In the year 2020, no longer is it acceptable to countdown to Christmas with only chocolate. Alternative advent calendars stuffed with everything from beauty products to scented candles to bottles of prosecco are the festive purchase du jour, and if sales figures from previous seasons are anything to go by, you need to add the release dates to your diary, because these babies sell out fast.
We would, of course, never suggest that you replace your go-to chocolate advent calendar – but this year, there are some truly gorgeous non-chocolate advent calendars to enjoy alongside it. Christmas starts here, with our round-up of the best alternative advent calendars for 2020 – we’ll be updating this round-up regularly as new calendars are unveiled, so bookmark the page if you haven’t chosen your favourite yet.
Beauty advent calendars 2020
John Lewis & Partners
Department store calendars can be hit and miss, but with gifts from Sunday Riley, Neom, Charlotte Tilbury, Elemis, Nars and Clarins, we say JL’s is worth investing in (here’s the contents in full for your reference). My John Lewis members will be the first to have the chance to shop it this year, at the upcoming Virtual Beauty Weekend.
ASOS is spoiling us with advent calendars for 2020 – not only are both their 12 day and a 24 day beauty options bursting with greatness for remarkably low prices, there’s a 12-Day Grooming Advent Calendar available for the man in your life too.
The Liberty advent calendar is possibly the most iconic premium beauty advent calendar of all time – and for 2020, we already know that it boasts products from Augustinus Bader, Nars, Aromatherapy Associates, Votary and Hourglass. The edit, housed in a recyclable box in the store’s beautiful signature Standen print, has 19 full-sized products, making it the most generous line-up to date.
Jo Malone London
Virtually guaranteed to sell out in seconds, Jo Malone advent calendars are always stunning, and the 2020 edition is no exception. In addition to fragrance – like a mini English Pear & Freesia cologne – you’ll find body care and candles, plus an extra special surprise behind door number 24.
The White Company
Ah The White Company, how we adore thee and your perfect winter scents. This £160 calendar gives fans of the store the chance to immerse themselves in candles, fragrance, cleansing balm and body creams, with seasonally-appropriate notes of fir and pomegranate throughout the selection.
LookFantastic’s box of joy is always a real all-rounder. Day after day, you’ll discover neatly wrapped packages from big name brands (which have yet to be revealed) – it officially launches on 12 October but you can preorder it already.
£89 gets you more than £250 of beauty booty in 2020’s geometric Feel Unique advent calendar offering, which contains the likes of Charlotte Tilbury, Huda Beauty, Sol de Janeiro, Nars and Elemis. One calendar also contains a hidden golden gift card, worth up to £1000 each for you and a nominated friend or family member to spend at Feelunique.
Fans of L’Occitane’s pampering products will be pleased to see two exceptionally well-priced calendars stuffed with shower gels, soaps, hand creams and more. The classic option, brought to life with illustrations from French illustrator Edith Carron, houses all of the usual heroes, while the luxury line offers an array of larger products, with pillow mist, the infamous Almond Shower Gel and even an EDT inside.
Skincare is the order of the day in Elemis’ bright and beautiful advent calendar for 2020, which encloses treats worth £403, including a full-size jar of the coveted Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. Sign up to be notified when it launches on 11th September and get your hands on cleansers, balms, gel masks and toners galore before the dreaded ‘sold out’ label appears – previous editions have gone out of stock in just five days.
Lush’s advent calendar for 2020 is 100 per cent vegan, with products ranging from cult classics like Dream Cream to new scrubs, bath bombs and shampoo bars (plus some exclusives you can only get your hands on in the calendar). The fully recycled chest is inspired by a vintage luggage trunk, and perfect for reusing afterwards for storage or regifting.
The Body Shop
The Body Shop has three lovely advent calendars this year – the fully-stocked Leia option is the most expensive, at £130, but the entry-level calendar, £50, and the deluxe, £70, are both also excellent options, stuffed with a mix of full-size and sample size bestsellers: think shower gels, body butters, face masks and more. Each one is named after and depicts a character with their own powerful story, reflecting The Body Shop’s goal of donating a minimum of £250,000 to women’s organisations this Christmas.
