There's no better way to get the Christmas season started than with a festive Advent calendar. Count down to the big day with a classic chocolate version, or discover one of our favourite alternatives.

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Advent calendars are becoming more inventive than ever, and we tested all the alternative buys for foodies to find our favourites. We tested the calendars based on taste, look, innovation, practicality and cost. We'll be adding plenty more calendars to this round-up as the season continues and we discover new launches.

We've split our round up into categories: classic chocolate picks (with everything from budget-friendly options to luxurious truffles), tea, coffee and hot chocolate, sweet alternatives (think marshmallows, jam and more), savoury calendars, alcohol calendars and a luxury selection of up to £210 for anyone wanting to push the boat out this festive season. New this year, we also have a selection of calendars for under £10, to prove you don't always have to break the bank to get 24 days of chocolate.

For more than 400 buyer's guides, visit our reviews section to find the ultimate foodie gift guide and our 5o budget Christmas gifts. Discover more Christmas gifting inspiration with our best Christmas hampers, gin gifts or best baking gifts.

Best alternative and unusual Advent calendars for foodies 2023

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Advent calendars under £10

Cadbury Dairy Milk advent calendar

CADBURY Advent Calendar Carton Front Right GB 2021-07

Kicking off with a classic, this simple Cadbury's calendar is surely what comes to mind when thinking of a chocolate advent calendar? It's a bargain, it's simple and it's a challenge to not tear open more than one day at a time. This year Cadbury have also launched a wider range of calendars including a Heroes calendar and Chunk Calendar for a bit more variety.

Available from:
Cadbury Gifts Direct (£2.74)
Ocado (£2.50)

Tea, coffee and hot chocolate Advent calendars

Bird & Blend tea Advent calendar

Bird & Blend Advent Calendar

Make a tea break more interesting for December with this festive calendar packed with fun unusual teas – plus, every colourful drawer contains two teabags, so you can share the fun. We loved that there were a whopping 24 flavours of tea within the calendar, so no repeats, with quirky flavours ranging from chocolate digestives to strawberry lemonade. The calendar is 100% plastic-free and there’s a caffeine-free option, too.

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Available from:
Bird and Blend (£38)

English Tea Shop Christmas Night organic teabag Advent calendar

English Tea Shop

A tea advent calendar doesn’t have to break the bank. This compact version has minimal packaging and is great value at under £15. We liked the sweet ribbon on the door. You get one teabag a day but there’s an impressive range of styles in here, from seasonal Gingerbread Treat to classic rooibos, fruit and mint teas.

Available from:
Amazon (£12.18)

Bird & Blend matcha tea Advent calendar

Matcha Advent Calendar open copy

A twist on a classic tea calendar, this is dedicated to all things matcha. We love the vibrant green design (of course, it’s matcha) and the compact shape, containing over £60 worth of matcha. It’s not just plain matcha either – there’s peaches and cream matcha, toffee apple or Nordic berry. There’s enough for two cups in each mini tin and it’s all plastic-free.

Available from:
Bird & Blend (£52)

Sweet alternative Advent calendars

Tiptree Jam advent calendar

Tiptree Advent Jam copy

Breakfast just got more interesting for December with this calendar full of jam. The affectionately named ‘Jam Bus’ has a fun design and contains eight different classic jams (including two marmalades). We love the Little Scarlet strawberry and sweet Morello cherry. The 42g jar sizes are also pleasingly bigger than we thought.

Available from:
Amazon (£29.90)

Pip & Nut Advent calendar

Pip & nut calendar

This large calendar is covered in gold embossed illustrations in a fun and chic festive scene. There are a mixture of individually wrapped peanut butter and almond cups behind each door, all coated in dark chocolate and all an impressively large size – no tiny doors here.

