Cast your mind back to when you were a young child and it was the run up to Christmas. When you think about what motivated your younger self to jump out of bed every morning, it’s not hard to remember that it was the promise of a delicious piece of chocolate from your advent calendar. We might be all grown up now, but the allure of an adventure calendar at Christmastime is still strong, especially when it’s an adult version concealing the likes of gourmet snacks or alcoholic miniatures. Yes, there is nothing wrong with a traditional chocolate advent calendar and they are a rightful staple of the Yuletide season, but we have to admit that in 2021, simply having chocolate behind each calendar door seems a little, well…boring.
These days, there are all sorts of advent calendars that you can purchase for the countdown to Christmas. If you enjoy a tipple at Christmastime, pick a gin advent calendar. Partial to a Jacob’s cracker during winter? Get yourself a cheese advent calendar. Or maybe you are more of a gourmet snack kind of person – a popcorn advent calendar it is, or perhaps an artisanal marshmallow variety? What we are trying to say is that when it comes to the best advent calendars for food and drink lovers in 2020, the possibilities are endless.
To stop you from feeling overwhelmed, we have rounded up the best non-traditional advent calendars we can find, suiting a range of tastes, styles and budgets. Check out our top picks below, which have been handily categorised by theme, so that you can jump straight to the section that tickles your fancy and is tailor-made for you. Move aside chocolate, it’s time for some other food and drink to bask in the Christmas glory for once.
Cheese advent calendars
Cheese is love, cheese is life. For some bizarre reason, cheese advent calendars haven’t taken off quite as much as boozy or sweet varieties, but we’ve still managed to find some to satisfy your cheese cravings this Christmas.
Ilchester Cheese Advent Calendar
What: This popular cheese advent calendar is back for 2021! Behind each door, you will find one of 12 miniature cheese bites, alongside a selection of cheesy jokes. Flavours you can expect this year include Jarlsberg, Applewood, Mexicana, Cheddar, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries and Wensleydale and Gingerbread.
How much: £28.99
Buy the Ilchester Cheese Advent Calendar
The Chuckling Cheese Company Advent Calendar
What: Featuring eight individually wrapped cheeses, this advent calendar is the stuff dreams are made of (and possibly nightmares after consumption). The calendar also features six days worth of mini crackers and six days of mini chutneys, so that you can create a festive cheeseboard in the comfort of your own home.
How much: £29.99
Buy The Chuckling Cheese Company Advent Calendar
Food advent calendars
Let’s be real, you’ll probably eat enough chocolate on Christmas Day to fulfil your yearly allowance. So you might as well swap out the chocs for something different in the run-up to Christmas. Whether it’s pork scratching’s or popcorn, our pick of food advent calendars should have something to suit your taste.
Artisan Biscuit Advent Calendar
What: This cutesy advent calendar features 25 hand-iced organic biscuits which are decorated with festive characters such as snowmen, gingerbread men and Christmas trees. The perfect treat for a lover of all things sweet!
How much: £57.50
Buy the Aritsan Biscuit Advent Calendar
The Sweet Reason Brownie Advent Calendar
What: You can find advent calendars made up of almost any foodstuff these days, but this is the first brownie advent calendar we’ve come across and we’re obsessed. The handmade brownie box contains fun and festive flavours, including mince pie, honeycomb, salted caramel, chocolate orange and Oreo and peanut butter. Just make sure to hide these from everyone else in your house.
How much: £75
Buy The Sweet Reason Brownie Advent Calendar
Haribo Advent Calendar
What: Perfect for kiddies (or those who are still young at heart) this sweet-toothed advent calendar contains a range of seasonal fun-size bags of Haribo sweets. Expect festive-themed jellies alongside traditional Haribo favourites such as Goldbears and Maoam.
How much: £12.99
Buy the Haribo Advent Calendar
Pringles Advent Calendar
What: Celebrate the 12 days of Crispmas with this quirky calendar. Behind each of the 12 doors, you'll find one of four classic Pringles flavours to munch on - expect to discover the likes of original ready salted and sour cream and onion.
How much: £19.99
Buy the Pringles Advent Calendar
The Naked Marshmallow Co Advent Calendar
What: Change up the traditional chocolate for some gooey marshmallow for this year’s Christmas countdown. Naked Marshmallow Co’s version features one of 12 delicious flavours behind each door, with varieties you’ll come across including candyfloss, cookies and cream and cinnamon churro.
