Advent Explosion

Amy's Advent CalendarAn advent calendar that @bakecaker made this year.

The Advent calendar was first introduced in the early 19th century as a physical way of counting down the days until Christmas. The word Advent itself is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”, which refers to the birth of Jesus. Traditionally, this was a flat calendar for the month of December consisting to 2 pieces of card stock with 24 “doors” cut into the top layer. Each door was numbers from 1 to 24 and only one door could be opened each day. Inside each door was an image, poem or part of the Nativity story to celebrate the coming holiday.

Kids aren’t easily excited by images, poems, or stories, so the advent calendars I remember growing up with had depth and each door was a little gift box. For each day leading up to Christmas, I got a new Christmas ornament to hang on our tree, or better yet, chocolate. As a craft project for a friend, my wife Amy made the crafty little advent calendar you see on the right.

Over the last few years, virtual advent calendars have become increasingly popular. As a web designer, I’ve always loved the 24 ways calendar (in it’s 6th year already!) which provides a cutting-edge web design article each day of December.

This post now contains 8 virtual calendars for me to keep up with. I’ll try to archive the daily surprise that each has in store, but I might wait and add a few days at a time. Feel free to let me know if you spot any others. The anchor links below should allow you to jump down to each calendar.

  1. 24 Ways
  2. FontDeck’s Adfont Calendar
  3. HTML5 Adventure Calendar
  4. Gowalla’s Gifts On the Go
  5. Freelancember
  6. 24 Ways to Start
  7. Performance Calendar
  8. PHP Advent

24 Ways – The original Advent calendar for web geeks.

24 Ways

The articles for this year (so far) are:

  1. Finding Your Way with Static Maps by Drew McLellan
  2. Using the WebFont Loader to Make Browsers Behave the Same by Richard Rutter
  3. My CSS Wish List by Inayaili de León
  4. Go Forth and Make Awesomeness by Leslie Jensen-Inman
  5. Beyond Web Mechanics – Creating Meaningful Web Design by Mike Kus
  6. Wrapping Things Nicely with HTML5 Local Storage by Christian Heilmann
  7. Golden Spirals by Drew Neil
  8. “Probably, Maybe, No”: The State of HTML5 Audio by Scott Schiller
  9. Extreme Design by Hannah Donovan
  10. Optimize Your Web Design Workflow by Veerle Pieters
  11. Documentation-Driven Design for APIs by Frances Berriman
  12. The Great Unveiling by Cennydd Bowles
  13. Good Ideas Grow on Paper by The Standardistas
  14. An Introduction to CSS 3-D Transforms by David DeSandro
  15. Real Animation Using JavaScript, CSS3, and HTML5 Video by Dan Mall
  16. The Articulate Web Designer of Tomorrow by Simon Collison
  17. Designing for iOS: Life Beyond Media Queries by Sarah Parmenter
  18. Speed Up Your Site with Delayed Content by Paul Hammond
  19. Sketching to Communicate by Paul Annett
  20. Put Yourself in a Corner by Meagan Fisher
  21. A Contentmas Epiphany by Relly Annett-Baker
  22. Everything You Wanted To Know About Gradients (And a Few Things You Didn’t) by Ethan Marcotte
  23. Circles of Confusion by Andy Clarke
  24. Calculating Color Contras by Brian Suda

This year though, there’ve been a slew of other virtual advent calendars that are also targeted at designers, developers and other web nerds. I thought it’d be fun to chronicle them all in one place, so here goes:

FontDeck’s Adfont Calendar

FontDeck Advent Calendar
A typographic advent calendar that allows you to add a new font to your FontDeck account each day. Note: You can only claim the typeface on that day. The previous day’s typeface expires when the next door can be opened.

  1. Museo
  2. Proxima Nova
  3. Cooper Black
  4. Francesco
  5. Montefiore
  6. Beau Sans Pro
  7. Sommet Slab
  8. Quatro Slab
  9. Crete
  10. Malamondo
  11. Intropol
  12. Clarendon URW
  13. Coquette
  14. Bliss
  15. Ice Cream Soda
  16. Oblik
  17. Tanger Serif
  18. Cordial Pro
  19. Reader
  20. Bauer Bodoni
  21. Calypso E
  22. Din Display Pro
  23. Mahalia
  24. The Shire Types

HTML5 Adventure Calendar

HTML5 Advent Calendar
Created by ZingChart, this calendar provides 24 days of killer demos, tutorials, community buzz, and “other stuff” related to HTML5.

