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
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 – and very reasonably priced, if we do say so ourselves.
Zara’s exciting collaboration with Jo Malone CBE has just been taken one step further with the Zara Beauty Wardrobe, an advent calendar filled to the brim with the Zara Emotions collection – candles, perfumes, body lotions and hand and body washes all scented with beautiful fragrances designed by Jo Malone CBE herself. Plus, expect a very special surprise on the 25 December with a new, exclusive fragrance that’s soon to join the permanent collection, but you’ll have your hands on it first.
As one of the internet’s foremost fashion sites, it makes sense that Revolve’s beauty advent calendar is super stylish. With brands inside including GLAMGLOW, Stila, Sunday Riley, By Terry, Supergoop! and Peter Thomas Roth, all packed inside a keepsake suitcase, it’s a brilliant gift (to yourself or otherwise).
For all the Diptyque die-hards out there, this is for you. 25 full and deluxe size bestselling exclusive candles and beauty products, including the limited edition for 2020 Moonlit Fir candle as well as old favourites like Baies, Figuier and Tubéreuse.
The Harrods luxurious advent calendar consists of 25 magical drawers containing everything you need to ace your festive beauty game, from prep to party. You’ll find treats from such premium brands as Acqua di Parma, Guerlain, Laura Mercier, Hourglass, fresh and many more.
John Lewis & Partners
Department store calendars can be hit and miss, but with gifts from Sunday Riley, Neom, Charlotte Tilbury, Elemis, Nars and Clarins collectively worth £376, we say JL’s is worth investing in (here’s the contents in full for your reference).
Despite only being Space NK’s second ever advent calendar, it’s fast become one of the anticipated. This year’s promises £630 worth of carefully curated beauty products from brands including Byredo, NARS, Laura Mercier, Eve Lom, Diptyque and loads more.
Next has no less than 3 beauty advent calendars to chose from this year. First up, let Next help you countdown to to Christmas in style with their supreme edit of the best in beauty with their Premium calendar. Filled with big names including Elemis, Liz Earle, Estee Lauder, Benefit, bareMinerals, ICONIC London, ghd and Aveda, it contains a huge £220 worth of product, but this Christmas it’s all yours for £69.
There aren’t many mens grooming advent calendars, but Next has pulled it out the bag with a calendar brimming with £215 worth of Hugo Boss, Elemis, L’occitane, Liz Earle and Hawkins & Brimble products.
Lastly, their budget option is £30 and bursting with 24 beauty treats to see you through the festive season, collectively worth £60.
One for the Molton Brown fans out there – this one is filled with gorgeous smelling products, from shimmering shower gel baubles to hand creams and candles, totalling a worth of £259. Oh and the box is lush, too.
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, totalling a whopping £718 worth of products. 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
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.
Crammed with £215 worth of beauty goodies, brands to be found inside the Amazon calendar include Elemis, John Frieda, Garnier, Nip+Fab, Bioré, 3INA, E.L.F. and more. See here for more information.
With more than £400 worth of Fenwick beauty hall favourites, there’s products from Charlotte Tilbury, Living Proof, By Terry, MAC, Neom, L’Occitane and Liz Earle waiting for you to use in Fenwick’s 2020 advent calendar.
Indulge in 24 of Nuxe’s bestselling products, including an extensive range of skincare and eau de parfums, all Christmas long. This one is available exclusively online.
Acqua di Parma
For a truly lavish advent calendar experience, Acqua di Parma’s second ever advent calendar won’t disappoint. Exclusive to Harrods, it might cost £400 but the cheery yellow box contains 24 delightfully luxurious treats: ‘from Colonia to Blu Mediterraneo to Home Collection, from Barbiere to the new Signatures of the Sun & Le Nobili, a surprise awaits you behind each door as you countdown to Christmas day.’
Housing £230 worth of ESPA goodies – including bath oils, moisturisers, candles and more – all for just £145, this makes one seriously luxurious gift. The box alone smells like a spa.
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, and the box is ideal to refill and reuse afterwards.
£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 £403.50, including a full-size jar of the coveted Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. 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 great 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.
Considering last year’s No7 advent calendar sold out within 2 days, you’re going to want to get your hands on this one sharpish to avoid disappointment. Plus, look inside for 1 of 10 golden tickets which will secure you £1000 worth of No7 goodies.
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, 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 Malone 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.
Ciaté’s 2020 advent offering holds no less than 22 mini Plant Pots (Ciaté’s all new nail polish, formulated with up to 80 per cent natural origin ingredients, biodegradable glitters and infused with strengthening biotin, nourishing bamboo and hydrating bakuchiol extracts for long-lasting, ultra-glossy results), 1 full size Plant Pot and 1 deluxe mini Watermelon Lip Oil.
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 one 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.
Full of Clarins bestsellers, spanning skincare and make up, this is the advent calendar for any beauty addict or Clarins diehard. Meanwhile, one of very few beauty advent calendars specifically for men, the ClarinsMen advent calendar provides everything a man need to cleanse, moisturise and scrub his way to Christmas and beyond.
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.
Ted Baker’s House of Blooms advent calendar will have you smelling exquisite throughout December and well into the New Year. Filled to the brim with indulgent bathing and beauty treats, as well as some limited edition festive surprises, this is for those who deserve a little ‘me-time’.
