It’s Advent calendar release day at Aldi. It’s also known as National Advent Calendar Day, a holiday that Aldi created in 2020. It’s a day to try to spot old favorites on the shelves: chocolate calendars, truffle calendars, beer calendars, cat treat calendars, cheese calendars, and the ever-popular wine calendar. It’s a day when you might spot people standing in line, hoping to score the hot sellers.
It’s also a day when Aldi might throw some new calendars into the mix. Among the more notable new Advent calendars at Aldi in 2021 is a gnome kit. The Aldi ad didn’t offer any details on this kit, so until I got my hands on one in the store this morning, I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting. The only thing I knew was that Aldi was limiting the gnome kits to one per customer.
The My Friend Gnome Kit cost $24.99 at Aldi at the time of publication.
In short, this kit comes with a gnome doll, a storybook, and 24 scene props tucked into a reusable storage box with drawers that are labeled for each day in Advent, December 1st through 24th.
The box offers a good glimpse at what’s inside, with plenty of photos.
The idea behind this kit is similar to Elf on a Shelf in which you pose an elf doll in various innocent or mischievous positions and scenes around the house during the leadup to Christmas Day, and the elf is suppose to help watch the kids so Santa knows if everyone has been good. People tend to either love this tradition and go all out with elf pranks, or they find it creepy, or they think it’s too much work on top of everything else that happens in December.
What appears to set this Aldi gnome kit apart from Elf on the Shelf is that it contains most of the props you need in order to pose your gnome each day. It’s pretty much ready made, other than a few small props you’ll need to add yourself.
The back of the box states:
The production schedule in the North Pole is a lengthy one. Santa and his elves are busy all year. In fact, they are hard at work right up until December 24th.
With such a busy schedule, jolly old Saint Nick has found he needs a little help to keep up with who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. And, as longtime friends and neighbors of Santa Claus, the gnomes, a group of small magical creatures that live in the northernmost forests, have offered to help.
Every year on November 30th, gnomes journey south and move, unnoticed, into the homes of children everywhere. Each gnome keeps careful watch over the children in the home, reporting back to Santa every night.
Your children will enjoy finding these mischievous little creatures in a new place every morning.
The box also states:
The work has been done! Coming up with new scene ideas each night is hard work. This kit does all the work for you and includes 24 props, one for each day (Dec. 1st-Dec. 24th).
The kit was made in China and is exclusive to Aldi.
When you open the outer box, you’ll find two boxes inside. The smaller box contains the gnome doll.
And the larger box contains all the props in drawers.
Tucked into a side pocket on the back of the drawer box is a colorful storybook that explains how things work.
Also, tucked inside the storybook is an instruction sheet for parents with detailed directions for small assembly projects (such as a little gingerbread house in the day 5 drawer) and an itemized daily list of all the props each drawer contains.
With all that said, here’s a rundown of what’s inside each drawer.
Days 1-3: a mailbox for holiday letter writing (you make your own mini letters and envelopes with your own materials), an apron for holiday baking (bake or set out your own cookies, and maybe scatter some flour, sugar, or sprinkles to show what a mess your gnome made), and a mini paint set for “art class” (you provide your own “canvas.”). The paint set is cute and looks to be real.
Days 4-6: a mini cape for “super gnome” (hang the gnome with some string — not included — to make him look like he’s flying), a gingerbread house kit, and mini wrapped presents (seat your gnome with your own wrapping paper, tape, etc. to look like he’s been busy wrapping).
Days 7-9: movie tickets for “movie night” (put the gnome in your own popcorn bucket), an inflatable unicorn for a “beach day” (set your gnome on a beach made of brown sugar, with a washcloth — not included — as a beach blanket), and a mini bowling set for bowling night. The bowling set is adorable.
Days 10-11: a mini sled (roll the end of a white washcloth — not included — to build up a slope for your gnome to slide down), and a mini chalkboard and chalk for writing who’s been naughty or nice.
Day 12: a wooden tent kit for a “campfire gnome” theme. Use your own mini candle, along with your own mini marshmallows and toothpicks, to create a camping scene.
Days 13-15: mini reading glasses for story time with a book of your choice, a mini bandit mask for TPing the Christmas tree (wrap your tree with your own toilet paper), and red “Rudolph” pom-poms for “vandalizing a family portrait” (stick a pom-pom on everyone’s nose in the picture).
Days 16-18: a mini backpack and rope for wall climbing (stick your own gift bows on the wall and insert the gnome’s hands into the bow loops to “climb”), mittens for a snowball fight (set up with your own mini marshmallows and flour), and an ugly sweater for a “stand-up comedy show” (write kid-friendly jokes on cards for your child to read).
Days 19-21: a mini mug shot sign for acts of mischief (create a paper height chart to place behind your gnome for its mug shot), a mini face mask for a spa day (put the gnome in a sink or bowl filled with your own cotton balls to look like bubbles, and add your own “do not disturb” sign), and a yoga mat and water bottle for “yoga gnome” (position gnome in a yoga pose and add one of your child’s dolls or action figures to the scene).
Days 22-23: a photo frame for a “gnome selfie,” and a mini ladder for decorating the tree.
Day 24: a cardboard dunking booth kit for “dunk a gnome” (set your gnome on your own bucket or tin, positioned behind the dunking booth window, and add a container filled with your own mini marshmallows for tossing at the target sign).
As far as quality, the storage box and props are cute, and you get a lot for the price. The gnome doll’s beard is a bit stiff and unruly and feels like it could be better, but it’s okay.
I also noticed when I opened the kit that the ribbons tying the storage drawer box together had broken off the box on one side, but it’s simple to glue that back on.
If you’re into Elf on a Shelf, or if you’ve ever considered doing Elf on a Shelf but lacked the time or creativity to create daily scenes, this kit might be for you.
The Aldi My Friend Gnome Kit is like Elf on a Shelf. The difference is that it provides nearly all of the props you need to create daily scenes, which takes the burden of creativity off of you and leaves you more time to celebrate the holidays or get other important things done. The kit comes with a gnome doll, a storybook, 24 days of props and costumes for your gnome, and an instruction sheet.