Best unusual Advent calendars for foodies 2023: chocolate, coffee, alcohol and more
Read our round-up of the best alternative Advent calendars, including gin, coffee and beer, plus the best chocolate Advent calendars for traditionalists
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 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
Jump to section:
- Advent calendars under £10
- Tea, coffee and hot chocolate Advent calendars
- Sweet alternative Advent calendars
- Savoury alternative Advent calendars
- Alcohol Advent calendars
- Chocolate advent calendars
- Luxury Advent calendars
Cadbury Dairy Milk advent calendar
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.
Tea, coffee and hot chocolate Advent calendars
Bird & Blend tea Advent calendar
- Available from Bird and Blend (£38)
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.
More like this
Bird and Blend (£38)
English Tea Shop Christmas Night organic teabag Advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£12.18)
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.
Bird & Blend matcha tea Advent calendar
- Available from Bird & Blend (£52)
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.
Bird & Blend (£52)
Sweet alternative Advent calendars
Tiptree Jam advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£29.90)
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.
Pip & Nut Advent 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.
Naked Marshmallow boozy gourmet marshmallow Advent calendar
- Available from Naked Marshmallow (from £20)
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.
Naked Marshmallow (from £20)
SugarSin 24 Days of Assorted Sugarsin Treats
- Available from SugarSin (from £30)
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.
SugarSin (from £30)
Savoury alternative Advent calendars
Abel & Cole The 12 Days of Organic Christmas calendar
- Available from Abel & Cole (£45)
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.
Abel & Cole (£45)
Just Spices large Advent calendar
- Available from Just Spices (£99.99)
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.
Just Spices (£99.99)
Alcohol Advent calendars
That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent calendar
- Available from Master of Malt (£59.95), Drinks by the Dram (£69.95), Not on the High Street (£74.95)
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.
Gin in a Tin Twelve Days of Gin in a Tin Advent calendar
- Available from Sous Chef (£49.99)
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.
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
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...
Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate Advent calendar
- Available from Hotel Chocolat (£13)
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.
Hotel Chocolat (£13)
Wickedly Welsh Chocolate advent calendar
- Available from Wickedly Welsh (£19.99)
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.
Wickedly Welsh (£19.99)
Hotel Chocolat The Advent Calendar For Two
- Available from Hotel Chocolat (£27.50)
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.
Hotel Chocolat (£27.50)
Luxury Advent calendars
The Cartwright and Butler Advent calendar
- Available from Cartwright and Butler (£210)
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.
Cartwright and Butler (£210)
Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent calendar
- Available from Hotel Chocolat (£75)
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.
Hotel Chocolat (£75)
Paxton & Whitfield artisan cheese Advent calendar
- Available from Paxton & Whitfield (£150)
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.
Paxton & Whitfield (£150)
Honeywell Biscuit Co 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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.