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The best alternative Advent calendars in 2021

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Sick of the same old Advent calendars? Then add a bit of excitement to the Christmas season with these wonderfully unusual alternatives

Advent calendars are almost guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit and, because there are literally thousands of unique and unusual Advent calendars out there, you don’t even need to be a chocolate obsessive to join in with the festive fun. The best unusual Advent calendars offer something different from the norm, be it a twist on the classics or something altogether bonkers.

That’s not to say we don’t love chocolate. In fact, we’ve rounded up the best classic advent calendars too, where you’ll find chocolate and toys a-plenty. Sometimes it's nice to switch things up a bit though, which is why we've put together this alternative list of festive fun. With everything from booze and hot chocolate to DIY and charity Advent calendars, there really is something for every enthusiast.

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Our top picks are based on the goodies inside, value for money and of course, how unusual they are. So, if you’ve got a hankering for something unique these are the best unusual Advent calendars you can buy.


Best unusual Advent calendars: At a glance

  • Best advent calendar for whisky lovers: Drinks By The Dram The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar | Buy now
  • Best advent calendar for green fingers: OwnGrown seed advent calendar | Buy now
  • Best crafts advent calendar for kids: The Purple Cow craft calendar | Buy now
  • Best advent calendar for pub lovers: Snaffling Pig pork crackling and beer | Buy now
  • Best advent calendar for cats (and dogs): Scrumbles Advent Calendar | Buy now

The best unusual Advent calendars to buy

1. Drinks By The Dram The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar: Best for whisky lovers

Price: £149 | Buy now from Master of Malt

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: one 30ml dram of Glenallachie's limited edition single cask 12 year old whisky. And frankly, we couldn't ask for anything better. We won't spoil the surprise for the other 23 drams hidden in this advent calendar, but suffice to say that it conceals a superb selection of Scotch whiskies from a wide range of distilleries. 

There are classic whiskies here from the big names that even occasional whisky drinkers will recognise, but it's the drams from the less widely known distilleries which steal the show. Some of our favourites from our Best Whisky page make the grade here, which is good to see, but all in all, this is a truly fascinating way to take a whisky journey across Scotland.

Key details – Calendar type: WhiskyNumber of days: 24Vegan: Yes

Buy now from Master of Malt


2. OwnGrown seed advent calendar: Best advent calendar for green fingers

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

Get yourself an advent calendar that gives back all year long with this interesting herb, fruit and seed calendar. Over 24 days you’ll discover plenty of different fruits and vegetables, with a new variety each day. From tomatoes and lettuce to basil and chives, there’s enough here to keep even the keenest amateur gardener busy all year long. As well as the seed packets, you’ll also get string and pegs, so you can hang this calendar up in any way you like.

It might not come in a conventional style box, but we think this is an amazing alternative to a chocolate advent calendar and is sure to put a smile on a garden-lover's face. Better still, the packaging is FSC certified and free from harmful plastics.

Key details – Calendar type: Food; Number of days: 24; Vegan: Yes


3. The Purple Cow craft calendar: Best crafts advent calendar for kids

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

The countdown to Christmas doesn’t have to be all about chocolate, and this fabulously festive children’s crafting calendar proves it. Over 24 days your little ones will be treated to a variety of Christmas-themed crafts from tree decorations and ornaments to cute cards.

Most crafts are suitable for ages six and up and can be completed with typical household items such as tape, glue and scissors. A hot glue gun is needed for a handful of the crafts, however, so might require adult supervision. This calendar makes a great change from the usual cheap chocolate ones and is sure to keep kids busy in the run-up to 25 December.

Key details – Calendar type: Crafts; Number of days: 24; Vegan: N/A


4. Snaffling Pig pork crackling and beer: Best advent calendar for pub lovers

Price: £65 | Buy now from Amazon

If you or someone you love can’t get enough of pub snacks, then this advent calendar is the one to choose. Inside, you’ll be treated to 12 cans of beer and 12 packets of pork scratchings of varying styles. Beers include pilsners, pale ales and lagers, while the scratching flavours consist of classically salted, BBQ and sticky maple.

At almost half a metre tall, this is an absolute beast of an advent calendar, so probably not one to consider if you’re short on space. If space isn’t an issue, though, it’s the ideal way to celebrate the festive period – what could be better than booze AND salty snacks?

Key details – Calendar type: Alcohol and food; Number of days: 24; Vegan: No


5. Scrumbles Advent Calendar: Best advent calendar for cats (and dogs)

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

Who said advent calendars were just for humans? If you want your pets to get into the festive spirit, this cute calendar is the purrfect way to celebrate with tummy-friendly cat treats. We love the fact there are dental snacks included too, making this calendar both tasty and beneficial to their health.

Scrumbles also have a version for dogs, packed with tooth-friendly mini gnasher treats, dried chicken bites and suitably festive turkey nibbles. Your pets might not know what Christmas is, but this calendar means they’ll still get to indulge with you.

Key details – Calendar type: Animal food; Number of days: 24; Vegan: N/A


6. Lovehoney couple’s sex toy calendar: Best adult advent calendar for couples (male and female)

Price: £120 | Buy now from Lovehoney

Ideal for male/female couples, Lovehoney’s sensual sex toy advent calendar is chock full of interesting toys to enjoy in the lead up to Christmas. From wrist ties and candles to mini vibrators, there’s plenty to get stuck into, with a new treat behind every door. Not only is this an unusual and fun alternative to chocolate, but it’s great value too and features the Womanizer Classic hands-free vibrator, worth £120 alone.

If you’re looking for a truly different way to countdown to Christmas with your partner this year, then look no further – this is as unique as it gets.

Key details – Calendar type: Sex toys; Number of days: 24; Vegan: N/A

Buy now from Lovehoney


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