Friday, December 8, 2023

Sayonara 2023! The Best, Most OTT Advent Calendars to See the Year Out

Looking for the best advent calendar NZ has to offer? We have THE BEST of the best, the most lavish of the lavish and the most ridiculous of them all! Enjoy!

When things hit the fan a few years ago and, despite the fact we were having to watch our pennies (the joy of being made redundant during a pandemic!), there was one thing we decided was worth splashing out on: an insane advent calendar.

The sheer fact that another year was over, and we were still here, meant that I was no longer going to buy another one of those supermarket advent calendars filled with little chocolates that taste like the cheap cardboard that encases them.

Nope, it was time to invest in a crazy advent calendar.

December is supposed to be this wonderful, magical month, but lordy it can also be stressful as hell. And, well, 2023 has been a pretty spectacularly stressful year (after a series of stressful ones!). An advent calendar can be just the salve you need. It gives you a little pick-me-up treat each day, PLUS, these last months of the year seem to slip by so quickly, it helps you keep track of how many days you have left until the big day (I swear that every September, October and November I have a mini heart attack the last week of EVERY month when I realise that the month is nearly over and the following week it will be time to turn the page of the calendar).

Each year the offerings get bigger and crazier and better, so we’ve compiled the best of the best, the most ridiculous of the ridiculous, the most OTT of them all.

And here they are in no particular order, the most glorious advent calendars money can buy in 2023:

Pour Yourself a Christmas Cuppa

How good is the ritual of sitting down to a hot cup of tea, when the world around you feels all a bit too stressful? December can be the month where things really go from zero to 100, so, I LOVE the idea of this tea advent calendar, to really make sure you take a few mins out of your day to sit and relax! Featuring 24 different teas, it’s also a fab way to taste test your way through T2’s range to find your new fave.

While T2 has been making these advent calendars for years now, this year they’ve gone OTT (our favourite thing for companies to do at Xmas) and come out with two new calendars. The ‘Festival of Flavour Luxury Advent Calendar’ ($240) comes in a colourful, recyclable cardboard box – open an individual drawer to discover each gift. Behind each door you’ll find full-sized tea cubes, tins, a mug, scoop, candle and more.

And if you’re a serious T2 fan, they have also released the ‘Tea Party Extravaganza Luxury Advent Calendar’, which retails for a $420. It’s OTT, with 25 next level gifts – 2 bone china mugs, candles, coasters, loose leaf tins, tea bag cubes and SO many special treats.

T2 Advent Calendars, from $56

Run Yourself a Christmas Bath!

If a cup of tea isn’t quite going to cut it this year, may we suggest you try one of Lush’s completely over-the-top advent calendars, to really pamper yourself every December day leading up to the big day! Lush’s Christmas range is now one of my favourite parts of the festive season – and, every year I also get a bit envious of the Lush team. See, one year, Emma and I talked to a woman who worked for Lush who explained that her job had been to go to another country and immerse herself in their Christmas markets/celebrations/traditions/spirit and come back to report to the group – who also each went to a different location, and that from there they would work out which new creations to make for their Christmas collection.

To this day, I simply have not heard of a better job.

In short, Lush knows how to do Christmas well. And this year they have not one, but two totally OTT, indulgent calendars to choose from.

The first is the Christmas Buds Advent Calendar ($254), featuring 25 classic bath items and special festive items, like a Candy Cane reusable bubble bar and Reindeer bubble bar – plus, six Christmas treats that are exclusive to the Christmas Buds Calendar (like the Chocolate Santa bath bomb!).

The second is the even more OTT, with treats like the Gingerbread lip scrub and Lump Of Coal Bath Bomb – and eight treats exclusive to the advent calendar (including the Jingle Jelly 100g shower jelly and Christmas Eve scented candle.

Lush Advent Calendar, $254 and $390

A Chocolate Calendar, But Make it OTT

If you’re still after a little chocolate treat advent calendar, but want something that’s a serious step up from the regular cardboard tasting ones, this one is for you! From Honest Chocolat, this 24 day calendar is oh so cute, and includes treats that are allergy friendly (but still insanely delicious, you wouldn’t even notice!) Each numbered house has an Honest Chocolat treat that is gluten free, vegan, soy free, palm oil free, organic and ethically sourced. Sign us up!

Decadent Christmas Advent Calendar $68, Available from Honest Chocolat

Treats for You, Treats for the World!

When I was 19, I spent a summer working in Los Angeles, and one of my three jobs was at The Body Shop. Christmas was on the way, so all you could smell was Cranberry and Spiced Vanilla (the best). The mall was HUMMING and everyone was in good spirits, especially my line manager who had started dating Rod Stewart’s son. She talked about it so much during my job interview that I wondered if it was actually a job requisite to be dating a quasi-celebrity. When she asked where my accent was from and I said, “New Zealand! Like Rachel Hunter!” she looked at me as though I had grown horns. She’d never heard the name before.