Scrubs, gels, and washes all await you inside the the boxes of Rituals’ two advent calendars for 2020, with lotions and potions from many of Rituals’ ranges, like the Ritual of Jing and Ayurveda, and extras like mini Private Collection candles. The bottles and tubes are generously sized and smell, as one would expect, delicious.
Fortnum & Mason
Opening the doors of Fortnum & Mason’s beauty advent calendar is much like entering the store – opulent and spectacular. We won’t drop too many spoilers this early in the year, but we will reveal that products inside the elegant design span brands including Sol de Janeiro, Guerlain, Chantecaille and Sisley.
Selfridges has gone pretty in pink with its advent calendar, which depicts the iconic London flagship store, this year, and we’re obsessed. Priced at £210, it contains over £500 worth of products from the most in-demand brands in beauty, including Byredo, Morphe, Ouai, Huda Beauty, 111Skin, Pat McGrath, and Slip.
The joy in subscription box Glossybox’s advent calendar is present long before you get inside, with some of the most gorgeous marble and metallic packaging we’ve seen this year. Past that, there’s £390 worth of beauty treats tucked away, including 14 full-size items. And yes, that is a Sunday Riley Good Genes you spy.
In this year’s quirky wreath-inspired calendar, brand founder Jo Malollne promises ‘a scented delight to enjoy every day, with a little twist and surprise to celebrate Christmas Day’. Minor spoiler, but if you love Jo Loves perfume, you’ll be very happy with the selection, which totals a £459 value.
Giving back is important all year round, but it’s particularly poignant for many of us at Christmastime – which is why we were pleased to see that £2 from every sale of this Boots-exclusive advent calendar. Housed in a glamorous midnight blue and gold box you’ll find curated selection of hero products from brands including Liz Earle, No7, Soap & Glory, Botanics and Sleek.
Holland & Barrett
There’s 25 eco-friendly days to enjoy in Holland & Barrett’s 2020 advent calendar – including 14 full-size products – with the likes of UpCircle, Ethique, Weleda and Q&A all represented, to the tune of a £170 total value. The entire calendar is suitable for vegans and 100 per cent recyclable.
Small but perfectly formed, Benefit’s beauty advent calendar for 2020 features 12 minis of the brand’s most iconic products – think Hoola bronzer, Gimme Brow gel and of course, all the mascara you would wish for in your stocking.
Skin always needs a little extra TLC in the winter months, and the Nivea advent calendar for 2020 has got you covered from top to toe. It’s crammed with 16 of the brand’s best-loved essentials, plus eight deluxe additions, including an eye mask and a facial cleansing glove to up the pamper factor.
Scandi skincare line Lumene launched in the UK in 2018 to rapturous applause from the industry. Another vegan option, this year’s calendar champions its hero products, such as the Glow Boost Essence and Nordic C-Glow Reveal Moisturiser, and also introduces its make-up line, with everything from primer to mascara.
One queue you’ll want to race to the front of is the waiting list for Cult Beauty’s 2020 advent calendar – well, the 2019 edition did sell out in two hours. The £930 worth of products (from names like Jo Loves, Dr. Barbara Sturm, Augustinus Bader and Drunk Elephant) will set you back £199, and there’s a lovely charity donation to Beauty Banks included in your purchase.
Cath Kidston’s 2020 vegan line-up is an affordable foray into the world of beauty advent calendars – inside the signature kitsch packaging, this year designed to invoke the nostalgic feel of a vintage Christmas card, there’s body lotions, bath salts, lip balms and hand creams galore.
As the UK’s first ever completely plastic-free, cruelty-free and vegan lifestyle advent calendar, Eco Wonderland includes eco-friendly treats from brands such as Love Absolute, UpCircle and Hairy Jayne. You can even choose what sort of colour make up you like to wear, so you don’t end up with products you’ll never use.
Food advent calendars 2020
Fortnum & Mason
It’s official: we’ve died and gone to food heaven. Everything within these 25 drawers is an extravagant, edible wonder – think pistachio and rose nut butter, orange & Fortnum’s champagne marmalade, cassis gin and toffolossus biscuits.
