In 2019, 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 2019.
Beauty advent calendars 2019
The countdown is over, and you can finally get yours hands on this year’s YOU advent calendar. Packed full of 24 premium beauty products hand-picked by our beauty director Edwina Ings-Chambers, it’s perfect for a special treat for yourself or a loved one this Christmas. Inside, you also receive a selection of brand discounts, many which are valid until 2020, so that you can look and feel good for this season and beyond.
Lacura Countdown to NY Advent Calendar, £14.99, Aldi (from 21 November)
If you’re beauty advent calendar shopping on a budget, rejoice, for German supermarket Aldi has answered your prayers. The vibrant packaging is home to miniature beauty and fragrance products from much-applauded Lacura collection, with a skincare treat every day from the 26th – 31st December.
Amazon has been quietly building its reputation in beauty for some time now, from the launch of its own line Find the exclusive release of Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories. The £50 calendar comprises tools from Real Techniques and Foreo, skincare from Elemis and Sanctuary and make-up from Sleek and Rimmel – a great, reasonably priced pick.
John Lewis & Partners
Department store calendars can be hit and miss, but with gifts from Lancôme, Elemis and YSL, as well as new(er) lines like the lovely Soap Co., we say JL’s is worth investing in. Plus, we’re suckers for those gold-embossed drawers.
Marks & Spencer
This calendar reflects the crème de la crème of M&S’ well-stocked beauty hall. To get your hands on it, you’ll need to spend £25 in store, and pay £40 – a steal when you consider that it’s stuffed with the likes of Murad, Prai, This Works, Ren and Aveda, as well as the best own-brand Formula and Autograph buys. Last year’s calendar was £35 when you spent £35, so this year you’re actually spending £5 less.
Possibly the most iconic premium beauty advent calendar of all time – and for 2019, its stuffed with products from Bobbi Brown, Nars, Diptyque, Byredo and Hourglass. This year, nineteen of the twenty-five drawers include full-sized products, making it the most generous line-up to date.
Online retailer Cult Beauty is home to a range of incredible stable of names – think leading beauty brands such as Fresh, Ouai, Drunk Elephant, Augustinus Bader and Virtue. Unsurprisingly, its first ever advent calendar is a veritable smorgasbord of amazing hero products, worth almost £700. True beauty aficionados will want to get in line: the waitlist is open now.
No7’s beauty advent calendar is always one of the biggest launches of the season, and this year’s jewel-inspired offering is set to be no exception – so much so that the waitlist is already open and filling up fast. The contents is being kept tightly under wraps for now, but you can expect all the usual No7 favourites, plus the chance to find one of seven golden tickets worth £700 (yes, £7-0-0!) that are redeemable against No7 products in store.
A truly luxurious spread containing almost £800 of cult products from brands including Charlotte Tilbury, Sunday Riley, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Victoria Beckham favourite, Dr Barbara Sturm. There’s a good mix of skincare and make-up, and a fair amount of haircare tucked in the chic monochrome drawers as well.
Is there any sight more worthy of festive angel song than this many mini Diptyque candles in one place? In the 25 drawers there’s something to suit all noses, from fruity to floral to fresh, plus a selection of gorgeous eau de parfums and even some lucky charms to see you through your Christmas celebrations and beyond.
If anything could convince you to jump on the Charlotte Tilbury bandwagon, it’s her incredible ‘Galaxy Of Make-Up’ alternative advent calendar for 2019. Open the drawers to discover the A-list MUA’s bestselling products, including Magic Cream, Legendary Lashes and a full-size Pillow Talk lipstick (you know, the one that’s so popular it sells every two minutes).
This is luxury beauty at its finest – we challenge you to wait until 1st December before unwrapping gifts from Huda Beauty, 111Skin, Penhaligon’s an Ex Nihilo candle. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t come cheap – but if you bought each bit individually, the total value would be a lot higher.
