There’s one thing we’re sure about this Christmas: there’s no way kids should have all the fun.
After a long, eventful year, we all deserve a daily dose of chocolate for breakfast to keep us sweet until the big day.
But there’s no need to steal the children’s novelty chocs come December. Even gourmet confectionery companies have got in on the advent calendar game this year, offering luxury calendars packed with truffles, gourmet flavours and even chocolate liqueurs for a distinctly grown-up treat.
Though these are generally much more expensive than the average supermarket offering, they will all definitely add an extra Christmas sparkle to December. Just be sure to tell the children to keep their hands off.
How we tested
We – ahem – selflessly tucked into all these calendars to see if they are truly worth the money and if you’ll be excited to rip open the door each morning and see what’s inside. We considered the quality and flavour of the chocolate inside, any unexpected treats and if the packaging gave us a warm Christmassy glow. Bonus points went to any calendars that were designed with sustainability in mind or donated any profits to charity.
The best chocolate advent calendars for adults for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Hotel Chocolat the grand advent calendar: £68, Hotelchocolat.com
- Best for traditionalists – Fortnum’s piccadilly chocolate advent calendar: £22, Fortnumandmason.com
- Best for vegans – Goupie’s advent box: £30, Goupie, Goupiechocolate.com
- Best British brand – Montezuma’s truffle advent calendar: £29.99, Montezumas.co.uk
- Best charity calendar – Love Cocoa luxury chocolate truffle charity advent calendar: £25, Lovecocoa.com
- Best personalised option – Morse Toad Advent calendar for adults: £18.99, Notonthehighstreet.com
- Best to impress – A Charbonnel christmas the advent calendar: £75, Charbonnel.co.uk
- Best reusable calendar –Bettys advent calendar: £50, Bettys, Bettys.co.uk
- Best Fairtrade – Tony’s Chocolonely countdown calendar: £13.98, Tonyschocolonely.com
- Best posh chocs – Pierre Marcolini the advent calendar: £49, Marcolini.com
- Best boozy one – Freixenet & Divine 24 day advent calendar: £89.95, Slurp.co.uk
- Best for milk chocolate lovers – Cadbury Dairy Milk chunk advent calendar: £5.99, Cadburygiftsdirect.co.uk
- Best white chocolate calendar – M&S golden Swiss blond white chocolate calendar: £10, Ocado.com
Hotel Chocolat the grand advent calendar
At Christmas, you might as well go big or go home. If you’re treating someone to a chocolate advent calendar (or spoiling yourself), this one from Hotel Chocolat is as super-sized and extravagant as they come, and every day in December would be a delight opening one of these doors.
There’s a huge array of generous treats packed in here – more than enough to share in fact – while the sheer variety of choccy goodies is unmatched by any other advent calendar we tested. There are hefty slabs of creamy chocolate, twin packs of truffles in festive flavours, sachets of creamy hot chocolate, the odd cacao-inspired beauty product and even two chic mini crackers stuffed with chocolate to decorate your tree. There are even three 50ml bottles of chocolate-flavoured alcoholic drinks including cacao gin and salted caramel cacao vodka (which is every bit as good as it sounds). Just 24 days of pure chocolate bliss.
Fortnum’s Piccadilly chocolate advent calendar
Best: For traditionalists
There are few places in London quite as Christmassy as Fortnum & Mason, the famous department store in Piccadilly. From its lavish festive window displays to its covetable wicker hampers stuffed with gourmet treats, Fortnum’s gloriously traditional take on Christmas is impossible to resist.
Their chocolate advent calendar is equally charming. Covered in bows, garlands and snow-covered Christmas trees, it’s a 3D version of the store itself and would look lovely in the corner of any kitchen this December, even if you can never bring yourself to open any of the 24 doors.
If you do – and you really should – you’ll find festive-themed pieces of exquisite single origin Colombian milk chocolate, made from 35 per cent minimum cocoa solids. Well worth getting out of bed for on a cold December morning.
Goupie’s advent box
Best: For vegans
For something a little different to the standard shop-bought calendars, this advent box is hard to resist. Goupie is a family-run business from Kent that hand-makes its confectionery to grandmother’s recipe, and everything is vegan plus gluten, nut and soya free.
This is Goupie’s first ever advent calendar and is a little more hands-on than most, featuring 25 cardboard houses that need to be made, filled and hung on string. The kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions and even a QR code to a brilliant festive playlist you can listen to while assembling the houses.
