Best unusual Advent calendars for foodies 2023: chocolate, coffee, alcohol and more
Read our round-up of the best alternative Advent calendars, including gin, coffee and beer, plus the best chocolate Advent calendars for traditionalists
There's no better way to get the Christmas season started than with a festive Advent calendar. Count down to the big day with a classic chocolate version, or discover one of our favourite alternatives.
Advent calendars are becoming more inventive than ever, and we tested all the alternative buys for foodies to find our favourites. We tested the calendars based on taste, look, innovation, practicality and cost. We'll be adding plenty more calendars to this round-up as the season continues and we discover new launches.
We've split our round-up into categories: classic chocolate picks (with everything from budget-friendly options to luxurious truffles), tea, coffee and hot chocolate, sweet alternatives (think marshmallows, jam and more), savoury calendars, alcohol calendars and a luxury selection of up to £210 for anyone wanting to push the boat out this festive season. We also have a selection of calendars for under £10, to prove you don't always have to break the bank to get 24 days of treats.
For more than 400 buyer's guides, visit our reviews section to find the ultimate foodie gift guide and our 5o budget Christmas gifts. Discover more Christmas gifting inspiration with our best Christmas hampers, gin gifts or best baking gifts.
Best alternative and unusual Advent calendars for foodies 2023
Jump to section:
- Advent calendars under £10
- Tea, coffee and hot chocolate Advent calendars
- Sweet alternative Advent calendars
- Savoury alternative Advent calendars
- Alcohol Advent calendars
- Chocolate Advent calendars
- Luxury Advent calendars
Cadbury Dairy Milk Advent Calendar
Kicking off with a classic, this simple Cadbury's calendar is surely what comes to mind when you think back to being a child at Christmas? It's a bargain, it's simple and it's a challenge to not tear open more than one window at a time. This year Cadbury have also launched a wider range of calendars including a Heroes calendar and Chunk Calendar for a bit more variety.
Candy Kittens Advent Calendar
Swap chocolate for sweets in this new calendar from Candy Kittens. Each door contains two, so there's the possibility to share, plus on Christmas Eve there is a full-size bag to pass around. Flavours include Wild Strawberry, Eton Mess and the new sour Shox range.
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M&S Colin the Caterpillar Advent calendar
- Available from Ocado (£6), M&S in-store
The iconic Colin the Caterpillar has been transformed into an Advent calendar that's sure to be a hit with the kids. Open a Colin chocolate each day with a whole bag for Christmas Day. Plus, there are games on the back to keep them occupied.
Reese's Gravity Advent calendar
- Available from Reese's (£8)
One of our favourite Advent calendar designs of 2023, this fun calendar has a built in wheel you spin each day to release your peanut butter cup down the slide and pop out at the bottom. There are two flavours inside.
Haribo Advent tree sweets calendar
- Available from Ocado (£6)
A calendar and rainy afternoon crafting activity in one, this Haribo calendar requires some set up. Build the cardboard tree and miniature boxes to hide each mini packet of sweets in, including Tangfastics, Strawberries and Starmix.
M&S Choc Corn Advent calendar
- Available from Ocado (£9), M&S in-store
This chunky calendar has a unique offering of chocolate popcorn clusters behind each door – they're pretty moreish so opening one door at a time is a struggle! On the final day, you'll open a generous chocolate popcorn slab.
Milkybar white chocolate Advent calendar
Keep it simple with this bargain white chocolate calendar. Open a creamy square of white chocolate each day and make a Santa decoration using the cut-out on the back.
Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme Advent calendar
Most chocolate Advent calendars reveal the same behind every door, but this Hershey's calendar has three different styles of cookies 'n' creme chocolate to open, including a mini bar for Christmas Eve.
Grind Advent calendar
- Available from Grind (£28)
New from Grind, this pretty-in-pink compact calendar feels like good value for coffee lovers. There's a compostable pod behind each window up until Christmas Eve, then two pods of their limited-edition festive blend for sharing on Christmas Day.