Featuring 23 customer favourites (3 being full size products), including Crème de Corps, Ultra Facial Cream, Midnight Recovery Concentrate and the new Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum, you can return the empties to any UK Kiehl’s stores as part of the Recycle and Be Rewarded Scheme.
We always know to set several alarms for the Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar drop because it’s crammed full of full- and travel-size CT beauty and skincare goodies. And just look at that box…
MORRIS & Co
Indulge in hand creams, body lotions, hand washes and more, all featuring one of three signature Morris scents and packaged in beautiful William Morris prints.
Beauty & Seoul
K-beauty fans, listen up, Beauty & Seoul have created the first K-beauty only advent calendar and it includes brands such as Sioris, Heimish, COSRX and Shangpree.
Worth a huge £495, a luxurious beauty product is waiting for you behind every door of this advent calendar, from premium brands such as AVANT, Medik8, ESPA and PRAI.
The ultimate grooming advent calendar for men, Mankind’s 12 Days of Christmas features a wide range of hero brands such as Medik8, AVANT, ESPA and Aveda.
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. There’s also a safari-themed advent biscuit tin for £45.
Fancy a tipple a day this Christmas? Why not, and these wine, beer and fizz advent calendars from John Lewis will help that process along very smoothly indeed.
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 £8 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 2020 advent 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.
Aldi’s much-loved wine calendar is back by popular demand, and at staggeringly good value, too. For those who prefer bubbles, there’s also a Prosecco advent calendar, filled with 24 mini bottles of fizz.
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.
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.
The Snaffling Pig Co.
Pub-lovers rejoice – this advent calendar is filled with a selection of beers and pork crackling snacks to bring the pub vibe to you – minus the sticky carpet.
For tea lovers, it doesn’t get much better than discovering a brand new tea every morning – especially in the cold month of December. Start the day right with a mixture of herbal, citrus and berry flavours, from family favourites to new tastes.
Make every day of Christmas as sweet as the last with a daily new flavour of hot chocolate to try, including salted caramel, rocky road, mint and sticky toffee pudding, as well as the signature classics.
For all those home mixologists, this is the 2020 advent calendar for you. It contains 12 flavour mixers (including elderflower, blood orange, pineapple and more), edible pearls, cocktail shimmers and glass rim sugars to take you all the way through December.
Brighten up each morning with a new brew from Newby Teas: from black and green tea to oolong and herbal infusions.
For those whose days don’t start until they’ve had their morning coffee, Pact’s advent calendar is filled with their delicious 100 per cent specialty grade coffee, which is sourced directly from the farmers.
Gluten-free? No problem, behind each door of Livia’s advent calendar is a delicious gluten-free and vegan treat, from their signature Nugglets and Dunx to gooey millionaire squares in a variety of moreish flavours.
Drinks By The Dram
Whether you’re a gin, whisky, rum or tequila collector or not, these collections of unusual and unheard of spirits specially curated by Drinks By The Dram will elevate your bar cart and cocktail making skills to the next level.
If mince pies are the best thing about Christmas for you, this advent calendar will make the countdown to Christmas even better. Hotly anticipated every year (it sold out within 24 hours last year), this mince pie advent calendar exclusive to Selfridges contains different flavoured mince pies, from classic and almond to chocolate or citrus topped, for every day from 1-25 December.
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.
John Lewis & Partners
Also launching their debut jewellery advent calendar this year is John Lewis, with a selection of 25 semi-precious pieces in a mix of gold and silver. The beautiful marble box is British illustrator Megan St Clair and will make a lovely keepsake even after you’ve opened everything up.
Pets at Home
With Pets at Home’s range of animal-friendly advent calendars, even your four-legged family members needn’t miss out on any of the festive fun this year. They have calendars for dogs, cats and small animals.
Every stationery lover’s dream, each of the 24 boxes (which together look like a stack of books) contains a gorgeously designed stationery item, from a personalised notebook to a writing notecard set, luxury pens, 2021 calendar and gold page markers. And did we mention it can be personalised?
This beautiful box is designed to look like a snow covered Alpine chalet and houses 25 sparkling ornaments, 12 of which are exclusive to this advent calendar.
Perfect for sock lovers (or those who are forever losing them), chose from the women’s or men’s designs and 15 per cent of each sale will be donated to Emmaus UK.
Ever fancied building a retro style radio in 24 days? This advent calendar from MenKind will help you do exactly that. Or for any Friends fans, it doesn’t get much better than an advent calendar filled with festive Friends themed stationary. Both available at MenKind.
Looking to start your own gemstone collection or just interested to know your amethyst from your agate? This unique advent calendar will introduce you to a new gemstone every day – educational and fun!
For all the Yankee Candle fans out there, this calendar contains 23 scented tea light candles and 1 votive candle in the best festive fragrances, from Christmas Cookie™, Candlelit Cabin and Evergreen Mist to Cinnamon Stick, Red Apple Wreath and Christmas Eve®. With each tea light burning for 8 hours and the votive for 15 hours, that’s nearly 200 hours of Christmas smells.
Want to start a new hobby of sewing or looking to bulk out your existing sewing kit? Hemline’s sewing accessories advent calendar will make it a crafty Christmas. As alternative advent calendars go, this is pretty cute.
It might be pricy, but OTO’s world-first 12-day advent calendar is full of £500 worth of CBD products, from botanical seltzers and sleep drops to pillow mists and face masks. Have an extremely calm Christmas.
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…