Anyhoo, while Christmas and The Body Shop will always go hand-in-hand in my head, they also use the festive season to really bring good will to others. Yes, you get to buy an indulgent Christmas treat, but their advent calendars also support communities, and the planet. The calendars offer daily moments of self-love and care, with products that have been crafted with hardworking, natural-origin ingredients, to create an indulgent daily treat. But, the calendars also celebrate The Body Shop’s Community Fair Trade partners that helped create them.
All are enriched with ingredients or created with packaging from partnerships around the world, from shea butter from Ghana, to gift paper from Nepal. The brand’s pioneering CFT programme exists to champion every artisan, farmer and producer involved in the production of The Body Shop products, by helping suppliers gain market access whilst also investing in social and environmental projects in many communities. They’re also made with the planet in mind, using recycled and recyclable materials where local facilities allow. Oh, and they’re also beautiful!

There’s three to choose from: The Advent of Change Calendar ($189, valued at $266), The Big Advent of Change Calendar ($269, valued at $374) or the Ultimate Advent of Change Calendar ($389, valued at $568 – pictured above)

The Body Shop Advent Calendars, from $189

Best for Little People!

I LOVE the Wondertivity books – I bought one of their felt busy books before our littliest took his first plane ride and it saved our sanity that day (as well as MANY restaurant trips – playing with his book is all that keeps him in the highchair!). So, when I saw they make advent calendars, I immediately added one to cart. It’s a felt Christmas tree, with a pocket for each day counting down to the 25th, where you’ll find a cute little ornament to hang from the tree each day. 

Look, I’m under no illusions that this calendar is going to be in chaos, and won’t be used the way it’s intended for a good few years yet, but it’s so beautiful and such great quality I know it’ll be sticking around with us for years to come.

Wondertivity Advent Christmas Calendar, $99

Again, it’s Chocolate – But Not As You Know It.

When it comes to Christmas chocolate, Tony’s is one of the GOATs. And what better way to enjoy it than with one of these GIANT Advent Calendars. Behind almost every door in this Tony’s Chocolonely advent calendar is a tiny Tony’s chocolate. Tony’s has also used this opportunity to educate, and highlight the use of slavery in the chocolate industry. The calendar includes 25 tiny Tony’s split over 24 windows, with the chocolate unequally distributed just like Tony’s bars. Enjoy some fun, and not so fun, facts about the chocolate industry as you count down, and don’t forget to share.

Tony’s Chocolonely advent calendar, $39.95

Cheers to that!

If you know someone who loves a craft beer at the end of a busy day, they will likely lose their Christmas mind over this one. It’s made up of 25 (yes, you get a special Christmas Day beer too!) craft beers, fresh from independent craft breweries – particularly the local, unique and small ones. The beers span the spectrum of styles but there’s a large selection based on popular hoppy styles like IPA and pale ale. Cheers!

The Craft Beer Advent Calendar, $249.99 by The Beer Library 

Let There Be Light!

Each and every year, Glasshouse Fragrances make some of the most beautiful advent calendars imaginable. And this year, it’s arguably their best yet. Behind every magical little door you’ll find a little treat, ranging from fragrances to Eau de Parfums, bath and body, and money-can’t-buy products. There are 30g soy candles, exclusives (like the highly coveted A Tahaa Affair Devotion Lip Balm), and an exquisite limited edition Christmas ornament.

Glasshouse Fragrances 24 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar, $299

Start Your December Mornings Off Right

Give your morning coffee a Christmas boost, by investing in a Nespresso advent calendar! There’s a new capsule to try each morning (or evening if you somehow possess caffeine superpowers), with a final Limited Edition Coffee Mug behind the 24th door!

Nespresso Advent Calendar, $75

Ready To Bring Out the Big Guns?

If you’ve had a truly horror year, and really want to count this one out in style – or, you’re just a Jo Malone fanatic with a Christmas bonus to burn – look no further. This Jo Malone Advent Calendar is incredibly beautiful and indulgent, and comes with a cool price tag of $857 (yes, you read that correctly, and no, I didn’t forget to put a decimal point in there anywhere.).

Presented in a truly beautiful box, every drawer reveals a surprise treat, from Jo Malone London classics to festive fragrances, including colognes, bath & body miniatures, a full-sized scent and two Travel Candles.

Jo Malone Advent Calendar, $857

Wanna Go Even BIGGER?!?

Ok, so somehow you looked at that last one and still thought, ‘I mean, it’s nice, but I could go bigger’, then, yes. Somehow, there is an advent calendar even more OTT than the $857 Jo Malone one.

This one, from Maison Francis Kurkdjian retails for $1,842.

Yes. $1,842.

Available from MECCA, Maison Francis Kurkdjian makes truly exquisite fragrances, and this calendar doesn’t muck around with just giving you a couple of little samples to try – it gives you decadent, full-sized products. There are some travel minis, but otherwise you’re getting full-sized fragrances, candles, body lotions and treats – and apparently, in the end this makes this a bargain. Does the girl math stack up?

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Holiday Calendar, $1842

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