Bird & Blend tea Advent calendar
- Available from Bird & Blend (£38)
Make a tea break more interesting with this calendar packed with fun unusual teas. Every colourful drawer contains two teabags, so you can share the fun, too. We loved that there are a whopping 24 flavours of tea within the calendar, so no repeats, with quirky flavours ranging from chocolate digestives to strawberry lemonade. The calendar is 100% plastic-free and there’s a caffeine-free option, too.
Bird & Blend (£38)
Volcano Coffee Works Coffee Advent calendar
- Available from Volcano Coffee Works (£54.95)
While not in traditional calendar form, this Advent gift box has a luxurious feel. Coffee connoisseurs will be in heaven as soon they open it with rich aromas filling the senses. It contains 12 generous 100g bags of Volcano coffee to enjoy (including limited edition festive blends), so plenty to keep you going all season. (You can choose between whole bean or ground coffee.)
Volcano Coffee Works (£54.95)
Artisan Coffee Co. hanging coffee calendar
This coffee calendar has an unusual fold-out design that divided opinion – there are no doors to open, so no mystery. However, we love the quality of the coffee. There are six different styles to try, from The Genius, which was rich and fruity, to The Heroine, with notes of caramel and hazelnut.
English Tea Shop Christmas Night organic teabag Advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£12.18)
A tea calendar doesn’t have to break the bank. This compact version has minimal packaging and is great value at under £15. We liked the sweet ribbon on the door. You get one teabag a day but there’s an impressive range of styles in here, from seasonal Gingerbread Treat to classic rooibos, fruit and mint teas.
Bird & Blend matcha tea Advent calendar
- Available from Bird & Blend (£52)
A twist on a classic tea calendar, this is dedicated to all things matcha. We love the vibrant green design (of course, it’s matcha) and the compact shape, containing over £60 worth of matcha. It’s not just plain matcha either – there’s peaches and cream matcha, toffee apple or Nordic berry. There’s enough for two cups in each mini tin and it’s all plastic-free.
Bird & Blend (£52)
Blue Goose Coffee Pod Advent Calendar
A brilliant coffee option for those with a coffee pod machine, this contains 24 Nespresso-compatible, compostable pods that are all ethically-sourced and organic-certified – it was even the winner of the Soil Association’s 'Best of New Organic Food & Drink Products’ at the 2023 BOOM Awards. Each of the seven unique coffees has a strong sustainability story.
Selfridges Festive mini mince pie Advent calendar
- Available from Selfridges (£39.99)
This is the perfect Advent calendar for the person who starts buying mince pies in September. This luxurious red chest is filled with drawers (with signature Selfridges yellow ribbon) hiding four different types of adorably miniature mince pies, from classic to chocolate or citrus. As an extra treat, day 25 is a miniature Christmas cake, so the treats don’t stop on Christmas Eve.
Joe & Seph's 'Find Joe & Seph' popcorn Advent calendar
A great one for sharing, this fun calendar contains 14 different flavours of popcorn in mini bags. There are classic flavours (such as caramel and double chocolate) and festive spins, including candy cane and buck's fizz. You also have the bonus of an illustrated puzzle where you'll have most of December to try and spot the company founders among a Christmas crowd scene...
Tiptree Jam Advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£29.90)
Breakfast just got more interesting with this calendar. The affectionately named ‘Jam Bus’ has a fun design and contains eight different classic jams (including two marmalades). We love the Little Scarlet strawberry and sweet Morello cherry. The 42g jar sizes are also pleasingly bigger than we expected.
Pip & Nut Advent calendar
This large calendar is covered in gold-embossed illustrations that are fun and chic. There are a mixture of individually wrapped peanut butter and almond cups behind each door, all coated in dark chocolate and all impressively large – no tiny doors here.
Maoam Advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£15.95)
For when 24 doors isn't enough (or even 25!), this sweets-filled calendar has a whopping 31 doors to open, taking you beyond Christmas and all the way up to New Year's Eve! There's a varied selection of Maoam sweets included inside, from the classic stripes, to chewy blocks and sour pinballs.
Walkers The Shortbread Advent Calendar
Make your elevenses or afternoon tea break a little sweeter with this traditional shortbread calendar from Walkers. Each door of the festive street scene contains a different buttery shortbread shape, including choc chip and salted caramel flavours.
