I am going to be honest- I don’t even know what advent calendars are for. As a kid, I remember getting the flat, colorful cardboard display with surprises hiding behind each door, excited to see what each day held (spoiler alert- crappy chocolate EVERY DAY). After a little research, I realized that the “Holiday Advent Calendar” has roots that date back to the mid-19th Century where the Advent leading up to Christmas gave time for converts to Christianity to get baptized.
There are SO many incredible holiday advent calendar options now for recipients of all ages- from beer to gourmet goodies, Legos to nail polish, I guarantee my top picks will make your December mornings a little more exciting and are all under $100 (because, c’mon, it is a holiday advent calendar, not the main event). BONUS- Holiday Advent Calendars make the perfect Thanksgiving Hostess Gift. Truly the gift that keeps giving after the post-turkey trance comes.
I wish I had enough time and discretionary income to get weekly manicures, but it is not in the cards. If you or a friend LOVE nail polish, Ciate London has a fully stocked holiday advent calendar including 20 mini polishes, one full-size polish, a mini treatment, a mini top coat, and two sheets of nail transfers for them to open. What better way to deal with holiday stress than to indulge in a little self-care via daily manis?
This one is available solely at Costco, and it doesn’t WOW me like the Ciate calendar does but hey, you can’t always get what you want. Some folks are die-hard Essie fans, so this will be right up their alley. The calendar includes 6 full-size bottles and 6 minis, with fan favorites such as Penny Talk and Chinchilly. Limit 2 per member.
Just like Essie, people are loyal to OPI polishes. In fact, I have found there is quite the division between Essie and OPI- most are in one camp or another. This holiday advent calendar is only available online at Ulta and is in collaboration with Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, with polish offerings under this theme. Bottles are minis, with both traditional and glitter shades behind each Nutcracker-themed door.
Every year I visit the NYX Professional booth at The Makeup Show. IMHO, they are the most underrated makeup company out there, providing quality, on-trend makeup at drugstore prices. They came out with a calendar choc full of lipsticks, eyeshadows, and highlighters for a great price- I am planning on grabbing this just for travel purposes. I love sticking a vial-sized lipstick in my front pocket while I hit the road- it doesn’t add bulk and I can re-apply on the fly. Since this is a $110 value, I say grab it NOW before it sells out.
I am personally a coffee connoisseur, but for many tea is the way to go. If you want to unwrap a double serving of premium tea on the daily, grab this 24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar from David’s Tea. It includes 24 loose leaf teas and a “perfect spoon” to accompany the ornament box calendar. The site even includes a spoiler of each tea offered, including favorites such as Apple Cider, Candy Cane Crush, Caramel Shortbread, Cinnamon Rooibos Chai, Cream of Earl Grey, Fireside Mocha, Forever Nuts, Ginger Turmeric Tonic, Gingerbread, Let It Snow, Mother’s Little Helper, Mulled Wine, Nutty & Spice, and Red Velvet Cake.
At about 50 cents per day, this is a worthwhile purchase for yourself as well as other tea lovers in your life. They include holiday specialty teas such as Gingerbread, Sleigh Ride and Spicy Pumpkin as well as some classics like Breakfast Special. It includes 13 flavors and is made in the UK, so you know it is from the tea capital of the world.
You know what is odd? I couldn’t find a Coffee Advent Calendar that originated in the US. I did, however, find Yawn Coffee on Etsy that ships from the UK- the calendar box contains 24 individual sachets of ground or whole bean coffee with each sachet enough to brew one cup. Coffee origins are from around the globe- India, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Brazil and more.
Oh Aldi, you did it again. How do they come up with AMAZING products that are priced right and sell out so fast that they become urban legends (boozy popsicles, I am looking at you)? This year’s must-have item is the Wine Advent Calendar available on November 7th, and yes I will be banging down the door to get one. It includes 24 mini bottles which works out to $2.92 per 6.37 oz bottle, which total 6 full bottles in the whole calendar. The offering includes white, red, rose and bubbly with Shiraz, Malbec, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc all making an appearance. Apparently, they are limiting purchases to one per person and only available in certain stores. Call on the 6th to confirm that your store has it, then hire a bunch of 21-year-old college students to each purchase one for you. That’s my plan anyway.
World Market was very vague about this calendar on their website, stating that it is out of stock online (was it ever in stock since it says in-store only?) and price and availability varies by store. So basically call around before getting your hopes up. Still, I love their in-store wine and bubbly selection so I remain optimistic.
I decided to include this wine calendar because it totally sold out last year, and would make a great deluxe gift for someone you want to spoil. At $129 for 12 vials that each contain about 3.4 oz of wine, I don’t think this is the best bang for your buck. I mean, over $3 per ounce of wine? So a typical 5 oz glass would be over $15. Not everything is about cost, though- they include selections from Italy, France, Spain and more. Plus, the presentation is so gorgeous and chic. Oh, and if you get the “golden bottle” (10 winners total) you get free wine for 2019 ($644 value).
