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.
Advent calendars are becoming more inventive than ever, and we tested more than 30 alternative buys for foodies to find our favourites. We tested the calendars based on taste, look, innovation, practicality and cost.
Our chocolate picks range from budget-friendly options to luxurious truffles. Or, start every day with a warming mug of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Adults can dip into our boozy calendars filled with top-quality beer, wine, gin and whisky.
For more than 400 buyer’s guides, visit our reviews section to find our ultimate foodie gift guide, spirits reviews and the results of our 2020 Christmas Taste Awards. Discover more Christmas gifting inspiration with our best letterbox gifts, kids’ gift guide and best baking gifts.
Best alternative and unusual Advent calendars for Christmas 2020
Tea, coffee and hot chocolate Advent calendars
Teapigs Christmas tea Advent calendar (£29.99)
Fan favourite tea brand, teapigs, have released a festive Advent calendar to count down to Christmas. We love that the calendar contains 23 different varieties of tea, with something new to try every day. Pick from their classic flavours or try a unique blend to mix things up. The packaging is subtle with a delicate wintery design, plus it’s plastic-free and recyclable. The tea bags are plastic-free too, made from corn starch and biodegradable paper. Perfect for an eco-friendly tea lover.
Fortnum & Mason tea lovers Advent calendar (£25)
Whittard hot chocolate Advent calendar for two (£60)
What could be better than a cosy mug of hot chocolate during the festive season? Treat yourself to this standout Advent calendar for a decadent indulgence every day. The impressive display features a stunning art deco design with gold accents. We love the fact that the interior is decorated as well, with different patterns on each drawer. It’s on the larger side, but we appreciate that it contains two portions per day, and it’s plastic-free. The thick cardboard is quite sturdy, so it would be great to reuse to store small objects. The hot chocolate itself is rich and creamy, perfect for warming up on a cold evening. We particularly enjoyed the creme brûlée and rocky road flavours.
Yawn coffee Advent calendar (£32)
Coffee addicts, rejoice! This Advent calendar from Yawn features 24 speciality coffees from around the world in generously sized individual portions. We love that the calendar is available in ground beans for a cafetière as well as whole beans. The coffee blends come from a variety of countries, including Kenya, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Columbia. The packaging is easy to manage, as both the box and sachets are biodegradable. What better way to start the day than a hot cup of coffee during the festive season?
Offblak Advent calendar (£19.99)
Searching for something a little edgier this year? Look no further than this tea Advent calendar from Offblak, featuring bold colours and abstract designs. This set contains 24 black teas, green teas and herbal & fruit infusions with flavourings. One of our favourite teabags is the ‘nicely spicy’ flavour with notes of cinnamon and cranberry. We also enjoyed the ‘just dessert’ flavour made with spearmint and chocolate. Keep in mind this calendar is on the larger side, but it’s another plastic-free design.
Newby Advent calendar (£60)
This showstopping Advent calendar would make an impressive gift for any tea-lover. The stunning packaging displays a quintessentially British London townhouse. The interior drawers are a cheerful red with white ribbon handles. You’ll want to display this gorgeous set all year long, plus it’s plastic-free. We love the fact that no two days are the same, with 24 different types of tea and a generous portion of four teabags per day. Our favourite flavours include the masala chai, jasmine blossom and strawberry & mango.
Alternatives to chocolate
Snaffling Pig pork crackling Advent calendar (£19.85)
Joe & Seph’s gourmet popcorn Advent calendar (£25)
Joe & Seph’s proves to be a reliable Christmas Advent calendar year after year. This year is no exception, with 19 delicious flavours and gorgeous new packaging. The flavours are distinctive, featuring everything from apple & custard to vanilla cheesecake. Celebrate the Christmas season with festive flavours such as gingerbread, brandy butter and orange chocolate. Our standout favourite flavour was the popcorn bites – crunchy salted caramel popcorn in a cup of creamy milk chocolate. This calendar may not be suitable for someone who prefers savoury flavours, as all the flavours are sweet. We also really enjoyed the vegan calendar for those following a plant-based diet.
Bonne Maman Advent calendar (£23.99)
Start your morning off with a different flavour of jam each day of the festive season. As Advent calendars are usually opened in the morning, a jam-filled one makes total sense. Spread your Advent treat on toast, crumpets or swirled through your breakfast porridge. The cheerful packaging features a cosy home decorated for Christmas, with red and white accents. The unique flavour combinations are delicious and come in a generously sized pot. We particularly enjoyed the apricot & mango, fig & cardamom and rhubarb & strawberry flavours.
Candy Kittens Christmas Advent calendar tree (£8)
Assemble your own Christmas tree with this unique, vegan-friendly Advent calendar from Candy Kittens. The flat-pack kit arrives with everything you need to assemble, plus extra candy to snack on along the way. We really enjoyed the fact that this calendar combines a fun crafting activity with tasty treats. The candy is truly the star of the show, with delicious fruity flavours including wild strawberry, sour watermelon, tropical mango and blueberry bliss. This is a great option for those looking for a plant-based chocolate alternative.
