The countdown to Christmas is always a good excuse to indulge, and what better way than to start each day with a treat to get into the festive spirit? This year at Tasting Britain, we went all out and did a roundup of our favourite Advent calendars of the season.
Aside from the traditional chocolate, food and drink producers have provided plenty of options to delight even those with the most obscure tastes. From booze to herbal teas, mince pies and even pork scratchings – we have tried it all.
Divine 70% Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar
This Advent calendar is the perfect choice for those who prefer the rich, indulgent taste of dark chocolate. Divine again try and deliver a responsible message with an enchanting illustration of a winter woodland scene and a commitment to donating 3p of every calendar sold to the Woodland Trust. Behind every window, along with a slab of intensely flavoured dark chocolate, is a fact about British wildlife.
Divine chocolate pledges sustainable practises, which makes its chocolate guilt-free and another reason to love this calendar. It is certified by the vegan society and its environmental credentials are featured on the back of the pack. Divine is also palm-oil free, and says it is committed to sustainable farming, only using recyclable FSC paper and card – all things that embrace the Christmas spirit.
The calendar can be bought from Divine for £5 and other ethical food stores.
PAUL Chocolate Advent Calendar
French artisan bakery and patisserie PAUL’s offering is deceptively small in appearance but opens out into a wonderful spread of milk, white and dark chocolate options. Beautifully packaged, the calendar features an illustration of a Parisian family getting ready for Christmas. Behind every window is a little square of chocolate featuring Santas, penguins or festive trees. The chocolates are great quality, not too sweet and very moreish!
The calendar hit PAUL stores on November 28 and can be bought for £14.95
Divine FAIRTRADE Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
Another Divine calendar we couldn’t leave off of the list, this will be a favourite for the youngsters out there with a more traditional vibe. This calendar gets into the spirit of Christmas with its FAIRTRADE chocolate and richly detailed Nativity scene, illustrated by Stephen Waterhouse. Behind every window, Waterhouse’s 10th calendar for Divine reveals the story of Christmas and the bean-to-bar journey from Kuapa Kokoo to the UK, helping children to understand where their chocolate comes from. The calendar also embraces international cultures with a ‘Merry Christmas’ in different languages from countries where the chocolate is sold or sourced.
The calendar is backed by Christian Aid and Comic Relief and also has a FAIRTRADE board game on the back. For value for money and a traditional, but responsible Christmas message about sustainability and togetherness, this is our pick of the bunch.
The calendar can be bought from Divine for £4 and other ethical food stores.
Swizzle’s Advent Calendar
People wishing to avoid chocolate and dairy needn’t fear – brand new for Christmas 2017, Swizzels has launched a Santa’s workshop-themed advent calendar featuring favourites such as Drumstick Squashies, Refreshers and Love Hearts.
This is a good alternative for those with a sweet tooth, but the idea of opening some of the windows to find nothing behind them may upset the faint hearted (or encourage, as with us) you to open the whole calendar in one day to get your fix.
The Swizzle’s Calendar’s RRP is £5 and it is available from Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
The Jelly Belly Advent Calendar
This offering from Jelly Belly is bound to put people in a good mood. What’s not to like about a 10g mini bag of jelly beans to greet you every day? People can countdown the days to Christmas with a selection of favourite flavours from Green Apple to Very Cherry, with an extra special surprise behind the Christmas Eve window.
RRP is £16 and you can find it at fine retailers and www.jellybelly.co.uk.
Jelly Belly BeanBoozled Naughty Or Nice Advent Calendar
This was another one that couldn’t escape a mention. Harry Potter fans will be transported to the Hogwarts Express with this Bertie Botts-like game of every flavour bean. The Naughty Or Nice Advent calendar pairs 10 wacky flavours are paired with 10 more conventionally tasty lookalikes, so the only way to know what flavour you have is to eat it.
Perhaps only for the brave, flavours range from canned dog food and spoilt milk to chocolate pudding and coconut – a definite conversation starter and one for those who like to start their day with a risk!
RRP is £16 and you can find it at fine retailers and www.jellybelly.co.uk.
