In the run up to Christmas, I like to hold myself back on any treats and go on a semi diet before the fun can begin and enjoy my favourite time of year, with my favourite people without restraint. This year might be a struggle however, as I have been found each evening to be tucking into a wonderful array of inventive, alternative Advent Calendars. But this year I am letting myself go for in my household, I make Christmas. Here is a review of my favourites. Let the good times roll…
Naked Marshmallows Advent Calendar
I received my Naked Marshmallow Advent Calendar with mixed feelings; I do like marshmallows but are they really the sort of thing that needs to be jazzed up with fancy flavours? Also I have been on a quite successful diet. I can now fit into once loved trousers that have not seen the light of day, sadly remaining at the back of my wardrobe like Five Spice from Michael Macintyre’s brilliant sketch, for a couple of years. Did I really want to break this diet eating a marshmallow every day for three and a half weeks?
It turns out my willpower is not very good and I decided to give them a go and how pleased I was with that decision. Each evening after supper I went through the traditional Advent Calendar’s routine of finding the correct door to open and then peering inside to see what was hiding there. With this one however I also got to perform the exciting ceremony of lighting the gel burner and toasting my daily treat with the included skewers. There was even an interesting fact or cracker style joke on the back of each door. As a bonus there is a door number 25 with a Belgium Chocolate Spoon that you can make into a chocolate drink in which to dunk the accompanying Vanilla Marshmallow.
Most marshmallows are soft, sweet pillows of innocent loveliness but the gourmet Naked Marshmallows go a big step further; they are superbly flavoured with Gingerbread, Mint Choc Chip, Butterscotch, Salted Caramel, S’mores or my favourite, Milk and Cookies. What is not to love? A delicious indulgence from which l took great pleasure and would happily eat all year round.
That Boutique-Y Gin Company Advent Calendar
If you are looking for a full on adult Advent Calendar than look no further than this. What a splendid gift, picture coming home from work every night throughout Advent and being able to have a super imaginative dram waiting for you. Select the appropriate door to open and voila, a beautifully wax sealed miniature bottle of gin ready for you to enjoy.
Having teamed up with Drinks By The Dram these gins have been selected from distilleries around the world with well known flavours such as Rhubarb, Lemon, or Lime, Yuzu, Cherry and all sorts of exciting and original flavours. The ones that are most intriguing are Moonshot; Fresh Rain and Dead King and that is just half of them.
Reindeer Balloon Advent Calendar
When I was a lot younger advent calendars were looked forward to with much anticipation even though all we got when we opened the door was a pretty picture. Opening door number 24 which was twice the size was the greatest excitement to find an appropriate nativity picture inside. Then chocolate ones came along and although I longed for one, that was never to be. Now however all that has been surpassed in a most spectacular way.
First you need to assemble the Reindeer Balloon Advent Calendar, blowing up the balloons, threading them through the reindeer noses and attaching them to the gold cord supplied within the pack. The garlands make an attractive decoration to be hung wherever you choose. Then every day you burst a balloon to find a chocolate, counting down the days with a bang as Bubblegum Balloons (the suppliers) suggests.
There is a warning notice which advises this is not for children under 8 years, nor I suggest for anyone upset by popping balloons. Though if you do not fit into these groups of people it is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent with a satisfying explosion of happiness and a mouthful of chocolate
Ilchester Cheese Advent Calendar and Cracker
What a creative way to celebrate British Cheese! I don’t mean to be sexist but maybe this one is more for the men out there, at least that is the way it is in our family. Although apparently it is one of the best selling Advent Calendars around the world after the #CheeseNotChoc campaign.
Following a more traditional pattern of opening a door daily to find a delicious mini cheese the calendar also include a daily cheesy joke. Flavours range from the well loved Cheddar, Red Leicester, Gloucester, Jarlsberg and Applewood to the more adventurous Mexicana (hot) and Wensleydale with either Cranberries or Gingerbread, which is my favourite.
The Cheese Cracker is filled with two mini cheeses, five mini oatcakes and a mini jar of Tiptree Tomato Chutney along with the necessary paper crown and cracker joke. Definitely the most useful cracker I have ever come across.
The Protein Ball Co. Advent Calendar.
I suppose after all the pre Christmas indulgence I have revelled in this year with the other calendars, I can’t really turn my nose up at a healthy option and as I mentioned I was ‘supposed’ to be dieting. This great calendar has helped me take away the rest of the guilty pleasure that burdens me throughout the day as I sit and scoff my other treats. Peanut Butter, Goji and Coconut, Lemon and Pistachio are just some of the fun and original flavours on offer with this vegan friendly option.
By Lucy Barclay