Once upon a time, we were more than happy to indulge in just a nugget of chocolate in the lead up to December 25, but now we expect bigger, brighter and bolder treats to be squirrelled away behind those advent windows.
A box made up of 12, 24 or 25 compartments, the humble advent calendar has snowballed into a Christmas shopping category all of its own spanning everything from lipstick to LEGO.
Just one thing remains the same: the childlike glee of opening a new window every morning to claim the mini-gift within.
While beauty calendars have been a festive fixture for a few years now, brands are getting ever more creative with their pre-Crimbo offerings.
We’ve spied all sorts, from snack-laden and boozy advent calendars, ones stacked with stationery and others for fitness devotees.
There are even XXXmas calendars for adults who want a red-hot yuletide - a cheeky gift whether you’ve wond up on the nice or naughty list this year.
With the most extraordinary year on record drawing to a close, a fun advent calendar is the perfect way to treat yourself - or someone else - to something special.
Use these quick links to jump straight to specific advent calendar types:
Best Alcohol Advent Calendars
Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Best Food, Drink & Sweets Advent Calendars
Best Jewellery & Accessories Advent Calendars
Best Stationery Advent Calendars
Best Toys Advent Calendars
Best Adults Only Advent Calendars
If you’ve come this far without buying a calendar but have decided you really want one, all is not lost. Scroll on to see the alternative Christmas advent calendars worth buying right now.
Let the countdown commence!
Shop more of the best advent calendars for Christmas 2020:
Best Alcohol Advent Calendars
Beer Hawk Beery Christmas Advent Calendar
For a very hoppy Christmas, look to Beer Hawk. This year the beer experts are offering an advent calendar packed with 24 beers made exclusively for the calendar, so there's no danger of coming across these beers anywhere else.
The company has even whipped up a micro-website for the beers in the calendar, so you can look up facts and tasting notes of the beers in the box.
Containing £110 worth of special brews, it's a steal at just £75. It's a limited edition though, so get it while you can.
Bombay Sapphire x London Graphic Centre 12 Days of Creativity advent calendar
Bombay Sapphire has partnered with art shop London Graphics for a calendar that's made to be enjoyed in the white noise between Dec 25 and Jan 5 known as Twixtmas.
Designed to stir creativity, each blue box contains art and drinks supplies to help you pass the time in the most pleasurable way possible.
An engaging way to keep the Christmas spirit going long after the turkey leftovers have been devoured.
£75 | London Graphic Centre *Available from Dec 4
Beerwulf Advent Calendar
Shaped like a gingerbread house, this beer-filled calendar is the perfect way to have a beery happy Christmas.
It contains a selection of 24 distinctive beers from top brewers, including Brewdog and Beavertown, alongside others from brands from Belgium, the Netherlands, the US and more.
Whisky Advent Calendar (2020 Edition)
Know a budding or seasoned whisky aficionado? This year treat them to something more special than a box full of plain chocolate.
Presenting Drinks by the Dram's 2020 Whisky Advent Calendar, filled with 30ml wax-sealed taster bottles from some of the world's finest producers. There are 24 bottles to savour every December evening leading up to the big day with premium and aged blends all on the menu.
One of the more enjoyable ways to keep toasty this Yuletide.
Virgin Wines Advent Calendar
Among the most sought-after booze-filled advent calendars around, Virgin Wines knows how to have a very merry Christmas. This year the bumper selection is back with 24 world-class bottles to enjoy in the lead up to the big day, plus a full size bottle hidden behind the 25th window to share with your loved ones over Christmas lunch. Take your pick from an all-red, all-white or the best-selling mixed Wine Advent Calendar. A gin advent and beer advent is also available
You can reserve yours now for £10 and pay the remaining £79.99 (plus £7.99 P&P per calendar) on dispatch.
Baileys Advent Calendar
Tis the season... to enjoy a little adult indulgence, and with which brand better than Baileys? Made for an 18+ audience only, this black and gold calendar hides 24 bitesize treats in the form of eight heart truffles, eight salted caramels, and eight twist wrap truffles. The perfect boozy gift for fans of the Irish cream liqueur.
