Thursday, 17 November 2011

Advent calendars galore!!!

Have you noticed the sudden glut of advent calendars on the market? When I was a kid you just got one where you opened the little doors each day and there was a different picture behind. That was pretty exciting. It was especially exciting if the door for the 24th was extra big. I could barely contain myself. As I was growing up I remember the introduction of advent calendars with chocolate in them. In fact I can still taste the horrid cardboardy taste of that awful brand Kinnerton. To give them their due, it says on their website that they offer a 'dairy-free' chocolate filled advent calendar (you can find a downloadable order form on their site). As I recall even way back in the 80's you'd be hard pressed to taste any dairy in that chocolate. Now maybe their recipe has changed since then and it takes much better, but I am in no rush to try. Especially when there are Milka advent calendars on the market. (Kids ones too - here)
Hello, I am made for mummies. Oh yes I am! That's why I am priced at Euro 13.99 - no way you're spending that on a kid. Plus I have more child-friendly versions for them. Cheaper too. Look you could hang me right beside your side of the bed. I have a lovely satin ribbon. Why not buy one for both sides of the bed to balance the room? He doesn't like chocolate anyway....
See? This is the one to get the kids (or maybe store under your pillow). It's only  Euro 5.49. Not as pretty as the mummy one, but not as much chocolate either. 200g versus 329g...

Of course nowadays it is possible to even order your own branded advent calendars with chocolate in. And when I say 'branded' I mean YOUR OWN brand. You might need to order 1000 of them to get a good price £1.76 each per 1000 I saw somewhere, but you could sell them on to your friends, hand them out to promote or just eat them all yourself. That would be 24,000 chocolates. You could build a little cairn around yourself and eat your way out.

Anyway, prepare yourself for some pretty awful photographs. I was in the toyshop and I wanted to sneakily take some photos of the new breed of advent calendar - those with gifts! Last year, we had 2 Playmobil advent calendars but I saw the range of alternate advent calendars on sale this year and I was very tempted.

Here we have a car construction one, followed by  two Star Wars ones. 
 I have also saw a Hot Wheels one (ah, it's in the photo below) which I thought gave you a car behind each door but it's one car with lots of bits you can interchange. Not that great for the overall cost in my opinion, and no use really for anyone under 5 really.
Here we have some of the Lego advent calendars on the top (Hamish rather fancies the Lego Police one) and then the Hot Wheels one. On the second row you can see a couple of the Playmobil ones, followed by something to do with volcanoes and jungles and then the girl version with a unicorn. I have no idea what's in these. Bottom row: more Playmobil and the My Little Pony & Filly ones you can see better below...
 I like the Lego ones, but what puts me off is the fact that they say "Other sets will be required to create this scene" or very similar wording to that effect. Really? Well, that seems like a bit of a swizz. Cause I would like to think that what you see on the box is what you get in the box. So what are you getting? A brick behind each door? Probably not much more than that. If it takes you longer than one day to create say the Christmas tree then that's just too much waiting for a child I'd say.

I am a big fan of the Playmobil ones, though I have noticed that they are a fair bit more expensive in the UK. At the moment you can get these for around Euro 12.99 in places like Kaufland. The toy shops are a bit more expensive at around Euro 14.99. This years' Playmobil themes are: Princess Wedding; Santa & Woodland Animals; Pirates; Dinosaur Expedition; Santa's Post Office; and the Knights one. In fact, I've just seen that most of these are reduced on the website to Euro 11.99. Which is good, but if you add on the delivery charge you are back to the original price...might as well wait until after Christmas then buy one for next year in the Karstadt sale.

Finally here we have the My Little Pony and the Filly advent calendars.
Orla would love both of these. I did think about getting her the Filly one but it was Euro 19.99 (which seems to be the more or less standard price for these gift filled advent calendars) and it was just too expensive. Especially if I think about the fact that I would need to buy one for Hamish too. Euro 40 makes me kind of choke. Orla would probably also really like the Barbie one or the Littlest Pet Shop one (Both not pictured), but I thought they were kind of dear too.

So there's a lot of choice out there. Of course looking at these I can't help but think I should buy a nice wooden one with little drawers and fill it myself and use it year after year. There are loads of them here and they're all very pretty. So what would you choose?

Guardian article on advent calendars v selection boxes

Advent calendars for cats (I know, this is truly mental, isn't it?):

Gawd-awful Kinnerton advent chocolate:


  1. I hear you loud and clear on the Mummy one. Thanks for alerting me to this possibility.
    And getting one for each side of the bed is am AWESOME idea (my DH doesn't like chocolate either).