There are individually wrapped chocs to fill them when they’re done and these are different versions of the company’s trademark “Goupie”, a chewy, chocolate-covered confectionery with a slight crunch. Notable festive flavours include ginger packed with whole chunks of crystallised stem ginger, boozy Christmas filled with hazelnuts, cloves and brandy and (our favourite) white Christmas, which is chockful of candied citrus peel, cardamon and cranberries and smothered in white chocolate.
Montezuma’s truffle advent calendar
Best: British brand
Leave the novelty chocolate Santas to the kids and start each day in December with a creamy, decadent truffle from this British chocolate company, which has been making top-quality ethical treats in West Sussex since 2000.
Available online from October, the Montezuma’s calendar comes in smart, midnight-blue and lime green packaging decorated with stars and cute snowmen that is tasteful enough to keep on show in your kitchen for a month.
There are 25 identically-sized doors to open through December, each hiding a milk, white or dark truffle for an indulgent chocolate hit every morning. These include a milk chocolate and salted caramel, a white chocolate and raspberry and a moreish milk chocolate truffle we adored. All the flavours are repeated throughout the month, but trust us, that’s not a hardship.
Love Cocoa luxury chocolate truffle charity advent calendar
Best: Charity calendar
We loved the packaging of this distinctly 2021 A3 calendar, which features a colourful London skyline and illustrations of some newsworthy British icons including Marcus Rashford and Captain Tom. Better still, this calendar is from Cadbury founder’s great-great-great grandson James Cadbury’s Love Cocoa. It contains no plastic and is entirely recyclable, with 100 per cent of profits going directly to NHS Charities Together. Love Cocoa will also plant three trees in Kenya for every calendar sold as part of its ongoing project to fight deforestation.
All this, and the chocolate is delicious too. There are four different types of truffles inside, which are all palm-oil free and made with sustainably-sourced single origin Colombian cocoa. These are a heart-shaped dark chocolate ganache, a giant rocher with a hazelnut inside a wafer shell, a gianduja square filled with a rich hazelnut paste and a divine milk chocolate truffle packed with hazelnut praline.
There’s a real treat in store on Christmas Eve too as there’s two Love Cocoa mini bars waiting behind the door. We won’t spoil the surprise and share the flavours but they’re well worth waiting for.
Morse Toad personalised advent calendar
Best: Personalised option
Got something you need to say? This is a brilliant way to share a secret message with someone you love, whether you want to reveal a clue to a bigger present, make them laugh or even ask them to marry you.
Add your message when ordering and it will be hidden inside using chocolate letters to reveal itself slowly during December. The calendar also comes with a space on the front to record each letter and build the message as Christmas creeps closer. There are 24 windows but messages can be up to 30 characters as some doors can hold two chocs – an added sweet bonus along the way.
Letters are made of creamy Belgian chocolate and really tasty too, though they are on the small side. There’s even one final door to open on Christmas Day itself to reveal a chunky chocolate Santa.
Charbonnel et Walker, a Charbonnel Christmas the advent calendar
Best: To impress
When only all-out decadence will do, this beautiful calendar from the renowned Bond Street chocolatiers is not short on wow factor. The opulent red and gold box is almost a Christmas decoration in its own right, tied with a red silk ribbon and featuring 24 drawers to open. Each drawer holds a regal gold box with one exquisite chocolate or truffle inside and just opening this each day feels like a special occasion.
There’s a fantastic range of flavours on offer too so we loved never knowing what we would find. Some of our favourites included a divine praline noisette, a vanilla fudge, a strawberry-flavoured fondant and a drool-worthy fourré with a light ganache of butter and chocolate coated in thick chocolate.
With plenty of coffee, nuts, floral fondants and the odd dash of whiskey and rum, these are strictly for the grown-ups though. Still not sure you can justify the cost? The packaging can easily be reused for next year if you buy more chocs for the drawers.
Bettys advent calendar
Best: Reusable calendar
Invest in this reusable fabric advent calendar and your Decembers are sorted for life. It’s made of thick fabric embroidered with 24 numbered pockets in festive red, green and gold plus the distinctive logo of Bettys, the iconic Yorkshire tea room first established in 1919. There are also two ribboned hooks to hang it up as a decoration.
It comes with a bag of 24 individually wrapped goodies made of handmade Swiss milk and white chocolate to fill the pockets. These are all in cute festive shapes including snowmen, polar bears and Santas to make you feel like a big kid again and the chocolate is delicious. There’s plenty of room alongside the chocolates in each pocket if you wanted to slip in something else as a surprise too, which also makes it easy to refill again next year. It’s available to order from 31st October.