Virtually guaranteed to sell out in seconds, Jo Malone advent calendars are always stunning, and the 2019 edition is no exception. In addition to fragrance – like a mini Blackberry & Bay Cologne – you’ll find body care and candles, plus new additions that you might not have tried before, such as the Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense.
The Body Shop
The Body Shop has three lovely advent calendars this year – the fully-stocked Ultimate option is the most expensive, at £99, but the entry-level calendar, £45, and the deluxe, £65, 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.
Soap & Glory
A Boots exclusive, Soap & Glory’s retro Miracle on 24th Sweet calendar delivers the big hitters you know and love from the brand plus an array of miniatures – a dream if you can’t get enough of its signature sweet and fruity scents.
LookFantastic’s box of joy is a real all-rounder. Day after day, you’ll discover neatly wrapped packages from brands such as Morphe, Living Proof, Prai, Sleek and Illamasqua. The highlight is the inclusion of Avant Skincare’s Moisture Surge Overnight Treatment, which is worth £85 alone.
This black and rose gold calendar is bursting with all of the creams, balms and oils a woman could wish for. Perfect as a gift for a friend or a self-gift of the most luxurious order – indulgent bathing at its best.
For 2019, Lush is upgrading its previous 12 Days of Christmas format and going all out with its first ever 24 product calendar – and every single item inside the recyclable chest is full size. Only 500 limited edition advent calendars will be made available, so if you’re keen, order sooner rather than later.
Fortnum & Mason
Opening the doors of Fortnum & Mason’s beauty advent calendar is much like entering their store – opulent and spectacular. The products inside the elegant design span brands including Chantecaille, Guerlain and Sisley.
Scrubs, gels, and washes all await you inside the the boxes of this 3D calendar, with lotions and potions from many of Rituals’ ranges, like the Ritual of Namasté and Samurai. The bottles and tubes are generously sized and smell, as one would expect, delicious.
Buoyed by the success of last year’s first ever Cath Kidston calendar, the brand is back with two options for 2019. The first, the Christmas Village Advent Calendar, is an affordable (£40) foray into the world of beauty advent calendars – inside the signature kitsch packaging, there’s body lotions, salts and scrubs, plus lip balms and hand creams galore. The Christmas House above takes that concept and supersizes it.
Encased in the beautiful wrapping lie travel sprays, body lotions, hand creams and even full-size 30ml fragrances, plus Atelier’s iconic leather cases so you can keep them safe.
Not already a convert to French beauty company Nuxe’s cult products? This calendar will turn you into one. Start with Huile Prodigieuse, which can be used to nourish your hair and skin whatever the weather, then work your way through the delights of the other tubes and pots.
Skincare is the order of the day in Elemis’ uniquely shaped calendar for 2019, which encloses treats worth £344, including a full-size jar of Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. Sign up now to be notified when it launches and get your hands on cleansers, balms, gel masks and toners galore before the dreaded ‘sold out’ label appears – last year’s edition went out of stock in just five days.
For the last two years running this has been Decléor’s fastest selling box, to the tune of one every eight seconds. This year, we predict much of the same, as lovers of the brand rush to pick up sample sizes of its cleansing milks, nourishing masks and serums. The £85 price tag gets you more than £300 worth of product.
Hoping to find a spa break voucher under the Christmas tree? Cowshed’s calendar and its spa-inspired edit of miniatures will get you in the mood. Treats like hand cream, nail polish, pillow mist and skincare are infused with signature Cowshed fragrances that make it impossible not to unwind.
The joy in subscription box Glossybox’s advent calendar is present long before you get inside, with some of the most gorgeous ribbon-tied packaging we’ve seen this year. There’s £370 worth of beauty treats tucked away inside, including 15 full-size items. And yes, that is a Chloé fragrance you spy.
