Remember the advent calendars of yore? Those perforated cardboard containers with squares of waxy milk chocolate waiting patiently inside?
Well, in case you missed it, advent calendars have grown up. A lot. And this year, it’s fair to say that this once modest and devotional Christmas tradition is as indulgent, expensive, and over-the-top as it can possibly get.
It’s worth noting that, even before advent calendars were filled with waxy chocolate, they were a tradition that had nothing to do with treats or gifts. Rather, it was invented by German protestants as a way to mark the four weeks prior to Christmas, usually by lighting a candle or making a chalk mark on a door. This evolved into hanging a devotional image on a wooden board for each day. Then, printed advent calendars arose in Germany in the early 1900s, with the small doors invented by Gerhard Lang in the 1920s. (Lang got the idea from the cookies his mother used to sew to a box cover for him to enjoy one at a time in the days before Christmas.)
That’s a far cry from the gin, cheese, luxury candles, beauty products, and wine you’ll find on the other side of today’s little cardboard squares. Indeed, if you indulge in some of the advent calendars on offer, it’s hard to see how you’ll have any money or appetite leftover to enjoy Christmas when it finally arrives.
Here’s a round-up of advent calendars that prove we cannot get much more extra than 2018.
Who doesn’t want to drink gin and cheese every single day leading up to the holidays, when you will proceed, presumably, to consume even more gin and cheese? Both offered by the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s—the gin for £60 ($76), the cheese for £10—they will ensure you reach the holidays full to the brim.
Vinebox calls itself the “world’s first wine advent calendar.” Except the attractive looking box—which contains 12, glass-sized vials of wine—won’t really last for all of advent, just whatever 12 days you fancy a glass leading up to Christmas. You choose which types of wines you enjoy, and are posted a curated selection of bold reds and crisp whites to accompany your cozy fireside moments over the holiday. At roughly $10 per glass, let’s hope they’re very well curated.
If someone gets you a Diptyque candle for Christmas, you’ve done quite well. If someone gets you a Diptyque advent calendar, you should consider returning it and taking cash value instead. It’s true that the Parisian candle-maker does make divine smelling candles, but $425 for 15 mini candles, seven personal fragrances and two body care products—plus a “limited edition surprise”—is a truly astounding amount of cash for a novelty item. Let’s hope the surprise it comes with is the rest of your Christmas shopping.
Who wouldn’t appreciate 25 mini bottles of O.P.I. nail polish inspired by the Nutcracker? At $49.95, it’s available from US beauty retailer Ulta, but should be gifted only to someone who has ample time to paint their nails many different festive shades during the month of December.
At least this over-the-top chocolate advent calendar is going slightly back towards tradition. A prize for a contest being put on by After Eight, purveyor of minty-chocolate squares, it is somewhat of an architectural marvel. Inspired by Big Ben, the product is also available on Amazon for £18.29.