Tony’s Chocolonely countdown calendar
Mark the days until the 25th with a clear conscience with this ethical calendar that’s not short on flavour. The huge primary-coloured calendar opens like a book and has 24 doors concealing 10 different flavours of Tony’s Chocolonely Fairtrade milk, dark and white chocolate in rainbow wrappers. These range from raspberry popping candy to pretzel toffee but we were smitten by the milk chocolate with almond, honey and nougat.
While you chew, you can read the included facts inside the calendar for each day. These range from fun suggestions (“Sing a Christmas carol today for someone that looks a bit blue”) to serious facts about the reality of the chocolate industry including the statistic that 1.56 million children are currently working illegally in cocoa plantations in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. There’s even a QR code to link to a Netflix documentary and find out more. Hopefully, buying this calendar is the first step to making a difference.
Pierre Marcolini the advent calendar
Best: Posh chocs
If you prefer the finer things in life, this is the advent calendar for you. There’s no novelty shapes or slabs of sugar-packed milk chocolate here, only 24 of the finest gourmet chocs straight from Belgium. Each one looks like it’s landed straight from a storybook chocolate shop to really dazzle your December. High-end flavours include hazelnut gianduja with Madagascan vanilla, cashew praline, salted butter caramel and a distinctive green pistachio heart.
Everything’s wrapped up in an attractive free-standing box that depicts an Alpine ski resort complete with sledging polar bears and skiing penguins and the whole thing is tied with an orange ribbon. It’s available to buy online from November and is also available from the Pierre Marcolini counters in Selfridges and Harrods. But only if you’ve been very, very good.
Freixenet 24 day advent calendar
Best: Boozy one
Why mark December with one good thing if you can have two? This gorgeous pastel-coloured calendar looks lovely out on the shelf and opens up to reveal 24 sliding drawers filled with a mix of Freixenet sparkling wine and chunky Divine Fairtrade chocolate bars.
The 20cl bottles of sparkling wine include four cava, two fruity rosado cava, two Proseccos and four Italian sparkling rosés bursting with white flower and ripe apple flavours. All are just enough for a daily glass of fizz to get you through the party season – although you may want to wait until after work rather than breakfast to open this advent calendar.
You won’t pine for a sweet fix either. The remaining 12 drawers include substantial, swoon-worthy 35g bars of Divine chocolate including milk, orange, dark and white. It feels like an extra treat to discover such large bars rather than tiddly pieces of chocolate too. This one will definitely make December feel like one long celebration.
Cadbury Dairy Milk mixed chunk advent calendar
Best: For milk chocolate lovers
Anyone mad for milk chocolate knows you can’t go far wrong with a Cadbury calendar. Just the sight of the deep purple box decorated with classy gold touches makes us fizz with Christmas excitement, but this one has been designed just for adults so you won’t need to sniff around your children’s Cadbury’s calendars this year.
The chocolates are every bit as delicious as you’d expect. There are 24 individually wrapped chunks of smooth Dairy Milk, Caramel or Wholenut inside so you’re never quite sure which one you’ll find, but all will guarantee a moment of pure bliss every morning until Christmas.
M&S Swiss golden blond advent calendar
Best: White chocolate calendar
We thought we weren’t huge fans of white chocolate until we tasted the golden blond truffles in this calendar and thought all our Christmases had come at once.
The extra fine Swiss chocolate is made with a unique recipe and has dreamy aromas of caramel and shortbread for a more grown up take on kid-friendly white chocolate. It’s still notably sweet so not for anyone devoted to dark chocolate, but these golden blond truffles would certainly delight everyone else.
The box is tastefully festive too, with a snowy mountain scene of cable cars and Christmas trees that won’t be an eyesore in any home. And the best bit? There’s an extra door to open on the 25th containing a whole bar of golden blond chocolate to celebrate the big day. This one is also available in M&S stores.
The verdict: Adults’ chocolate advent calendar
True chocolate lovers will be in heaven with the grand advent calendar from Hotel Chocolat, which packs in more chocolate goodies in one month than we ever thought possible. If it’s just a little too pricey for a daily dose of sweetness, give the money to a very worthy charity instead and treat yourself to the delightful Love Cocoa luxury chocolate truffle charity advent calendar.
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If you’re looking to have a very merry Christmas countdown, read our review of the best gin advent calendars
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