The variety of advent calendars out there on the market these days blows me away. It brings a big smile to my face to think of all the merchants and brands taking this opportunity to create a fun product offering in packages with 24 or 25 windows to be opened each day in the lead-up to Christmas, brightening up an otherwise cold and dark month.
Can you tell how much I love the calendar phenomena? For me, the excitement comes from a combination of counting down to the special event of Christmas and getting small surprises every day. Being able to try out 24 (often new) products is an emotional rush, and it’s great for businesses as well as for consumers. My friends, family and I end up trying products we would never have thought of buying, and I love that. Plus, I often feel I get a great deal; calendars I’ve bought in previous years have included products worth up to four times the price of the calendar itself.
Let’s find out which calendar packages have caught my eye this year.
Calendar package #1: Luxury perfumes and lotions
Rituals have included 24 surprises in their “Ritual of Advent” calendar, a unique selection of luxurious products worth 140 euro, sold for 89. The calendar also includes four Advent candles, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas.
This is the one calendar I most often recommend to people. Without it, I wouldn’t have discovered some of my now-favourite Rituals products. As you probably know, trying out new beauty products is very expensive since you never know whether they’ll suit your skin – or be any good. That’s one of the reasons beauty-related calendars are my favourite type of calendar. They give you the opportunity to try out those products before deciding which are worth investing in. Besides Rituals, I’ve tried the calendars from Sephora and Lookfantastic. Lookfantastic is my favourite one so far – a bit more expensive, but with a very good selection of products, many of them full size and from well-known brands.
Calendar package #2: Organic muesli
I think this is a great idea for a calendar. For me, buying muesli in the grocery store usually results in disappointment. I have no idea what to buy, so I go by the appearance of the packaging or pick the “healthiest” label, which doesn’t always go too well. I end up having a huge packet of muesli in my home which I don’t enjoy very much, but feel guilty about not finishing. That is why I think this is a great idea. I get to try new types of muesli, in perfectly-sized portions. I think the price is a little too high, for most people, for this type of calendar, but I would definitely try it.
My Muesli claims to be the first company in the world offer a service where you can mix your own personal muesli from more than 80 different organic ingredients – giving an incredible 566 quadrillion possible variations. Hidden behind the 24 doors of the company’s advent calendar are 14 of those variations which include blueberries, mango, coconut, and – of course, because it’s Christmas season – chocolate.
Calendar package #3: Gourmet marshmallows
Each one of the handmade pieces of gourmet marshmallow hidden in this advent calendar is “a great motivator for getting out of bed first on a Winter’s morning”, according to Naked marshmallow, the company behind this exceptionally sweet calendar.
This calendar really is something quite different. It is fun, but not one I personally would choose. I prefer chocolate, and one marshmallow per day seems a bit cheap. I would like two, at least – not because I am greedy, but because just one small fluffy sugary thing per day is insubstantial. Double up the amount, charge a bit more, and I might be interested.
Calendar package #4: Beard Oil
It’s unclear if Santa Claus himself receives this advent calendar from his wife. He might. Anyway, the calendar – from The Bearded Man Company – contains 24 different scents of beard oil: Bay Rum, Bergamot, Black Coffee, Cedarwood, Driftwood, Fresh Cut Grass, Irish Moss, Lavender, Leather, Mahogany, Neroli, Oak Barrel, Oak Moss, Race Day, Rain Forest, Rio, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Sicilian Lemon, Spanish Orange, Tobacco, Unscented, Vetiver and Walk in the Woods.
I personally think this calendar is brilliant! If I knew someone with a deserving beard, I would definitely get them this one. It’s a fun idea, and if you are one of those guys who really takes care of your well-polished hipster beard, you get to try new oils for 24 days. It couldn’t be better!
Calendar package #5: Tea bags
Once upon a time, ‘tea’ just meant black tea, but these days it can be anything you can imagine. Behind each date leading to Christmas hides a new variation of tea bag, including ingredients like sunflower, liquorice, apple, rosemary, ginger, blackberry leaves, and vanilla.
I love this. It is one small thing each day until Christmas, and for regular tea-drinkers it’s a way to try something new in your everyday routine. I will not go for this one, as I prefer coffee, but this is a great small gift for someone you would like to spoil that little bit extra.
Calendar package #6: LEGO surprises
I grew up around LEGO, and I wish I’d had one of these calendars as a child. Imagine waiting impatiently for the next day to come so you get your new figure to assemble. Once Christmas has arrived, you’ll have TWENTY-FOUR new pieces to play with; vehicles, mini-sized figures and seasonal items. Goodbye, standard chocolate calendar. I also think the prices of all the different LEGO calendars are good!
Calendar package #7: Unicorn figures
Cute, isn’t it? I read that Unicorns symbolise the infinite opportunities that are around us at all times to pursue. I bet any kid that gets this unicorn advent calendar will live up to that symbolism, by finding endless ways to mess up any organised home using these figures. Absolutely a perfect gift for all the young people in your life. The small unicorns are just flawless.
Calendar package #8: Chili sweets
If, for any reason, you don’t fancy enjoying your Christmas food, you might want to invest in this calendar. Eat one of these chili sweets every day, and your taste buds might be totally numbed by December 24 or 25. Some pieces will cause you to sweat and cry, promises Santa Claus… sorry, I mean Chili Klaus. Number 15 contains chili powder from the Carolina Reaper – the hottest chili on earth.
This is definitely one of the coolest calendars out there this year. I love eating spicy food – and recently found out that chili and chocolate is a good combo. I can absolutely imagine myself sitting there every December evening after dinner, looking forward to the next chili treat. Because it’s tasty? Nope, because I’d enjoy the challenge of trying to eat all the spicy bites and survive until Christmas. The price is a little overwhelming, though.
Calendar package #9: Cat food
These days, cats are used to being treated like royalty. If they don’t get an advent calendar like this one, they will get insanely upset, tear your furniture apart, and pee on every mattress in the house. The calendar comes with three tasty food bites every day; some variation of chicken, duck, beef and tuna. Are you a crazy cat person? Then this is the one for you (and your cat). The price is also so good, you might even treat them to two!
Calendar package #10: Tealights
Living in a dark, Nordic country like I do (Sweden), I rely on scented candles to get me through the cold months of the year. I spend a fortune each year on candles in all shapes, sizes and scents. I prefer Voluspa, but Yankee Candle is also a great choice if you ask me; I wouldn’t mind having these tealights bringing extra Christmas love into my home. Blue Spruce, Glittering Star, All is Bright, Crackling Wood Fire, Snowflake Cookie and Sparkling Cinnamon. Just the names make me love this calendar.
Calendar package #11: A Nicolas Cage Christmas countdown tree
Haha. Well, I guess this is for anyone who is into the DIY movement (or short on cash). Just print a picture of Nicolas Cage (or whomever you wish to give this dubious honour), add 25 numbered post-its to it, and the receiver of this incredible gift will be forever grateful. If you are into DIY, let me also recommend creating your own calendar filled with whatever you like. You can choose your budget and combine different products to make it completely unique and personal. The only thing you need is imagination.
Calendar package #12: Beauty collections
Being a lover of beauty products, I can’t help but round up my findings with another beauty calendar. The Sugar Trip 24 Days of Beauty advent calendar from NYX includes 10 blendable powders and 14 mid-size lip colours. I love this brand. It’s budget-friendly but still delivers high quality. They are well known for their lippies – and therefore this calendar is a brilliant choice.