Best Beauty Advent Calendars
Sculpted by Aimee Connolly 7 Days of Sculpted Gift Set
It's not too late to bag a bargain beauty advent calendar - head to Boots to find 3 for 2 across selected Christmas products including this makeup-filled box from one of Ireland's top makeup artists. It's a smaller offering with just seven items inside (think the likes of Hyaluronic Acid, Face Tanning Drops, Rose Gold Glow Highlight and a eyeshadow palette) so it will make a nice pre-Christmas treat to surprise someone special with.
No7 Wizard of Oz 12 Days in Emerald City Beauty Calendar
Inspired by the joy and magic of the Wizard of Oz, this 12 day countdown to Christmas is filled with magical No.7 beauty treats. Characters are reinterpreted as beauty must-haves, think No7 Eye Shadow Pot in a COWARDLY LION Gold, No7 Lipstick DOROTHY Red and a No7 YELLOW BRICK ROAD Mini Highlighting Palette.
Liberty Beauty Advent
We always have sky high expectations for the Liberty beauty advent calendar and we're pleased to report, this year doesn't disappoint.
There are £800 worth of products from fan-favourite labels like Hourglass, Le Labo and Diptyque. The carefully curated selection even includes products from six new brands, as well as covetable products across skincare, makeup and fragrance.
It looks the part too, beautifully illustrated with the iconic Regent's Street facade and with the department store's Standen Manor print on the inside. One to treasure.
Space NK Advent Calendar: The Beauty Anthology II
The second volume of Space NK's Beauty Anthropology may just have found a way to beat last year's incredible selection.
It's divided into different sections depending on purpose; pampering, pre-party, disco-ready and restorative with a staggering £480 worth of products from the likes of Jo Loves, Augustinus Bader, Malin + Goetz, Fresh, Drunk Elephant and Byredo. A pretty good way to splash just under £200.
Jo Malone London Advent Calendar
Luxury fragrance house Jo Malone has always been one of the most coveted calendars on the market. The 24-day design contains luxe bath, body and fragrance in the brand's celebrated aromas.
You'll no doubt wake before your alarm each December morning, thanks to the sheer excitement to open another chic cream and black box. And no wonder, when there's travel-sized versions of the colognes, lotions and even miniature candles to discover. There's even an extra special treat on Christmas Eve to uncover come Christmas Eve, but we wouldn't dream of spoiling the surprise by revealing it to you now.
The products are housed in a collectable box, illustrated with the brand's iconic Townhouse facade, given a playful makeover with suitably festive glittery balloons.
Soap & Glory 24 Days to Roam the Foam
Boots' super popular in-house brand Soap & Glory is back to bring unabashed joy with an offering of skincare saviours and lip glosses.
The Roam the Foam calendar has 24 windows to take you right up to Christmas Day. Treats include cult favourites like The Righteous Butter Body Butter, Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel and Hand Food Hand Cream, plus loads more beauty products and kit. Sign us up.
Rituals: Advent Calendar Gift Set
For fans of Rituals, treat yourself or somebody deserving to the Rituals' 2020 Advent Calendar. Made up of 24 windows, each box reveals a luxurious surprise with products to revitalise mind, body and soul.
With a value totalling £120, you can expect gifts for him and her such as Mini Candle Private Collection - Green Cardamom 25g, The Ritual of Jing Sleep Pillow Mist 20ml, The Ritual of Ayurveda Shower Oil 75ml and The Ritual of Hammam Foaming Shower Gel 50ml plus loads more besides.
Yankee Candle Advent Wreath
Countdown to Christmas with Yankee's pretty advent calendar, shaped like a wreath. The alpine-inspired design is a 24-door configuration, and behind each one is a gorgeously scented tea light candle.
Yankee Candle Advent Book
This book-themed calendar folds out to reveal 24 doors filled with tea lights and votive candle - a fun way to scent your way to Christmas Day. The design also hides a candle holder as the perfect way to showcase each day's offering.
