look forward to each day. The Lego City Town Advent Calendar features 24 different buildable items using the 290 included Lego pieces. It contains firefighters, a volcano adventurer and, naturally, Santa himself. $29.99

For the manly man

A beef jerky advent calendar! The only thing that could make that sound manlier is if Sam Elliott himself read it. The Man Crates Jerky Advent Calendar provides a mix of meats and flavors to provide a savory treat for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. Don't worry, there is no partridge-and-pear-flavored jerky, but the company does offer elk, gator, buffalo, venison, pork and wild boar. The meats provide a combo of flavors — from simple classics such as black pepper to the more twisted such as root-beer habanero. You may want to order extra in case Santa wants to pass on the cookies this year and go for milk and jerky. $74.99

Joe Wos is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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