Once upon a time, the only thing you’d find behind an advent calendar’s window or door (a controversial debate for another time) was a picture, which was a little anticlimactic for all involved. Then, one happy day, chocolate advent calendars were invented to turbo-charge the countdown to Christmas for children. Fast forward a few years to the year 2021, when there are more advent calendars marketed at adults than there are at children, the likes of which range from alcohol to coffee and tea, miniature beauty products, stationery and pretty much any other small item you can think of. You can even get one for your pet.
Now, we’re not sticks in the mud, and certainly aren’t saying that 24 mini bottles of gin in December could ever be a bad thing, but when it comes to the Christmas countdown, we reckon chocolate advent calendars still come up trumps. Let’s be honest, is there anything better when waking up on a cold morning wishing you didn’t have to leave the house, than suddenly remembering that there’s an unopened door on your choccie-packed calendar?
SKIP TO THE BEST SECTION FOR YOU
Now we know deep down that chocolate shouldn’t really be part of your breakfast, but that adds to the indulgence of it all, and arguably the small bite-sized squares you get in an advent calendar taste even better than a full-sized bar as a result. The issue comes when making the decision as to which one, or in our case how many, you’re going to commit to buying this year, with so many different options on offer.
For that reason, we’ve rounded up the best chocolate advent calendars for 2021, to help make your decision on which one to get that much easier. So go on, leave the kids to their Kinnerton abominations and treat yourself to a chocolate advent calendar worthy of the season.
Best dark chocolate advent calendars
Dark chocolate is good for you; that’s what we’re always hearing on the foodie grapevine (which is generally considered to be 100% accurate), so by treating yourself to one of these dark chocolate advent calendars, you’re actually making a healthy lifestyle choice – good for you! These 70%-plus bad boys are also great for anyone looking to cut down their sugar intake and/or avoid dairy, so they’re a great all-rounder. Check ‘em out…
G&B Organic Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Organic and fairtrade, this chocolate advent calendar from Green & Black's is practically guilt-free. Sleekly packaged and containing dinky versions of its deliciously bars in five varieties, this is perfect if you want a dark chocolate advent calendar with a side of milk. Included are milk, 70% cocoa, 85% cocoa, ginger dark and butterscotch – this one is great for those who prize simplicity and the use of ethical cocoa.
How much: £12.99
Where to buy: Green & Black's website
Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: We’ve included quite a few chocolate advent calendars by Hotel Chocolat in our round-up this year, but then that is what these guys do best. Deep and smooth, with rich cacao notes, this 70% advent calendar contains 24 dark chocolate reindeer, snowmen, penguins and enchanted spruces.
How much: £12.50
Where to buy: In-store or online at Hotel Chocolat
Best milk chocolate advent calendars
Milk is good for you; that’s what we’re always hearing on th… Who are we kidding? You’re in this section because you like creamy milk chocolate, which is lucky as we’ve listed some of the best milk chocolate advent calendars in stores and online this year. From the inexpensive to the downright fancy, you’re sure to find a milk chocolate advent calendar you like the look of here.
Butlers The Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Established in Dublin, Butler’s is now an internationally recognised brand for producing some of Ireland’s finest chocolate. This one’s for those of us who like to be kept guessing, as behind each door there’s something a little bit different – from a midnight ginger chocolate through to a salted hazelnut caramel truffle.
How much: £19.95
Where to buy: Harvey Nichols
Cadbury Heroes Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Cadbury’s is popular for a reason, and we’re not above ourselves to admit we love that sweet, creamy chocolate too. This one gives you a taste of the brand’s most popular bars – from Crunchies through to (ever so slightly out of season) Crème Eggs. This is a great one for sharing, if you’re feeling nice, or the perfect inexpensive option to pop on your desk to ensure you have a treat come teatime every day.