Yankee Candle Advent Tower
Make sure this Christmas is lit with Yankee Candle's luxury tower advent calendar. The wonderfully illustrated design is made to delight, covered in an alpine-inspired design and opening out concertina style. Behind each of the 24 windows, you'll discover a selection of the brand's finest products, from candles to accessories like a snuffler.
Lynx Africa 12 Day Countdown Advent Calendar
A low cost treat for the teenage boy or man(child) in your life, Lynx Africa is marking 25 years of the iconic scent with a compact 12-day advent calendar. The travel-sized toiletries and grooming tools are ideal for stashing in his wash bag or travel case so he always looks good on the go.
Best Food, Drink & Sweets Advent Calendars
Joe & Seph’s Popcorn Advent Calendar
For a different kind of sweet treat, look to gourmet popcorn company Joe & Seph’s. The brand has launched three deluxe advent calendars for 2020 to cater to all tastes: the gourmet classic, a vegan version and a ‘tipsy’ popcorn selection made from 5 per cent real booze that we’re sure will go down a storm with fans of unusual flavours.
Containing a medley of different flavour combos, each calendar has 24 mini packs so you can enjoy a popcorn moment every day until December 25.
Walker's Shortbread Advent Calendar
If you're a biscuit fan, get ready to indulge in the run up to Christmas with Walker's Shortbread-filled advent calendar. The handsomely packaged limited-edition box offers 24 bite-sized treats to savour until December 24. Why not pair it with a tea advent calendar for the ultimate festive treat every afternoon? Treats include the Pure Butter Shortbread Fingers, Rounds and Mini Chocolate Chip Shortbread.
Wilko 24 Days of Gin Advent Calendar
Gin has been the darling of the cocktail world a while now, so get yourself into the spirit this Christmas with a gin-themed advent calendar. It's filled with cocktail mixers, garnishes, shimmers, glass rim sugars and other gin-based accessories to take your drinks to the next level. There's no actual alcohol inside, but if you're planning on giving this to a gin-lover, they'll have their favourite tipples in their bar cart already.
The Naked Marshmallow Co. Gourmet Marshmallow Advent Calendar
With a new look and line-up for Christmas 2020, this is one sweet way to countdown to the most wonderful time of the year. There are 25 windows behind which are delicious pieces of gourmet marshmallows in flavours like Candy Floss, Salted Caramel, Choc Orange, S’mores. Look out for the festive jokes and discount codes on the reverse of each door for extra treats.
As an optional extra, you can also add-on a toasting kit, so that you can toast each marshmallow to gooey perfection!
The Naked Marshmallow Co. Boozy Gourmet Marshmallow Advent Calendar
A brand new advent for 2020, this calendar combines the childlike fun of marshmallows with the simple pleasures of alcohol. Grown-up flavours include Raspberry & Prosecco, Peach Bellini, Elderflower & Gin and Pina Colada.
The Christmas Day door includes a raspberry & prosecco marshmallow bar encased in Belgian milk chocolate.
Add a toasting kit for an even more delicious way to savour those marshmallows. Drooling yet?
Whittard of Chelsea Luxury Hot Chocolate advent calendar
With a box design as opulent as the hot chocolate selection within, this calendar will help you hit all those hygge goals this winter. Designed to share with a special someone, Whittard’s calendar holds 8 delectable flavours, from its classic Luxury and festive Christmas Spice to creative, to innovative new tastes such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Peanut Butter. We’re salivating just thinking about them.
Newby Teas Advent Calendar
A highlight for tea lovers everywhere, the Newby Teas Advent Calendar is back with a bang for Yuletide 2020. It's a tasteful experience in more ways than one, with this year's box covered in an opulent rendering of the front of the brand's decadent London HQ.
There are 24 windows, filled with a selection of black, green and oolong teas and tisanes. No two drawers are the same; every day is the exciting promise of a different blend of award-winning tea. The countdown to a very refreshing Christmas starts here.
Offblak Tea Advent Calendar
Tick off the days to Christmas in a typically English style - with a fresh cuppa every morning. From the new tea brand OFFBLAK comes this tea-centric advent calendar.
