Alternative Advent Calendars

TOAST's pick of the best alternative Advent calendars

When the first Advent calendars start appearing on the shelves it can only mean one thing; the official countdown to Christmas is nearly upon us! But bog standard card calendars are so last year - here are TOAST’s top picks of the very best alternative Advent calendars, so that you can countdown the festive period in style.

The tradition of the Advent calendar dates to the mid-19th century and is actually the result of when German Protestants would make chalk marks on doors, or light candles to count down the days leading up to Christmas. In the years that followed it was decided that printed Advent calendars would be far less fuss (and certainly less mess than chalk) and so the card calendar that we know today was born. 

I say ‘ know today’, but in 2016 Advent calendars come in all shapes and sizes and the variety of content is quite astounding; from nail polish to craft beer, exotic tea to tiny bottles of gin – as if the countdown to Christmas wasn’t exciting enough! Not only are they huge fun to open each day, but now they are more of an opportunity to create a fun family tradition whilst representing the traditional coming of Christmas.

Here are TOAST’s top picks of some of the very best alternative Advent calendars, guaranteed to give a good dose of daily festive cheer in the run up to the arrival of Father Christmas himself….

Top picks for…A–LIST BEAUTY

Selfridges has got to have one of the very best beauty departments in the country, so who better to put together a luxurious beauty calendar, I ask you? Their exclusive Beauty Workshop Advent Calendar features a wonderful selection of little luxuries from some very on-trend brands such as Foreo, Too Faced, Tweezerman, BeautyBlender and Eve Lom. The combined value of its contents comes to a whopping £230, so you could say it is a bit of a bargain.

Price: £65, Selfridges

Selfridges Advent Calendar

Another fabulous beauty offering comes courtesy of Boots, who have created an exclusive calendar filled with a selection of their top-selling, premium beauty brands.  Packaged beautifully, it is called ‘Your Beauty Fairy Tale’ and hidden inside are some fabulous lotions, potions and perfumes from brands such as Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Viktor & Rolf and Ralph Lauren. This is the crème de la crème of beauty calendars and perfect for the party season ahead.

Price: £85, Boots

Boots Advent Calendar

Top picks for…A SWEET TOOTH

You can’t go wrong with Fortnum and Mason, especially at Christmas, and this beautiful wooden advent calendar is no exception. It features 24 little nooks with small numbered doors - each one filled with an exciting selection of Fortnum’s’ famous sweeties. Beautifully decorated and painted to represent the façade of the famous Piccadilly department store, this handcrafted wooden calendar is destined to delight year after year (they sell refill packs, too).

Price: £125, Fortnum & Mason, refill pack £45 from Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum And Mason Advent Calendar

If you think an advent calendar just isn’t an advent calendar without chocolate hiding behind each door, then look no further than luxury chocolatier Godiva’s elegant offering. This stylish calendar has 25 tempting windows containing treats such as a Moelleux Caramel; a rich chocolate flavoured caramel, their Iconic ‘Tourbillon Praline’; a chic, Art-nouveau swirl filled with their signature hazelnut praline and a ‘Lune Passion’, a fruit infused white chocolate ganache coated with divinely dark chocolate. Just try not to eat them all at once…

Price: £24, Godiva


Top picks for…BOOZE

Fancy a cheeky tipple every day in December? Well it is Christmas after all. Online beer experts Beer Hawk have launched their thirst-quenching 2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar, containing 24 bottles and cans of craft beers from all over the world, plus a special beer tasting glass so that each one can be savoured! With a selection of pale ales, pilsners, saisons, stouts, IPAs, weissbiers, dubbels, tripels and more, it’s got something for everyone this Christmas. Cheers!

Price: £65, www.beerhawk.co.uk  

Beer Hawk Edited 1

Another booze filled calendar not to be missed is the aptly named ‘Ginvent Calendar’ – as we all know that mother’s ruin is a Christmas essential, right? This brilliant luxury calendar contains 24 different 3cl sample of some very special gins; from well-known brands to craft treats, alongside new smaller brands and even some rare gems. Guaranteed to keep you merry throughout December…bottoms up. 

Price: £124.95 www.masterofmalt.com

Ginvent Advent Calendar Edited 1


Molton Brown are renowned for their fabulous scents and luxurious products, so what better than 24 of them? Their beautifully packaged advent calendar contains a lovely selection of indulgent shower gels, sumptuous body lotions and glorious bubble baths, as well as mini candles and some other little surprise beauty treatments for you try out this winter. The perfect kit for de-stressing at home after the madness of Christmas shopping!

Price: £150, Molton Brown

Molton Brown

If you love a bit pampering (and quite frankly who doesn’t?), then how about a quick manicure too? Get your nails ready for the big day (and all the Christmas parties between now and then…) with Cheeky’s fun, nail polished-filled Advent calendar, complete with 24 x 5ml Cheeky nail paints, boasting long-lasting, quick-drying and high-shine formulas. Plus, as each calendar comes with a free Cheeky tote bag, it would be rude not to.

Price: £50, Cheeky 

Cheeky Advent Calendar

Top picks for…ORIGINALITY

Beauty advent calendars are still a relatively unconventional concept, but tea? Unheard of! This isn’t just any tea though; this is a wonderful selection of very special Fortnum and Mason teas sourced from India and the Far East, presented in a beautifully handcrafted, wooden calendar. Behind each of the 24 decorative doors lies tea treasures from the hills and valleys of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and beyond – including two stunning flowering teas from China. A truly sophisticated offering for any tea lover.

Price: £125, www.fortnumandmason.com 

Fortnum And Mason Tea Advent Calendar

Another unusual seasonal treat is this lovely Seeds Advent Calendar, which contains 24 packets of seeds complete with pearls (or should I say petals?) of gardening wisdoms for the year ahead. British seed varieties include firm favourites such as Bluebells, Forget-me-nots, Meadowsweet and herbs, and each one comes in a beautifully illustrated envelope with 24 miniture pegs and approximately 2 metres of red and white bakers twine to hang the envelopes from. A perfect, thoughtful gift for the green fingered.

Price: £29.99, Seedlings Cards 

Seeds Advent Calendar


If you want to give the kids something to cherish this delightful wooden railway advent calendar by Meri Meri is a beautifully crafted chocolate-free option. These delicate, embellished wooden railway pieces are hidden behind 24 windows in a decorative box with a drawstring bag keepsake bag, so a keepsake that can be brought out year on year.  Included is a pack of alphabet stickers , for you to personalise the roof of the train station for your little ones.

Price: £24.99 from Trouva and Meri Meri 

Meri Meri Advent Calendar


Believe it or not, TOAST’s showstopper contains absolutely nothing. No beauty treats, no exotic teas and no gourmet chocolate either. Why? Because it’s designed than none other than legendary French fashion designer, Christian Lacroix. His show-stopping Shaman Night Advent Calendar is more like a piece of art, as it unfolds to reveal a beautifully imaginative pop-up scene featuring magical illustrations, and weird and wonderful characters. When fully expanded it is an impressive four-foot long tableau, and once finished it folds away into an A4 book. The epitome of a haute couture Christmas.

Price: £49.95, Harrods 

Lacroix Advent Calendar

Lacroix Advert Calendar Details


Been invited to a party in early December? Instead of a bottle, why not take an Advent Calendar filled with treats, tradition and festive cheer?