The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Christmas 2014: 14 best alternative advent calendars

This December there doesn’t need to be chocolate behind the window. From stationery to gin, we find alternative for the traditional festive count down

Sally Newall@sally_newall
Friday 21 November 2014 19:12

Countdown the days until Christmas with one of these unusual and surprising calendars. There are offerings for kids and adults, as well as a few to fill with your own treats. Here’s our pick of the best for December 2014.

1. Spann and Willis Personalised Advent Calendar: £25,

If you like the idea of a fabric advent calendar that the family can re-use year on year, this is one of the most stylish we’ve seen. There is no garish Christmas bling, just a minimalist-looking present print with strings attached to tie on your own treats and trinkets. It can be personalised and for an extra £10, you can get it filled with chocolates.

Buy now

2. Smiggle Advent Calendar: £20,

Filled with everything from novelty rubbers to rulers and sharpeners, this is an advent calendar unlike any other we’ve seen. It’s made by Australian stationery company Smiggle who know what kids like in their pencil cases: bright, tactile kit that will last them through the term.

Buy now

3. Love Give Ink Personalised Secret Advent Activities Box: £18,

There is a lot to get done in the run up to Christmas, and this innovative take on a traditional calendar will get kids involved. Come up with your activities – from hanging a stocking up to making Christmas cards – then choose to write them yourself or get Love Give Ink to do it for you. The cards are packaged up in brown envelopes and a sweet personalised festive box.

Buy now

4. Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar: £149,

Here’s a grown-up advent calendar for whisky fans. There’s a miniature behind each of the 24 doors and the selection includes drams from all over the world.

Buy now

5. The Ginvent Calendar: £110,

There are hundreds of varieties of gin, and this calendar gives you the chance to try 24 of them. Makers The Gin Foundry pride themselves in delivering exciting, hard-to-get measures – there’s a good chance you’ll find a new favourite among this lot.

Buy now

6. Ciate Mini Mani Manor Advent Calendar Style Nail Polish Gift Set: £49,

There’s been a boom in beauty advent calendars in recent years. This one, from the cult London-based brand, is one of the best we’ve seen. It’s filled with 24 quality, long-lasting shades – one for every day of party season.

Buy now

7. Lego Friends Christmas Advent Calendar: £14.99,

The Lego Friends line has been criticised for gender stereotyping

We know lego’s supposed to be for kids, but we reckon big kids will like this too. There are 24 buildable figures and items that together make a festive scene. Each one comes with build instructions. For kids aged five and over.

Buy now

8. Barbie Advent Calendar: £17.99,

Barbie fans will love this selection of 24 gifts to Christmas-up their favourite doll. From a festive dress to a mobile phone, there are clothes and accessories for Barbie, as well as some pressies for her owner. Suitable for children aged three and over.

Buy now

9. Wedgewood Advent House: £12,000,

Okay, so this one’s a bit of a pipe dream, but if money really is no object, then you could treat someone to this beautiful house from the historic English brand. Behind each door is a Christmas ornament in Wedgewood blue and white, in its own numbered pouch. This is Christmas, Harrods-style.

Buy now

10. Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar: £149,

Liberty is known for its enviable line-up of cult beauty-brands and perfume makers. Here is a selection of some of the best stuff in miniature form including scents, skin care and make-up. It’s not cheap, so it’s one for serious beauty lovers.

Buy now

11. Hanging Fabric Advent Calendar: £22.50,

You can hide surprises for the family in each pouch of this fabric calendar. The tree shape means it will add to the decoration-count in your room too.

Buy now

12. Gingerbread Man Fabric Advent Calendar: £30,

For a fabric calendar with a difference, try this fun gingerbread man design. He’s 63cm tall, so his pockets are big enough to hold some generous presents - a good one if you have the whole family to keep happy.

Buy now

13. Advent Calendar of Tea: £38,

Forget chocolate, tea’s the order of the day here. This unique calendar comes with 24 sachets of luxury loose leaf tea in varieties from strawberry split to aromatic black chai. Each one’s enough for two cups, so it’s ideal for sharing. Along with the tea, you get twine and pegs to string up the bags, along with a tea strainer for easy brewing.

Buy now

14. Biscuiteers Advent Calendar by Susie Watson: £55, £45 for biscuits,

As the name suggests, London-based Biscuiteers’ USP is that they do gifting in biscuit form. Their advent calendar is a reusable fabric one filled with their novelty treats from their ‘Advent tin’ in 24 festive shapes. Tasty iced designs include Christmas trees, Santa, presents and traditional toys. The calendar is also available unfilled.

Buy now


Smiggle’s appealing and useful stationery calendar will get kids rushing out of bed in the morning (and save you money on their school stuff). We think beauty buffs will appreciate Ciate’s collection of polishes and Spann and Wills' customisable version is one that will stand the test of time without being in-your-face festive.

Read More: 13 best chocolate Advent calendars
10 best artificial trees
10 best new toys
10 best action figures

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.