Housed in a funky box that we’re already plotting uses for once Christmas has come and gone, the teas are as far from standard as you can imagine. Flavours are innovative twists on classics, as well as new and contemporary flavours with a total of 24 pyramid tea bags to enjoy. Flavours include Spearmint & Chocolate Black Tea, Raspberry & Peach Green Tea and Masala Chai Black Tea. Yum!
Tea advent calendar from Mariage Frères
Luxury French tea emporium, Mariage Frères’ has launched a beautiful advent calendar filled to the brim with premium teas, perfect for anyone who loves nothing more than a good cuppa. There are 24 blends to enjoy, including the festive Spirit de Noel with notes of orange peel, vanilla and warming spices and a classic Earl Grey.
Grenade protein advent calendar
Get a head start on your healthy New Year's resolutions with this protein-crammed advent calendar. Grenade, the sports nutrition brand is fuelling festive vibes in a different way with this guilt-free alternative. Hidden behind every window is a variety of Carb Killa full-sized protein bars in delicious flavours like Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel, White Chocolate Salted Peanut and Dark Chocolate Raspberry.
The perfect festive gift for the fitness fan in your life.
OTO Mindful Calendar
It's been an unusual year so if you fancy rounding things off with an unusual advent calendar to match, we've got just the thing. Say hello to the OTO CBD Mindful Christmas Calendar, a luxe compilation of 12 CBD-based premium treats from the UK-based premium CBD and wellness brand.
Each product is made to calm and relax, perfect at a time when your mind may be overrun with a million things to check off your festive to-do list. It's a bargain too, with the contents worth £500+.
£269 | OTO CBD *on sale from £329
The Thriving Box Company's Limited-Edition Advent Calendar
If you want to support small businesses with your advent calendar purchase this Christmas, The Thriving Box Co offers an appealing option. Its 24-box recyclable calendar offers a mix of food, drink, lifestyle and beauty gifts from the finest independent shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol with contents worth a total of £200. There will only be 50 made though, so if you want one you'd better move fast.
The Thriving Box Company's Limited-Edition 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar
For a more wallet-friendly option, there is also a smaller 12 Days of Christmas Box (also limited edition with only 50 available), which spreads festive cheer in the 12 days before the big day: think festive fudge to sweet-smelling soaps. Expect £100 worth of locally made treats for £69.95. A brilliant way to boost businesses hit by the pandemic.
£74.95 | The Thriving Box Co. *Delivery from November 16
Swizzels Sweet Factory Advent Calendar
We've seen advent calendars worth thousands of pounds, but you don't have to bankrupt yourself for a festive thrill. There are simpler delights to be had - and Swizzels 2020 edition is the textbook example.
It's packed with sweet shop favourites: think Drumstick Squashies, Refreshers chew bars and Love Hearts (our personal favourites). There's also a puzzle on the back of the box that links to questions behind each of the 24 doors.
It may look designed for kids, but we know quite a few adults who would love this too.
Waterdrop Advent Calendars
Waterdrop's 2020 advent calendar comes complete with limited-edition microdrink flavours, exclusive accessories and countless surprises to ensure there’s a festive surprise waiting to be discovered behind every door.
For those who are new to Waterdrop, the brand specialises in microdrinks: a small cube packed with real fruit and plant extracts and enriched with vitamins that dissolve into water to make a tasty, sugar-free beverage. They're a great way to boost your water intake, keeping you hydrated and focused throughout the day.
There are three versions to choose from but all three share the same goal in encouraging you to drink more water.
The Large packs in over £180 worth of products into its bumper box, with Waterdrop's most popular flavours as well as a selection of accessories and an exclusive limited edition water bottle for £129. The Medium (£79.90) has a smaller selection of accessories but still comes with the drinking bottle and all the flavours, while the wallet-friendly Small (£17.90) offers a selection of 25 microdrinks behind each decorated window.
Candy Kitten Vegan Sweet Advent Calendar
Not into chocolate? Make Christmas that bit sweeter by creating a bespoke calendar with Candy Kittens' vegan gourmet sweets. The gift comes with two 48g bags of each flavour - wild strawberry, tropical mango, sour watermelon and blueberry bliss. Simply stock each advent window with your preferred sweets, ready to enjoy in the countdown to Christmas.
