When the Little Engineer was three years old, I had so much fun filling his advent calendar with train-themed advent calendar gifts. If you’re looking for train gifts for your child’s advent calendar, here is a big list of options for tiny train treasures: small Thomas & Friends trains, little realistic trains, accessories to add to wooden trains or other train sets, and more small train gifts.
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If you’re making a DIY train advent calendar for your child, you might be interested in our free printable train advent calendar gift tags. There are two different color schemes — one Thomas-y, and one not Thomas-y — and they can be hung on the Christmas tree as ornaments as each day’s gift is opened.
Tiny Toy Trains for Advent Calendars
- Thomas & Friends “Pez Trains”: These “Pez Trains”, as we call them, are our favorites in our tiny engine collection. They’re the broken-off tops of Thomas & Friends Pez dispensers. I’ve bought them at Toys’R’Us and one of the chain party stores (for around $1.50 each, I believe). For such small toys, they have a lot of detail and personality.
- My Busy Books: Thomas and Friends: Our “Busy Book Trains” live on my son’s windowsill above his bed with the Pez trains. They are well-loved, if not quite as pretty as the Pez ones. There are two versions of the Thomas & Friends Busy Book now, and each book has a different range of characters and a different story, but I believe the play mats are the same.
- Version #1 of the Thomas Busy Book: includes Thomas, Percy, Henry, Edward, James, Gordon, Toby, Mavis, Annie, Clarabel, Harold, and Bertie. (A total of twelve engines/coaches/vehicles.) (Buy from Amazon: US / UK )
- Version #2 of the Thomas Busy Book: includes Thomas, Percy, James, Edward, Gordon, Henry, Emily, Rosie, Mavis, Whiff, Spencer, and Bertie. (A total of twelve engines/vehicles.) (Buy from Amazon: US )
- Safari Ltd. Steam Train Toob: These are the trains my son rescued from a block of ice in one of our favorite activities. They are of a reasonable size to go with the Pez and Busy Book trains, but they’re longer. Maybe 1.5″ or 2″ long. If your advent calendar has small boxes for the gifts, these may be a bit long. Includes ten toys: a steam locomotive, seven train cars, a passenger station, and a water tower. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Safari Ltd. Train Toob: A “toob” with a diesel engine and more modern freight cars is also available, which you can see in our Portable Pretend Model Train Set. Like the trains from the Steam Train Toob, they’re about the right size to go with the Pez and Busy Book trains, but will need advent calendars with enough space to accommodate them. Includes eleven toys: a diesel locomotive, eight train cars, a freight station, and a passenger station. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Thomas the Train Pull Back Engine Racers: These little pull back trains get marketed both as toys and as cake toppers, so don’t be thrown off by the description if it talks about cake! The set includes nine engines: Thomas, Hiro, Belle, Flynn, Diesel 10, James, Percy, Spencer, and Diesel. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Learning Resources Vehicle Counters: Learning Resources look like awfully cute little transportation markers, and there are little steam engines included in both mixes. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Plastic Train Beads: These are marketed as markers for the Mexican Train domino game, but we use them for everything from train-themed light box play to train busy bags. You can buy a set of 10 or — for just a little more than twice the price — a set of 100. I’m wishing I’d known about the set of 100 before I bought the set of 10! These are small enough to fit in pretty much any advent calendar. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Melissa & Doug ABC Lacing Train: These train lacing beads are so cute! I especially like all the animals, and the engineer is a mouse. The Little Engineer would love that! One set would give you just over the number you need for the lead-up to Christmas, so this could be an easy way to stock your child’s whole calendar all at once. (Buy from Amazon: US / CA )
Train Set Accessories
These train set accessories are a great way to connect a child’s advent calendar to wooden train play. Many of them are the perfect size for putting in wooden freight cars, so if you don’t have those in your child’s collection, you might want to check out the Wooden Train Freight Cars section of our Ultimate Guide to Wooden Trains.
Note: Many of the items on this list are in the 2 inch to 3 inch range, so they are best for advent calendars with room for slightly larger items.
- Wooden people, animals, traffic signs, and other small wooden train accessories Note: Many of these items are in the 2 inch to 3 inch range, so they are best for advent calendars with room for slightly larger items.
