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10 best advent calendars for men 2021: From beauty gifts to cheese and wine Christmas countdowns

Forget the usual chocolate contenders – brands like Beer Hawk and Mr Porter are here to sleigh

Rhys Thomas
Wednesday 17 November 2021 11:52
<p>We’ve included booze-free bevs, as well as something to counter that festive overindulgence</p>

We’ve included booze-free bevs, as well as something to counter that festive overindulgence

Advent calendars have become a bit of a thing in recent times, with many people actually buying calendars for others as part of a Christmas present. Why not enjoy the entire month instead of just one day? It’s fair logic, and many brands and businesses now provide a huge variety of options.

Of course, a great calendar will be subjective to an extent: a lactose intolerant vegan isn’t going to want a cheese advent calendar, and actual intolerance aside, men are a fussy bunch at the best of times. Whether the men you know are notoriously hard to buy gifts for or don’t need anything at all, chances are you’ll be scratching your head a little at what to do.

Christmas 2021 will be a little different, as there’s a whole host of advent calendars out there that they will love. Whether they’re a connoisseur of whisky and wine, or they enjoy stroking their beard and having a beer, there’s something for them.

Of course, not all calendars are created equal. So we have rounded up the best of the bunch: Those offerings from reputable brands like Mr Porter and Virgin Wines that are also genuine gifts and (as opposed to getting half a chocolate bar for a fiver) are great value for money.

The best calendars are usually specialist, curating the best products in an area the brand knows well, whether that’s grooming products or a series of non-alcoholic spirits. They should be a door to discovery each day, and there can be a little Christmas joke in there and festive packaging to lift the Christmas spirit too.

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How we tested

All products contained at least seven different items, in total across these 10 products there are 201 doors. Some are designed to be consumed once per day, others include meals for four people, and others are full of alcohol. Therefore, in some places we were not able to go through the entire calendar, but we have tested at least half of each calendar, to give a good enough idea of the product’s concept at large. We did open the calendars in full to be sure quality was consistent all the way through too. We also opened the doors in order to get the full experience.

The best advent calendars for men in 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Mr Porter 12 days of grooming: £120, Mrporter.com
  • Best for cooking  – The Spicery 12 curries of Christmas : £29.95, Thespicery.com
  • Best for cheese – The Chuckling Cheese Company cheese advent calendar 2021: £29.99, Chucklingcheese.co
  • Best for non-alcoholic drinks – The Wise Bartender sweet and tasty advent calendar : £39.99, Wisebartender.co.uk
  • Best for whiskey lovers – Drinks by the Dram whisky advent calendar: £149.95, Drinksbythedram.com
  • Best for wine – Virgin Wines mixed wine advent calendar 2021 : £89.99, Virginwines.co.uk
  • Best for beer – Beer Hawk 2021 advent calendar: £85.00, Beerhawk.co.uk
  • Best for alcohol-free beer – The Wise Bartender alcohol free beer advent calendar: £39.99, Wisebartender.co.uk
  • Best for variety – Seven Yays seven days of beardy brilliance: £65, Sevenyays.com
  • Best for health and wellness – Nourished advent calendar: £59.99, Get-nourished.com

Mr Porter the twelve days of grooming advent calendar

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

You might not be keen on wine or whisky, but it’s very likely you have skin that needs maintaining. Mr Porter’s advent calendar has you covered here in spades. Across twelve days these products are designed to care for you from head to toe, and they are excellent value for money.

The calendar is packed with a mix of hyped-but-good items such as Dr Barbara Sturm’s anti-pollution drops (£110, Mrporter.com) and cult classics like Malin and Goetz’s bergamot deodorant (£19, Mrporter.com). The first two days’ products (not those aforementioned) are worth £110 alone going off RRP.

The only criticisms would be that for novices, sheet masks are a little fiddly, and these ones don’t work over facial hair (according to the packaging). However, they come as two pieces, so you could just use them on the top half of your face, meaning three packs become six applications. Also, perhaps a hair product instead of a bubble bath would’ve been more widely appreciated? There’s nothing in here for hair specifically.

Those niggles aside, any guy with even a drop of appreciation for skincare and grooming will love and appreciate this advent calendar. There is also a focus on products with natural ingredients, almost all products are designed to work for all skin types, and there’s a calendar for good traditional advent calendar measure.

