Here at the Frenchgate we’re starting to feel all Christmassy, we don’t know about any of you? And where better to start then advent calendars. They have seriously blown up over the last few years - they are EVERYWHERE. Every possible passion you might have, we guarantee there’s an advent calendar for it… or there will be soon! While doing our research round the Frenchgate Centre we took photos of 50 (yes 50!) different advent calendars - far too much to write about. So we’ve decided to pick out our top 20 in the 5 main categories: chocolate and sweets, beauty and grooming, drinks, toys and miscellaneous. All can be picked up from different stores around the centre ranging from budget to splurge. What will your pick be?
Chocolate and Sweets
First up is the classic – chocolate and sweets. Quickly being overtaken by the glamorous newbie that is beauty, but one that is still holding on. Rather than getting those MASSIVE tins this year, why not get a Quality Street advent calendar for £4.99 from WH Smith. All your favourites can be found behind 24 doors as you count down to the big day… and if you get a big tin too, well, we won’t tell if you don’t.
With the rise of us Brit’s nicking America’s sweets, of course there is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup calendar available exclusively at Debenhams for £15. Ring in each day with a mini peanut butter cup and enjoy a hot choccie on the day in your very own Reese’s mug.
No list of chocolates would be complete without an offering from Thornton’s, they have 5 available in the Frenchgate store with some incredible offers like 2 for £10 or 5 for £20 but our fave is the Large Snowman and Snowdog one. A nod to the staple Christmas film, this larger version includes 24 little chocs for each day, followed by 3 adorable milk chocolate snowmen and a little personalised plaque.
Ditching the chocolate and moving on to sweets, you can get a 90s classic a day with the Swizzels advent from Wilkos, £4. Sink your teeth into some all-time classics including Drumsticks, Refreshers, Love Hearts and Parma Violets.
For those a little more daring when it comes to their sweets, how about playing the Naughty or Nice game with Jelly Bean’s new Bean Boozled calendar in Debenhams for £17. A pyramid pack hides behind all 24 doors and you won’t know if they’ll taste yummy or yucky - you could pull out Tutti Fruiti or Stinky Socks, Booger or Juicy Pear… we wish you luck anyone who dares.
Beauty and Grooming
Then of course, there is beauty - possibly the biggest trend to ever hit advent calendars. A big contender this year is Debenhams Ultimate Beauty Advent Calendar containing over £150 worth of products for just £70. Open a box a day to discover some absolute gems from brands like, Paco Rabanne, Benefit, MAC, Nails Inc, Kat Von D and Too Faced. The packaging is ultra-lush as well so it won’t look amiss amongst your other decorations.
Another stunner is the Countdown to Dazzle calendar by Next, £25. Packed with 24 gifts ranging from fragrance to bath bombs, body scrubs, body lotions, nail polish and make up essentials. You’ll be looking, feeling and smelling fabulous come Christmas Day.
The Lush 12 Days of Christmas box is a little different. Not quite an advent calendar but could definitely be used as one. The guys from Lush say to dip your hand in every other day and pull out whatever you fancy. Whether you’re in the mood for bubbles or are after lashings of lathers, Lush has you covered for £75.
Superdrug brings you a newbie this year, their Revolution Makeup advent calendar. Filled with make up surprises like dazzling highlighters, an assortment of different lip gloss and lipstick shades as well as a brand-new colourway of their bestselling Re-Loaded Eyeshadow Palette. All this, every day, for just £30.
Finally, one for the men, seriously lacking in grooming options we’re afraid, but Superdrug sells the Bristle & Smith 12-day calendar for £9. Complete with some AMAZING illustrations of its products comes one of the most dapper toiletry advents for men. Inside expect to find a range of washes for body and beards alike.
Hand in hand with food comes drink. Whether you’re into something nice and warm during the Christmas month or something to kick off the celebrations. You can try it in advent form! The best hot chocolate one we’ve found is in Debenhams for £20. With 24 days’ worth of different flavoured options, from timeless classics like milk and white to something a little different like strawberry and macaroon.
Then there’s the one for you coffee connoisseurs out there – Beanies Flavour Coffee Advent Calendar, available from The Chuckling Cheese for £20. Containing 2 stick sachets each day (that’s 46 sticks!) with a full-sized jar of coffee and a travel mug on the 1st and 24th you’re going to be set for yummy flavoured coffee until the New Year!
Now onto the hard stuff, for any of you fancying a bit more from a bevvie. First up, the most renowned Christmas tipple, Baileys. With this you can enjoy a Baileys chocolate truffle every day until the weekend before Christmas when you’ll be welcomed by 3 mini bottles of liqueur one for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Or you could save them up for one big blow out on the actual day! That decision is up to you. Pick yours up for £18 from Debenhams.
The 12 Days of Whisky calendar may be lacking in doors but it makes up for it in mini bottles of some of the best whisky’s around. Think Famous Grouse, Jim Beam, Glengoyne and Pig’s Nose to name just a few – £40, Debenhams, get yours quick before they’re gone.
Not forgetting the little ones of course! Their smiling little faces are what Christmas is all about, so treat them to a calendar bursting with goodies like the one from Smiggle for £25. With 25 days’ worth of quirky limited-edition stationary. It’s just as much useful for the coming school year as it is fun and colourful!
Over in Entertainer you can pick up two Lego calendars – Star Wars for £25 or Friends for £23. Each day they will unpack a mini figure to add to their Lego collection. For Star Wars there are buildable vehicles, star ships and exclusive seasonal figures. The Friends version is packed with pieces they can build for the tree as well as accessories compatible to the rest of the Friends collection.
For those a bit older there’s the Haynes Electronic Games Advent Calendar containing 24 games to build and play for those over the age of 14 (there’s confusing wires and small parts hence the age advisory). Games include Codebreaker, Memory, Wire Maze, Whack-a-mole and more. All you need is 3 AA batteries and you’re good to game! Talk about something different, you can pick this up in Menkind for £19.99.
Finally, a rogue category, these advents looked so good but didn’t seem to fit well in my selections above. Clintons provides a gifting classic - 24 days worth of tea light Yankee Candles for £24.99 as well as a little glass holder to put them in. A range of gorgeous Christmas inspired scents to unwrap each day, your house will smell the best it ever has!
Speaking of candles there’s a second option available at Wilkos. The ‘It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas’ advent calendar can be yours for £8. This one contains 23 scented tea lights and 1 full candle in another mix of luscious Christmas scents.
The last one on our list is the Snaffling Pig Pork Crackling Advent Calendar which is filled with, you guessed it, a myriad of different flavoured pork scratching’s. You can’t get more unique than that, so for all you pork scratching lovers head to Menkind to get yours for £14.99.
There you have it, our pick of the best advent calendars out at the Frenchgate Centre. But like we said in the intro, there were 30 more that we couldn’t fit into this post! So go on, have a gander, if none of these tickled your fancy we bet there will be another one out there that will!