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?
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…
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 a tree will be planted in Cameroon for every one purchased. With the chocolates inside ranging from plain truffles, to gin and tonic flavoured delights, there's not much to dislike about Love Cocoa's calendar.
How much: £20
Where to buy: Available from both Ocado and the Love Cocoa website from mid-September
Green & Black's
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 creamy bars in five varieties – 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
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
The lowdown: Divine exists to help farmers gain a share of the wealth they are helping to create, so even as you savour its range of silky smooth chocolate, you are helping to change the cocoa industry for the better. If there’s a better way to get that warm and fuzzy festive feeling than enjoying a rich dark chocolate woodland creature each day throughout December, we can’t think of it.
How much: £5
Where to buy: Online at Divine
The lowdown: Oh-so-prettily packaged, Prestat’s dark chocolate advent calendar contains 24 dark chocolate cubes in four flavours: raspberry, pink Himayalan salt, cocoa nibs and roasted almond, and plain 73% dark chocolate. One of London’s oldest chocolate shops and proud owner of two Royal Warrants, Prestat knows a thing or two about good chocolate, so you’re in safe hands with this one.
How much: £19.50
Where to buy: Online at Ocado
The lowdown: Organic, vegan and, most importantly, delicious, Montezuma’s dark chocolate advent calendar was a winner for us last year. This brand’s 73% dark chocolate is made with the finest quality organic cocoa beans, resulting in the richest, smoothest chocolate imaginable. We'll keep you posted when they release their 2020 range.
How much: from £9.99
Where to buy: Online at Montezuma’s
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.
The lowdown: The name ‘Godiva’ actually translates to ‘gift from god’, which is rather fitting when talking about the super-fancy Belgian chocolatier. Last year, the brand went for a traditional snow-capped house design with 24 windows that concealed some of their most indulgent chocolates: milk chocolate carrés and a selection of milk, dark and white sujets filled with hazelnut praline or chocolate ganache. Check back for updated information on Godiva's 2020 range.
How much: from £20
Where to buy: Online at Godiva
The lowdown: The choice between a chocolate advent calendar and an achohol-filled advent calendar might be one of the hardest of the festive season, which is why M&S have come up with this totally inspired and excellently-named ‘Pop Fizz Clink Prosecco’ advent calendar. It contains 24 Marc de Champagne chocolates and a 20cl bottle of Prosecco for the big day. This isn’t just a solution, it’s an M&S solution, and a jolly good one at that.
How much: £10
Where to buy: In-store and online at M&S
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: £12
Where to buy: Various shops, including Ocado
The lowdown: An assortment of milk, white and dark chocolates are hidden behind the doors of this stylish blue and bronze advent calendar from Thorntons, just waiting to be discovered. There are 12 different varieties, including a salted fudge star, nutty caramel, orange crisp and Turkish delight, so if you’re looking to keep on your chocolate-eating toes (that’s a thing), this may well be the advent calendar for you this year.
How much: £15
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.
The lowdown: Almost too beautiful to eat (almost), these chunky couverture chocolates are a must for white chocolate enthusiasts who also care about stylish design and sustainable cocoa cultivation. Each solid handmade chocolate in this box of 24 sports black and white patterns and a gold number, so the only surprise involved is when (if) you manage to make it to Christmas Eve without cheating.
How much: £24.95
Where to buy: Online at Cocoapod
The lowdown: The design is clearly aimed at kids, but the plaque at the bottom that can be personalised screams ‘hilarious adult nickname’ to us. We haven’t tested the patience of the staff in Thorntons stores, but in theory you should be able to commission anything you like to be written in icing on it. Oh, and the actual white chocolate in this advent calendar? delicious.
How much: £6
Where to buy: In-store or online at Thorntons
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 reindeer, snowmen, penguins and enchanted spruces.
How much: £12.50
Where to buy: Online or in-store at Hotel Chocolat
The lowdown: Given the state of UK politics, you might not fancy an advent calendar that resembles Big Ben this year, but when we tell you that it’s full of After Eights, you may just change your mind. Sadly for white chocolate purists, the After Eight advent calendar does include dark and milk chocolates too, but if you love a white chocolate and mint combo, the eight white chocolate After Eights in this calendar will be worth the compromise.
How much: £10
Where to buy: In-store or online at Tesco
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
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.
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
The lowdown: 24 days’ worth of silky smooth hot chocolate awaits those who have the foresight to get themselves one of John Lewis’ own-brand hot chocolate advent calendars. There are a whole host of flavours to discover behind the little mug windows inside the red, snow-flecked box, including caramel, mint, orange, cinnamon and hazelnut, to name but a few. And it’s a bit of a bargain too – think how much 24 cups of hot chocolate would cost you in Starbucks (or better yet, don’t).
How much: £20
Where to buy: In-store or online at John Lewis
The lowdown: Count down the days until Christmas one steaming mug of hot chocolate at a time with this hot chocolate advent calendar from Debenhams. There are a whopping 16 flavours to discover, from classic milk chocolate to coffee, white hazelnut, and pistachio. Just add the powder to cold milk in a saucepan and bring it slowly to the boil for drinkable chocolate heaven.
How much: £18
Where to buy: In-store or online at Debenhams
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) chocca mocha and ginger, salted caramel, campfire marshmallow, and Xmas pud.
How much: £20
Where to buy: Online at YawnBrew
Fortnum & Mason
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.
The lowdown: Dorset-based company Chococo has become known for producing some of the highest quality chocolate in the UK and its 2020 advent selection box showcases this perfectly. Featuring 25 stunning, hand-made chocolates that are almost as amazing to look as as they are to eat, there is no way this advent selection box could fail to go down a treat. Simply follow the order printed on the frosted sleeve inside, and you will find yourself being taken on a chocolatey voyage throughout December. It seems inevitable that these will fly off the shelves, so be sure to preorder while you still can.
How much: £25
Where to buy: From Chococo
Mazet de Montargis
The lowdown: Mazet's chocolate advent calendar may not look particularly special from the outside (although the bear on the front is particularly lovable), but this advent calendar is all about the quality of the chocolate inside. Every door of Mazet's calendar conceals either a praline, chocolate and fruit cream, pâté de fruit or caramelised almonds, all of which have been crafted in their workshop which dates all the way back to 1903. Something which has been around for that long has to be good!
How much: £19.99
Where to buy: From Sous Chef
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
The lowdown: Pierre Marcolini’s 2019 advent calendar was almost too pretty to tamper with; almost. Styled to resemble a snow globe in rich oranges and blues with reindeer frolicking in the snow, the scene concealed 19 different flavours of the award-winning Belgian chocolatier’s chocolates, from salted caramels to pistachio praline, almond marzipan and passionfruit hearts. While the 2020 range is yet to be launched, you can be sure that there will be something just as impressive on offer this year.
How much: from £49
Where to buy: From Pierre Marcolini
Charbonnel et Walker
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 Liberty
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 – salted caramel vodka liqueur and cocoa gin. 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 & Mason
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 (at the first floor Christmas store) or online at Fortnum & Mason
The lowdown: As tempting on the outside as the exquisite French chocolates that lie within, this hexagonal chocolate advent calendar from Alain Ducasse’s signature chocolate brand is named ‘Journey to the Centre of the Cocoa Jungle’. The illustrations by artist Agathe Singer may be reminiscent of a children’s story book, but the sugar-coated almonds, praline bonbons, mini chocolate bars and a very special final surprise are perhaps suited better to adult palates.
How much: £45
Where to buy: In-store at Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, Coal Drops Yard
For more advent calendars, check out our guide to the best advent calendars 2020.