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.
Bailey's advent calendars
You can get just about every kind of boozy advent calendar nowadays. From beer to gin, they've thought of it all, so it makes sense to include perhaps the most hearty and Christmassy drink of them all in the advent calendar trend. Here are a few of this years Baileys advent calendars.
Menkind Bailey’s Advent Calendar
What: Perfect for any Bailey’s lover, this quirky advent calendar features 24 Bailey’s chocolate truffles: eight heart-shaped truffles, eight salted caramel varieties and eight twist wrap truffles.
How much: £13
Buy the Menkind Bailey's Advent Calendar
12 Days of Christmas Bailey’s Advent Calendar
What: Behind the doors of this 12-day advent calendar, you’ll find a festive Bailey’s recipe, as well as 5cl miniatures in three Christmassy flavours; Baileys Original Irish Cream, Baileys Coffee and Baileys Orange Truffle.
How much: £20
Buy the 12 Days of Christmas Bailey's Advent Calendar
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.
The Chuckling Cheese Company Advent Calendar
What: Featuring 24 individually wrapped cheeses, this advent calendar is the stuff dreams are made of (and possibly nightmares after consumption). Behind each door, you’ll the traditional likes of smoked applewood, alongside less conventional takes, including a Christmas pudding flavour.
How much: £39.99
Buy The Chuckling Cheese Company Advent Calendar
Aldi’s Emporium Selection Advent Cheese Calendar
What: Aldi’s cheese advent calendar is (frustratingly) currently only available in the US, but we’re hoping it will make its way to these shores soon. Featuring 24 festive mini cheeses, the selection includes Gouda, Red Leicester and Edam.
How much: $14.99
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.
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
Selfridges Mince Pie Advent Calendar
What: Christmas snacks don’t come much more festive than mince pies, so thank god for Selfridges, which has dedicated an entire advent calendar to these baked beauties. There are a whole host of flavours to discover, including chocolate, almond and citrus topped, while on the big day itself, you’ll enjoy a slice of Marzipan-topped Christmas cake.
How much: £36.99
Buy the Selfridges Mince Pie Advent Calendar
Liquorice Lovers Advent Calendar
What: Liquorice fans will fall head over heels for this quirky advent calendar, which features 12 classic varieties of liquorice across 24 days. Dig in to your daily helping and educate yourself too, as the back of the box is full of little-known liquorice facts, which may come in useful for your next pub quiz.
How much: £12.95
Buy the Liquorice Lovers 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
Niederegger Marzipan Advent Calendar
What: For something a little different to traditional chocolate, opt for this unique calendar which features an assortment of dark and milk chocolate pralines, croquant with milk chocolate, flambeed marzipan and marzipan. The illustrations are really pretty, too.
How much: £35
Buy the Niederegger Marzipan 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 six flavours behind each door, with varieties you’ll come across including mint choc chip and salted caramel.
How much: £21.99
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 12 flavours, with options including caramel and Belgian 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 bags of spice blends to include in your creation – perfect for festive entertaining.
How much: £29.95
Buy Curry Legend Advent Calendar
Munchkings Christmas Advent Calendar
What: If you’re not so nutty about chocolate, you can keep things savoury instead with Munchkings nut-based calendar. Expect to crunch on the likes of chilli coated peanuts, smoked almonds and smoked paprika coated peanuts all the way until Christmas Eve.
How much: £29.99
Buy Munchkings Christmas Advent Calendar
Snaffling Pig Merry Piggin’ Christmas Pork Crackling Advent Calendar
What: As advent calendars go, this one’s pretty niche. But if you’re a lover of pork crackling, you’ll find six different flavours in Snaffling Pig’s offering, which includes Pigs in Blankets, Low & Slow BBQ and Perfectly Salted varieties.
How much: £17.50
Buy Snaffling Pig Merry Piggin' Christmas 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, pistachio and clotted cream biscuits, and rose petal jelly.
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 glittering Christmas trees and dogs in festive jumpers.
