Whether you’re five or 75, counting down the number of sleeps ’til Santa — not to mention presents and time spent with loved ones — is thrilling, riddled with excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. But Advent calendars these days go far beyond the traditional options decked out with tiny little “doors” which open to reveal a piece of chocolate or a Christmas message. Now, you can get yours or make yours with food, booze or tiny little luxuries ensuring that each day comes bearing great gifts.
But first, a bit of background. For those who might now know, Advent is the four-week period leading up until Christmas. For Christians, it’s a time of preparation and prayer as they wait for the birth of Jesus.
Although four weeks equals 28 days, most advent calendars actually start on Dec. 1, with either 24 or 25 days of treats. Others are 12-day countdowns, keeping with the spirit of the holiday classic, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” As for the origins, it’s widely-said that the tradition has German Protestant roots dating back to the mid-19th century.
Bonne Maman, known for its delicious French jams and preserves, puts out a yearly limited-edition calendar with 24 one-ounce spread, jelly and honey jars that will help you start your December mornings out right. Available online at several retailers for roughly $25 — but set a reminder for next year as these sell out every fall!
For the jerky-lover in your life, ManCrates.com has a 25-day calendar with savory and sweet jerky snacks, including plenty of classics as well as more adventurous flavors like habanero, root beer and whiskey maple. Each taste is a half-ounce, and the set retails for $50.
If you’re looking for something sweet without being chocolatey, Jelly Belly releases an annual 24-day calendar with tiny bags of jelly beans retailing online for roughly $20. But watch out: some flavors are “weird & wild.”
Feeling ambitious and looking for a countdown that’s decidedly adult-friendly? Hit your favorite liquor store and snag 12 or 24 bottles of craft beer, tagging one for each night. Whether you share with a loved one is up to you!
Or, if you’re more for wine and looking to expand your horizons, snag a dozen reds and a dozen whites, plus one bottle of bubbly for the big morning. Bonus? You might get inspired to stay in, cook and dine fireside with your loved one.
Looking for something with a little less prep work? Head online and grab a ready-made option. Online retailer Master of Malt releases a yearly bourbon set, complete with 24 mini bottles of small-batch whiskeys for those looking for a nightly nip. It’ll set you back about $160, but reviewers had great things to say.
If you’re in need of something equally cozy but without the booze, David’s Tea offers a “24 Days of Tea” calendar. Filled with 24 tins of loose leaf tea and “a little something extra to open whenever you want,” the calendar costs $45. Signature seasonally-appropriate flavors like Candy Cane Crush and Caramel Shortbread should help any tea enthusiast get into the spirit of the season with ease.
If you or your loved would prefer a bit of pampering, The Body Shop releases “The 25 Days of Game Changing Advent-ures Advent Calendar” annually. For just over $100, you’ll get shower gels, lotions, lip balms, cleansers, makeup and more. Plus, you get to try out some of their best sellers in mini sizes and maybe discover that great new product you’ve been hunting for.
Ulta has a smaller-scale make-up calendar that’s budget friendly, too. For $18, you get “12 Days of Beauty” treats for your eyes, cheeks, lips and nails. Available in store and online, with good reviews. Target has a similar 12-day calendar bearing the exact same name, filled with beauty and skincare favorites from top brands like Maybelline, Nexxus and Honest Beauty, for just $15.
Little ones and creative spirits will love Crayola’s 24-day “Christmas Countdown” calendar, available from online retailers for roughly $20. Filled with markers, activity books, paint and even modeling clay, kids of all ages will have fun coloring and building snowmen, Santa and his reindeer.