How much: £3.48
Where to buy: Ocado
Lindt Teddy 3D Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Okay, maybe we’ve fallen for some particularly endearing marketing here, but how sweet is this 3D teddy bear design? And in our defence we don’t think it’s style over substance either, with this chocolate advent calendar filled with all kinds of sweet shapes. There are Santas, reindeers and teddy bears (of course) in that classic Lindt milk chocolate, plus a couple of truffle varieties too.
How much: £15
Where to buy: Ocado
Tony’s Chocolonely’s countdown calendar
The lowdown: Tony’s Chocolonely’s not only tastes great, but the business is also trying to make the world a better place. With Fairtrade sourcing and a mission to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate, we think it’s safe to say these are some pretty good guys. The chocolate is chunky and addictive, and this countdown calendar offers ten different flavours of chocolate so you can sample all that they offer before settling on your favourites to buy in bulk throughout the year. Favourites of ours include the dark milk chocolate with pretzel and toffee pieces as well as the salted caramel.
How much: £13.98
Where to buy: Tony’s Chocolonely’s
Love Cocoa Luxury Chocolate Truffle Charity Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Love Cocoa was started by James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury, who founded the most famous chocolate brand in history. Now if that isn't good enough credentials in itself when picking an advent calendar, Love Cocoa's dark chocolate advent calendar also happens to be one of the most eco-friendly on our list. All the chocolate used in this calendar has been sustainably sourced and made without palm oil, and on top of this all profits this year will go to the NHS to thank them for their hard work over the last two years. With the chocolates inside ranging from Gianduja Square Truffles through to Hazelnut Praline delights, there's not much to dislike about Love Cocoa's calendar.
How much: £25
Where to buy: Available from the Love Cocoa website
Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: If Lindt’s Lindor advert gets your mouth watering, then this is the chocolate advent calendar for you. If you’re anything like us, you’ll have a box of Lindor on the go from around mid-November, but there’s something extra special about plucking your very own Lindor chocolate from behind a numbered door each day throughout December. This one is great for those who know their Belgian from their British, but don’t want to spend too much on the Christmas countdown.
How much: £10
Where to buy: Various shops, including Ocado
Thorntons Milk Chocolate Santa Advent Calendar
The lowdown: This child-friendly treat-filled calendar gives you change from a tenner while also making sure you get a proper chocolate hit. Hiding behind each door is a sweet little milk chocolate shape which will keep you guessing day to day. If you've got a big brood, Thorntons often does special offers on multiple calendars, so make sure to keep an eye out in the run up to Christmas.
How much: £6
Where to buy: In-store or online at Thorntons
Best white chocolate advent calendars
Super-creamy and tooth-achingly sweet, white chocolate is, quite frankly, delicious. Dentists might not recommend it every day, but we do, which is why we’ve selected some of the best white chocolate advent calendars available this year for your consideration.
Hotel Chocolat White Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: If you’re one of those people who finds white chocolate too sweet, you should know that unlike most other brands, the main ingredient in Hotel Chocolat’s white chocolate is cacao butter, not sugar. Translation? It’s creamy, melty, and not too sweet. Presuming you’re sold, pick up Hotel Chocolat’s white chocolate advent calendar ASAP and get ready to count down to the big day with 24 white chocolate Santas, snowmen, penguins and enchanted spruces.
How much: £12.50
Where to buy: Online or in-store at Hotel Chocolat
Milkybar Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Just to be clear, we’re including this for nostalgic purposes only (oh, and because everyone who likes white chocolate secretly loves a Milkybar). It’s cheap, it’s festive and, if the Milkybar Kid is to be believed, made with the creamiest milk. Also, it’s been around since the thirties, so they must be doing something right.
How much: £1.50
Where to buy: Most supermarkets, including Waitrose
Best hot chocolate advent calendars
If you prefer to drink your chocolate as the cold nights draw in, you’ll love our hand-picked selection of hot chocolate advent calendars below. Each one contains individual sachets of delicious hot chocolate powder that promise to bring a bit of warmth to those frosty December days.