Popcorn Shed: Free-From Vegan and Gourmet Advent Calendar
The snack company has a double dose of popcorn advent calendars this year, a free-from vegan option (green) and a Christmassy red-hued gourmet option so that more of us than ever can join in the fun. Each holds 24 windows filled with a small taster bag of popcorn, with flavours flitting from indulgent Pecan Pie and Pop N Choc in the gourmet calendar to White Truffle and Smoky Maple in the green free-from version. Who needs chocolate?
Best Jewellery & Accessories Advent Calendars
Harry Potter Ladies 12 Pair Sock Advent Calendar
Calling all fans of the Wizarding World! This advent calendar is practical as well as feeding your addiction to all things HP. Perfect for late advent calendar adopters, it hold 12 pairs of ladies socks all featuring Harry Potter motifs like Hogwarts house emblems, Platform 9 and 3/4 logos and our favourite, a stripey pair that say 'I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good'.
Happy Socks Christmas Advent Calendar for Adults
Give your feet a festive makeover with luxurious and colourful novelty designs from Happy Socks. Wake up every December day to a fresh pair of socks, some with a Christmassy feel, others with a slight quirk, all the way to the big day.
We love that the box can be reused for many years to come - just fill the empty spaces with your gifts to repurpose it for friends or family.
Happy Socks Christmas Advent Calendar for Kids
If you’re not keen on the idea of filling up your kids with sweets, an alternative advent calendar is an inspired way to offer them a treat of a different kind. Happy Socks is on hand to brighten up their tootsies, every day from Dec 1 - 24. Happy Socks = happy holidays.
Disney Sock Advent Calendar
Keep feet toasty and whimsical with Disney's 12-day sock advent calendar. Showcasing classic characters like Mickey to new favourites such as Olaf the Snowman from Frozen, it will make an ideal treat for fans of the Magic Kingdom.
Best Stationery Advent Calendars
Advent of Change Charity Advent Calendar 2020
We've collectively seemed to have forgotten that Christmas is a time for helping others. Uphold the goodwill to all men sentiment with this thoughtful advent calendar by Advent of Change. It turns the advent concept on its head by donating a sum of money to a particular charity, initative or good cause every day, whether that's helping to provide safe housing for a homeless person, to providing a dream day out for a sick child, or helping to protect marine life from single-use plastics.
CEWE Photo Advent Calendar
For a truly personal and bespoke advent calendar, look no further than this photo-filled creation. You can place your favourite snaps behind each door and create a calendar full of memories of this extraordinary year.
If you're a stickler for tradition, there's also the option of a photo and chocolate-combined calendar (choose from Kinder chocolate and Ferrero Rocher, both from £18.99), or for the ultimate personalised calendar, look to the ‘Fill Your Own Advent Calendar’, from £19.99. This option allows you to fill the windows with your own treats as well as choose images to decorate the front.
Martha Brook 24 Days of Stationery Advent Calendar
Hot off the success of last year’s hit, Martha Brook is back with its joyful stationery advent calendar; a 24-box compilation packed to the rafters with beautiful and useful items.
The 2020 calendar has been designed to look like a row of colourful books on a shelf and it’s plastic-free with all the packaging 100 per cent reusable or recyclable. What’s not to love?
Paperchase 24 Days of Stationery Advent Calendar
It sold out in record time last year, but it's a fresh season and it's back. If you are, or know, a massive stationery fan, Paperchase's calendar is the only pre-Christmas treat you'll want.
Behind each of the 24 doors are pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, and a 2021 diary to discover - and that's just for starters. As an extra surprise, the calendar also includes a £5 gift voucher to spend with the brand.
Paperchase Sugar Plum Advent Calendar
Designed for children, this calendar squirrels away stationery treats and accessories behind each door. Little ones will also be able to follow a cute Christmassy tale of the sugar plum fairy who can't find her ballet shoes on the day of the big show! The contents are worth £40 so this offers excellent value for money.
