Whenever I hear the words “advent calendar” iterated, I am instantly and shamelessly hit with a flood of childhood nostalgia and a hankering for chocolate.
That mischievous feeling bubbles up of being allowed one small nibble of chocolate a day in the run up to Christmas (pre-breakfast, of course) and an almost overwhelming desire to meticulously unpick the seal at the calendar’s base, pull out the plastic mould from the centre and scoff the lot. Undetected.
Of course, advent calendars are not all about the guiltless consumption of chocolates (although this is definitely a practice I fully back) but are steeped in centuries of festive tradition.
Emerging out of Europe in the early nineteenth century, the tradition began as a candle-burning to count each day of Advent in anticipation of Christmas, whilst other versions emerged with pockets crafted to insert personalised gifts. In any of its multiple forms, Advent is a period of expectant waiting, and if each day of waiting comes accompanied with a surprise gift then it can’t be all bad. Festive excitement, combined with a small indulgence a day? Yes. Please. Transform the chocolate into the newest Lancôme mascara, MAC eyeshadow or Diptyque candle and I’m very ready to get involved.
Cue the trailblazing entrance of the beauty advent calendar.
The lure is strikingly evident. The beauty advent calendar creates the opportunity for beauty enthusiasts, or those tempted by the opportunity for experimentation, to re-visit all those excitable childhood emotions all wrapped up in a beautiful grown-up bow.
It’s not surprising that these advent calendars have fuelled beauty-induced mania over the last couple of years. The announcement of the boots No.7 calendar triggered a waiting list of almost 900 people, and is now sold out. The infamous Liberty London calendar is also already sold out.
Boasting a queue on release which would be easily mistaken for a chic collective of (thirty something to middle aged) excitable Take That fans desperately trying to get a good standing position at an arena tour - the Liberty calendar is the epitome of luxuriance, with a curated selection of cult products worth over £600 and retailing at £195.
Whilst this is a huge price gap, I’m not convinced my measly student budget can stretch to almost £200 for products that I don’t ACTUALLY need… Almost every department store and luxury brand in the country have launched their own advent products, each box as coveted as the next. But are they accessible to us students?
I’m a student myself, which we all know is a euphemism for “I’m perpetually skint and absolutely can NOT afford the stream of apparently life-altering skincare and beauty products which I’m constantly told I definitely need.” After looking into it a bit further, though, I think that in the name of self-care, problem skin and deserving some kind of reward for the long slog of winter term, I may have just been tempted.
Here then, is a list of my favourites, ranging from surprisingly accessible to a bit spenny, to lure you into the net. Turns out they’re not all extortionate.
ASOS “12 Day Countdown” Calendar
Whilst the fact that this baby only has only 12 dated windows of goodies to open may seem a little disappointing, it’s the perfect way of finding a more affordable calendar without compromising on product quality- retailing at only £25. Featuring products from Pureology, eyeko and Starskin, this little box of goodies packs a make-up, skincare and haircare punch. Oh, and its packaging is 100% recyclable.
M&S “The Book of Beauty” Calendar
Containing 25 high quality products, and priced at £35 when you spend £35 on home, clothing or beauty items, this M&S edition is a definite dark horse. Personal picks include Eyeko lash alert mascara, Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner and This Works deep sleep pillow spray. Buh-bye smudged, tired eyes and sleepless nights. It’s like it was built to hide a student lifestyle…
2018 Amazon Beauty Advent Calendar
Worth over £195, this is currently retailing at £40! Including treats from Balmain, Rituals, and Percy and Reed, this is an unsung hero on the calendar scene. It also has a nifty feature where you can purchase the products you love by scanning the “SmileCodes” in the accompanying leaflet. Cheap AND high-tech.
Charlotte Tilbury “Charlotte’s Beauty Universe” 2018 Calendar
At £150 this is WAY out of my price-range, but that’s what wish-lists are for, right? Wishing?... This is packed with 12 full sized and mini award-winning luxury make-up and skincare products; a starter kit for Charlotte Tilbury induced luxury dreams.
I’m hoping this one goes into the sale.
- Jasmin Jelley studies English Literature at the University of Exeter, and can be found anywhere where there is gin to consume, an art exhibition to spend far too long at or a generous bowl of ramen to devour.