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Best unusual advent calendar 2023: Our favourite alternative calendars for the festive period

Sick of the same old treats? The best unusual advent calendars will add a bit of excitement to the Christmas season

The best unusual advent calendars are almost guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit and because there are literally thousands of unique calendars out there, you don’t even need to be a chocolate obsessive to join in with the festive fun. An unusual Advent calendar offers 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 the classics. In fact, we’ve rounded up the best advent calendars too, where you’ll find chocolate and treats 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 crafts to culinary adventuring, there really is something for every enthusiast.

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 our list below will scratch that itch.

The best unusual Advent calendars to buy in 2023

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

Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at Master of Malt

best unusual advent calendar scotch whisky advent calendar

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a delicious dram of Scottish 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

Check price at Master of Malt

2. OwnGrown Seed Advent Calendar: Best advent calendar for green fingers

Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at 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. 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 the face of any garden-lover. 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 advent calendar for kids

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at 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, though we’d suggest this is best suited to eight year olds upwards. It’s worth noting that the element of surprise is limited by the instructions guide which details each day’s crafts. Do ensure that you have basic craft materials to get started, too (eg. glue gun). Some crafts require adult supervision but regardless, this calendar makes a great change from the usual cheap chocolate ones and is sure to keep craft-loving kids busy in the run-up to 25 December.

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

4. Lily’s Kitchen Christmas Advent Calendar: Best advent calendar for cats (and dogs)

Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at Amazon

best unusual advent calendar lily’s kitchen christmas advent calendar

Make sure every member of the household can participate in the countdown to the big day with these cute cat and dog-friendly Advent calendars. Our feline friends can enjoy a daily treat of festive salmon or chicken nibbles, while dogs tuck into much loved Lily’s Kitchen Cheese and Apple Training Treats, Rise and Shines and Bedtime biscuits all made from natural ingredients, real meat and grain-free.

Our canine testers bounded over each morning for their tasty Advent surprise and even the cat deigned to look excited at the opening of a few windows, so that counts as a win.

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

5. The Spice Discovery Advent Calendar: Best advent calendar for keen cooks

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Sous Chef

best unusual advent calendar the spice discovery advent calendar

This super-giftable gourmet calendar was a top seller last year, and 2023’s updated version looks to be equally popular. Each door hides a different spice sachet from far-flung climes, alongside recipe ideas and tasting notes that will inspire and delight anyone who enjoys experimenting with new flavours. Cook your way through Advent with carefully sourced seasonings like Crushed Smoked Black Pepper for next level scrambled eggs, Speculoos in all your festive bakes and Gravlax spices for the ultimate homemade cured salmon.

Terre Exotique sources spices directly from farmers and producers to ensure they receive a sustainable income, and takes pains to preserve natural habitats for the environment and local communities. This Advent calendar tastes good and does good.

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

6. Wise Bartender Alcohol Free Advent Calendar: Best alcohol free advent calendar

Price when reviewed: £50 (pre-order) | Check price at Wise Bartender

best unusual advent calendar alcohol free sweet tasty advent calendar

Off the sauce this season? Celebrate your sobriety with Wise Bartender’s Advent calendar that hosts 24 different alcohol-free drinks for you to explore during all those Christmas parties. If you’re a beer fan but are looking for tipples under 0.5% this year, opt for the Beer Calendar. It offers a range of styles with a different lager, pilsner, stout, IPA, ale or wheat beer from around the world, allowing you to rediscover old favourites and taste new and exciting varieties to add to your low and no-alcohol repertoire. We love the UNLTD but will keep the spoilers to ourselves other than that.

If beer’s not your thing, the Sweet and Tasty Calendar will provide all you need to satisfy your sober curiosity. From cocktails to 0% wines and refreshing, crisp Maiden Mill cider, you can taste your way through December with plenty of festive spirit, just without the headache. The first 250 orders will receive a 33% discount on the retail price, with delivery included.

Key details – Calendar type: Alcohol free drinks; Number of days: 24; Vegan: Sweet & Tasty – Yes, Beer – No

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