  1. Ball Pool Chrome Experiment by MrDoob
  2. 20 Things I Learned About Browsers And The Web by Google and Fantasy Interactive
  3. Agent 008 Ball by Pixel Lab
  4. HTML5 Ninja Games: JavaScript Ninja and Ninja Leap
  5. The Killers HTML5 Site
  6. Endless Mural/Okapi by @mixonline and Joshua Davis
  7. WebSocket-Based Games: WordSquared and Rawkets
  8. HTML5 <video>:TRON Fan Movie filtered through HTML5 and video + canvas = magic
  9. Periodic Table of HTML5 Elements by Josh Duck
  10. Anti-ActionScript Heros: Nevermind the Bullets, HTML5 reader and Ben the Bodyguard
  11. Canvas Rider
  12. <canvas> canvases: and
  13. HTML5 Cosmos: CanvasMol and IE9 Testdrive’s Galactic demo
  14. Print meets Web: Lost World’s Fairs – Atlantis, Lettering.js and Curtis CSS Typeface
  15. HTML5 <audio>: 9Elements Canvas Audioand The yayQuery jQuery Singalong
  16. HTML5 – WebGL: Body Browser – Google Labs and WebGL Asteriods
  17. Stupid Awesome: Mario doing the Runningman by Jacob Seidelin
  18. Pirates Love Daisies
  19. Spirit of Indiana by Christian Heilmann
  20. FlowerOscope by @LaSurprise
  21. Le Roi de la Garnotte by Revolver3
  22. The Museum of Never Ending Art
  23. Flight of the Navigator
  24. We Break Stuff’s Snow Globe, Graham’s Canvas Snow Globe and The HTML5 Advent Snow Globe 5-Oh

Gowalla’s Gifts On the Go

Gowalla Advent Calendar
I’m pretty much a Gowalla addict, so I was excited to hear that they’re giving away a different prize each day to a given number of people who check in. If you visit the site in Safari, the doors have a nice -webkit-transition animation affect.

  1. iPod Shuffle (30)
  2. Hip Digital Album Download (100)
  3. Gowalla Scarf (100)
  4. Flickr Pro Membership (50)
  5. Incase Ping Pong Cover (75)
  6. $20 Threadless Gift Code (50)
  7. $25 Online Gift Card (100)
  8. Field Notes Colors Subscription (30)
  9. Levi’s Jeans (250)
  10. Gowalla T-Shirt (100)
  11. LIVESTRONG Hoodie (100)
  12. Incase Courier Collection Backpack (10)
  13. Charity Water Donations (10k)
  14. Nixon Rubber Re-Run Watch (10)
  15. GoPro HD Helmet HERO cams (3)
  16. Gowalla Hoodie (50)
  17. REI Stratocruiser Carry-On Bags (10)
  18. $50 Four Seasons Voucher (10)
  19. Amazon Kindle (10)
  20. Southwest Airlines Flight Voucher (5)
  21. Studio Beats Headphones by Dr. Dre (10)
  22. Jones Snowboards: The Flagship (3)
  23. MacBook Air (3)
  24. TOMS Shoes (250)
  25. One-of-a-Kind Gowalla Bike


31 days of free gifts for freelancers from the makers of Freckle.

  1. Worksheet to Help You ID your Ideal Clients (pdf)
  2. Free Vector Gift Image (zip)
  3. Top 10 Signs it’s Time to Fire Your Client
  4. Top 10 Reasons to Raise Your Rates
  5. Bad Client Déjà Vu (pdf)
  6. Your Clients Will Help You Charge More (pdf)
  7. Top Ten Reasons to Raise Your Rates (pdf)
  8. 2 Email Templates
  9. Self-Promotion Checklist
  10. Weekly Self-Promotion
  11. Monthly Self-Promotion
  12. Build a Self-Promotion Inspiration Board
  13. Annual Self Promotion
  14. Daily/Weekly Self-Promo Worksheets (pdf)
  15. Monthly/Yearly Self-Promo Worksheets (pdf)
  16. Top 10 Things You Don’t Bill For But Should
  17. 3 Tips to Bypass Billing Bafflement
  18. Package-Building Cheat sheet (pdf)
  19. Holiday Thank-You’s
  20. 3 Holiday Icons (zip)
  21. ??? (Broken)
  22. Website Clarity Checklist
  23. Pre-Vacation Checklist
  24. 48-hour Email Sabbatical

24 Ways to Start

Entrepreneurs Advent Calendar
Daily posts for entrepreneurs.

