Beauty, booze and biscuits in Stylist’s pick of advent calendars for grown-ups

Posted by
Amy Swales

There may be some unavoidable Christmas traditions. The excitement-disappointment train of cracker prizes, for instance, or the fun of putting a large number of family members in the same room and it all getting a bit Hunger Games over the TV remote. The distant relative bearing glitter bubble bath you suspect was won on a charity tombola stall two years ago.

All of which makes taking matters into your own hands with a tiny door of guaranteed festive joy every day sound even more tempting, right?

Grown-up advent calendars are getting into their groove, with more options than ever, so we've picked out the best of this year's sophisticated, unusual, beautiful and boozy daily delights, including calendars of craft beer, jewellery, cosmetics and even tea.

So while we're waiting for someone to invent a self-chilling cheese advent calendar (you heard it here first), brighten up your December and indulge yourself with our gallery, below.

  • A very Merry Christmas

    The Ginvent Calendar from Drinks by the Dram and Gin Foundry is festive fun with botanical bells on. 24 different 3cl gins lie behind its doors, and for non-gin fans, there are vodka, bourbon, tequila, mezcal and Cognac versions too – including a £1,000 treat for real (rich) lovers of rare whisky.

    £114.95, Master of Malt

  • Cosmetic cheer

    Who wouldn't want to open a book of make-up magic each morning to find Charlotte Tilbury cosmetics and skincare? We hope you'll forgive us for including a calendar with a mere 12 days of Christmas (whoever heard of that, eh?) but if the itch to open a door every 24 hours in December gets too much, you'll just have to get a chocolate one too.

    £150, Selfridges

  • Creative countdown

    Are you more colour-coordinated elegance than plastic dancing Santas at this time of year? Not that we're judging either, given the flashing reindeer on our windowsill. But FYI, this set has pegs, silver ribbon, numbered bags and The White Company's signature understated style – everything you need to DIY a calendar for the classiest of Christmases.

    £15, The White Company

  • Hoppy Christmas

    Beer fans, you are not forgotten during this season of Prosecco and mulled wine. This boozy package from Beer Hawk contains 24 carefully selected porters, ales, saisons and stouts from around the world, from producers including Anchor, Flying Dog, Brooklyn Brewery and Beavertown. We approve.


  • The ultimate beauty box

    Packaged in Liberty's usual beautiful style, an illustration of the shop on the outside opens up to reveal tiny drawers of curated beauty. Brands include Diptyque, Dermalogica, Eve Lom and Kiehl's. As well as sample sizes, there are 11 full-size products too. Practically saving you money, right?

    £149, Liberty

  • Time for tea all the time

    Whether you prefer yours green or black, fruity, herby, minty or breakfasty, Posttea's collection of 24 loose leaf teas will have something for you. Lucky for us, we like all teas ever. The set comes with string to hang it up as cuppa-inspired bunting, a handy strainer and enough each day to brew two cups.


  • Johnny loves Rosie and we love jewellery

    Why not match your outfit to your accessories in December? Johnny Loves Rosie has put together an advent calendar of rings, necklaces and earrings, all silver- or gold-plated. Decoration isn't limited to the tree, you know.

    £55, asos

  • Picture perfect

    Choose 24 of your own pictures for this Instajunction photo calendar, and when all the doors are finally opened there's the bonus of not having to decorate for Christmas Eve drinks. Comes with string and pegs.


  • Party popping

    The Benefit Party Poppers calendar includes 12 mini versions of their classic products, including Lollitint, High Beam, They're Real!, POREfessional, Bad Gal and more.

    £34.50, available in Benefit Boutiques and Debenhams (sold out online)

  • Rustic reindeer

    This wooden Gisela Graham reindeer has a natural finish and mini drawers to fill with your own treats. A classy Christmas addition with no bells and whistles (though we would never begrudge anyone their fairy lights).

    £34.95, Harrods

  • Wax lyrical

    Filled with candles, fragrances and creams to see you through a gloriously scented month, this is a truly luxurious option from Diptyque (exclusive to Selfridges). Does Santa take requests before December?

    £250, in store and online

  • Awarded ales

    Another craft beer calendar, but Ales by Mail provides no upfront hints about the joys within this box (though there is a spoiler list on the website should you want to know in advance). Just trust us when we say the fact it includes the ale that won this year's CAMRA's Champion Beer of Britain bodes well.


  • Double trouble

    This Hotel Chocolat advent calendar has two delicious truffles behind every door. Some people may suggest that must mean it's for two to enjoy, but we've never listened to people like that. However, those more abstemious than ourselves might prefer the more traditional £12.50 calendars.

    £26, Hotel Chocolat

  • Scents for the season

    This townhouse-inspired calendar contains 24 Jo Malone colognes and creams. Luxury products in beautiful packaging with a price tag to match.

    £260, Jo Malone stores nationwide

  • A truly hot toddy

    Drinks by the Dram's Naga Chilli Vodka Escalation is one for serious lovers of chilli only. The heat builds with every daily 3cl vodka, leading to a brutal Christmas Eve tipple rating 240,000 on the Scoville scale. To put that in context, a jalapeño pepper can be between 2,500 and 8,000. You have been warned.

    £99.95, Master of Malt

  • Merry manicures

    All your Christmas nail needs met with the Cheeky nail varnish advent calendar. 24 5ml bottles ensure you'll have a colour for every single outfit of the season.

    £49, John Lewis

  • Deck the halls... and your neck... and your ears...

    Dip into a selection of jewellery from Topshop's Freedom range every day with this calendar and never be stuck for a finishing outfit touch again. Well, for December at least.

    £28, Topshop

  • Festive fortune

    Not only does this fortune cookie advent calendar from Cracking Cookies mean  an excuse to eat a daily biscuit (with flavours such as Sicilian lemon and chocolate orange), but each one comes with a message you've personally penned for your nearest and dearest. Or you could just write motivational messages to yourself and keep them all.


  • Lucky locks

    Definitely a calendar for grown-ups, this a hair care treat from Kérastase. And is it just us, or does the thought of opening a door to possibly find something called an elixir every morning have a teeny sense of magic? OK, just us.

    £79.99, Kérastase

  • Joyeux Noël

    A tree of treats from French pâtisserie PAUL, with individual drawers containing chocolate truffles and festive ceramic charms. Plus, you can reuse the calendar. Now, would it fit in the fridge filled with cheese, we wonder?

    £19.95, in branches and online