It's time to buy your advent calendars, everyone! Don't be like me and end up buying a Hello Kitty one from Tesco halfway through December (although it never disappoints me, and leaving it late means I get to eat 12 chocolates in one go). Nope - 'tis the season to treat yourself. From luxe chocolates to fancy teabags, bubble wrap to badges, and nail polishes to candles, 2013 is shaping up to be a Vintage Advent Calendar Year. Let's open the first window...
I am lusting after this Biscuiteers advent biscuit tin SO HARD. Santa's there. So are the Wise Men. A donkey and some Russian dolls also make an appearance. As always, Biscuiteers' icing skills are of the highest standard, and this cutesome tin of 24 biscuits will make you smile every day until Chrimbob. It's £45, or you can really splash the cash and get the Susie Watson-designed cloth advent calendar to go with it (pictured at the top of the post) for £85.
Christmas candles ahoy! Already my house smells of mulled wine, spiced apple, and, um, heavenly snow. I am so tempted by this Yankee Candle advent calendar, £21.99, which contains 24 tealights in six yuletide scents, including Snow in Love, Merry Marshmallow and Red Apple Wreath. Each candle has a burn time of 4-6 hours, so your home is going to smell AMAZING every day in December. Well, for at least 24 days of the month, anyway.
Have you ever been in that situation where you think it's a good idea to share an advent calendar with someone else? IT NEVER IS. It's ALWAYS the most stupid idea you've ever had. Unless that calendar happens to be the Truffles for Two advent calendar from Hotel Chocolat, of course. Each window hides two delicious chocs, including festive flavours like mulled wine, sticky gingerbread and pecan pudding, and cinnamon praline. I can think of no better reason to set the alarm five minutes early each morning, in order to eat BOTH. Start practising your 'WHAT? It wasn't me!' face now. And find £26 to spend on chocolate, stat.
A different manicure every day until Christmas? Don't mind if I do, lovely Ciaté Mini Mani Month advent calendar. Each window reveals a tiny polish, bottle of fancy nail caviar beads (a clean-up funnel is included), or one of three exclusive glitter colours that won't be on sale ANYWHERE else. I'm guessing that larger polish on the end is your Christmas Eve treat. Fancy. As someone who LOVES nail polish but rarely finishes a full-size bottle before gloop sets in, these miniatures are calling my name. Ciaté's calendar is £42 from Selfridges.
Benefit's Countdown To Love advent calendar has sold out online - sadventface - but there's a chance you might be able to track one down in your local Boots, Debenhams, or department store of choice. It's £50, so your bank manager will breathe a sigh of relief if you don't manage to find one. If you're in Boots, also have a look for their cheaper 24 Days of Beauty Treats advent calendar - it's chockablock with Soap & Glory, Rimmel, Nails Inc. and many more miniature goodies... and has also sold out online. People are dead organised with their beauty advent calendar buying this year, it seems. CURSES.
More foodie delights, in the shape of Carluccio's chocolate advent calendar, £10.95. When good ol' Cadbury's just won't cut it, I'm pretty sure a little foil-wrapped, lemon-shaped Italian chocolate will. Buon Natale!
Readers of my clever candles post a couple of weeks ago will already know that I am a sucker for anything that rotates and plays a song AT THE SAME TIME. This musical, rotating (albeit the sort of rotation that requires the involvement of your hand) advent calendar also features pop-ups, another of my faves, and therefore is a Christmas Winner. It plays We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and costs £12.49 from Amazon.
Stephen Cottrell's Do Nothing... Christmas Is Coming is described as 'an advent calendar with a difference', and indeed that is true, given that it's actually a book. For every day of Advent, you'll find tips to slow down, wave goodbye to Christmas stress, and enjoy the holiday season. Find your inner peace and joy for £4.99 from Amazon.
Tea drinkers will adore this advent calendar - it contains 24 numbered tea bags, each a different blend, for you to enjoy in the run-up to Christmas. Check out the full list of flavours, because they are enchanting - guardian angel tea, runny nose tea, and thank you tea to name but three. And all for just £4.30! Stick the kettle on, would you?
Oh, this is fun! If you're a keen bubble wrap popper, give your compulsion some useful meaning this Advent with The Bubble Wrap advent calendar, created by Leeds-based SplitDesign. I really love this simple idea, but could never stop myself from popping more than one bubble each day. Get yours for just £8 from Etsy.
Eton Mess, treacle tart, summer pudding and lemon meringue pie all make an appearance in Montezuma's British Puddings advent calendar, £9.99. For those who eat their pudding before their main course, just in case they die before dinner's finished, this is the perfect Advent treat. You get to eat pudding before you even leave for work! We'd all rather you stayed alive until Christmas and beyond, though.
Strictly speaking, Usborne's Advent Calendar to Colour (a bargainous £4.49) is meant for children. Pah. I like colouring in, and therefore I am ignoring this fact. Gatefolds open to reveal a festive street scene, and beneath every die-cut window, there's a new little bit to colour in. Cute for kiddos, even better for me. I'm looking out my neon pencils AS I TYPE (quite difficult).
As a badge collector and everyday badge-wearer, these foxy-owly advent badges are definitely going into my Etsy shopping bag. Designer Maedchenwahn has a whole host of other designs, which can be used to number fill-your-own advent bags, or - my choice - to turn yourself into a walking, talking advent calendar. Each set of 24 badges is £15.37, and postage from Germany is a not-unreasonable £4.29. Plus you can use them every year!
I couldn't round up this year's best advent calendars without mentioning Master of Malt's boozy calendars - we were all over the Ginvent calendar last year, UNSURPRISINGLY. They've been updated for 2013, and this whisky version is £149.95. There's a brilliant comment on their site which begins, "I started opening mine a little early as I couldn't contain my excitement". It's dated October 29th. Good work, that whisky drinker!
And - hold on to your knickers - a little Advent birdie tells me that there will be a very exciting giveaway later on today, on this very blog, which may interest fans of Master of Malt's drunken advent calendars, i.e. everyone. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED. Your December alcohol intake depends on it.