The Spicery 12 curries of Christmas advent calendar

Best: For cooking

Rating: 9/10

Food is the way to the heart, and there’s not many better cuisines for warming the soul (and hands and noses) than Indian. This calendar has a freshly ground spice blend behind each of the twelve doors, with each making a dish that feeds four (though it was more like three for the greedy folk testing). The blends themselves are great, and offer a glimpse into cooking from across India (North to South) that is lesser seen on menus.

There’s a little trivia, an ingredients list, and a method for each dish along with advice on how to make the spice kits again upon using the blend up. There’s also suggestions for meat-free versions, and despite the use of yoghurt, often vegans could improvise around the specific ingredients too, as the spice mixes themselves are all vegan.

The spice levels also sat comfortably at the lower end of the scale provided, so don’t worry about blowing your head off, but be sure that these blends are surprising and new. Bonus points for the dishes loosely connecting to the “twelve days of Christmas” carol each day also.

You can now pre-order this calendar for delivery in mid November.

The Chuckling Cheese Company cheese advent calendar 2021

Best: For cheese

Rating: 8/10

If nibbling on a bit of cheese is your man’s idea of festive bliss, this calendar is well thought-out and pushes a little fun into the mix. Across the calendar, you’ll find six jars of caramelised onion chutney, six packets of cheddar shortbreads, and eight flavours of cheddar cheese, ranging from your classics: vintage, caramelised onion, to all out festive: sunday roast, and a surprise flavour that we won’t spoil here.

The structure of the calendar means you can make a little cheese board every few days, or use the ingredient for something daily. The cheese is all wax sealed weighing in at 45g per wheel, the chutneys are in glass jars weighing 35g, and it fits nicely on a shelf in an average sized fridge. This is a feast for any cheddar lover, and those looking to have a little more fun than funk with their cheese consumption this Christmas.

The Wise Bartender sweet and tasty advent calendar (vegan)

Best: For non-alcoholic drinks

Rating: 10/10

There’s a lot of alcohol flying around most Christmases, and for those who don’t drink or are simply looking to cut down, finding options that genuinely feel like treats is rare. The Wise Bartender’s sweet and tasty advent calendar is in this sense, a complete god-send.

Across 24 days there is a huge variety of drinks, including 20cl glass bottles of non-alcoholic spirits, cans of pre-mixed drinks, sparkling wine and more from well over a dozen different manufacturers. Some of the drinks lean more on the mocktail side taste-wise while others genuinely taste like the real thing (especially the rum-based drinks in the calendar).

All of the doors contain a full-sized drink, so you’ll be very able to share a little with other people. The packaging is festive, though it might have been nice to use the insides of the doors for something christmassy. However, it’s a small complaint for what is a high-quality, unique product that will help you form a whole list of new low-alcohol drinks to keep in the fridge year-round.

Drinks by the Dram whisky advent calendar

Best: For whisky lovers

Rating: 9/10

Drinks by the Dram has swathes of options this year, across most of the main spirits, but whisky is its forte. This advent calendar prices around the middle of the brand’s range, and makes for a great guide to mid-shelf whisky for the new, while serving as a broad reference point for whisky around the world for the more serious aficionados among you.

There are more luxurious options from Drinks by the Dram than this (one contains rare and old whiskeys, retailing at a cool grand) but this will offer those who appreciate a tipple a broad spectrum, while also packing plenty of the classics in. There’s 24 glass 30ml drams which are wax sealed in the box, from seven countries – Scotch and Irish dominate but there’s interesting selections from Scandinavia and beyond. A little pamphlet with information about the drams wouldn’t go amiss, but it isn’t too hard to find that with a quick Google while reclining.

Virgin Wines mixed wine advent calendar 2021

Best: For wine

Rating: 8/10

Virgin wines has three selections for you: red, white and mixed. The mixed offers a great spectrum of wine for the oenophiles, or those looking to share with others. In this calendar you have 24, 187ml glasses of wine (slightly more than a medium glass) plus a full bottle on Christmas day.

The wine is from across the world, providing an accessible way of discovering your preferences across a selection of wines, which would retail at around £11 or more as 75cl bottles. In the mixed calendar, there are mainly red or white wines, with a couple of sparkling and rosé wines added in too.

The selection is nicely curated, showcasing grapes from regions they are famed for, and also some left-field options. For those who use Virgin Wines, there might be some familiar faces as outside of limited edition bottles, there are a fair few customer favourites. The packaging is lovely and festive, and the bottles themselves are mainly screw-top and stored sideways.

