Whether you’ve had a year like Meghan Markle or a year like Hillary Clinton, it’s December, so it’s time to show some holiday cheer. Do it for the children, at least.
But oh, what if you could relish every day of the countdown to the holidays, like a child again? Luckily, because adults are the new children, you can. Advent calendars stuffed with your favorite chocolates, beauty products, candles, socks, and booze have become a thing, for grownup grumps like you and me who need treats to keep us going.
If you (like me) aren’t from a culture that had advent calendars, you may be unfamiliar with the concept. The advent calendar is traditionally a countdown calendar to Christmas. Liturgical advent calendars begin on the first Sunday of Advent, which in 2017 is this Sunday, but many begin on Dec. 1. Generations of children have been satisfied with advent calendars that offered a tiny cheap chocolate in a flimsy cardboard container each day—or even just a picture of a scene from the Bible.
Now, advent calendars are a big business for brands looking to squeeze the most out of the holidays, and they’re a great gift to yourself to get through this sometimes-scary season. Here are some of our favorites—many of which offer novel (and surprisingly useful) new takes on the traditional concept.
A season of Korean skincare
AmorePacific My 12 Days of Botanical Beauty ($55)
How about counting down to better skin with a 12-step skincare routine? South Korean beauty conglomerate AmorePacific is the world’s 14th largest beauty company and has invented several of the mainstream beauty products that you see in Sephora today, such as cushion compact foundations. These 12 mini skincare products (de rigueur in K-beauty) range from an enzyme peel to a botanical sunscreen.
An exercise in self-restraint
Beer Advent Calendar ($80)
I mean, a 12-pack of beer already is an advent calendar of sorts, so you’re really just paying for the festive packaging. The beers are numbered, which means you’re only allowed to drink one per day. So, er, not sure if that counts as a treat or not. Maybe buy a regular 12-pack as a supplement.
A year of cozy feet
Corgi Sock Advent Calendar ($495)
As a kid, you probably thought socks were a lame gift. But oh how wrong you were. Imagine waking up to a fresh pair of knit socks in fair-isle and festive patterns for 24 days with this Mr. Porter exclusive. Bonus: on Christmas Eve, your socks are cashmere blend. Now, just don’t lose any in the laundry.
An elixir a day
Susanne Kaufmann Advent Calendar ($170)
This botanical advent calendar contains everything you need to transform your home into the luxury spa-meets-log cabin of your dreams. (What? You don’t have those dreams?) There are teas for drinking, salts for bathing, butters for moisturizing, and oils for cleansing. Just read the labels: Don’t eat your foot cream.
A very extended whiskey flight
Drinks by the Dram Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar ($169)
‘Tis the season to be jolly, indeed. Behind each of these 24 doors, you’ll find a little bottle of Scotch, from single malt to blends. Think of it as a gradual, slow-paced whisky tasting. And behind one door, there’s a 50-year Scotch. Pace yourself.
Williams Sonoma Chocolate Advent Calendar ($10)
Because sometimes all you want is a taste of childhood. This vintage-style calendar, made to look like the supermarket versions of yore, provides 24 little milk chocolates. The good kind.