The best Advent Calendars for food and drink lovers


The countdown is on!


Advent calendars have come along way since I was a kid, and the excitement of finding you got a picture of a robin, or a snowman. Then we upgraded to chocolate, and that was that for quite some time.

And then all of a sudden there’s every kind of calendar around, and I think they just get more interesting each year. So, here’s my roundup of the ones I love this year:

Christmas Chocolate Lovers CountdownHow about advent and then some? Simply Chocolate’s “Countdown to Christmas” adds some extra chocolate into your advent countdown. I mean, who doesn’t want to celebrate a few half days? That could brighten up your lunchtime. Not only that, but you get some interesting chocolate flavours, including Crunchy Coco and Misty Martha. Which is something to do with hazelnuts.


Snaffling Pig Pork Scratchings Advent Calendar


Who says advent calendars have to be about sweet stuff? Snaffling Pig have created what I think is the first pork scratchings advent calendar. Six different flavours to work through, a mini bag behind each door. If it’s their kind of thing, then this is going to make their December.


Bluebird Luxury Tea Advent Calendar


The calendar also doesn’t have to generate huge calorie counts before the big Christmas feast. I love Bluebird Tea’s advent calendar, packed full of amazing tea as you’d expect but also some nice surprises (also low calorie) such as mini candles and pin badges. Oh, and some chocolate. But just a little.


Ginvent 2016 Advent Calendar


There again, could have a daily indulgence, and in my case my favourite option would be gin. The Ginvent Calendar is right up my street, and perfect for any fellow gin lover. The selection includes some more unusual artisanal gins, and gives you enough to work out if you want to splash out on the full bottle or not. Possibly it’s not quite the done thing to sample these ones first thing in the morning though.


Charbonnel et Walker Advent Calendar


Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good chocolate advent calendar, and Charbonnel et Walker have a rather lovely one.  A little more than a chocolate shape each day, you’ll be treated to things like their classic English rose fondant creams, or even some fudge for a change. Beautiful looking too.


Craft Beer Advent Calendar


Maybe beer is their thing, and maybe just a small indulgence each day is a good thing. Honest Brew has produced a calendar of craft beers, containing a whole range of beer styles including pilsners, porters and stouts, and from a variety of different small brewers. Again, a nice way to sample a variety of different producers.


Fortune Cookie Advent Calendar


Finally, combining two trends, Cracking Cookies offer something a bit different, in that this is an advent calendar of fortune cookies, and then personalisation, as each cookie contains a message from you. I guess you could build this up into revealing a big surprise, so a series of clues perhaps, or just 24 things about the person eating the cookies. Different, but not cheap at £44.99, so maybe leading up to a surprise is the best thing. I’m thinking a very big, good kind of surprise…though Eastenders could rewrite this as a lead up to a Christmas Day departure in a taxi kind of surprise.

I think these are lovely, but I do slightly struggle with these a bit, in terms of some of them are quite expensive, for something that isn’t actually a gift to give on Christmas Day. It’s one heck of a treat to yourself in the run up to Christmas for sure. Maybe if we do end up back in austerity measures then we’ll all be back on lovely picture calendars by next year. Love to know your thoughts on these.


How to try 36 different gins without breaking the bank


Distill your own gin at 45 Gin School, the best lesson I've been to in years. Perfect gift for a gin lover


I do love my gin, and always have that battle between returning to an old favourite, and trying something new. And, despite writing and opinions to the contrary, I don’t get through that much so a bottle lasts quite some time.

So, how to get through a great variety of great gins without causing the bank manager to pass out? Well, here’s two gift ideas for you, that would give 36 different gins for about £170.

Of course, that’s still a lot of money, but when you figure that good gin is about £30 a bottle, so would only give you just over 5 bottles for the same amount. And when you figure on trying 36 different ones then that would be over £1,000. Possibly with a pickled liver on the side.


Ginvent 2016 Advent Calendar


First off, you can count down December with the Ginvent Advent Calendar, which will be released for pre-order shortly from Gin Foundry, and shipping next month. They say there will be calendar exclusives and new gin launches making their debut behind certain doors, as well as a return of some older gins that are starting to make their way back into the limelight.