American sweets Advent calendar
- Available from Amazon (£26.99)
This interesting calendar is ideal for a sweet tooth looking to try something new. We love the quirky design, but inside is the true fun – each door hides a different American sweet that may usually be hard to track down in the UK. Enjoy sour Nerds or Toxic Waste, chewy Laffy Taffy and much more.
Naked Marshmallow boozy gourmet marshmallow Advent calendar
For the person who can’t get enough of s’mores in summer, this calendar is sure to please. We tried both the classic and boozy versions, and the latter is our favourite. Each door opens with an explanation of the flavour behind it and we enjoyed all six, with a balanced level of booze that’s not too strong. The raspberry and prosecco is standout. For £3.95 extra, you can get either calendar complete with a mini marshmallow toaster so you can get building s’mores every day – and this little extra also makes it a great gift.
SugarSin 24 Days of Assorted Sugarsin Treats
- Available from SugarSin (from £30)
This compact sweets calendar was a surprise hit during our testing. The pretty double-door teal design has 24 drawers, altogether offering a wide variety of treats, including fudge, truffles and sweets, plus more unusual ones we hadn’t seen before from across the world. It is expensive but perfect for someone with a sweet tooth and a sense of adventure.
SugarSin (from £30)
Barebells Advent calendar
- Available from Barebells (£54.90)
We love the vintage American-inspired design of this chunky calendar. One for the gym nut trying to stick to a healthy routine during December, it's filled with a protein bar to open each day. The selection includes six limited-edition flavours exclusive to the calendar, such as rocky road and berry liquorice.
Abel & Cole The 12 Days of Organic Christmas calendar
- Available from Abel & Cole (£45)
This lifestyle calendar contains a wide range of food, drink and beauty products. We loved the vibrant yellow design, and despite the generously sized fillings, it still feels compact so won’t take over your whole kitchen. Contents include a Green People Intensive repair shampoo, chutney, teabags, shortbread and more. It is a more expensive option (for just 12 days, not 24) but it still felt good value for money, plus the price includes a £5 donation to charity. (Available from the 9 October.)
Abel & Cole (£45)
Just Spices large Advent calendar
- Available from Just Spices (£99.99)
Swap sweets for the joy of cooking over the Christmas period with this quirky calendar filled with unusual spice mixes. A full-size tin is hidden behind each door, including bolognese seasoning, pizza topping and banana bread seasoning, with a QR code on each door for recipe inspiration. Out of two options, the larger size comes with a cookbook. Admittedly, 24 new tins of spice mix will take up room in the storecupboard, but this is a fun way to inspire a novice cook or new homeowner, and there’s a smaller version, at £29.99, that contains sachets instead of tins.
Just Spices (£99.99)
Freixenet and Friends Wine & Fizz Advent Calendar
Make the most of party season with this decadent calendar filled with bottles, a collaboration between Freixenet, I Heart Wines, Mionetto and Mouton Cadet. Discover 12 still wines (red, white and rosé) and 12 sparkling, including four non-alcoholic bottles.
Fever-Tree Gin & Tonic calendar
A fun way to have a boozy Advent calendar without being overwhelmed with minis – this offering from tonic experts Fever Tree combines 12 miniature gins (from brands such as Sipsmith and Hayman's) with 12 miniature tonics in a range of flavours, so you can build your pairings across the 24 doors.
That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent calendar
- Available from Master of Malt (£59.95), Drinks by the Dram (£69.95), Not on the High Street (£74.95)
The colourful house design of this calendar hides an exciting array of gins. There are 24 different flavours in 30ml wax-sealed drams. Our highlights were the novelty flavours that Boutique-y Gin Company is known for, with 13 new recipes this year including blood orange, bakewell tart and Christmas pudding gin. There are also plenty of plain gins from a variety of distilleries around the world, so there’s something for everyone.
Virgin Wines Advent calendar
- Available from Virgin Wines (£89.99)
This is one for the wine buff. Virgin Wines have three wine Advent calendars on offer – all-red, all-white or mixed – each containing 24 x 287ml bottles, with a full size bottle to open on Christmas Day. Discover new wines from across the world and learn more about your favourite styles.