Anyone who’s ever eaten an immaculate Biscuiteers treat knows that they’re much more than just biscuits – they’re works of art. The £175 price tag includes a fabric calendar designed by Sophie Conran that can be used forever, plus a tin of 24 hand-iced animal-themed biscuits to fill the pouches this year, or you can buy each item separately for £125 and £58 respectively.
Want a daily treat alongside your festive chai? Walkers’ calendar will help you tick off the days until Christmas with 24 rounds and fingers of proper buttery Scottish shortbread both with and without chocolate chips – all individually-wrapped for freshness. Feet up, kettle on.
If you know and love the Candy Kittens vegan sweet range, your mouth is probably already watering. Just £10 for 25 days of sugar-based joy, with flavours from strawberry to peach to watermelon? Consider us well and truly sold.
Joe & Seph’s
Few popcorns are as luxurious as these thickly coated little nuggets, draped in toppings like tiramisu, chocolate orange and banoffee pie. The 2020 alternative advent calendar gives you the chance to sample various flavours every day for 24 glorious days – look out in particular for festive-themed bites like Brandy Butter and Gingerbread. Vegans will be pleased to see a plant-based version available to shop this year too.
That Boutique-y Gin Company
There are now multiple gin advent calendars in the shops to choose between, but it’s not often their price tag is as impressive as this. The calendar features 24 award-winning gins with quirky flavours including pineapple and rhubarb.
Got a little more budget to play with? Try Drinks by the Dram’s premium offering, which sits at a slightly higher price point, but is overflowing with juniper-based brilliance behind each window.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company
If whisky rather than gin is your tipple of choice, take a look another Boutique-y offering: 2020’s whiskey advent calendar. For under £100 you get 24 drams spanning bourbons, blends and bold barrel finishes.
Love a Cosmopolitan or a vodka martini? This is the calendar for you. This December you can drink your way through 24 30ml wax-sealed bottles of vodka from a variety of world-famous producers.
Spirits aside, this cider advent calendar from Crafty Nectar, the largest cider subscription service in Europe, will please fans of all things fizzy and refreshing. Despite its impressive size and weighty selection of 24 bottles, delivery is free, so it’s a bit of a relative bargain.
Leave the choccie to the kids and treat yourself to a ‘grown ups’ advent calendar – that is one that invites you to try a new premium luxury tea blend from France’s oldest teahouse, Mariage Frères, every morning. Available to buy in store at Mariage Frères’ Covent Garden stores and online from end of October.
The Naked Marshmallow Co.
The world’s first gourmet marshmallow advent calendar returns for its fourth year, featuring 25 handmade marshmallowy treats in 12 different flavours, from classic to festive to sweet-inspired. Or embrace the Christmas ‘spirit’ and go boozy – flavours include Raspberry & Prosecco, Elderflower & Gin, Passion Fruit Martini and Pina Colada.
Add on a toasting kit for £3.95 extra.
The Protein Ball Co.
Make the countdown to 25 December extra sweet with Swizzels’ perfect alternative to the traditional chocolate calendar. Great for nostalgia lovers with a sweet tooth, this calendar includes such childhood treats as Drumstick Squashies, Refreshers chew bars and Love Hearts. Available from Tesco, Wilko and Sainsbury’s stores.
Lifestyle advent calendars 2020
If the crisp page of a new notebook is high on your list of favourite things, Paperchase’s advent calendar will be right up your street. You can expect vouchers, pens, stickers, and a 2020 diary, plus many more stationery delights – but you’ll have to beat fans to it, as last year’s version sold out in record time.
Just when we thought we couldn’t love demi-fine jewellery brand Missoma any more, it goes and launches a follow-up to last year’s sellout advent calendar. We don’t want to give away too much upfront, but it’s safe to say you’ll find plenty of bestsellers, including theBaya Hoops, Interstellar Anklet and Molten Cuff, as well as hair accessories, a brand-first keyring and even custom designed playing cards.
After branching out into the sexual wellness category last year, one of Boots’ top 10 advent calendars for 2020 is this one from Lovehoney, aka the ‘sexual happiness people’. Behind each door are some of the brand’s bestselling sex toys and accessories to spice up the holiday season – if all you want for Christmas is a little more spark in your relationship, this could be a great starting point…