You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy an advent calendar. These calendars — which count down the days until Christmas with numbered windows that open to reveal a new treat each day — are an interactive, nostalgic way to embrace the holiday season. Advent calendars have a long and storied history, with origins dating back to the German Lutherans of the 19th century; they became popular among children in the US in the mid-20th century.
Today, there are more advent calendar options than ever. There are beauty advent calendars, pet advent calendars, and even pop culture advent calendars for fans of everything from Star Wars to Dolly Parton. While these countdowns often include small chocolates or other candies, there’s an increasing variety with unexpected and savory items for more adventurous eaters and gift givers. We’ve gathered some of our favorite food-centric examples that are sure to make your mouth water. Who doesn’t want an excuse to eat something fun every day?
If You: Want Something Sweet That’s Not Chocolate
Chocolate advent calendars are everywhere — but if your sweet tooth yearns for something fruity, the Bonne Maman jam advent calendar may be for you. Bonne Maman is a French jam label known for using high-quality natural ingredients, and their limited-edition advent calendar is a yearly tradition that many fruit lovers look forward to. The calendar comes packed with 12 (Buy from Amazon, $29.99) or 24 (Buy from Walmart, $79.99) charmingly petite jars, including a variety of fruit spreads plus a jar of honey in every set. The jam selection includes flavors like Cherry With Christmas Spice, Plum and Pear With Star Anise, and Sweet Orange and Passion Fruit. For a sneak peek of what the Bonne Maman advent calendar looks like, check out this TikTok video review. If you’re interested in jamming it up this holiday season and taking your December breakfasts to the next level, act fast — these calendars often sell out.
If You: Can Handle Some Spice
If you’re the kind of person who thinks everything tastes better with hot sauce, you’ll love the 12 Days of Hot Sauce advent calendar (Buy from World Market, $19.99). This countdown features a fiery array of sauces in flavors like wasabi, garlic, mango, and the extra-hot Carolina Reaper (that last one sounds scary!). You can use these hot sauces on eggs, sandwiches, fish, meat — the sky’s the limit. If your family or friends are into a little friendly competition, try sampling all the varieties once you’ve opened every calendar day — and see who can best stand the heat.
If You: Are Sticking To Keto
Beef jerky used to be thought of as a casual gas station snack, but in recent years it’s become increasingly popular thanks to the keto diet — plus, there are now many artisanal, exotically-flavored jerky varieties on the market. When you think of advent calendars, you probably don’t think of dried meat, but this jerky advent calendar (Buy from Amazon, $89.99) from Man Crates provides the fuel you need to get through the hectic holiday season. The calendar includes 25 different styles of beef jerky, with flavors like Root Beer Habanero, Thai Satay, and Honey Bourbon. It’s pricey, but the quality is high and the creativity flavors are fun. An added bonus: the calendar features adorable stained glass-inspired illustrations of cows in various holiday scenes.
If You: Are a Wine and Cheese Enthusiast
If you live near an Aldi supermarket and enjoy cheese, try their beloved cheese advent calendar — just be warned, this is another product that sells out fast (and it’s only available in-store). In fact, it’s so popular (and fairly priced, at just $16.99), some blogs recommend heading to the store as soon as it opens. Cheese pairs beautifully with wine, so we think a wine countdown would make a fabulous pairing with this one — and Aldi also sells a wine advent calendar for $59.99. Wine advent calendars can admittedly be a splurge, but with 24 mini bottles of vino to sample, you just might find your new drink of choice. We recommend the 24 Nights of Wine advent calendar (Buy from In Good Taste, $124.99) for a classy gift that’s sure to be appreciated, featuring red and white wines from the US, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and South Africa.
If You: Want To Warm Up on a Cold Night
When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than getting cozy in front of the fire with a bowl of soup. The Cerreto 12 Days of Italian Soups advent calendar (Buy from World Market, $34.99) features a selection of organic vegan soups that are both wholesome and warming. The soup varieties include Tuscan Vegetable, Pasta and Chickpeas, and Grains and Porcini Mushrooms, and each soup packet makes two servings; plus, we appreciate the use of simple and healthy ingredients. Most advent calendar food is more of the snack or dessert variety — so it’s nice to get some hearty winter meals out of this one.
Clearly, there’s an advent calendar out there for every kind of person and taste preference. Any one of these seasonal countdowns would make a winning holiday gift, bringing a touch of culinary novelty to the season. Just try to resist opening all the doors and eating the daily goodies all at once!
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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