Advent calendars have come a long way and are now more eclectic and inclusive than ever. Whether it's a crafter's calendar, deluxe chocolate or one that gives back to charity, here is a guide to our top 10 advent calendars with a difference, in no particular order.
ORGANIC HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE
Montezuma's organic chocolate advent calendar features rich, fine quality chocolate that makes you stop for a moment to go mmmm.
A colourful calendar filled with luxurious chocolate
There's an identical thick chunk of chocolate behind each window, made from high-quality milk chocolate with 37% cocoa. Stylish and bright rather than festive or religious, there is a small basic graphic on each door behind the vibrant packaging. It's all about the chocolate with this one - and it is extraordinary.
Montezuma's advent calendars come in various flavours. There's the milk chocolate for £9.99, while the chocolate truffle version has flavours included salted dulce de leche caramels for £24.99. The milk and white chocolate calendar is ideal for children and costs £8.99.
The calendars are part of Montezuma's delicious Christmas range that includes Giant Chocolate Buttons, Chocolate Truffle Snowmen, a Chocolate Bar Library and Snowballs. Find out more at the Montezuma website here.
POPCORN FOR CHRISTMAS
Prefer popcorn to chocolate? Then London-based family business Joe & Seph is for you. They have a range of popcorn advent calendars that include varieties of Gourmet or Tipsy.
Boozy flavoured popcorn is an alternative for the festive season
The design is irresistible and opens up like a giant storybook, it depicts a snowy scene of Joe's Popcorn Kitchens crafting festive gifts, with each stage of the special, handmade process beautifully illustrated.
This year's Gourmet calendar features 19 unique flavours behind the 24 windows; from the most popular gourmet flavours, award-winners, festive favourites and several exclusives including Brandy Butter, Apple & Custard and Gingerbread popcorn. Plus there's an extra-large, special treat behind Door 24.
While the brand new Tipsy Gourmet Popcorn Advent Calendar features 12 flavours of award-winning, alcoholic gourmet popcorn including Joe & Seph's Espresso Martini, Gin & Tonic, Prosecco and Caramel Macchiato & Whisky popcorn
They cost £25 each. There is also an Official James Bond 007 Dry Martini Popcorn for £4, a Salted Caramel Cracker Box and Prosecco Popcorn Baubles. Find out more at the Joe & Seph website here.
Bird & Blend's Tea Advent Calendar is filled with a range of their limited edition Christmas teas.
Fancy a cuppa with this Bird & Blend tea advent calendar
Flavours range from Gingerbread Chai to Eggnog Rooibos and Peppermint Cream Oolong. Tea lovers will adore this alternative calendar that costs £36. Find out more at the Bird & Blend website here.
CHILDREN'S CREATIVE CALENDAR
A Magical Letter has come up with a novel idea with this creative advent calendar for children that comes with twine and pegs for hanging up each day's calendar discovery
Let children be creative with the crayon advent calendar
Day by day, a letter will be revealed that eventually spells out 'Father Christmas is Coming' by Christmas Eve. There is also a choice of a unicorn, dinosaur, rainbow or animal crayon for Christmas Eve.
Inspired by the Five Minute Mum, £2 of each advent calendar sold will be donated to Choose Love - a charity that provides emergency aid and long term solutions to refugees.
The website also creates authentic-looking letters from Santa for children. The advent calendar costs £30. Find out more at A Magical Letter website here.
ETHICAL CHOCOLATE WITH THE NATIVITY STORY
This beautifully-packaged traditional calendar with fairtrade chocolate hearts in each window earns plenty of bonus points for its extras.
It's made by Divine chocolate that is a fairtrade company, where cocoa farmers have a stake in the business. Behind each window is fine tasting chocolate in the shape of a heart along with a part of the nativity story, starting in the Holy Land and continuing through to Jesus' birth.
What's extra special is that under the chocolate is a picture of a different flag for each day with Merry Christmas in that country's language. It manages to be both fun and educational with flags from across Europe to the Americas and beyond.