Available from:
Ocado (£20)
Amazon (£20.53)

Naked Marshmallow boozy gourmet marshmallow Advent calendar

Boozy naked marshmallow calendar

For the person who can’t get enough of s’mores on the barbecue all summer – this Naked Marshmallow calendar is sure to please. We tried both the classic and boozy marshmallow calendars, but the boozy option was our clear favourite. The doors explain what the flavour is as you open each day and we enjoyed each of the 6 flavours, with a balanced level of booze that wasn't too strong. The raspberry and prosecco was our favourite. For £3.95 extra, you can get either calendar complete with a mini marshmallow toaster so you can get building s’mores every day – this little extra also makes it a great gift.

Available from:
Naked Marshmallow (from £20)

SugarSin 24 Days of Assorted Sugarsin Treats

SugarSin copy

This compact sweets calendar was a surprise hit during our testing. The pretty double-door teal design opens for 24 drawers of different sweets and confectionery. There was a wide variety of pick n mix, fudge, truffles and sweets, with lots of unusual ones we hadn’t seen before from across the world. It is expensive for sweets but perfect for someone with a super sweet tooth that doesn’t want chocolate.

Available from:
SugarSin (from £30)

Savoury alternative Advent calendars

Abel & Cole The 12 Days of Organic Christmas calendar

Abel & Cole calendar

From Abel & Cole, this lifestyle calendar contains a real mixture of food, drink and beuaty pieces. We loved the vibrant yellow design, and despite the generously sized fillings, it still feels compact so won’t take over your whole kitchen. Contents include a Green People Intensive repair shampoo, chutney, teabags, shortbread and more. It is a more expensive option (for just 12 days, not 24) but felt good value for money, plus the price includes a £5 charity donation. Available from the 9th October.

Available from:
Abel & Cole (£45)

Just Spices large Advent calendar

Just Spices

Swap all the sweet calendars and enjoy some cooking over the Christmas period instead with this quirky calendar filled with tins of Just Spices. We tested the large calendar where a full-size tin is hidden behind each door. There are fun ideas such as Bolognese seasoning, pizza topping and banana bread seasoning, with a QR code on each door of the calendar for recipe inspiration. The large size comes with a full cookbook too. This would admittedly be a lot to store 24 new tins of spice mix, but a fun way to inspire a novice cook or new homeowner as a housewarming gift. There's also a small version for £29.99 that includes a sachet of spices each day instead of a whole tin.

Available from:
Just Spices (£99.99)

Alcohol Advent calendars

That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent calendar

Boutique-y Gin calendar

The colourful Christmas dinner design on this gin-filled calendar hides a whole range of gins for someone to find a new favourite tipple. The calendar contains 24 different flavoured gins, in 30ml wax-sealed drams. Our highlights were the novelty flavours that That Boutique-y Gin Company is known for, with 13 new recipes this year including blood orange, bakewell tart and Christmas pudding gin. There are also plenty of plain gins from a variety of distilleries around the world, so there’s something for everyone.

Available from:
Master of Malt (£59.95)
Drinks by the Dram (£69.95)
Not on the High Street (£74.95)

Gin in a Tin Twelve Days of Gin in a Tin Advent calendar

SousChef_GinInATin_3263

Now, it’s controversial whether this truly counts as an advent calendar. The 12 miniature tins of gins are revealed at once within the cardboard box – so there’s no doors to open. We would have loved the mystery for more of a classic Christmas experience, but the gins inside are interesting new flavours for a festive cocktail and we still liked the smart stripy packaging. It would make a great gift for a gin fan, although it is pricey.

Available from:
Sous Chef (£49.99)

Looking for more ideas? See more alcohol Advent calendars from our sister title, olive magazine.

The best chocolate Advent calendars for 2023

Tony's Chocolonely countdown calendar

Tony's Chocolonely Advent calendar

Feel good about your chocolate choice with the towering Tony’s Chocolonely calendar. The ethical principles stack up quickly: Tony’s is committed to reducing slavery in chocolate production, the cocoa used is all Fairtrade, it is free from palm oil and has no plastic packaging. The giant box is filled with ‘Tiny Tonys’ in 10 signature flavours and is printed with tiny missions on the inner door. Just read the missions carefully, as whilst you get an extra chocolate one day, there is one day where you won't get any chocolate...