Smiggle Stationery Advent Calendar
If you're looking for a sugar-free calendar that kids will love, look to Smiggle's 2020 iteration. From slapbands and lanyards, to glitter glue, scented stickers and pencil cases, it has everything you need to keep little ones occupied through the festive period.
The contents are worth £50, yours for just £28. Every sale also puts you in a raffle to win a Lucky Ticket and win a £500 shopping spree in a Smiggle shop.
Best Toys Advent Calendars
Magic Advent Calendar
Bring the magic of Christmas to your little marvels this year - quite literally. This advent calendar packs in 24 quick tricks behind each of the doors, so that by December 25 - hey presto! They’ll be ready to amaze you with their newfound magic skills.
Peppa Pig Advent Calendar
Ideal for fans aged 3+ of the country's most famous cartoon pig, this fun advent calendar offers the treat of toys instead of sweets behind every window. Little ones will squeal with joy at the 24 surprises, which include the main girl Peppa as well as George as their band of pals. As it's a festive design, Santa makes an appearance too.
Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar
There are a traditional 24 windows to open and unwrap each December day with this calendar from This Works. Themed on Disney books and festive stories, surprises include Olaf's Frozen Adventure, Monsters Inc. Christmas Laughs and many more! The only thing more magical? The price.
There's also a Marvel Storybook Collection Advent Calendar (also £12) and Disney Frozen Storybook Collection Advent Calendar (£12) to buy if your little one has a particular favourite.
PLAYMOBIL Advent Calendars
One of the world's biggest toy brands Playmobil is giving parents and their kids even more reasons to celebrate this year with four brand new advent calendars.
Holding 24 toys, from figures and animals to vehicles and accessories, every December day until the 25th promises to be loaded with surprises. Best of all, once all the toys have been revealed, the box design opens out into a backdrop to play on!
There are four new themes to choose from this year - farm, ice, Father Christmas and pirates - and are suitable for kids aged 4 to 10 years-old.
John Lewis & Partners City Vehicles and Accessories Advent Calendar
If your little one is a car fanatic, they'll love this calendar from John Lewis's in-house selection.
It's themed around city centre vehicles - think police squad cars to double-deckers - and comes with accessories too, like police officer toys, road signs and workmen so that they can create their own bustling cityscape by Christmas Day.
Contains 24 windows, suitable for ages 3+.
LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar 2020
A magical advent calendar filled with Harry Potter-themed components and characters from all the movies, this LEGO calendar is the perfect pre-Christmas treat for fans of J.K Rowling's Wizarding World.
The 24-day calendar reveals new parts every day that culminates in the iconic Yule Ball by Christmas Eve.
Suitable for muggle children aged 7+.
Shop more LEGO Advent Calendars:
LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2020 - £24.99, LEGO
LEGO Friends Advent Calendar 2020 - £20, Argos
LEGO 60268 City Advent Calendar 2020 Christmas Gift Set - £19.99, Smyths Toys
City Advent Calendar - £19.99, LEGO *Available from Sept 16
Best Adults Only Advent Calendars
Lovehoney 7 Nights of Seduction Plus Size Lingerie Calendar
Make this Christmas red-hot for all the right reasons. Designed for women who wear sizes 18 - 24, this is an advent calendar that would get Old Saint Nic hot and bothered under this collar. Why? Because the seven-day box, named the 7 Nights of Seduction calendar, is filled with seven of Lovehoney's naughtiest lingerie pieces and accessories. Think a peek-a-boo bra and a full basque set, all in rich wine-coloured lace. A calendar to enjoy, whether you're on the naughty or nice list this year.
There's also a lingerie advent calendar for size 8 - 16 available, also £50.
Bijoux Indiscrets 12 Sexy Days of Pleasure Kinky Gift Box
Whether you're single or in a couple, Lovehoney's Christmas Calendar promises to help you have a very merry Christmas 2020 indeed.
The stupendously popular calendar is bursting with 24 adult toys and erotic accessories from the sexual happiness brand: think an adjustable suspender belt and garter belt straps, a long tassel choker, plus plenty more X-rated surprises. Not only is it a total steal at less than £90, but it’s a Rudolf red-hot way to build excitement up to the big moment.