Virgin Wines (£89.99)
Craft Gin Advent Calendar
- Available from Craft Gin Club (£94.95)
A luxury calendar for the gin lover in your life, this offering from Craft Gin Club contains a generous 25 50ml gins, including seven that are exclusive to Craft Gin Club. Festive offerings include Mince Pie Gin and Stollen Gin along with plenty of other flavoured and classic gins. A great way to discover a new favourite tipple or distillery. There's also the option to purchase a pairings bundle of mixers and garnishes, too.
Craft Gin Club (£94.95)
Gin in a Tin, Twelve Days of Gin in a Tin Advent calendar
- Available from Sous Chef (£49.99)
Now, it’s controversial whether this truly counts as an Advent calendar. The 12 miniature tins of gin are revealed at once within the cardboard box – no doors to open. We would have loved a little more mystery and excitement, but still, this calendar does deliver intrigue in new flavours of gin and we liked the smart stripy packaging. It would make a great gift for a gin connoisseur, although it is pricey.
Sous Chef (£49.99)
Looking for more ideas? See more alcohol Advent calendars from our sister title, olive magazine.
Tony's Chocolonely countdown calendar
Feel good about your chocolate choice with this towering calendar. The ethical principles stack up quickly: Tony’s is committed to reducing slavery in chocolate production, the cocoa used is all Fairtrade, free from palm oil and has no plastic packaging. It’s filled with ‘Tiny Tonys’ in 10 signature flavours and the inside of each door bears a mission statement. You get an extra chocolate on one day, and another where it’s all about the mission.
Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate Advent calendar
- Available from Hotel Chocolat (£13)
Here’s a classic filled with mini chocolates in fun festive shapes, and Hotel Chocolat also offers variations for dark, white or even unique caramel chocolate or nutmilk (made with hazelnuts) for vegans.
Hotel Chocolat (£13)
Chococo Countdown Advent calendar
- Available from Chococo (£27.50)
This luxury calendar is like no other. Looking like a chic box of chocolates, it offers milk, dark, gold and oat milk chocolates. The numbered box shows you the order to eat them in, with flavours getting progressively more boozy to get you in the party mood by Christmas. Flavours include festive spins as well as classics, such as fizzy pudding, chai spice, a rich molasses and brown butter caramel. A plant-based edition is also available.
Love Cocoa Luxury Chocolate Neapolitan Advent Calendar
- Available from Love Cocoa (£15)
For a chocolate Advent calendar that feels special but won't break the bank, look to Love Cocoa. Behind each door is a chocolate square in one of four flavours: salted caramel, sea salt dark chocolate, Colombian milk or dark gingerbread chocolate. Plus, it is completely plastic-free, the chocolate is ethically sourced and one tree is planted for every calendar bought.
Love Cocoa (£15)
PLAYin Choc 24-Day Advent calendar
This charming calendar means no kid has to be left out: the chocolate inside is all dairy-, nut-, gluten- and soy-free, catering to allergies. Not only that, but the eco-friendly calendar has an extra-special design: the outer sleeve opens into a playmat, and every door contains a toy along with the chocolate, for hours of festive fun. A 12-day calendar is also available.
Hotel Chocolat The Advent Calendar For Two
One for the romantics: every door of this calendar contains two Hotel Chocolat truffles made for sharing. The double-door design opens up wide and contains a range of flavours to try, from festive gingerbread praline to salted caramel cream or fruity raspberry rush.
Lindt Lindor pick & mix Advent calendar
- Available from Lindt (£15)
This is the only calendar we've seen that you can fully personalise – perfect if you know exactly what you want. For this pick & mix calendar from Lindt, you can choose from 24 truffle flavours (including some more unusual ones, such as mango white chocolate or popcorn milk chocolate) – meaning you can have no repeats if you'd like to try them all, or you can go big on your favourite flavours.
Salcombe Dairy butter caramel Advent calendar
- Available from Salcombe Dairy (£20)
If you want to support an independent business this Christmas, we love this adorable chocolate caramel calendar from Salcombe Dairy. It has a pretty vintage design, and behind each door is a smooth butter caramel truffle coated in a milk chocolate shell. One for fans of classic flavours.
