By Morwenna Kearns
When I was little, chocolate advent calendars were considered newfangled. Previously, all you had were 24 postage stamp-sized pictures hidden behind little doors.
But now you can have 24 days of gin, make-up, art posters, liquorice, beer, beard oil, fine jewellery, prosecco (ubiquitous in 2017, after all) – and so much more. My personal favourite is an advent candle, but here are a few more alternatives.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
You might feel a bit short-changed by Liz Earle's Twelve Days Of Christmas advent calendar, given that it has only half the treats of its competitors. However, those twelve products are high-end natural skin treats – including some, like the pure cotton cloths and soft headband – that will last well into the New Year. Maybe consider it a Christmas present to open on December 25th, rather than a slow-burning advent calendar.
Take a break
What's the tea on advent calendars over at Pukka Herbs? The organic tea brand has brought together 24 of its most festive and most popular tea blends for this cup-a-day calendar, positively encouraging you to sit down and have a tea break in December.
Get crafty to de-stress
Even those of us who love Christmas might find the whole thing a bit overwhelming at times. Art Tiffin, a new subscription box service that posts eco-friendly, vegan art supplies and treats to your door every month, is a great supporter of using crafts to unwind and even help with deeper psychological issues, so their Christmas boxes are bound to be a winner. Moreover, the Art Tiffin plans to send out an e-advent calendar each day from December 1st, each featuring a fun tip on making 'this the best eco-friendly, ethical, socially responsible and creative Christmas ever'.
A make and do advent
Instead of little present or something to eat, how about a themed Christmas activity for your family to do together? Jen Gale, ethical business coach and former My Make Do and Mend Year blogger, does this every year with her children.
"I really love this tradition that we have started – it means that we spend time doing something each day – making mince pies, or just sitting and reading a Christmas story – and it helps to move the focus away from 'stuff' and towards spending time together," she says.
Jen suggest adults can do something similar, like choosing 24 Random Acts of Kindness or donating an item a day to your local food bank.
To give is better than to receive
Speaking of which, UK Money Bloggers are doing just that. They're calling it a 'reverse advent calendar' or #FoodbankAdvent, and it's to ensure no-one goes hungry this Christmas. It could also cut food waste – we probably all have good food in the cupboards we're not likely to eat – as well as shining a spotlight on the mountains of food many of us buy each Christmas.
There are lots of these schemes taking place around the UK, many starting in November to ensure food bank users receive items in good time for Christmas.
Free to enjoy
OK, we caved. Moo Free's fun advent calendar ticks a lot of boxes, largely because it's filled with chocolate. Some '120g of quality organic, dairy-free chocolate made with fair trade sugar and cocoa', in fact. December 1st, we're ready for you.