Whittard The Hot Chocolate Advent Calendar for Two
The lowdown: Beautifully boxed and containing 24 mini drawers, this drinkable advent calendar is made yet more festive by the fact that it serves two. You’ll find two sachets of its delicious hot chocolate powder in each compartment, with flavours ranging from peanut butter to sticky toffee pudding, white chocolate and its signature luxury hot chocolate, to be enjoyed by a roaring fire (or radiator).
How much: £60
Where to buy: In-store and online at Whittard
Yawn Hot Chocolate Advent Calendar
The lowdown: MugCocoa’s small batch craft chocolate has been designed to transform hot milk into deliciously smooth hot chocolate. These guys have included some tempting winter warmers in their hot chocolate advent calendar selection, including (but not limited to) Christmas Carrot, Banana Lama, Chilly Willy, Chocolate Orange, Cinnamon Socks and Caramel Rum Pud.
How much: £20
Where to buy: Online at YawnBrew
Fortnum's Feasting Advent Calendar
The lowdown: We’re slightly cheating on this one, as it only contains one box of hot chocolate among 25 luxurious F&M treats, but we couldn’t help ourselves – just look at it! As well as 100g of Fortnum & Mason’s salted caramel hot chocolate, this whopper of an advent calendar (that definitely belongs under the ‘luxury’ category below) contains everything you could want over the festive season, from tea and coffee to chocolate, biscuits, preserves, condiments and alcohol. Merry Christmas indeed.
How much: £200
Where to buy: In-store or online at Fortnum & Mason
Best luxury chocolate advent calendars
We know our readers are a discerning lot, hence this selection of luxury chocolate advent calendars. Naturally they’re a bit pricier than your standard supermarket advent calendar, but you only have to take a look at the beautifully-designed packaging to know that the chocolate within is going to be incredible.
Bettys Advent Calendar
The lowdown: It's hard not to like the look of a fabric advent calendar - they just have a touch of class to them and feel a little more homely than a standard cardboard number. However, the issue that usually comes with fabric advent calendars is that you need to buy the chocolate separately to put in each pocket, which rather ruins the surprise. However, Bettys has come to the rescue with its luxury fabric advent calendar which comes with 24 novelty chocolates inside the pockets. Now that really is the best of both worlds.
How much: £50
Where to buy: From Bettys
Charbonnel et Walker Advent Calendar
The lowdown: As one of Britain's earliest chocolatiers, Charbonnel et Walker has had plenty of time to perfect its fancy chocolate advent calendar, which is as charming this year as every other. Comprising 25 little drawers decked out in festive red, green and gold, and each containing a luxury chocolate, this British chocolate maker’s offering is ideal for discerning chocolate enthusiasts who plan to countdown to Christmas in style.
How much: £65
Where to buy: Online at Very
Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent Calendar
The lowdown: This one is bound to be on every single round-up of chocolate advent calendars this year for three reasons; the first is, quite simply, that it’s enormous! Seriously, it’s double-sided so you’re definitely getting some bang for your buck here. Secondly, it not only contains a load of Hotel Chocolat’s silky smooth chocolates and chocolatey treats, but also two mini bottles of booze – Cacao Gin or a Velvetised Cream Liqueur. Thirdly, chocolate is Hotel Chocolat’s forte so you can rest assured that when it comes to creating a luxury advent calendar, these guys know what they’re doing.
How much: £68
Where to buy: Online or in-store at Hotel Chocolat
Fortnum's Chocolate Truffle Selection Advent Calendar
The lowdown: Self-restraint is the key to enjoying an advent calendar properly, but when it comes to Fortnum’s truffle selection advent calendar, it’s definitely going to be tested. Opening this bright red slim-line box reveals a Christmas tree decked with baubles, behind which 24 festive truffles are concealed. Flavours this year include Marc de Champagne, Christmas pudding, Christmas spice butter biscuit, salted caramel, chocolate orange and pecan and maple syrup, all of which sound as festive as can be.
How much: £35
Where to buy: In-store or online at Fortnum & Mason
For more advent calendars, check out our guide to the best advent calendars 2021.