Available from:
Ocado (£13)
WHSmith (£11.99)

Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate Advent calendar

Hotel Chocolat milk choc calendar

A classic chocolate advent calendar filled with mini chocolates in fun festive shapes. There’s a calendar for you whatever your chocolate preference: choose from milk, dark, white or even unique caramel chocolate or nutmilk (made with hazelnuts) for vegans.

Available from:
Hotel Chocolat (£13)

Wickedly Welsh Chocolate advent calendar

Wickedly Welsh Chocolate - advent calendar 02 copy

This simple calendar feels more like a box of chocolates than a calendar. Each door tells you what chocolate is, with a wide variety of flavours to keep the intrigue going all month.

Available from:
Wickedly Welsh (£19.99)

Hotel Chocolat The Advent Calendar For Two

Hotel C truffles calendar

One for the romantics: every door of this calendar contains two Hotel Chocolat truffles, so it’s made for sharing. The double-door design opens up wide and contains a range of flavours to try, from festive gingerbread praline to salted caramel cream or fruity raspberry rush.

Available from:
Hotel Chocolat (£27.50)

Luxury Advent calendars

The Cartwright and Butler Advent calendar

Advent Calendar Open 300dpi

Instead of a Christmas hamper, splash out on this truly decadent Advent calendar to make all of December feel special. You’ll need plenty of space for this extra-large festive red box (54 x 43 x 23cm), with double doors opening to reveal 24 sliding drawers filled with indulgent full-size treats from across the Cartwright & Butler range. There are plenty of biscuits – think cranberry crumbles and demerara shortbread – but there’s lots more to discover too, with hot chocolate, sweets, jam, cheesy crackers, prosecco and fudge all involved. An exceptional gift for someone who deserves a treat, or just enjoy with your family all month long. The struggle will be resisting opening all the drawers on day one.

Available from:
Cartwright and Butler (£210)

Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent calendar

Hotel C grand calendar

For the chocoholic wanting to go all out this Christmas, Hotel Chocolat has you sorted. £75 may seem a lot to pay for a chocolate advent calendar, but this huge one offers a lot more than just a daily truffle. From mini bottles of cacao gin and chocolate liqueur to plenty of different flavours of chocolate batons, truffles, mini chocolate crackers and even a lip balm, this is a tour de force of the entire Hotel Chocolat range, where everything has been supersized for festive decadence.

Available from:
Hotel Chocolat (£75)

Paxton & Whitfield artisan cheese Advent calendar

Paxton and Whitfield

Blow the budget with this ultimate Advent calendar for cheese lovers. If all the sweet calendars don’t appeal, try this for a 75g wedge of artisan cheese every day throughout December. Arriving in three separate deliveries throughout December for maximum freshness, the cheese is sent fully insulated via a carbon-neutral delivery service. From classic festive stilton and gruyère to unique British and European finds, make December the ultimate cheese discovery journey.

Available from:
Paxton & Whitfield (£150)

Honeywell Biscuit Co jar of Advent biscuits

Honeywell Jar of Advent Biscuits

A baked alternative to a classic Advent calendar, this jar is filled with buttery biscuits that are each intricately iced and numbered in festive designs, including penguins and baubles. Pricey, but a sweet Christmas gift.

Available from:
Honeywell Bakes (£42.50)
Not on the High Street (£45)

More Christmas gift guides

Our ultimate Christmas gift guide 2023
50 best budget gifts 2023
The best whisky to buy as a gift
The best gifts for bakers
The best chocolate subscriptions and clubs
The best letterbox gifts
The best gifts for coffee lovers
The best gins to give as gifts

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This review was last updated in September 2023. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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