Weirdest and most wonderful advent calenders for adults
Christmas calendars aren't just for kids. Our reporter rounds up the weirdest and most wonderful festive countdown products on the market
Advent is nearly upon us, the annual countdown to the most wonderful time of the year. Traditionally a religious custom symbolising the period of waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, in the Christian calendar, it actually starts on November 27 this year.
However, in popular culture, it all kicks off on December 1 and is often marked with a calendar of sorts that ticks off each day until Christmas Day.
Perhaps designed in modern times to teach children the art of delayed gratification (or, let's face it, to keep them from combusting with excitement about Santa's impending visit), in recent years, the idea of the calendar has become popular with adults and a lot more sophisticated.
While a chocolate a day is said to keep the doctor away (that's the saying, right?) and there's nothing wrong with the time-honoured tradition of finding Cadburys behind the door of your calendar, this year, mainstream advent countdowns have stepped it up a notch. So whether you're buying one for yourself as a daily treat in December or gifting to a loved one, know there's something out there for everyone.
Aldi Jewellery Advent Calendar, €14.99
This bargain calendar contains everything you need to make your own bracelet. You get a charm a day, the metal to thread them on and, come Christmas, a new accessory to wear. Sweet for those who love to make their own jewellery, the subtly-festive design is gorgeous too.
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar, €29.99
Calling all fans of the force - behind each door in this calendar is a Lego Star Wars-themed minifigure, starship or vehicle. Once you've collected all 24 gifts, unfold the playmat and create your own epic adventure. Just expect to be called a nerd, a lot.
M&S, €40 when you spend €40, worth €339
When you spend €40 in the M&S homeware, beauty or fashion departments, you'll be given the opportunity to snap up this advent calendar featuring beauty and skin care hero products (both travel and full-size) for €40. It contains such lovelies as Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse and cult favourite Eyeko eyeliner.
24 Beers of Christmas, approx €93 from HonestBrew.co.uk
UK brand Honest Brew has curated a selection of craft beers from leading breweries like Beavertown, BrewDog, 8 Degrees and more. It includes IPAs, ales, pilsners, porters and stouts in both bottles and craft cans, and is sure to go down well with any beer lover in your life (including yourself).
Estee Lauder, €250
Some of the more famous beauty advent calendars are currently sold out everywhere, like the Jo Malone offering (also €250) and L'Occitane's more pocket friendly €55 option. However, the Lauder calendar is stuffed to the brim with luxe stuff, like nail and lip lacquer, bronzer and even perfume. And considering you get 24 good size items, it's not that expensive for a premium brand.
Ginvent, €158 delivered from MasterofMalt.com
Gin is having a real moment in Ireland this year, so this offering from The Gin Foundry is sure to be hugely popular. Behind each of the 24 doors is a different 3cl bottle of gin, including our very own Bertha's Revenge and the very hip Pinkster Gin (yes, it's pink). Just make sure you have tonic to hand…
Boots Yankee Candle Advent Calendar, €29
This is one for someone who loves nothing more than to snuggle up by candlelight and feel cosy. It contains 23 Yankee tea lights in a variety of festive fragrances and one votive candle for Christmas Eve. One thing is for sure, whoever gets this will have a wonderful-smelling home this festive season.
Beard Oil 24 Scents Calendar, €42.84 from NotOnTheHighStreet.com
Okay, this could just be for men who like their beard to smell really, really nice every day, but come on, it is absolutely for hipsters. It contains 24 scents to stroke your facial hair with, including Black Coffee, Irish Moss and Leather. Of course, you could just stroke your beard with these real life items, but we digress.
Reverse Advent Calendar
A DIY project for those who want to help. Instead of receiving a gift every day in December, you give one. You can buy an empty calendar online (Amazon.co.uk and Etsy.com have loads) or simply divide a cardboard box in to 24. Then simply fill it with 24 items a person in need could really use, from socks to blankets, teddy bears to toiletries. For a step by step guide to making one, log on to http://tiny.cc/reverseadvent.
Lindt Teddy Adorable Advent Calendar, €14.99 at Tesco
Some people love nothing more than a chocolate advent calendar and who are we to begrudge them? If you want something a bit fancier than your average calendar, try the Lindt one. It contains cute little hollow milk chocolate bears, reindeer and truffles, and looks truly festive.