- Haba wooden toys: The Haba Farmer’s Family, Haba Animal Farm Set, and Haba Motley World Building Blocks all work very well with wooden trains. The Little Engineer received several of the trees and animals in his advent calendar, and we’ve had a lot of fun with them. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Janod’s Story Box sets: These look adorable! The Story Box Circus, Story Box Farm, Story Box City, Story Box Firefighters, and Story Box Safari all are sets of charming wooden people, animals, and props that come in a box that doubles as the building in the set. You can also buy coordinating trains, or purchase Story Express train sets that come with the story box, matching train, and a wooden track layout. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Bigjigs Rail Trackside Accessory Set: This set includes thirty-four wooden people, animals, road vehicles, tiny buildings, and trees to go with wooden train sets. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Little Professionals Wooden Character Set: A cute set of fifteen wooden figures depicting a range of occupations. (Buy from Amazon: US )
- Melissa & Doug Whittle World Accessory Bundle comes with ten wooden figures and five wooden traffic signs. You can also buy the People at Work Set, Neighbors Set, and Traffic Signs Set separately, for about the same price. The Whittle World figures are a little bigger than your usual wooden train people. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- More wooden traffic signs: Guidecraft Miniature Traffic Signs and Plan Toys Set of Traffic Signs and Lights are also available. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Safari Ltd. Toobs: You also might want to consider some of the other Safari Ltd. Toobs beyond the train-themed ones. We like to use them as freight for our trains, like we did in our DIY Recycled Wooden Train Zoo. Here are some of the Toobs we’ve combined with our trains: Wild Toob, Penguins Toob, Dogs Toob, Zoo Babies Toob, Apes and Monkeys Toob, and Pandas Toob. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Playmobil advent calendars and play sets: In our White Christmas Wooden Train Layout, I used a bunch of Christmas-themed toys from a Playmobil advent calendar, and they’re the perfect size to combine with toy trains. Playmobil makes advent calendars in a wide range of themes. The toys in the other Playmobil Christmas sets would be fun to combine with trains, too, and of course there are many regular Playmobil sets with toys that could be put into an advent calendar and then used for train play. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- LED finger lights: LED finger lights are a fun addition to all sorts of train and building play, and they’re small enough to fit in pretty much any advent calendar. We’ve used them with our trains and Angry Birds games for the Angry Birds Space Letter & Word Crash game, and also to make our DIY Mini Light-up Lightsabers. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
Other Small Train Gifts
- Lego Duplo Community People Set: The Lego Duplo Community People Set comes with twenty Duplo figures, including a train engineer and a conductor. We used these to fill Easter eggs when the Little Engineer was a toddler, but they would be great for filling an advent calendar, too. This would be a good set to combine with either the Lego Duplo Number Train or the Duplo My First Train Set as a Christmas present. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Train Stickers: For the Little Engineer’s advent calendar two years ago, for some of the days, I cut up sheets of Thomas & Friends stickers and put two or three behind a few doors in his calendar. I got ours at a chain party store, but here are a few sticker sheets that look like they’d work: Mrs. Grossman’s Stickers: Chubby Train, Thomas the Tank Engine Bitty Bitts Stickers, and Mrs. Grossman’s Stickers: Circus Train. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Thomas the Tank Engine Tattoos: Thomas tattoos are always a highlight at Day Out With Thomas for my son. This sheet of tattoos could be divided up like the sticker sheets for an advent calendar. (Buy from Amazon: US / UK / CA )
- Foam Instant Railroad: Drop these capsules in water, and they expand into little spongy train cars. We enjoyed exploring these together! (Buy from Amazon: US )
- Train Advent Calendars with Chocolate
- Thomas Advent Calendar: Thomas Wooden Railway is really pushing it’s web store this year. I’m glad to see them trying to reinvigorate the brand, but the prices seem awfully high to me. Be that as it may, their wooden train advent calendar is very cute, and I probably would have ordered it a couple of years ago. And they have had a sale and a free shipping offer recently, which brings down the cost a bit. If you think about getting this one, be aware that it’s only a twelve day advent calendar, not a twenty-four day one.
The perfect gift tags to go with the train advent calendar gifts on this list.