    Do you think the kids will complain (since I 'made' their advent calenders this year, and they don't contain a single piece of chocolate)?

  2. All that chocolate reminds me that I meant to ask you for your address ages ago - I have something funky to send you.

  3. Loved this post - nearly had a panic attack myself in Rewe Center the other day when trying to decide which calendars to buy for my 20 month old and 11 year old. Ended up buying the 4,00 Euro Haribo one for the baby and the 14,00 Euro ÜberashungsEi one for my daughter. Figure we have a few years before the little one realizes he got the short end of the deal. ;)

  4. If you go to Douglas, you can see my favorite one so far. It's filled with little make-up stuff, like random eyeshadows, fake eyelashes, and those things you put between your toes for pedicures. They also have a version filled with perfume samples. So if you feel like angels would complement your bedroom, you can hang this up!

  5. Well Fiona, it depends on what you tell them. I'm tempted to get myself that nice Milka one and tell them it's got mummy's medicine in it...I wonder how many years I could continue to get away with that?

    Ooh...Amaranthine, I am intrigued. Can you email me and I'll email you back my address? gray_fiona(at)

    Americanincologne, I was wondering whether there was a Haribo one. My two would be quite happy with that. In fact far happier with that than the Lego one probably.

    Heather, that does seem like an awesome idea. But look at the reviews! People are saying the makeup's only good for the bin. Though I am wondering who these people are that have opened their advent calendars a whole month early!!

  6. I love advent calendars, I even loved the teletext calendar on the TV that you had to visit everyday and press reveal to see a few extra pixels. I got a surprise email from my Step Mum last night and she has bought me an Advent Calendar app for my PC, I was so excited, I'll be even more excited when I can open it on the 1st. I might have to get myself a goody filled one too, I don't need children when I'm so childish myself =P

  7. I saw the Lindt ones today too. They are also nice and BIG and for adults in both alcohol filled chocolate and just chocolate varieties. Yum. Yum. Would it be too much if I wallpapered my bedroom in advent calendars????

  8. If you are looking for some DIY advent calendar ideas, here's an excellent place to start. Zuhause has a great post on DIY advent calendars by German bloggers, and they are all really pretty:

  9. I love, love, LOVE adventcalendars! I haven't bought one yet (I'm looking for just the right one), and I think I am going to look for the Milka one you have!!

  10. Advent Calendar Wallpaper sounds like a winning Dragons Den idea!! I'd invest, but then maybe that is why I am not a millionaire businesswoman...

    I got a double Lindt one so that Uwe doesn't nick my chocs and has his own =P I also got a little one with a different smartie behind each door as a free gift when I bought a load of stuff from the craft shop, which I thought was most awesome! As well as my electronic one. Oh December the first I am soooo ready for you!!!

  11. Oh Jan, I haven't got the Milka one. The big mean Stevie in my life said "you don't NEED it". I am choosing not to mull over what he might mean by that, and am compansating by discovering that I actually like the kids Kinder Schoko Bon Bons. Ace in fact. Just the right size to snaffle while they aren't looking!

    Morgenmuffel. I am so jealous. You have the Lindt? Ugh! So not fair. I saw the Smartie one at the supermarket the other night. It's cute. And an excellent gift from the craft shop. I would be popping in there for a very small purchase about 5 times a day!

  12. That one with the volcanoes on it is probably the most famous one ;) If you ever have some spare time left, google for "Die drei ???" (The Three Investigators). If I'm not totally mistaken the series originates in the US, but is hellish popular here in Germany. Every boy (and lots of girls) from the age of 7 on hear them every day. It's part of growing up here.

    My daughter loves it ;)

  13. Ah! I did Google it, and read all about it on Wikipedia. (I liked the fact that one of the German writers is called Ben Nevis! (Scottish parents perhaps!). I see there is also a younger version for kids under 7, but I guess my two are still too young to get into this. But thanks for the tips!

    Now I am on the official website ( and I've been checking out the advent calendar. Here's how it's described:

    A difficult case must be resolved by Christmas! And every day brings a new note or a detective tools, so you get every time the offender a bit nearer. A mysterious client has contacted the three detectives and asked for help. A seaplane is ready and the three plunge into the adventure. The three put their foot on shore island of the spirits and the adventure begins. It quickly becomes clear that there are strange things going on. Apparently it is not particularly interested in seeing strangers enter the island. There are: traps, puzzles, mazes, phenomena, Voodoo, will-o'-mist bottle, hints and traces, and, and ...

    That's a great idea! (Apologies for the shocking Google Translate version) and it's down from Euro40 to Euro 15! Bargain!


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