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The holiday season is a lot of building up to the main event. There’s shopping, gift-wrapping, decorating, and filling your seasonal to-do list with nostalgia-ridden activities like sledding and hot cocoa drinking by an open fire. If you’re lucky enough to treat yourself to some cosy traditions with loved ones, it can easily be the best time of the entire year.
But, if the holidays for you mean celebrating Christmas, they really boil down to just one day – and one evening – of the year. Build up helps us get more out of the best season, turning those couple days into a bonafide season.
One of the best “build up” traditions is the advent calendar. Each day, you get to surprise yourself or loved ones with a treat. Candy, grooming products, little notes, and other daily reminders of care and appreciation that you may otherwise be too busy for the rest of the year. It’s an easy way to make every day of the holiday season feel special and exciting.
If you’re looking for your own advent calendar, below you’ll find 17 great options.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks’ holiday gift guides for 2018 here.
12 glasses of world-class wines
Vinebox’s popular 12 Nights of Wine calendar lets you count down to the holidays with a different glass of great wine each night. The 12 wines are curated from renowned regions across Italy, France, Spain, and more. Vinebox is also doing a “Golden Bottle” lottery where ten lucky winners will find a golden bottle in their box and receive wine from Vinebox for all of 2019 (a $US644 value).
A LEGO city built day-by-day
Kids can open a ‘door’ each day to reveal 24 items to make a LEGO city, including vehicles like a space shuttle and drone, pets, and fun seasonal items like a miniature Santa.
24 L’Occitane beauty products
L’Occitane’s limited-edition calendar comes with 24 beauty products, ranging from cherry blossom cream to almond soap and lip balm.
A sturdy DIY beer calendar
Pick up this cardboard DIY beer advent calendar from Etsy and fill it with 24 different beers – local brews, rare finds, or classics – to find each day. You can decorate it as you wish, or pay $US25 for it to come with custom text on the lid.
A Harry Potter-inspired box of Weasley products you build yourself
If you’re looking for a fun activity for yourself or with kids, this is a good option. Once you purchase it, you’ll be able to download a PDF of the 24 boxes and instructions. Print, cut, and glue to make your own Weasley products – and fill them with your favourite candies.
25 of Diptyque’s most beloved products
It’s an exorbitant expense if there ever was one, but Diptyque’s limited edition 2018 calendar comes with 25 of its most beloved products in discovery sizes – and it pretty much always sells out. The collection includes mostly candles, with guest appearances from luxe eau de toilette, shower oil, and cream.
A handmade wooden calendar engraved with your family name
This unique wooden calendar from Etsy comes engraved with your family name (or whatever you choose) and outfitted with LEDs that accentuate the carvings. If you’re sending it as a gift, you can opt for gift wrapping and send a message alongside it. It’s not filled with anything – that part’s up to you.
24 Kiehl’s skincare products
Kiehl’s limited edition advent calendar comes with 24 surprise Kiehl’s skincare products, ranging from cleansers to face masks to facial serums and moisturizers – featuring designs by renowned artist Andrew Bannecker.
A puppy treat tree
This advent calendar has a very specific audience, and if you’re enjoying the buildup to the holidays there’s nothing wrong with sharing the joy – especially if you’re still paying your pet back for putting them into a Halloween costume. If requested, it will come with dog biscuits, too.
A glittery, lit-from-within holiday village
Pottery Barn’s advent calendar is basically a tiny, cosy holiday village covered in glitter to look fresh snowfall. You can place a note or small treat in each window, and switch the lights on when evening falls.
24 unique blends of tea
In the rush of holiday shopping, decorating, and wrapping and re-wrapping the same gifts, it’s nice to have a few minutes designated for calm – like a tea ritual. This advent calendar comes with 24 unique blends specific to the day, from Chinese black tea to Scandinavian tea with cranberry and elderflower.
25 mini OPI nail polishes inspired by “The Nutcracker”
OPI’s advent calendar comes with 25 mini nail polishes in colours inspired by Disney’s “The Nutcracker” – reds, pinks, and deep plums.
24 sachets of specialty coffees
Start every morning of the holiday season with a new specialty coffee. Each of the 24 sachets has enough ground coffee for one cup, and it can be used with a variety of coffee makers.
A Crayola colouring countdown for kids
This is the colouring dream for kids: 24 holiday-themed crafts they can do each day leading up to the holiday. It’s also a great way to make some family memories.
24 classic Neuhaus Belgian chocolate pieces
Don’t mess with the classics. Count down to the holidays with an assortment of Neauhaus Belgian chocolate, ranging from milk and dark to white chocolate filled with pralines, ganaches, and caramels.
12 curated men’s grooming products
Asos’ Grooming Calendar comes with mainstays like Clinique, Lab Series, and Uppercut rather than just one brand, and products range from cleansers to great moisturizers to cooling shaving cream.
A vintage-style advent calendar filled with 24 milk chocolates
The Williams-Sonoma vintage-style calendar was inspired by the 19th century poem “A Visit from St.Nicholas” and has a different milk chocolate treat for every day.
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