Salcombe Dairy (£20)
Wickedly Welsh Chocolate Advent calendar
- Available from Wickedly Welsh (£19.99)
This simple calendar feels more like a box of chocolates than a calendar. Each door tells you what chocolate is inside, with a wide variety of flavours to keep the intrigue going all month.
Wickedly Welsh (£19.99)
Melt London The 12 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar
- Available from Melt London (£49.99)
We love the design of this open-book style calendar with pretty illustrated doors. Although there are only 12 doors inside, each one contains a 45g luxury bar so there's plenty to keep you going. Flavours include pistachio blonde chocolate, 70% chilli dark chocolate and gianduja chocolate, plus there's a vegan option.
Melt London (£49.99)
HAPPi Advent calendar
- Available from HAPPi (£15)
A great pick for vegans, this colourful calendar contains oat milk chocolate made from single-origin Colombian cocoa and is sure to please kids and adults alike. The calendar is plastic-free too.
The Cartwright and Butler Advent calendar
- Available from Cartwright and Butler (£210)
Instead of a Christmas hamper, splash out on this truly decadent Advent calendar to make all of December feel special. You’ll need plenty of space for this extra-large festive red box (54 x 43 x 23cm), with double doors opening to reveal 24 sliding drawers filled with indulgent full-size treats from across the Cartwright & Butler range. There are plenty of biscuits – including cranberry crumbles and demerara shortbread – but there’s lots more to discover, with hot chocolate, sweets, jam, cheesy crackers, prosecco and fudge all involved. An exceptional gift for someone who deserves a treat, or just enjoy with your family all month long. The struggle will be resisting opening all the drawers on day one.
Cartwright and Butler (£210)
Paxton & Whitfield artisan cheese Advent calendar
- Available from Paxton & Whitfield (£150)
Blow the budget with the ultimate Advent calendar for cheese lovers. There's a 75g wedge of artisan cheese to enjoy each day, and it arrives in three separate deliveries throughout December for maximum freshness. The cheese is sent fully insulated via a carbon-neutral delivery service. From classic festive stilton and gruyère to unique British and European finds, make December the ultimate cheese discovery journey.
Paxton & Whitfield (£150)
Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent calendar
- Available from Hotel Chocolat (£75)
For the chocoholic wanting to go all-out this Christmas, Hotel Chocolat has you sorted. £75 may seem a lot to pay for a chocolate Advent calendar, but this huge one offers a lot more than just a daily truffle. From mini bottles of cacao gin and chocolate liqueur to plenty of different flavours of chocolate batons, truffles, mini chocolate crackers and even a lip balm, this is a tour de force of the entire Hotel Chocolat range, where everything has been supersized for festive decadence.
Hotel Chocolat (£75)
Fortnum & Mason Feasting Advent Calendar
- Available from Fortnum & Mason (£200)
Fortnum & Mason instantly signals luxury, and this calendar is certainly that. We love the design that makes a colourful statement all December long, and enjoyed discovering each of the different-sized drawers. Inside you'll find a selection of chutneys, jams, biscuits, teas and more – including several doors hiding miniature alcohol, from English cassis to Christmas gin, and an extra-special treat for Christmas Eve.
Fortnum & Mason (£200)
Daylesford Organic farmshop Advent calendar
- Available from Daylesford Organic (£250)
The most expensive calendar on our list this year, this is definitely a luxury, but it's a memorable treat from the beginning. The large calendar will be a centrepiece in front of the mantelpiece all month, and it can easily be reused next year. What stood out to us was the generous size of the contents within each of the 25 drawers (no miniatures here), plus the variety – from jam and chutney to tea, coffee, chocolates and even homewares with a candle and Christmas decorations.
Daylesford Organic (£250)
Honeywell Biscuit Co jar of Advent biscuits
A baked alternative to a classic Advent calendar, this jar is filled with buttery biscuits that are each intricately iced and numbered in festive designs, including penguins and baubles. Pricey, but it makes a lovely Christmas gift.
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This review was last updated in October 2023. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org