If your recipient is more into the hard stuff, Heritage Distilling Co. will be right up their alley. I mean, this is the perfect nightcap for the month of December! Each calendar includes twenty four 50ml bottles of vodka, gin, bourbon, rye and more. Free shipping on orders over $75, so grab a Bloody Mary Box, Cider Bar in a Jar, or a BSB Cocoa Gift Pack for others on your list.
Oh, and speaking of Aldi, word on the street is they will be debuting a CHEESE ADVENT CALENDAR this year for the tiny price tag of $13 for 24 mini cheeses. Pair this with their Wine Advent Calendar: Wine + Cheese = WINNERESE. Or something. Just get your hands on as many of these as possible- they would make excellent hostess gifts. Or sit in your closet and days be damned consume the whole thing in one sitting yourself gifts. They are rumored to hit the shelves on November 7th as well.
If there is someone in your life who is realllly into jams and jellies (breakfast lover? PB&J aficionado?) they will enjoy the Bonne Maman Preserves Advent Calendar filled with 24 jams, jellies, spreads and honey made using traditional French recipes. Pair with homemade bread (or storebought bread that you pretended to make) for the perfect hostess gift.
Want to know what is better than candy? Retro Candy from Britain! Haribo has a holiday advent calendar that includes throwback favorites such as Double Dip, Strawberry Candies, Wine Gummies and more. Since I am a thorough Anglophile and love all things from back in the day, I think this calendar totally rocks.
If you know someone who is a total beer snob (they only like IPAs, beer from the West Coast is their jam) why not design your own Beer Advent Calendar? Head to your favorite beer merchant like Binny’s and fill this cardboard calendar with all of their faves.
If you aren’t into the DIY version and are located in Chicago, Bitter Pops has a Craft Beer Advent Calendar that is ready to roll. They don’t ship, though, so you need to drive to their Lakeview location to secure your purchase. They are promising exclusive beers, collaborations and “Golden Tickets” as well as convenient fridge packs to keep your calendar cold.
If you are looking for the classic chocolate calendar that doesn’t taste like crap, grab this assortment from Neuhaus with milk, dark and white chocolates with assorted centers.
At under $20, this calendar from one of the top home/food stores is a decent deal. There isn’t a lot of variety- it only includes milk chocolate- but certainly a step up from chocolate that tastes like wax.
The prize for the least expensive holiday advent calendar goes to…Trader Joe’s! Their 24 count chocolate Advent Calendar goes for 99 cents, and the sweets aren’t too shabby. I picked these up for my kids last year, and they should be hitting stores any time now.
Another rumor- Trader Joe’s is introducing a Dog Holiday Advent Calendar in their 200+ holiday item offerings this year. It was leaked by president Jon Basalone during Episode 8 of their podcast, ‘Tis the Season. Since we added a puppy to the family this year, you know I will be grabbing one for little Ginger and all other pups I know. Puppy love!
Even though this calendar only contains 12 days of treats, it is still fun to open up them during the 12 days of Christmas countdown with your dog. Maybe you will butter them up enough to leave the Christmas tree or menorah alone.
For those days when you need to occupy the kids for just five minutes (ok, a lot longer is needed but 5 will let you make that appointment/phone call that has been outstanding for weeks), the Crayola Christmas Countdown Activity Advent Calendar is ideal. It includes 24 holiday-themed activities with a corresponding Crayola product to help the kiddos get pumped for the upcoming present-fest. It is recommended for kids age 4 and up, and a perfect way to let the littles color gifts for aunts and uncles.
I found this on Brad’s Deals, and the day they advertised the price climbed to $29. Grab this calendar when it is reasonably priced at around $22. It includes, you guessed it, 24 Lego vehicles, mini figures and seasonal items for ages 5-12.
There are a few of other types, including these:
What kid doesn’t love mini cars that they can zoom and crash around your house? Plus, they hurt less than Legos when you step on them (unless you get the shark car with the fin on top, OUCH). This set includes 8 Hot Wheels vehicles and 16 accessories for your kid to set up a full race track at the end of the holiday madness.
My kids adore Hatchimals- they have a great set at Costco currently if you are looking for a Christmas gift. This Hatchmials Advent Calendar leads up to the big gifts with 10 Hatchmials collectibles, 12 accessories, 5 paper crafts, 4 tiny presents, 4 sticker sheets, 5 bows, and 5 nests. It comes with a holiday scene to decorate- also a great way to corral all those teeny tiny toys that usually end up in the vacuum cleaner.
Cheers to making the holiday season stretch all December, and giving a little joy each morning as we hurtle toward the biggest shopping season of the year!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase through my link. It doesn’t affect your purchase price.