Now, that sounds like a good way to get through to Christmas Eve. But what to do after that?


Eden Mill 12 gins of Christmas


Thankfully the team at Eden Mill are giving us the 12 Gins of Christmas, so keeping the theme going. With 12 flavoured gins, this will refresh your palate after the excesses of the Christmas table each day. Apple and Cinnamon sounds perfectly festive, along with Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. Apologies for the Nat King Cole ear worm you’ve now got going on.

Unlike the advent calendar, this is a perfect gift to be given on Christmas Day, as it also contains two glasses and a voucher for one tour of the Eden Mill gin experience. But I don’t see why you couldn’t gift it to yourself either.

I can’t see a price yet on the Ginvent Advent Calendar, but will update when it goes live. The Eden Mill 12 Gins of Christmas is available now for pre-order, priced at £69.

Limited numbers of both will be available, so best to get pre-orders in sharpish.


My favourite Advent Calendar is here!


Unless the boss is reading this, in which case obviously my favourite is yet to launch. But in the food & drink versions of Advent Calendars, this is my favourite:


Ginvent - my perfect Advent Calendar. Twenty four days of fabulous gin


Yes, Ginvent is beckoning, and I love it. Now, I know this isn’t cheap at £114.95, but maybe you could do what we did as a team last year with a different calendar, buy one between you and everyone gets a door. It would work out at £4.79 each.


Though drinking in the work place may of course be frowned on, but no one says you have to open it then and there.

If you really want to push the boat out, and whisky is more your thing, then the Old & Rare Whisky one might be for you. But that one is going to set you back £41.67 per door, but for a whisky that would be significantly more than that for a whole bottle.

Master of Malt seem to have this market really sewn up, doing everything from whisky through bourbon to rum and even a naga chilli vodka escalation. That’ll heat up your Christmas Eve!


When Advent got interesting


I remember Advent calendars when I was a kid, lovely pictures with lovely pictures behind cardboard doors. I don’t think I can remember chocolate ones coming into the frame, although I think they did for my brother.

Well, now there are all kinds of chocolate ones on offer, but then I love that there is even more variety available now, especially for those of us who might have thought that we had outgrown advent calendars. I mean, who doesn’t want one of these?


Betty's Advent calendar - perfect Advent gift for a food lover


First up, a sweet offer from Betty’s, still one of my favourite places in the UK. This lovely fabric calendar was designed by Poppy Treffry, so Cornwall’s finest meets Yorkshire’s! A festive chocolate treat hides behind each pocket and this is one you could use for years to come, just top up the chocolates. This one goes on sale at the end of October and will be priced at £47.50.


Biscuiteers advent calendar - great gift for a food lover at Advent

Again, on the sweet theme, then you could try this one from Biscuiteers. Now, this is not a cheap option in year one, as the fabric pockets is £55 and then the Advent Box of biscuits is £85. Now, they are beautiful, and you will get many years out of the pockets, so maybe it’s a worthwhile investment. Or buy the pockets and bake your own!


Tea Forte Advent Calendar - perfect Advent calendar for a tea lover


Need something to wash down all that sweetness? I rather like this Tea Advent Calendar from Tea Forte which gives you a different seasonal infusion of cheer each day. A nice treat, and definitely a lower calorie option than the others!


Beer advent calendar

But then there’s also another couple of drink based options, although less suitable for opening and tasting at breakfast time. This advent calendar is from Best of British Beer, so you can guess what’s behind each door! I like the Christmas Day option is a Champagne style ale, but plenty of variety to go at before then!


Ginvent Calendar - my kind of Advent Calendar


Rather more up my street is the Ginvent Calendar, but again not one for sampling at breakfast time perhaps! But 24 different gins to try? That’s like all my Christmases come at once!

So plenty of new, interesting choices. Though if you want the ultimate low-calorie advent calendar, then I can personally recommend the No 7 one!