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Best unusual advent calendars for 2020

The countdown to Christmas doesn't have to be marked in chocolate - check out our pick of the best novelty advent calendars, including alcohol advent calendars and beauty calendars

Unusual advent calendars have exploded in popularity in recent years, as shoppers start to think beyond the traditional. Chocolate is great for kids – and more than a few adults – but as more and more of us embrace the idea of advent calendars as a grown-up treat, novelty advent calendars featuring everything from cheese to chilli have flooded the market.

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An advent calendar is a brilliant way to gee yourself up for the festive season, but it also makes a thoughtful gift for a friend or relative – especially if you can find a novelty advent calendar that caters to one of their passions. So read on for our round-up of the best alternative advent calendars on the market this year:

12 Days of Christmasks, £42.50, Oliver Bonas

12 Days of Christmasks advent calendar Oliver Bonas

We all know that the run-up to Christmas can be stressful, so this 12 Days of Christmasks advent calendar from Oliver Bonas is a smart choice to keep you feeling fresh. Each of its 12 doors reveals a full-size sheet masks – nine face masks, and one each for your eyes, hands and feet – packed full of nourishing ingredients to leave you relaxed and glowing in time for the festive season.

Gardener’s Flower Seed Advent Calendar, £29, Etsy

Gardener’s Flower Seed Advent Calendar

The perfect gift for garden-lovers, this advent calendar contains 24 individual seed packets, accompanied by advice cards explaining how to grow and care for each plant. The calendar also comes with twine and miniature wooden pegs for you to display your packets.

Even better, £1 from each sale goes to Greenfingers, a charity which creates magical gardens for children in hospice care.

Stationery Advent Calendar, £28, Paperchase

Paperchase stationery advent calendar

If you’re the kind of person who lingers lovingly over shelves of paper and pens, this advent calendar from Paperchase will be a dream come true. Behind its doors, you’ll find an array of stylish pocket-sized stationery, including notebooks, pens, paperclips and all manner of handy desk must-haves – perfect to glam up your home office.

John Lewis & Partners Beauty Advent Calendar, £150, John Lewis

John Lewis & Partners Beauty Advent Calendar

John Lewis has gathered together a host of luxurious products from its partner brands – we’re talking the likes of Clarins, Estée Lauder, Neom and Acqua di Parma – to create the ultimate party bag of upmarket beauty buys. At £150 it’s definitely a treat, but purchased individually these products are worth £376, so we’ll tell ourselves it’s a bargain!

Gourmet Chilli Powder Advent Calendar, £39.99, Not On The High Street

Advent Calendar With Gourmet Chilli Powders

These days, most of us know at least one chilli connoisseur who prides themselves on their expertise on all things hot ‘n’ spicy. So why not treat them with this advent calendar packed with 24 varieties of chilli powder, ranging from the fearsome Carolina Reaper to more mild fruity blends, each accompanied by a recipe suggestion. These little pouches of heat will jazz up the blandest dinner – or even to sprinkle on top of a festive hot chocolate.

24 Days of Rum, £97, Harvey Nichols

24 days of rum advent calendar

Gin advent calendars have definitely gone mainstream, but if your favourite spirit runs more to the dark and stormy, you’ll love this 24-piece rum tasting advent calendar, available at Harvey Nichols. Each door reveals a miniature bottle from a different country, including a few you might not associate with rum production. The calendar comes with two tasting glasses and a set of tasting notes to help you find your new favourite.

Advent of Change charity advent calendar, £32.95, John Lewis

Advent of Change charity advent calendar, £32.95, John Lewis

Christmas is the season of goodwill, so why not choose an advent calendar which gives you the satisfaction of helping people in need? The Advent of Change charity advent calendar offers just that.

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Every door represents a donation of £1 to 24 worthy causes in the UK and around the world. Open each door to find out where your donation is going today, and the work you’ll be supporting.