25 Days of Coding Puzzles to Save Christmas!

Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes.

Some share traditional Bible verses, others share chocolates or small trinkets. You can find advent calendars with mini Funko Pop figurines inside, LEGO sets, ornaments, flavors of tea, socks, beverages, candle scents… practically anything comes in advent calendar form these days.

I have friends who do a holiday movie advent calendar each year, which gives them a different holiday movie to watch each day en route to Christmas. Our holiday gift guide featured an escape room advent calendar with a puzzle to solve to tell you which door to open next!

As it turns out, programmers and code-minded puzzlers have an advent calendar of their own to enjoy. It’s known as Advent of Code.

[Some participants even share their solving efforts on YouTube!]

Each day leading up to Christmas, tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands!) of programming enthusiasts log onto the Advent of Code website to find out what the day’s two-part challenge is.

Yup, two puzzles await solvers every day. (Completing the first one on a given day unlocks the second puzzle.) Each one requires them to put their coding skills to the test in order to solve various problems or complete particular tasks. Participants can code their solutions in the programming language of their choice, and are rewarded with a gold star each time they successfully solve a problem.

Each year, the Advent of Code challenges are built around a unique story. This year, for instance, involves Santa’s elves losing the keys to Santa’s sleigh, dropping them into the ocean.

Thankfully, the elves are equipped with a submarine for just such an emergency, and with the programmer’s help, they need to complete their underwater quest to save Christmas.

So far, the coding puzzles have involved everything from figuring out how to pilot the submarine and eluding a hungry whale to escaping a sea cave and mapping the floor of an ocean trench.

Advent of Code has been running annually since 2015, and attracts coding enthusiasts of all skill levels. Some simply enjoy the challenge, while others seek to be one of the top 100 fastest solvers, landing on an elite leaderboard of competitors.

And not only has creator Eric Wastl built a new holiday tradition for many puzzle-minded programmers out there, but he’s also inspired communities of coding fans to come together. (The subreddit for Advent of Code has over 35,000 members!)

I look forward to reading how the elves’ submarine adventure ends. If you’re interested in finding out more about Advent of Code, check out their website here.


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