December is nearly upon us and so some of you will be opening the first door of your advent calendar this week. But what will you find behind it?
A taster of craft beer? A pork scratching? Some luxury beauty products? Yes, Christmas 2017 is clearly the year of the alternative advent calendar.
As a child, the closest most of my friends and I got to an advent calendar was if we followed the instructions on Blue Peter and made our own out of old Christmas cards.
In fairness, some would have an old one that was brought down from the loft year on year. The doors just about still hanging on and almost certainly revealing the Christmassy scene behind.
Sometime in the early 1990s, when my nephew was on the scene, chocolate-filled calendars appeared in supermarkets. And as various relatives bought him one (and did so every year until he left for university), he was guaranteed a pre-breakfast chocolate treat for 24 days on the trot.
Christmas shopping in Topshop in the late Noughties, I was drawn to a box containing 24 windows and each one stuffed with jewellery. Struck by how novel it was, I racked my brains as to who I could buy it for, before realising that it would be 25 days out of date by the time Christmas arrived.
Event of advent
Since then, I’ve noticed various permutations on the idea. There have been advent calendars for beer/gin/prosecco/whisky lovers, featuring 24 miniature cans or bottles, and those stuffed with two dozen clothing accessories for fashionistas who frequent high-street stores.
But this year, alternative advent calendars seem to be everywhere. And just like festive-themed food, these advent calendars are getting ever more inventive.
Asda is doing an advent calendar for cheese lovers; Greggs is selling one stuffed with tokens you can swap for baked goods; John Lewis has one for fans of pork scratchings and Selfridges offers one filled with mince pies.
There are even advent calendars for pets.
And if you like your beauty products you’re really spoilt for choice, with seemingly every brand and chain store you can think of jumping on this advent calendar craze.
Given that the cost of some of the more high-end luxury calendars can run into three figures, are they actually worth buying?
Many who bought YouTube sensation Zoella’s 12 days of Christmas advent calendar didn’t think so. The vlogger’s collaboration with Boots was on sale for £50 but was found to contain about only £20 worth of goods – leaving many feeling understandably ripped off.
imagine paying £50 for the Zoella Advent Calendar to get some stickers and a pen :/
— alicia (@alicia_mccaig) November 16, 2017
Here we have The Advent of Amazing Value at Poundland… pic.twitter.com/BAQcf9CZ9P
— Poundland (@Poundland) November 14, 2017
A separate investigation found that chocolate-filled calendars selling for £2 can contain as little as 70p worth of chocolate… Ebenezer Scrooge springs to mind.
Do you have an advent calendar to count down Christmas? Have you bought an alternative one this year? Or have you noticed any particularly extravagant or unusual ones for sale? Do you like them or do you think they’re totally unnecessary?