How much: £58
Buy the Biscuiteers Luxe Advent Biscuit Tin
Kellog’s 12 Days of Cereal Advent Calendar
What: Instead of marking the entire advent period, Kellog’s has decided to focus on the 12 Days of Christmas instead. Behind each door, you’ll find a bowlful of cereal to enjoy from its extensive range and they even throw in a branded cereal bowl to enjoy them from.
How much: £20
Buy Kellog's 12 Days of Cereal Advent Calendar
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: £10 (Boots, on sale from 28 September)
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 gin, these boozy advent calendars will have you sipping pretty all the way until Christmas Day.
24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar
What: A tea lover’s dream, this unique advent calendar features 24 individual fine teas and fruit infusions, presented in pyramid tea bags. The flavours featured in the advent calendar range from the traditional (English Breakfast, Peppermint) to the unconventional: think Christmas Cookie, Strawberry and Kiwi or Blood Orange.
How much: £20
Buy the 24 Days of Tea 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 £17.90
Buy the Waterdrop Advent Calendar
O’Donnell Moonshine Advent Calendar
What: On the hunt for a grown-up advent calendar that features luxury gifts behind its doors? Look no further than O’Donnell Moonshine’s offering, which is filled with £180 worth of products. Think O’Donnell miniatures, a new Christmas flavour and other treats too, including a leather wallet.
How much: £119
Buy the O’Donnell Moonshine Advent Calendar
Mariage Frères Advent Calendar
What: Prefer a cosy cup of tea to hard liquor? We don’t blame you. Treat yourself this advent with 24 premium blends from the oldest tea house in all of France. Now, what tea aficionado could say no to that?
How much: £45
Buy the Mariage Frères Advent Calendar (in-store only)
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: £9.39
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
Drinks by the Dram Tequila Advent Calendar
What: If you are (or you know of) a serious Tequila fan, this advent calendar is a must-buy. Featuring 30ml Tequila pours behind each door, the calendar will allow you to sip on the likes of Don Julio 1942 and Casamigos Anejo.
How much: £149.95
Buy Drinks by the Dram Tequila 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: £85
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 2020 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
The Snaffling Pig Co Beer and Pork Crackling Advent Calendar
What: Few things pair better with beer than pork crackling. The Snaffling Pig Co’s calendar combines 12 cans of Snaffling Pig beer with 12 pork crackling bags, boasting tempting flavours such as Perfectly Salted and Marvellous Maple.
How much: £65
Buy The Snaffling Pig Co Beer and Pork Crackling Advent Calendar
John Lewis Craft Beer Advent Calendar
What: One for real beer aficionados, this advent calendar features 24 bottled beers, with a nice mix of lagers and pale ales. Discover the likes of pumpkin ale, a spiced stout and a smooth Irish ale from some of the best brewers around the UK.
How much: £75
Buy John Lewis Craft 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
World Beer Advent Calendar
What: Celebrating beers from across the world, this advent calendar has sourced and pulled together 24 different kinds of beer from across the globe. While counting down to Christmas Day, you’ll sip on Moosehead Canadian Lager, Peroni Red and Stella Artois.
How much: £60
Buy World Beer Advent Calendar
First 4 Hampers’ Beer Advent Calendar
What: This tartan-splashed celebration of beer includes 24 beers in cans and bottles to choose from. There are plenty of varieties to enjoy too, such as Sonnet 43 Seraphim Blonde Beer, Spey Valley Brewery Sailor Terry Rum Spiced Stout and Bourbon Milk Stout.
How much: £65
Buy First 4 Hampers' Beer 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.
Ginvent Advent Calendar
What: Gin advent calendars were among the first to break away from the traditional chocolate variety, and for that, we are forever grateful. In this creation by Gin Foundry, you’ll find 24 30ml drams of the good stuff, with flavours ranging from lavender to rhubarb and ginger.
How much: £157.45
Buy Ginvent Advent Calendar
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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