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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, notonthehighstreet.com

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, smiggle.co.uk

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.

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

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, ocado.com

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.

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5. The Ginvent Calendar: £110, selfridges.com

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, johnlewis.com

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, johnlewis.com

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.

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8. Barbie Advent Calendar: £17.99, johnlewis.com

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.

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9. Wedgewood Advent House: £12,000, harrods.com

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.

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10. Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar: £149, liberty.co.uk

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, marksandspencer.com

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, notonthehighstreet.com

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.

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13. Advent Calendar of Tea: £38, notonthehighstreet.com

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, biscuiteers.com

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

Verdict:

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.

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