As a kid, did you have an Advent calendar each year leading up to the holiday season? Did you have enough willpower to only open one flap per day? I remember getting an Advent calendar from my church that wasn’t too fancy, but these days, there’s no shortage when it comes to Christmas Advent calendar ideas. Forget the simple cardboard calendars with dinky little flaps. Christmas Advent calendars have become super fancy and make great gifts. From Advent calendars with chocolate, food, candles, toys, and more, my French advent calendar ideas will help make your holidays all the more merry.
French Advent calendars
Different families and cultures celebrate Christmas different ways, but one thing I’ve noticed on both sides of the Atlantic is the tradition of Advent calendars… and some stores in France start early! In early October, Monoprix was already putting out Kinder Advent calendars to entice holiday-loving shoppers. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France, so Christmas decor and candy often comes early. But even for me, the beginning of October is a bit early! I’m a holiday lover, though, so I can’t complain.
Many of the major supermarket chocolate brands put out Advent calendars that run around 10 euros, but it gets wayyy fancier than that if you’re looking for more than regular old chocolate. In French, an Advent calendar is called un calendrier de l’Avent.
What is Advent?
In case you’re not familiar with it, “Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well as the return of Jesus at the second coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning ‘coming.'” (Wiki)
What is an Advent calendar?
Advent calendars are often made of paper of cardboard and have 24 consecutive windows or doors, each with a little prize. It’s a way to mark the 24 days leading up to Christmas, one day at a time. “The tradition dates to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas,” explains Mentalfloss.
I love the feeling of anticipation and an Advent calendar is the perfect way to count down the days until Christmas.
It’s a time of hope and Christmas cheer. Children especially love Advent calendars and I feel like they’re even more popular in France than they are in the USA. In addition to all the toy Advent calendars, France has no shortage of options for adults. And why shouldn’t they? Gift giving and holiday cheer isn’t just for kids, and I’m all for celebrations!
The fun lasts for 24 days. You’ll start your Advent calendar on December 1 and open one slot/window per day through Christmas Eve.
Traditionally, Advent calendars featured the manger scene or Saint Nicholas. They were often reusable and simple. You don’t have to be religious to get in on the Advent calendar fun.
These days, the concept has shifted to be more commercial — yes, even French Advent calendars — and the prizes for each day have gotten fancier. Keep in mind they make fantastic pre-Christmas gifts or hostess gifts if you’re a guest somewhere this year at Thanksgiving.
Christmas Advent calendar ideas
Here are some of my favorite French advent calendars and Christmas advent calendar ideas in general that I’ve seen out in stores and online:
Diptyque Advent calendar
This tops the list as my luxury advent calendar pick. Diptyque is a Paris-based company that makes high-end candles, perfume, and other body care products. You’ll get a selection of seven eau de toilette miniatures, two beauty products, 15 mini candles and one large limited edition ‘Frosted Forest’ candle.
Nuxe beauty Advent calendar
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a place that sells this in the US, but if you’re in France and a fan of the cult beauty brand Nuxe, you’ll want to take note of what’s sure to be your favorite advent calendar. It has 24 surprises from Nuxe and Løv Organic tea including the ever-popular Huile Prodigieuse®.
Another French beauty brand with a fun advent calendar is L’Occitane. Founded in 1976 and based in Manosque, France, L’Occitane’s holiday offering will make any beauty lover’s holiday dreams come true. It has everything from shower gel, to body lotion, to lip balm and more.
Kinder Advent Calendar
Any chocolate lovers in the house? Kinder Advent calendars like the one above are quite popular in French supermarkets. The brand was developed in Germany for the German market but is popular in a bunch of European countries including France.
Bonne Maman Advent calendar
If chocolate isn’t your thing, maybe jam is? The French brand Bonne Maman, famous for its jams and marmalades, has a lovely limited edition Advent calendar. It has mini jars of their classic flavors in addition to new, holiday exclusives including Raspberry and Lychee, Strawberry and Red Currant, Pineapple and Passion Fruit, Orange and Cinnamon and Morello Cherry. Foodies, you’ll want to take note!
What are your favorite Christmas Advent calendar ideas? Do you take part in the tradition where you live?
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