Alcohol Advent calendars
Drinks by the Dram premium gin Advent calendar (£84.95)
Celebrate your favourite tipple with this deluxe boozy Advent calendar. This offering from Drinks by the Dram is every gin-lover’s dream. Packaged in a gorgeous navy blue box with touches of gold and white, this calendar contains 24 different wax-sealed glass drams, each filled with 30ml shots of gin. We appreciate that every day is a different variety, with drinks from 21 individual distilleries in 12 countries. The selection includes well-known fan favourites from brands like Hendrick’s and Edinburgh. We enjoyed the unique options like The Lakes pink grapefruit gin, Four Pillars bloody shiraz gin, and Scapegrace black gin.
Whisky Explorer Advent calendar (£99.95)
Take a jaunt around the world with the Whisky Explorer Advent calendar. Discover a new variety of whisky every day, with 24 different wax-sealed glass drams from 22 distilleries in four countries. Try a variety of drinks including single malts, blends and more. We particularly enjoyed the Mackinlay’s Shackleton blended malt, Loch Lomond single grain, and the Hinch small batch bourbon cask. This would make a fantastic gift for whisky enthusiasts and cocktail lovers.
Laithwaite’s wine Advent calendar (£69.99)
HonestBrew craft beer Advent calendar (£64.90)
Looking for more ideas? See more alcohol Advent calendars from our sister title, olive magazine.
The best chocolate Advent calendars for 2020
Love Cocoa Advent calendar (£17)
COCO Advent calendar (£50)
Green & Blacks organic chocolate Advent calendar (£12.99)
For those who prefer a minimal style, this Green & Blacks Advent calendar is a sleek, budget-friendly option. While the packaging is quite reserved, we loved the style of the mini chocolate bars, complete with individual wrapping. Inside is a selection of all the classic flavours – milk, dark 70%, dark 80%, ginger and butterscotch. We enjoyed the warming kick of ginger and the sweet crunch of butterscotch. The milk chocolate is creamy and balanced, while the dark chocolate is intense in a delightful way.
Bettys Advent calendar (£50)
Decorate your home with this stunning 1920s-inspired reusable Advent calendar. We love that the durable cotton material can be used over and over again for years to come. The festive green, red and metallic gold design is equal parts cheerful and elegant. Hang this from two sturdy gold ribbon loops. Unlike clunky wooden reusable calendars, this fabric version folds up for compact storage. The chocolate itself is rich and creamy, just decadent enough for a daily treat. The white and milk chocolate characters are handmade with high-quality Swiss chocolate. Bettys offers a refill pack to fill up again and again.
Chococo classic Advent selection box (£25)
A decadent treat for chocolate-lovers, this Advent calendar from Chococo contains a wide range of festive flavoured truffles. More in the style of a truffle box instead of a traditional calendar with doors, this is a mature option suitable for adults. The handmade truffles are delicately decorated with brushes of metallic detailing. Our favourite flavours include the gingerbread caramel, mince pie and raspberry riot truffle. For a boozy kick, try the mulled wine, tawny port & fig and spiced rum. These high-quality chocolates are presented in a gorgeous red box with a frosted sleeve indicating which day is which.
Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent calendar (£68)
Divine milk chocolate Advent calendar (£4.99)
Vegan chocolate Advent calendars
Prestat fairytale Advent calendar (£20)
Capture the whimsical spirit of Christmas with this fairytale-inspired Advent calendar. The packaging is decorated with woodland creatures like foxes, hedgehogs, deer and even unicorns. The scrumptious dark chocolate squares are sure to satisfy, whether you’re vegan or not. Sample the four different flavours of single origin Côte d’Ivory couverture dark chocolate – raspberry, roasted almond & cocoa nibs, Himalaya salt and dark & stormy. This calendar is better suited for those who prefer sleek packaging – it’s on the smaller side and avoids excessive bulkiness.
Play in Choc Advent calendar (£55)
Kids will love this fantastic offering from Play in Choc, including a whimsical 3D shape to assemble each day, including a Father Christmas and gingerbread men. The vegan chocolate is consistently rated as one of the best milk chocolate alternatives on the market. It’s perfectly smooth and creamy – plus, it’s organic and free from gluten, nuts and soy. We love that it’s completely plastic-free and the paper sleeve unwraps into play mat. There’s even an education information card in each drawer so kids can learn as they play.
John Lewis (£55)
Discover more vegan Advent calendars from our sister title, olive magazine.
More Christmas gift guides
Our ultimate Christmas gift guide 2020
The best whisky to buy as a gift
The best gifts for bakers
The best letterbox gifts
The best gifts for coffee lovers
The best boozy gifts
The best gins to give as gifts
This review was last updated in October 2020. 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@.