How much: £15
Buy The Naked Marshmallow Co Advent Calendar
Jo & Seph’s Popcorn Advent Calendar
What: If you prefer a little bit of crunch to kick start your day, check out this advent calendar from posh popcorn purveyors Jo & Seph. Each day, you’ll enjoy one of 19 flavours, with options including bannoffee pie, orange chocolate and toffee apple and cinnamon.
How much: £25
Buy Jo & Seph's Popcorn Advent Calendar
Curry Legend Advent Calendar
What: If you’re a lover of all things spice, skip the chocolate and check out Curry Legend’s advent calendar. Behind each door, you’ll find a recipe for a delicious Indian dish, as well as 12 bags of spice blends to include in your creation – perfect for festive entertaining.
How much: £22.46
Buy Curry Legend Advent Calendar
The Snaffling Pig Co Pork Crackling Advent Calendar
What: Lovers of pork crackling will think Christmas has come early with this quirky advent calendar. There are six different flavours of crackling waiting behind each numbered door, with flavours including Black Pepper, Low & Slow BBQ, Marvellous Maple, Perfectly Salted,
Pigs In Blankets and Salt ‘N’ Vinegar.
How much: £18
Buy The Snaffling Pig Co Pork Crackling Advent Calendar
Forntum & Mason Feasting Advent Calendar
What: Fortnum’s doesn’t do things by halves, so it’s no surprise that its Feasting Advent Calendar is filled with top-shelf foodstuffs. Festive treats to discover include salted caramel hot chocolate, spiced orange and dark chocolate biscuits, and Champagne chocolate truffles.
How much: £200
Buy Fortnum & Mason Feasting Advent Calendar
Biscuiteers Luxe Advent Biscuit Tin
What: If you prefer biscuits to choc, treat yourself to 24 hand-iced biccies from the folk at Biscuiteers. Each snack is beautifully decorated to look like a hallmark of the festive season - think polar bears and snowflakes.
How much: £58
Buy the Biscuiteers Luxe Advent Biscuit Tin
Vegan advent calendars
Just because you’re a vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun of counting down to Christmas Day. Check out the dairy-free alternatives that you can find behind the doors of the best vegan advent calendars below.
Candy Kittens Vegan Advent Calendar
What: If you want to avoid chocolate, why not create a bespoke calendar with these vegan sweets. The gift comes with two 48g bags of each Candy Kittens’ flavour - simply stock each window with your preferred sweets and enjoy.
How much: £12
Buy the Candy Kittens Vegan Advent Calendar
Popcorn Shed Vegan Advent Calendar
What: You’ll forget any chocolate cravings with this gourmet popcorn calendar. Each window conceals a handful of gourmet popcorn, with flavours including pecan pie and white truffle.
How much: £20
Buy the Popcorn Shed Vegan Advent Calendar
Drinks advent calendars
If you prefer liquid pleasures to foodstuffs, pick from one of these drinks-focused advent calendars instead. Ranging from calendars filled with herbal tea infusions to ones featuring 24 different kinds of hot chocolates, these drink advent calendars will have you sipping pretty all the way until Christmas Day.
Bailey’s 12 Days Advent Calendar
What: Perfect for Bailey’s lovers, this advent calendar will help you count down the 12 days of Christmas in style. Inside, you will find 12 50ml bottles of the famous Irish cream liqueur, in three yummy flavours: Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur, Baileys Salted Caramel Liqueur and Baileys Espresso Creme Liqueur.
How much: £22.99
Buy the Bailey’s 12 Days Advent Calendar
Whittard’s Hot Chocolate Advent Calendar
What: You know that the Christmas season is here when you find yourself craving a cup of hot chocolate, so why not treat yourself to 24? This advent calendar from Whittard’s features a bundle of exciting flavours, ranging from classics such as Christmas spice to novel options including Peanut Butter and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
How much: £60
Buy the Whittard’s Hot Chocolate Advent Calendar
Waterdrop Advent Calendar
What: Planning an alcohol-free festive season? Opt for this advent calendar which features 25 booze-free micro drinks which are all infused with vitamins, real fruit and plant extracts. There are three sizes to choose from, so you can order the one that’s just right for you.