Beer Hawk Craft Beer Advent Calendar
This advent calendar is great for beer lovers who want to discover new brews and revisit favourite names. While the contents of the calendar are a strict surprise, fans can expect porter, lambic and saisons from what Beer Hawk promises are the “world’s best breweries at the moment.” To ramp up the excitement, some of these are exclusive to Beer Hawk’s calendar so aficionados won’t be disappointed.
With a choice of up to 17 styles of beer, from seven different countries and 23 breweries for the price – we think this calendar is unbeatable value.
RRP is £65 and can be found at beerhawk.co.uk.
That Boutique-y Gin Calendar
In the past few years we have been inundated with Gin calendars of all kinds. This year juniper fans can get their fix from the likes of John Lewis and Firebox. But Tasting Britain thinks That Boutique-y Gin Advent calendar, in partnership with Drinks by Dram, is definitely one of the most interesting – and brand new for 2017.
Every day in the lead up to Christmas, a 3cl bottle of gin from some of the most diverse and finest artisan distillers is hidden behind every window – including a gin made with botanicals from space!
RRP is £99.95 and the calendar can be ordered from masterofmalt.com
Pukka Advent Calendar
This advent calendar is perfect for people looking for a December detox before Christmas and New Year festivities, or those looking to wind down in the evenings of the most social month of the year. Pukka Herbs have specially curated a selection of 24 bestselling teas including Tumeric Gold, Matcha Green and Night Time. All of Pukka’s teas have been expertly blended by Pukka Herbs co-founder and Master Herbsmith, Sebastian Pole and each tea is illustrated with a word like “relax” or “love” to demonstrate its purpose.
That way, people can just go with the tea that best suits their feelings that moment, if they don’t want to pick the tea corresponding to that day. Festive favourites include Wild Apple and Cinnamon and Vanilla Chai. We really, really enjoyed this calendar for bringing a little note of calm and warmth to these hectic, winter days.
All Pukka Herbs products are ethically sourced via sustainable means from many different regions around the world, so this is another calendar with a socially responsible Christmas sentiment.
The Pukka Advent Calendar is available to order online at www.pukkaherbs.com in independent health food stores with an RRP of £7.99.
Snaffling Pig Advent Calendar
This was a personal favourite – being a huge longstanding fan of Snaffling Pig’s wonderful pork crackling, I was delighted to discover they had released a calendar for 2017. Hidden behind each festive window is a 10g of porky goodness. It is very hard to stick to one packet a day as these are incredibly addictive – and a perfect accompaniment to the Beer Hawk calendar! Each mini bag comes as one of a mix of six flavours from the tangy Salt and Vinegar and the lightly spiced Pigs in Blankets, to the sweet and salty Maple.
The calendar is available from www.snafflingpig.co.uk with an RRP of £17.50.
Selfridges Mince Pie Calendar
There can never be too many mince pies during the holiday season, but Selfridges has made sure we get a daily dose as the bare minimum in the 12-day lead up to Christmas. Selfridges Selections are made to an original recipe that was rediscovered in 1929, with a traditional mix of sticky fruits, candied peel and of course, whiskey. According to Selfridges, Advent dates dictate that people tuck into the first on December 3rd but early starters are free from judgement as we are right there with them!
RRP is £25 and the calendar can be bought in Selfridges and its online store.
The Little Treats Bakery’s Elf & Seek Calendar
Not so much a calendar, but a great activity for young children, Elf & Seek comprises 24 gingerbread elves which get hidden around the house to be found and devoured. While this may throw up confusing questions about Santa’s workers’ welfare and existentialism for some of our younger readers – we here at Tasting Britain love a bit of gingerbread and can certainly overlook this for something a bit different.
Elf & Seek Festive Countdown has an RRP £10.00 and can be ordered from Amazon
Sous Chef’s The Big Chilli Advent Calendar
The Big Chilli Advent Calendar is bound to spice things up this Christmas with a selection of 24 different chillies from around the world. This calendar will show there is so much more to the humble chilli than heat with a variety of flavour profiles from around the world. From the mild Mexican Pasilla to smoky Chipotle, and the world’s hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper – the best part of this calendar is the accompanying recipes which show budding chefs how to get the most of each chilli they uncover.
As well as a great opportunity to move away from traditional food for something out of the comfort zone – this calendar is educational as well.
The Big Chilli Advent Calendar is available at souschef.co.uk for £35