Brand founder Jo Malone promises ‘a scented delight to enjoy every day, with a little twist and surprise to celebrate Christmas Day’ in this stylish snowy white calendar. Minor spoiler, but if you love Jo Loves candles, you’ll be very happy.
Fans of L’Occitane’s pampering products will be pleased to see this exceptionally well-priced calendar stuffed with shower gels, soaps, hand creams and more. If you wish to upgrade, there’s also an £89 Luxury Advent Calendar which encompasses areas like fragrance as well.
Fenwick’s calendar for 2019 is packed with tonnes of beauty bestsellers, including many exclusive products that you won’t see elsewhere – you’ll also get full-size products from brands like MAC and Bobbi Brown.
Scandi skincare line Lumene launched in the UK last year to rapturous applause from the industry. Their calendar champions its hero products, such as the Instant Glow Beauty Serum and Nordic C-Glow Boost Essence, alongside undiscovered gems that haven’t even arrived on our shores yet.
Holland & Barrett
Fans of the store’s recently launched Zero Waste Beauty Kit will be thrilled to discover that they can get a similarly spectacular line up of treats in advent form. There’s 25 eco-friendly days to enjoy, with hero buys like Weleda Skin Food and Dr Organic’s Manuka Honey Rescue Cream.
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 cassis, orange, fir and pomegranate throughout the selection.
Not for fair-weather fragrance fans (or those on a tight budget), but for a truly exquisite festive scent indulgence, you could do a lot worse than Penhaligon’s first ever calendar. It’s limited edition, so move fast.
Food advent calendars 2019
While Bailey’s often does a chocolate calendar with a mix of liqueur truffles and mini bottles, the clever people at The Bottle Club have created an entirely Irish cream based offering where you’ll find 12 miniatures not only of original Bailey’s, but also the coffee and orange truffle variations too.
Whittard has taken the concept of ‘sharing is caring’ to another level with an advent calendar that’s designed for two. Each drawer contains double sachets of hot chocolate (both standard milk, and quirky options like peanut butter, sticky toffee and raspberry ripple) to enjoy with your kids, your friends, or your other half. Side note: we absolutely won’t judge you if you throw caution to the wind and drink them both yourself.
So Wrong It’s Nom
No, your eyes are not deceiving you – that really is an advent calendar filled with cheese. Food blogger Annem Hobson is launching her sell-out calendar for the third year running, and wants everyone to get on board with her #CheeseNotChoc campaign. The wheels inside include Jarlsberg, Applewood, Mexicana and Ilchester – time to stock up on chutney and crackers.
Whether you like your pies spicy, sweet, fruity or with a twist, there’s something delicious for you behind these doors. Each section houses a classic, almond, chocolate or citrus mince pie, with an handmade iced Christmas cake for the 25th, too.
Okay, so there are chocolates in this calendar, but that’s not all – the 24 windows are covering a selection of confectionary including caramels, nougat, and exquisite calissons, making for an advent calendar that any foodie would be thrilled to receive.
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. Set of with a hand-illustrated design by Grace J Ward, this calendar features 24 award-winning gins with quirky flavours including pineapple and chocolate orange.
Want more ginvent? Take a look at tonic brand Fever Tree’s 2019 outing, combining premium mixers flavoured with elderflower, cucumber and ginger with mini bottles of gin from respected names such as Caorunn, Sipsmith, Botanist and Hendrick’s.
Fortnum & Mason
It’s official: we’ve died and gone to food heaven. Everything within these 25 drawers is an extravagant, edible delight – think strawberry and champagne preserve, pistachio and clotted cream biscuits, honey spiced vodka liqueur and salted caramel hot chocolate.
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 biscuits to fill the pouches this year.
Here’s a blast from the past: Kellogg’s has fulfilled every cereal lover’s dream with a retro-look calendar that gives 12 days of crunchy joy. There’s only 12 bowlfuls behind the doors, but you do get a bonus branded mug to spoon them from.