  1. Reflections On Entrepreneurship by @MaxNiederhofer
  2. Entrepreneurs – so you think you can build a useful product? by @aleyzerovich
  3. Lessons from the front: 4 simple rules for success by @NathGaveau
  4. How we earned two long-term partners for our $10,000 mistake by @NoahKagan
  5. The hunger of a real start-up? by @wilsondan
  6. Execution is key by @M0T0chan
  7. 3 quick steps to ensure your startup is on the right track in the new year by @THulme
  8. My £10 million MBA – the story of Ammo City by @GrahamBM
  9. What have you done wrong? by @SeanBonner
  10. That two letter word… by @jasonball
  11. Designer, Architect, Developer by @mojombo
  12. There’s PR and then there’s wasting your time & money by @pjozefak
  13. Think you’re good at networking? Properly following up (especially with a VC) by @pfinette
  14. Four Steps to Building the Perfect Financial Model by @tdavidson
  15. Just Do It by @overdrev
  16. It’s not an app you’re building–it’s a product by @stephanierieger
  17. Pivot or Persist by @glennbookingbug
  18. Getting Your Story Straight by @liaonet
  19. Frog Driven Development by @spif
  20. Unit Economics by @EoghanJennings
  21. Build What You Know by @benwerd
  22. The Vision Thing by @tempo
  23. Startups Lessons Not Learned or Lame Startup Thinking by @mikebutcher
  24. The World Seen Through An Archentrepreneur’s Eyes by @olaahlvarsson

Performance Calendar

Performance Advent Calendar
Daily posts about enhancing website performance from

  1. The State of Web Performance Optimization – 2010 by Patrick Meenan
  2. The Full Stack by Carlos Bueno
  3. All you should know about your first enemy: Latency by Éric Daspet
  4. WPO Analytics by Wim Leers
  5. An Introduction to Automating Performance with Phing by Tim Kadlec
  6. Pushing Beyond Gzipping by Marcel Duran
  7. Mod_Pagespeed Performance Review by Aaron Peters
  8. Bloated Request & Response Headers by Kyle Simpson
  9. Easy Cache Headers by Sergey Chernyshev
  10. Coding Better Object-Oriented JavaScript with Closure Compiler by Hedger Wang
  11. HTML Lazy Load by Sergey Chikuyonok
  12. High Performance Mobile by David Calhoun
  13. The truth about non-blocking JavaScript by Nicholas Zakas
  14. Benchmark the Network by Tony Gentilcore
  15. The new Twitter by Ben Cherry
  16. PNG That Works by Kornel Lesiński
  17. Fast Ads with HTML5 by Ken Scholz
  18. The No-Rocket-Science Guide to Web Performance Analysis by Alois Reitbauer
  19. Measuring the Performance of Task Completion by Lindsey Simon
  20. Poll: Which waterfall led to greater revenues? by Joshua Bixby
  21. Mobile performance analysis using pcapperf by Bryan McQuade and Libo Song
  22. Thoughts on Performance by Philip Tellis
  23. Bulletproof JavaScript benchmarks by Mathias Bynens and John-David Dalton
  24. 2010 State of Performance by Steve Souders

PHP Advent

PHP Advent Calendar
Daily posts with tips, tricks and tidbits curated by Chris Shiflett and Sean Coates.

  1. Localization by Anthony Gentile Anthony Gentile
  2. First-Class APIs by Helgi Þormar Þorbjörnsson
  3. Profiling with XHGui by Paul Reinheimer
  4. The Thing with the Two Heads by Ed Finkler
  5. Code for Today by Lorna Mitchell
  6. JavaScript for PHP Developers by Stoyan Stefanov
  7. Bits and PHPieces by Joël Perras
  8. Output Buffering by Nicholas Sloan
  9. Building Mobile Apps by Jonathan Stark
  10. Everyone Loves PHP by Scott MacVicar
  11. Managing LAMP by Marcel Esser
  12. Share and Enjoy by Gopal Vijayaraghavan
  13. Streams by Lisa Denlinger
  14. Usage Statistics by Ilia Alshenetsky
  15. Debugging by Nate Abele
  16. Legacy Jungle by Mark Story
  17. Thumbnails by Owen Winkler
  18. Text and Media Files by Anna Filina
  19. The Ghost of Christmas Past by Luke Welling
  20. Big Data by Laura Thomson
  21. Color for the Holidays by Jon Bond-Caron
  22. Don’t Panic by Derick Rethans
  23. Aspect-Oriented Design by Garrett Woodworth
  24. Mistrust and Verify by Kitt Hodsden


Surely I missed some nerdy Advent calendars. If I missed one that you think should be in this list, please let me know and I’ll add it here.

9 comments on “Advent Explosion

New Post: Advent Explosion –

I’ve got two more calendars full of geeky advent cheer for you:

Performance Calendar –

PHP Advent –

I knew there had to be some good dev Advent calendars out there. I’ll add them. For some reason they aren’t as pretty though. What’s up with that? 🙂

No – they aren’t as pretty. That’s apparently what happens when you let developers design. 🙂 (At least, I assume they were designed by devs)

Just read your post on Phing from the Performance Calendar. Looks like a great build tool.

Whoa! That’s loads. Thanks for the mention 🙂

Laura H. Winn says:

Great post! The Advent calendar I grew up with was homemade with felt, etc. Each day my sister and I took turns pulling an ornament out and hanging it on the calendar itself (it doubled as a tree & calendar 🙂

Amrita says:

Hmm..nice one

Bhagwati says:

thanks for info it’s really nice articles

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