Best advent calendars 2023: Make-up, Lego, candles and Pokemon

From luxury to budget, beauty to bizarre, here are the highlights this year

Make-up from Charlotte Tilbury and stories for children are two options for advent calendars. Photos: Charlotte Tilbury; Usborne
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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … one of these wonderful advent calendars, hopefully.

They're an enjoyable accessory (and worthy gift) to build festive anticipation in the run-up to Christmas.

Here, The National pulls together an array of advent calendars to suit everyone in the family, from budget-friendly to luxury options featuring gifts that can be used long after the Christmas tree has come down.

For beauty mavens

Bloomingdale's 30 Days of Self-care

Eschewing the traditional 24 days of gifts, the Bloomingdale's 30 Days of Self-care calendar (Dh1,500) goes that little bit further to fill the whole of December with daily treatments.

This double-fronted calendar features pull-out drawers filled with travel and small-sized versions of some of the beauty world’s most popular products.

Find Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream; Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, Nars Bronzing Powder Laguna, Philip B Peppermint Avocado Shampoo, YSL Libre EDP Intense and Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.

There are also products from Mac, Gucci, Lancome, Diptyque, Rodial and more.

Bloomingdale's 30 Days of Self-care, Dh1,500,

Asos Face and Body 25 Day calendar

Stay pampered from top to toe with this calendar of goodies from Asos (Dh505).

The calendar contains 25 products including a mix of beauty, skincare and body care.

There’s eyeshadow, foundation fixing spray, lip oil, illuminating cream, a scented candle and even a night-time pillow spray from brands including Caudalie, Neom, Elemis and Mac.

Asos Face and Body 25 Day calendar, Dh505,

LookFantastic Men's Grooming calendar

Meeting the growing rise of men's grooming, LookFantastic has put together a month of treats for him.

The pull-out drawers offer skincare, haircare and body treatments.

Products include Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cleanser, Avant Dual Response Pullulan Tightening & Firming Eye Cream, Bulldog Styling Cream, Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil and This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray.

The calendar is priced at Dh390, although the company says the products are valued at more than Dh1,500.

LookFantastic Men's Grooming calendar, Dh390 (Dh320 for subscribers),

Charlotte’s Lucky Chest of Beauty Secrets

The acclaimed celebrity make-up artist has released this year’s advent calendar (Dh800), which features 12 of her most popular and best-selling items.

Charlotte's Magic Lip Oil Elixir, Magic Cream, Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, Beauty Light Wand and the Hollywood Complexion Brush Hair are among the items included.

They're presented in a gorgeous box to keep.

Charlotte’s Lucky Chest of Beauty Secrets, Dh800,

For children

Pokemon 2023 Holiday Calendar

If you’re looking for an advent calendar that is fun, keeps children entertained even after the window has been opened and doesn't cost the Earth, the Pokemon 2023 Holiday Calendar (Dh195) might be the way to catch 'em all.

They are filled with 25 surprises including Pokemon cards, boosters, foil cards and fun packs hidden behind the doors. There are also two Pokemon coins, two sticker sheets and a sidekick dangler featuring Pikachu and Glaceon.

Pokemon 2023 Holiday Calendar, Dh195,

Usborne Advent Calendar Book Collection

Turn December into story month with this literary calendar (Dh83) from children’s books publisher Usborne.

Behind each door, children will find a classic story, from fairytales such as Pinocchio and Cinderella, to the enduring classic The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The 24 books come together to form your little one’s own mini library.

Usborne Advent Calendar Book Collection, Dh83,

Lego Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel's third Guardians of the Galaxy film came out earlier this year wrapping up the adventures of Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot and the gang, and children can recreate their favourite scenes with this calendar (Dh159).

There are 24 elements from the franchise to build, including characters, spaceships, a drone, accessories and, of course, Peter Quill's beloved Walkman.

Lego Guardians of the Galaxy, Dh159,

For foodies

Selfridges 12 Days of Panettone

Make this year a buon Natale indeed by swapping out the traditional chocolate calendar for a panettone-filled one (Dh572).

The Italian sweet bread is traditionally served over Christmas and New Year, and this calendar contains 12 cakes and four delicious variations, including traditional fruit and candied orange with Belgian chocolate.

Selfridges 12 Days of Panettone, £124.99 (Dh572),

Pringles calendar

The company claims that once you pop you can’t stop and, for 12 days in December, you won’t have to.

The Pringles advent calendar (Dh126) could just be the ideal gift for the snack fan in your life, especially over Christmas when, as everyone knows, calories don’t count.

This fun option contains a dozen 40g tubes of various Pringles flavours.

Pringles, Dh126,

Hot chocolate calendar

There’s no denying the festive season is perfect hot chocolate weather and this calendar means there are no excuses not to enjoy a sweet, steaming cup every day.

The calendar by Sedol (Dh161) contains 24 sachets of hot chocolate to be stirred into frothy milk, with flavours including mint, toasted marshmallow, gingerbread, salted caramel and cinnamon.

Hot chocolate calendar, Dh161,

Quirky options

Hans Gruber from Die Hard

If you’re looking for something a little different this year, advent calendars don’t come more unique than this wooden option (Dh70) featuring Die Hard baddie Hans Gruber (played by Alan Rickman) falling off the Nakatomi Plaza in this unforgettable scene.

Finally putting to rest the ongoing debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, this calendar from LittleTouchesUK comes flat-packed for easy home assembly.

It can be filled with your own treats, perhaps a white vest in the style of Bruce Willis’s John McClane?

Hans Gruber calendar, £15.00 (Dh70),

Voluspa 12-Day Candle calendar

Fill your home with an array of festive scents with this advent calendar from luxury candle company Voluspa (Dh580).

It features 12 petite pedestal candles from the brand's Japonica Collection, along with a gold-plated wick trimmer, all packed in a smart box. Fragrances include spiced pumpkin latte, fig, apple blue clover and goji Tarocco orange.

Voluspa 12-Day Candle calendar, $158 (Dh580),

Updated: November 19, 2023, 3:57 AM