I tried the milk chocolate version that lived up to its catchline of being "seriously smooth chocolate". There is also a vegan dark chocolate calendar too, highlighted in the vegan-friendly section later.
This feels like Christmas and has games and information about Divine farmers on the reverse too. The calendar costs £5 so is value for money too and available at stores from Oxfam to Waitrose. Find out more at the Divine website.
Make! The Lakes has come up with a crafters box to keep creative fingers busy in the run-up to Christmas.
Sewing, pom poms and more in the crafters advent box of treats
The innovative advent calendar box includes five mini-projects that are revealed day by day with steps to take to complete them.
It all comes inside a beautiful craft box containing 24 numbered envelopes containing instructions and materials to make festive craft projects. All you need is a pair of scissors and other household objects. It costs £40. Find out more at the Make! The Lakes website here.
Swiss chocolate company Lindt is renowned for being master chocolatiers and for good reason, judging by this luxurious advent calendar. With a gold winter scene, the Lindor advent calendar is a shimmering sophisticated calendar.
Inside each door is one of Lindt's scrumptious balls of chocolate truffles. There's an assortment of flavours and you never know what you're going to get.
Truffles include the new salted caramel flavour along with chocolate mint, chocolate orange, dark, milk and white chocolate to name a few. Plus there is an extra special larger treat bar surprise for Christmas Eve.
An assortment of Lindt truffles that are inside each window
This is an uber-stylish calendar and delicious too but Lindt has a wide range of advent calendars for £10 each including a Pick and Mix Lindor version with various balls and a magical Christmas tree on the front.
Discover who you have helped each day when you open the advent door. It could range from providing safe housing for a homeless person to helping to protect marine eco-systems from the devastating effects of plastic waste.
The Advent of Change calendars are all completely plastic-free, using compostable and recyclable packaging, and made in the UK. By the end of 2019, Advent of Change had raised £300,000 for its chosen charities. £17.95. Find out more at the Advent of Change website here.
SWEETS INSTEAD OF CHOCOLATE
Haribo has come out with this sweet delight featuring a mix of themed mini bags including its Tropifrutti, Goldbears and MAOAM Pinballs.
Haribo sweets offer an alternative advent treat to chocolate
Perfect for those who prefer a twist on the traditional chocolate advent calendar, each window contains a tasty treat that will give an extra sparkle to the festive celebrations.
Haribo advent calendars can be bought from major stockists including Wilko for £5 or online at stores including Amazon.
There is quite a choice for vegans and that includes the Joe & Seph vegan popcorn advent calendar. It's the world's first Vegan Gourmet Popcorn Advent Calendar, officially approved by the Vegan Society.
Behind 24 festive cubbyholes discover eight unique, vegan flavours, including Joe & Seph's legendary Vegan Salted Caramel and Vegan Toffee Apple & Cinnamon, as well as some exclusive, new Vegan flavours, including Vegan Dark Chocolate popcorn. It costs £25 from the Joe & Seph website here.
Montezuma Chocolate has a vegan range that includes Absolute Black (Vegan) which has a dramatic cocoa hit due to its 100% cocoa solids at £9.99 or its award-winning Dark Chocolate vegan and organic calendar for the same price.
There is also a vegan Like No Udder Advent Calendar at £8.99, which is a milk chocolate alternative and manages to taste smooth and creamy while also being high in cocoa. Find out more at the Montezuma website here.
Divine's vegan-friendly dark chocolate advent calendar has a striking picture in gold and white and facts about the climate and nature behind each window from this Fairtrade company.
Divine's dark chocolate calendar is an ethical choice
It's an ethical calendar with messages for each day saying things about nature and the climate, like "an estimated 250 million trees can be saved each year if every printed newspaper is recycled".
Each day also offers a stunningly rich dark chocolate heart made from 70% cocoa. It costs £5 and is stocked by Oxfam, Ocada, Waitrose and more. Find out more at the Divine website here.