Christmas is coming, but before then we have another big event to look forward to. Not Black Friday, though we can all appreciate some money-saving bargains, I'm actually talking about Advent. You know the holiday that nobody except the most devout Christians would know about if it didn't involve cardboard boxes full of cheap chocolate pieces. But, chocolate advent calendars are pretty boring, especially when you're an adult. The chocolate is rubbish, and the pieces are so small you can't really appreciate them one square at a time.
So to help you out we've come up with a list of better advent calendars, tha feature something a bit more interesting than plain old milk chocolate. Let's take a look at our 12 picks:
As ever, Lego has a whole range of advent calendars this year, though the usual City, Star Wars, and Friends calendars are joined by a fourth companion: Harry Potter. In each one you get 24 miniature builds, ranging from minifigures to accessories, and other themed bits and pieces, which frankly is a lot more interesting than simply guzzling down a little block of cheap rubbish-tasting chocolate. The City and Friends calendars cost £23 each, though the licenced calendars come with a bit of a price hike and cost £25 each. They can be purchased where all Lego sets are sold, including Lego, Amazon, and more.
There are lots of nice scents associated with Christmas, and throwing a Yankee candle advent calendar into the mix means you get to sample a lot of them in a short space of time. Which is good because Yankee candles can cost quite a bit if you're buying them all separately. There are three different calendars to choose from, with varying price points, and different kinds of actual candle. The Wreath calendar contains tea lights, the Book calendar has tea lights and votive candles, and the more expensive Tower calendar has tea lights, votive candles, two small jar candles, and extra wax melts for good measure. [Buy them from Yankee]
Funko Pop, £50
If it exists there's a Pop! Vinyl of it, and if there isn't a wide-eyed miniature figure of the thing you like then clearly you're liking the wrong stuff. This year there are three Pop calendars to choose from, including Harry Potter, Marvel, and Fortnite. Because the latter is the game of the moment, and obviously companies that deal with pop culture want to cash in. Each calendar has 24 miniature Pop! Vinyls to enjoy, one for each day of the Advent season, naturally. Just make sure you have room to display them, and be grateful they're not full size pops or else you'd never be able to afford it. [Buy from Pop | Buy from Amazon]
Gibsons 12 Days of Christmas Jigsaw Puzzle Calendar
Another 12 days of Christmas, rather than a full advent calendar, but it was too good to leave out. Inside the Gibsons calendar are 12 80-piece jigsaw puzzles for you to put together at your leisure, making it perfect for the low-tech semi-luddites in your social circle. Or you, if you got bored with the jigsaw app on your phone for the millionth time. All the jigsaws are made from recycled card, and it promises to be the thickest jigsaw cardboard on the market - which makes them more durable than your standard flimsy cracker jigsaws. [Buy it from Amazon]
When it comes to fancy tea there are plenty of places to go, but none of them really have that same level of recognition as Whittards. And wouldn't you know, they offer a range of advent calendars for the budding tea lover to enjoy in the run up to Christmas day. There's a base level tea calendar for £25, or you can opt for the more luxurious calendar for £60. What's the difference? Well the basic tea calendar only has 24 bags of tea, one for each day, while the luxury calendar has a nicer box and quadruple the amount of leafy bags. That's right it has four bags of tea a day, which means it's actually better value. Assuming you like tea, that is. if you don't Whittards also does a hot chocolate advent calendar, and if coffee is more your thing there are plenty of those around too. Just not from Whittards. [Buy from Whittards]
John Lewis Beauty Calendar, £150
There are a lot of beauty based calendars out there, but they're all horrendously expensive. The John Lewis calendar, on the other hand, is not. Relatively speaking, that is, because it's an awful lot more than your standard chocolate affair. But I have it on good authority that the stuff inside doesn't seem too bad, and coupled with quite a nice box design this should be your go to if you're considering a beauty-themed advent calendar. Or at the very least a benchmark of what you can get for £150. [Buy from John Lewis]
Lovehoney Best Sex of Your Life Couple's Sex Toy Advent Calendar, £100
Advent calendars aren't for kids, clearly, and they're not just for individuals. If you have a Christmas with a partner planned, you might want to check this out and see if any of the included gifts take your fancy. you've got things like blindfolds, lube, and various sex toys to keep you and your partner entertained after a long day at work or looking after the kids. [Buy it from Lovehoney (NSFW)]
I don't when people realised they could add booze to advent calendars, but ever since we've been inundated with calendars containing boozy products of all kinds, including gins, whiskys, beers, and more. Everyone's taste is different, though, so we couldn't possibly tell you which advent calendar you should buy to keep yourself buzzed during those long December nights in the run up to the 25th. So instead we'll point you to the big retailers that offer them, and you can pick which one suits you the best. So check out John Lewis, Aldi, Debenhams, B&M, and Amazon.
Paperchase Stationary Advent Calendar, £35
Perfect for the person that always needs new pens, notebooks, and other stationary gear. Paperchase's advent calendar contains 24 extra bits of stationary gear for you to use however you see fit. Jot down a list of everyone who bought you presents, write up thank you notes, or just take them to the office and hope the scoundrels from two desks down don't try and pinch them to use for their own nefarious ends. [Buy from Paperchase]
The 12 Currys of Christmas, £30
Curry isn't really the kind of thing many people will associate with Christmas. It certainly doesn't fit will with turkey, though I guess anything that can improve the taste of sprouts is a win in my opinion. For the curry lovers of the world there's this, an advent calendar filled with different curry spices and recipes to help you add a bit more kick to the usual December proceedings. Which should be welcome as the weather gets colder at any rate. There's only 12, rather than 24, which is a shame, but you can't have curry every night can you? [Buy from Ocado]
Kelloggs do a wide range of advent calendars,as you might expect, but the one that caught our eye is the retro-themed one that comes with its own bowl. A bit like the retro gift sets you can buy, but with more than one box of cereal. And no this isn't cheating, just because there's chocolate in Coco Pops.
Sadly the downside to this advent calendar is that it's for the 12 days of Christmas and only has 12 doors to open, rather than the usual 24. So you're supposed to open it on Christmas day and do it from there. But nobody is going to do that, and you might as well just open one every two days in the run up to the big day. Of course you can always buy the Kellogg's cereal bar calendar, which includes 24 of those to enjoy, but there's no bowl and that means it's obviously not as good. [Buy it from Debenhams]
Ilchester Cheese Advent Calendar, £10
Like booze cheese is very subjective, since a lot of people don't like all the different varieties that are out in the world. That said, unlike booze there's only really one to pick. So if you don't like what's inside, tough shit you're just going to have to find a different kind of advent calendar to enjoy. There are lots of different kinds to enjoy, but nothing too adventurous, so it shouldn't really be a problem for most people. [Buy it from Sainsburys]
Fill Your Own, £38
If you'd rather skip all this nonsense, there's always the option of picking up a calendar that you can fill up with whatever the hell you like. Chocolate, lego, beauty products, different kinds of rock, or something completely different and obscure. It also means you don't have to hunting for the best kind of advent calendar each year, because you already have this mini cabinet to fill up with extra things. Sure it's expensive, but think about what you might save over the next several years? Or how good it will look on one of the shelves in your house? [Buy from Not on the High Street]