How much: From £18.90
Buy the Waterdrop Advent Calendar
Pukka Herbal Tea Advent Calendar
What: Every British person knows that a good cup of tea is the answer to all of life’s problems. Pukka’s Herbal Tea calendar will see you all the way through to Christmas Eve, with infusions including vanilla chai, peppermint and liquorice, and supreme matcha green.
How much: £8.99
Buy Pukka Herbal Tea Advent Calendar
Prosecco O Clock Advent Calendar
What: This rather elaborate advent calendar features Prosecco, Cava, Brut and more. You can pick your miniature bottle from each ‘hour’ on the clock, while the wooden structure can be used year after year (although refilling the bottles will be down to you).
How much: £109.95
Buy Prosecco O Clock Advent Calendar
Tipsy Advent Tree Calendar
What: Shaped like a Christmas tree, this advent calendar for grownups features 24 miniature bottles or red, white, rose and wine. Mulled wine also makes an appearance for an extra special festive touch, while the calendar can be brought out every year or used as a Christmas decoration.
How much: £189.95
Buy Tipsy Advent Tree Calendar
Beer advent calendars
If you, or someone you love, is obsessed with beer, we’re happy to report that there’s an advent calendar for that. Our pick of the best beer advent calendars for 2021 feature some of the best beers from all over the world – cheers to that!
HonestBrew Beer Advent Calendar
What: Featuring 24 beers in 14 different styles, this calendar from HonestBrew is a great way of expanding your beer knowledge. For real beer lovers, the calendar also features three limited-edition collaborations and 12 brews which are exclusive to the calendar.
How much: £74.90
Buy HonestBrew Beer Advent Calendar
Snaffling Pig Co Crackling & Beer Advent Calendar
What: As advent calendars go, this one’s pretty niche. But if you’re a lover of pork crackling and beer, it couldn't be better. Inside, you’ll find 12 330ml cans of Snaffling Pig beer, alongside 12 pork crackling bags, with flavours including Low & Slow, Marvellous Maple and Perfectly Salted.
How much: £65
Buy Snaffling Pig Co Crackling & Beer Advent Calendar
Beer Countdown Advent Calendar
What: Wrapped up like a big Christmas present sitting under the tree, this countdown calendar features 24 bottles of beer for you to discover. Names you’ll find on the list of full-sized cans include Ghost Ship, Triple Knot and Mosaic Pale Ale.
How much: £110
Buy Beer Countdown Advent Calendar
Gin advent calendars
Gin has had quite the renaissance in recent years, becoming one of the most popular orders at bars up and down the country. The nation’s obsession with gin has even extended to the Christmas countdown, with gin advent calendars in high demand. Check out some of this year’s best offerings below.
B&M 12 Gins & Tonics Advent Calendar
What: The festive season is one of the few times when it’s considered somewhat acceptable to drink before midday. Although we’d recommend waiting until the evening to fully enjoy B&M’s G&T calendar, which features 12 different Gin & Tonics to enjoy on the sofa.
How much: £34.99 (in-store purchase only)
That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar
What: Fancy trying out 24 different kinds of gin without having to splash out on expensive bottles? This advent calendar is the solution to your problem, featuring 30ml drams of top gins. Sip on the likes of Pink Gin, Cherry Gin and Pineapple Gin.
How much: £49.95
Buy That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar
B&M Gordon’s Gin Advent Calendar
What: If you like the look of a gin advent calendar but don’t want to spend too much, check out this affordable option. It features 24 squares of chocolate like normal calendars, but on Christmas Day you’ll be rewarded with a 50ml bottle of Gordon’s Pink Gin – cheers to that!
How much: £4.99 (in-store purchase only)
Bombay Sapphire Advent Calendar
What: ‘Let the good times be-gin’ declares this fun artic blue calendar. Featuring 24 chocolate squares leading up to the big day and a 50ml bottle of Bombay Sapphire when you arrive at Christmas Day, this pocket-friendly calendar is lots of fun.
How much: £4.99 (in-store purchase only)
If you’re planning a Christmas party for your friends, family or office, check out our Christmas parties page for tonnes of venue inspiration.
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