Read the full review of the Virgin Wines advent calendars

Beer Hawk 2021 advent calendar

Best: For beer

Rating: 9/10

Beer Hawk’s craft beer set looks lovely upon opening. The busy bold illustrations are both festive and subtle at once. The selection of beers on offer is generally very good, with a range of cans and bottles from the finer side of the craft beer world, with breweries including Pohjala, De Ranke, Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar, Wild Beer and more. There’s a great mix of styles, so this is perfect for anyone looking to explore beer in all forms: from stouts to sour beers, and IPA to Belgian ales.

The calendar also feels like good value, the beers work out at around £3.50 each, but a fair few would retail much higher than that. Additionally, there are festive-themed beers and exclusive-to-the-calendar releases, which means this could well be a special gift giving something you couldn’t pick up in even the best craft bottle shops. Even the choices that at first seem a little on the normal side, are not, as they’re either aged in a special way or are a little more premium than options from the same brewery you might find in a supermarket.

Inside each door there’s also a food pairing suggestion, which is a nice touch. An exceptional beer in the 24th box might have made this calendar a little more perfect, but any beer drinker will be very happy to find this under the tree.

The Wise Bartender alcohol free beer advent calendar

Best: For alcohol-free beer

Rating: 9/10

This may look like the same as that of The Wise Bartender’s sweet and tasty calendar (£39.99, Wisebartender.co.uk) but we assure you that the similarities stop at the decorations. If you prefer non-alcoholic beer to spirits, then the beer advent calendar from The Wise Bartender is also very difficult to look beyond. Across the 24 days there’s a great range of craft and well-regarded beers that all clock in at less than 0.5 per cent abv. The variety of styles is excellent, with fans of lagers, stouts, IPA, and more from breweries including Big Drop Brewing Co, Lucky Saint, Mikkeller, Good Karma Brewing and more.

It’d be nice to have a little more information alongside the brews, but given this selection would be difficult for even the most discerning alcohol free beer fan to curate, that simply does not matter. Most craft beer shops do not boast such a selection of low-alcohol goods, so it is an incredible hub of guilt-free sipping.

Seven Yays seven days of beardy brilliance

Best: For variety

Rating: 8/10

If your man is the kind of man that has a beard, and is a little preoccupied with said facial hair, then this is a lovely gift. Inside you’ll find balms, oil, shampoos, wooden combs and more which are all well designed and of good quality. However, there’s also a few other treats that’ll provide a reminder that there’s life beyond maintaining their bristles.

If the man in your life doesn’t have a beard, there are other options that will be equally well-rounded and suited, including one with some eco socks inside (£43, Sevenyays.com). The packaging isn’t very Christmassy which is a shame, but this might mean these also work well for birthdays. The real benefit is this gift has a good variety of items inside that men will actually want and enjoy. Give the gift of well-made usability this Christmas.

Nourished advent calendar

Best: For health and wellness

Rating: 9/10

If you’re looking for a very thoughtful gift to give your loved one this Christmas, Nourished might well have the answer. Across 25 doors this calendar has smartly curated bespoke chewy (and actually pretty delicious) vitamins that are designed to help them fly through the busy month (all the way into the new year in fact) without a hitch.

Days one to seven are geared around inner defence, eight to 14 are for energy levels and cognitive function and days 15 to 21 help with stress levels. Between there and Christmas there are six “party proofed” vitamins plus a gift card worth up to £40, which can be used toward a box of personalised vitamins that’ll last an entire month. Because actually, going against the overindulgence of the festive period will be at least secretly appreciated by just about anyone. The vitamins are all vegan and their wrappings are “home compostable”.

The verdict: Advent calendars for men

The twelve days of grooming advent calendar from Mr Porter truly is the luxurious advent calendar any man could do with this Christmas. Whether they like skincare or are simply aware that parties and sweets for an entire month are going to leave a few blemishes, this treat is an antidote to the parties but packs all of the festive opulence you could ever need.

For an option that’s a little more budget-friendly, the non-alcoholic spirit or beer advent calendars from The Wise Bartender will be a great gift for those looking to sneak a few booze-free beverages around their mates, or it can provide a very thoughtful gift for including everyone that doesn’t drink in the celebrations.

Voucher codes

For the latest discount on alcohol and other Christmas gifts, try the links below:

Spoil the vegan in your life with the best vegan advent calendars that are stuffed with chocolates, skincare and more

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