Time was that advent calendars were cardboard and paper affairs, with tiny doors that were opened a day at a time to reveal equally tiny images with a Christmassy feel, building up to stars, angels and eventually babies in mangers. That seems now like an innocent, long-forgotten era.
Nowadays, advent calendars are a kind of pre-Christmas present, indulgent and – if you choose carefully – positively luxurious treats. So, with this in mind, we’ve had a scout around for the most delicious and unusual products on the market. Here are our choices…
For the Chocophobe (is there such a thing?), there are…flapjacks?
Flapjackery make completely decadent – you guessed it – flapjacks. Their Advent Calendar Box (£50) has 24 (you don’t get one on Christmas Day itself, obviously) individually wrapped gluten free flapjacks in an array of flavours. These include Mince Pie Flapjack, Christmas Chocolate Orange Flapjack, Sparkling Honeycomb Flapjack, Florentine Flapjack, Festive Golden Caramel Flapjack and more.
They’re handmade in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor using only British oats, locally sourced West Country ingredients, fair-trade brown sugar and real butter. To say these are indulgent is to put it very mildly – I would strongly recommend you share your daily treat with someone else or the post-Christmas diet is going to be pretty tough! Completely delicious.
For more information, and to order, please visit www.flapjackery.co.uk.
For the Indulgent…
Chocolate advent calendars are now very popular but, for something a little special, Rumsey’s make chocolates by hand in small batches in their workshop in the Chilterns under the guidance of Master Chocolatier Nigel Rumsey. They have two variations – classic and a vegan dairy/alcohol-free version (£37.50).
There are some wonderful fillings here – Champagne (not in the alcohol-free version, clearly), Orange Seville, Passion Fruit, Mexican Vanilla, Black Cherry Cointreau, Macadamia, Organic Stem Ginger, Violet Fondant and many, many more.
Last year, there was a problem. The chocolates were just a bit too big for their packaging and had to be wiggled out – just imagine that wait! This year, they’ve got new packaging so no wiggling required.
For more information and to order, visit www.rumseys.co.uk.
For the Sheer Beauty of It…
London’s Notting Hill is one of the world’s greatest urban environments and home to many beautiful historic houses. To celebrate this, premium chocolate shop Melt’s handmade chocolates – which are made in the heart of the historic neighbourhood – presents the Notting Hill Advent calendar house.
Hidden behind the façade of a Notting Hill Town House you’ll find 24 individual houses each filled with delicious, fresh, organic, bespoke chocolates. Flavours include Gingerbread Caramel, Hazelnut Gianduja, Cinnamon Caramel, Cranberry Caramel, Blood Orange pate de Fruit, Cassis Caramel Ganache, and Christmas Pudding Caramel, among many others. All of which are made by Melt’s master chocolatiers in the heart of Notting Hill – with all of the packaging being plastic-free.
£69. From MELT Chocolates, www.meltchocolates.com.
Speaking of Beauty…
Among the many calendars that feature pocket-sized toiletries, there is one that stands above all others, Liberty’s. It is the original Beauty Advent Calendar – and, arguably, still the best, curated as it is by industry experts. And this year’s long-awaited line-up is their highest-value ever, worth £844.
Containing 25 of the Liberty Beauty Buyers’ must-have products, this year’s brings together cult buys, niche names and fresh launches from the store’s world-renowned beauty hall: think skin care from Augustinus Bader, UOMA Beauty makeup, hair care by OLAPLEX and fragrance from Vilhelm Parfumerie. Plus, there’s a single Golden Ticket hidden in one calendar’s drawer – awarding the lucky winner £5000 to spend at the shop. This unmissable countdown is on every beauty lover’s radar – so treat them (or yourself!) to the ultimate gift and guarantee a magical Christmas.
Due to popular demand, it won’t be around for long – so if you’re splashing out for your spouse, chaps, get your order quickly to avoid disappointment! Priced at £225 online, for more information, please visit www.libertylondon.com.
For a Zen December…
Here’s one that’s a little different. Parisian scented candle emporium, diptyque, have come up with a calendar designed as a Cabinet of Curiosities. Featuring 25 scented treasures, including new limited edition surprises, and in a variety of sizes, if you fancied a different scent in your house each day through December, then look no further.
What’s more, as with many of the calendars out there this year, this one is recyclable – as a jewellery cabinet. £320 from www.diptyqueparis.com.
One last mission, 007…
And here’s one we just couldn’t resist. Selfridges have created an exclusive Bond-themed advent calendar.
In a box with 12 (every other day, then?) fully lined drawers, paper-wrapped by hand in buckram-embossed paper, a spot UV varnish 007 logo, with inner doors wrapped in smooth paper with foil-embossed title graphics, magnetic doors and a ribbon tie closure, this is definitely something out of Q’s workshop.
A tribute to the franchise, this calendar features a Casino Royale prop chip, gold bullet prop replica, ‘the agent’ 007 socks, Dr. No silk pocket square, Bond chocolate bars, the golden gun magnet, martini cocktail jig, Safin mask keyring, 007 martini truffles, Bond playing cards, dry martini popcorn, and Kamal Khan’s lucky dice. It’s gimmicky, sure, but fun, and certainly adds a different spin to the Christmas build-up.
12 Days of Bond, £199 from Selfridges. To order, visit www.selfridges.com.