As the saying goes, ‘tea is the elixir of life’ – and Pukka’s calendar will supply you with 24 herbal bags to keep you warm through December’s dropped temperatures. Infusions include supreme matcha green, vanilla chai, peppermint and liquorice and lemon ginger and Manuka honey.
Some like it hot. If you’re one of them, you’ll love this novel idea from The Spicery, which features 12 windows each hiding a surprise recipe and special spice blend to send you on your way to making a fantastic curry.
Joe & Seph’s
Few popcorns are as luxurious as these thickly coated little nuggets, draped in toppings like cookies and cream, chocolate orange and banoffee pie. Their 2019 alternative advent calendar gives you the chance to sample various flavours every day for 24 glorious days.
The Naked Marshmallow Co
These are not just any old marshmallows – these are plump pillows with flavours like salted caramel, butterscotch, gingerbread, milk and cookies and mint choc chip. You even get a hot chocolate spoon to go with your mallow on Christmas Day.
A whole December of wafers? Don’t mind if we do. Loaker’s advent calendar enables your snaccident fix in style – and the individual wrappers mean you can take that day’s treat with you on the go.
Drinks By The Dram
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 dram of vodka from a variety of world-famous producers. Oh, and if you prefer a different spirit, the adventurous Explorer collection comprises a whisky and a gin option too.
The Snaffling Pig Co.
Enjoy a mini pub trip at home throughout December with this countdown stuffed with 12 bags of the finest Snaffling Pig pork crackling, and 12 refreshing cans of lager and ale to wash them down with.
Protein Ball Co
Know someone who’s more into protein powders than Christmas chocolate? Boost their healthy eating regime with this countdown from Protein Ball Co – who knew calendars could be nutritious and delicious?
The HonestBrew Ultimate Craft Beer Calendar (£139.90) is full of rare seasonal brews including exclusives and imports from Europe, New Zealand and the US. It can be pre-ordered now but will be dispatched in November so the beers arrive fresh.
Lifestyle advent calendars 2019
Just when we thought we couldn’t love demi-fine jewellery brand Missoma any more, it goes and launches an advent calendar, containing some of its most coveted pieces. We don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but you can expect the most on-trend of items, including huggie hoops, double chain bracelets and an exclusive astrology-themed accessory.
The White Company
Not content with outdoing itself on the beauty front (see above), The White Company is also offering a jewellery advent calendar, and it’s much more affordable at just £98. Working through the 12 doors enables you to build a gold and silver plated charm collection, with motifs such as hearts, moons and wishbones.
Marks & Spencer
For an even less-expensive but still luxe-feeling option, try M&S’s jewellery advent calendar, which comes in at less than £20. The 12 days of accessories are all made with its signature Skin Kind metal, which means it shouldn’t prompt any reactions, even on sensitive skin, and include two necklaces and two pairs of hoops with sets of interchangeable charms.
Could this advent calendar be any more exciting? For lovers of Friends, the comedy which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019, the answer is probably not. The contents is a combination of themed charms, keyrings and pin badges (with ‘how you doin” and ‘Regina Phalange’ in-jokes aplenty). For less than £20, we imagine fans will clear the stocks in double quick time.
Beauty and genuine usefulness combine in Martha Brooks’ super chic stationery advent calendar. Each of the 24 luxe foil embossed boxes have been designed to look like a row of colourful books on a shelf making it a treat to open before you even get to the lovely pieces inside.
Obsessed with stationery? You’re not alone – as the demand for this kikki.K number proves. Think glitzy, grown-up desk accessories like rose gold bulldog clips and the brand’s infamous Gold Pen (of course).
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. The brand hasn’t revealed the full contents of the 24 doors just yet, but you can expect vouchers, pens, stickers, and a 2020 diary, plus many more stationery delights.
For anyone whose four-legged friend is essentially another child, Lily’s Kitchen offer treat-filled calendars for both dogs and cats to keep them happy throughout the run-up to the big day.