With just a couple of weeks left until Advent begins, early this year because Christmas Day is on a Sunday, the Church's thoughts turn to the precious time of waiting for Christ's birth. In the secular world, Advent is about calendars, often chocolate ones, although the beauty Advent calendar has of course become a HUGE deal in recent years.
For many people that daily chocolate treat during December is a must, so here's our pick of the best chocolate Advent calendars. (Is it too selfish to cover the indulgent treats for adults first?!)
Character Advent calendars are always popular, but often very pricey. We were delighted to see these fun calendars featuring some old favourites who are having another ride on the popularity express. Pokémon is everywhere this year, so this cute calendar is sure to go down well. A red Pokémon version is also available. For younger children, Teletubbies are once again where it's at, and this fun Tubby calendar is perfect. Made by Kinnerton, these kids Advent calendars are widely available from stores such as Aldi, B&M, Brand Choice, Bramble Foods, Iceland, Aldi, Palmer & Harvey, Poundworld, and Card Factory, priced just £1.
If it has to be Dairy Milk, there are two versions available. The larger is an impressive 38.5cm by 27cm and contains 200g of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate in novelty shapes such as snowmen, Christmas trees, shooting stars and trains. The Dairy Milk Advent Calendar (large, priced £4.99) contains an assortment of milk chocolates and milk chocolates with vanilla flavour filling and is sure to delight older tweens and teens who claim to be too old for such trivialities. Just resist the temptation to nick their chocolates...
For the grown-ups
One local success story round here is the Sussex-based Montezuma Chocolates, who have hit the mainstream these days with their delicious organic, fair trade chocolate. Each window contains a chunk of yummy creamy white or rich milk chocolate, the perfect treat to have with your mid-morning coffee. We love the cute polar bear-themed box, and the generous chunks of superb quality chocolate nestled behind the doors. A dark chocolate version is also available. The Montezuma's Milk and Whte Chocolate Advent Calendar is available from Riverford, priced £9.99. (Check out their amazing Christmas range whilst you're there!)
For a refillable treat that will last fro Christmasses to come, the Chocolate Advent House from Lily O'Brien's Chocolates is a must. This attractive keepsake box is filled with an array of Lily O’Brien’s best-loved truffle recipes, such as Sticky Toffee, Chocolate Truffle, Le Crunch and Zesty Orange. Available exclusive from their online store, the Chocolate Advent House retails at £25.00. (Don't miss the chance to win one in our Advent competition!)
For a festive after-dinner treat each evening, the lovely festive Advent calendar from Godiva is a delight. We love the subtly festive box with its Nutcracker scenes, and of course the delectable premium Belgian chocolate inside! Filled with a unique selection of Godiva masterpieces and this year’s seasonal collection, this is one of those rare calendars that goes all the way to 'Day 25'. Just as well as you wouldn't want to miss out on delicious chocolates like the Moelleux Caramel, a rich chocolate flavoured caramel; the Iconic Tourbillon Praline, a chic, Art-nouveau swirl filled with our signature hazelnut praline; the Eclat Feuilletine, which boasts the appreciation of crispy feuilletine pieces contrasting sublimely with smooth praline; and Lune Passion, a fruit-infused white chocolate ganache coated with divinely dark chocolate. Chocolate heaven! Available from all Godiva stores and at online, priced £24.
If you're not that bothered about chocolate but would like a little daily festive treat, the stunning Yankee Candle Party Pavillion Advent Calendar is for you. With 24 days of festive fragrance behid the stylish doors, including special scents from the new Holiday Party Christmas collection, your home will smell divine throughout December. Each door of this limited edition calendar reveals a Tea-Light or Votive Candle in one of 9 fabulously festive fragrances, including Christmas Memories, Winter Glow, Christmas Cookie, All is Bright, Macaron Treats, and more. We love the stylish box, perfect for storing decorations in after Christmas, and the gorgeously-scented contents. Such a treat to have something so different to open each day. The Party Pavilion Advent Calendar is available online and from Yankee Candle stores and concessions, priced £29.99.
If make-up is more your thing, then the new 12 Days of Christmas beauty Advent calendar from Just My Look is perfect. What better way to countdown to Christmas, or to count the days of Christmas (just like the hymn) than with the Technic 12 Days Of Christmas Cosmetic Advent Calender 2016! Behind each of the windows there is a surprise beauty treat each day, ranging from lip glosses to blushers. This calendar is a must-have for any beauty enthusiast, and great value at £9.95.
For something completely different, this brand new 3D tree-house advent calendar is a great alternative to chocolate and will be an adorable festive addition to your home. As each day in December passes, a different seasonal shape will be added to the tree-house scene, so by the 25th your tree-house will be completely decorated. Such a lovely idea, plus 100% of the profit from the advent calendar will go to Macmillan, helping to ensure that no one faces cancer alone this Christmas. The 3D Christmas House Advent Calendar is available online and from Macmillan shops, priced £9.95.