Many ways to count down the days 'til Christmas

My daughter Ainsley’s favorite Advent calendars are the ones you can find just about anywhere for $2.99. I’ve tried to substitute an upgraded chocolate calendar — whose windows contain more than a teeny tiny piece of the cheapest chocolate money can buy. But she wants the same kind of calendar her Gram and Papa, who are no longer with us, used to buy her.

I love holiday traditions — some might even call me a stickler — and apparently I’ve passed on my passion/obsession to Ainsley. She’s still willing to pull the animals, shepherds and angels from the Fisher Price Little People nativity advent calendar one of my friends gave her for her very first Christmas. We’ve hung it on the fridge every Dec. 1 for the past 14 years.

I thought it might be fun this year to supplement her standard Advent calendar with one filled with bath or beauty products. A quick Google search led me to one from The Body Shop filled with products like coconut shower cream and strawberry lip butter that she would love. I did not love the $89 price.

Some more online searching uncovered a whole world of Advent calendars, some of which made $89 seem like a bargain! You can get Advent calendars filled with beer, wine, tea, coffee, chocolate, popcorn, candy, cookies, even whiskey. You can find a calendar for fans of Disney, Pokemon, Bluey, Jack Skellington, Rudolph, Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Elf, Super Mario, LEGOs and Barbies.

I was so intrigued, I decided to create my own list of some of the most interesting and unusual Advent calendars for 2023, depending on who’s on your gift list.

• for a man’s man — order the Meaty Christmas calendar for $99.99 by Mancrates and your favorite guy will enjoy beef and pork sticks and bits (what are bits?) in tasty flavors like cajun, orange habañero and honey bourbon.

• for cheese lovers — The Cheese Brothers 12 Days of Cheesemas calendar for $102 comes from a company based behind the Cheddar Curtain. Recipients will enjoy everything from mundane cheese curds to an interesting-sounding Trappiste Ale-Washed gouda.

• most beautiful shape — La Maison Du Chocolat offers a snowflake-shaped chocolate calendar for $95 that is filled with a “gourmet rendezvous of 24 chocolate surprises.” Aesthetic and poetic.

• for man’s best friend — if the dog is feeling left out while the kids open a window each day on their calendars, why not get this Wufers Advent Cookie Calendar for $59.95? It’s filled with handmade, hand-decorated dog treats made with locally sourced ingredients.

• for cat lovers — Fancy Feast’s Feastivities calendar includes 24 3-ounce cans of wet cat food for $32.99. Ick.

• grossest calendar — speaking of pets, the James Oops calendar, advertised as containing funny dog pictures and exciting puzzles, features a picture of a dog with diarrhea on the cover. Yuck.

• most charming — the Wooden Christmas Village calendar by Balsam Hill for $189 is a beautiful miniature lighted village that will make any mantle look extra festive. The only drawback is you have to buy your own treats to fill the little drawers.

• most educational — kids can open a new gemstone every day to add to their collection with the National Geographic Gemstone Advent calendar and dig out a special crystal on the final day, all for $23.99.

• for Swifties — The Taylor Swift The Eras Tour Concert Film calendar for $24.99 includes 23 ornaments and a stylish keychain.

• biggest splurge — Dior’s The Trunk of Dreams contains perfume, scented candles and lipstick in an exquisite box that sells for $4,200.

The Body Shop calendar is starting to look a lot more attractive.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean