Lindt Storybook Advent calendar.

12 Advent calendars that are just as commercialized as Christmas

(RNS) Forget the War on Christmas. The War on Advent is upon us, some say, and the commercialization of Christmas has claimed yet another victim: Advent calendars.

Technically speaking, Advent is the four-week Christian period of introspection and preparation leading up to the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25. This year, Advent starts on Sunday, Nov. 30, and carries through the four Sundays before Christmas.

More generally, "secular" Advent marks a 25-day countdown to St. Nic's arrival down the chimney.

Advent calendars -- from a smiling Santa to a gauzy Nativity scene -- long have been a low-key way for families to teach children about Christmas. Many calendars feature little doors for each day, opening to reveal a small present or piece of candy inside.

Now, more companies are capitalizing on the season. You could spend all of Advent looking for the perfect calendar, as several major brands now sell them, including Pottery BarnRestoration HardwareL.L. Bean and World Market. Or, if you're more naughty than nice, there's a, um, adults-only version.

In case you are still on the lookout, we scoured the Internet for the brilliant and bizarre:

Beer calendar

The beer advent calendar. Photo courtesy of The Beer Cellar

The beer advent calendar.

Quench your holiday thirst by getting one of these boxes, from the Beer Cellar in suburban Chicago.

Lindt chocolates 

Lindt Storybook Advent calendar.

Lindt Storybook Advent calendar.

These calendars are filled with belly-pleasing goodness.

Yankee Candle 

Yankee Candle Advent calendar

Yankee Candle Advent calendar

Fill your home with fragrances like snowflake cookie, icicles, angels wings (exactly what do angel wings smell like, anyway?), cranberry ice, Christmas cookie and Christmas garland. The limits are endless!

String of teas

Not a big alcohol drinker? Try this string of teas calendar, courtesy of Artful Tea.

Tea Advent Calendar

Tea advent calendar

Cosmetic calendar

The Body Shop Advent calendar.

The Body Shop Advent calendar.

In the spirit of the increasingly popular Birch Box concept where users receive a box of cosmetic samples once a month, The Body Shop and Sephora stores offer 25 pint-sized lip gloss, hair ties, pore minimizer and more.

Rum, vodka, tequila and/or gin calendars

Whiskey Advent calendar.

Whiskey Advent calendar.

Count down to Christmas with "surely the greatest advent calendar known to humankind." The British-based Master of Malt warns of a spoiler alert: you can find out the contents, but they'll place them randomly so you're adequately surprised each day.


Starbucks Advent calendar.

Starbucks Advent calendar.

The magnetic chalkboard advent calendar holds 25 tins of chocolates and a $5 Starbucks card, a card you could splurge on yourself (don't go crazy) or stick in someone else's stocking.

Lego City

Lego Advent calendar.

Lego Advent calendar.

Take a few minutes each day to build a little lego land. “Help the police to build an awesome sled to catch the crook who’s stolen the presents.”

Mystery Kwanzaa gifts

Video courtesy of Cards Against Humanity

The makers of Cards Against Humanity, the completely irreverent and inappropriate card game, has a Kwanzaa (or whatever) Advent-ish concept. "You give us $15. We'll send you ten mystery gifts for the ten days or whatever of Kwanzaa." No refunds. No complaining.

Mini mani calendar

Manicure Advent calendar.

Manicure Advent calendar.

Pamper yourself with a mini manicure, using a new nail polish hidden behind a daily window, from Sephora.

Karma calendar

Karma Calendar.

Karma Calendar.

Not into Christmas but want the same experience of surprise and delight every day for a month? This super-environmentally friendly calendar focuses on one good dead or “heartfelt task” each day for 27 days.

Jelly belly tin

Jelly Belly Calendar.

Jelly Belly tin calendar.

Billed as the world's smallest Advent calendar, you can customize a little jelly belly tin courtesy of Zazzle. Plus, it measures your self control, assuming you can eat just one jelly belly at a time.


  1. Where exactly is the scriptural basis for “Advent” in the Bible? The only religious event I observe is the memorial of Jesus’ death which was observed by Jesus and his disciples with unleavened bread and wine as emblems.

    That was observed on Nisan 14 according to the Jewish calendar and I observe that once every year on the date that corresponds to Nisan 14 as Jesus instructed us to keep doing that in remembrance of him.

    I do not observe or memorialize the resurrection of Jesus since we are not instructed by him to observe it in the Bible. However, I do believe and have faith that God resurrected him from the dead after 3 days.

    But where is there anything about the “Advent”??

  2. Fran,
    Mary anticipated Jesus’ birth as soon as the angel asked her consent. Joseph anticipated Jesus as soon as the angel told him to not divorce Mary (well, ok, a little before, but not in a happy way). Elizabeth anticipated Jesus’ birth when Mary visited her while she was pregnant. We can assume that other family members also anticipated this birth, once they were aware of Mary’s condition, preparing for the needs of a new child and celebrating the possibility of this new life. If you consider yourself part of this family, you can also celebrate and commemorate this important milestone, sharing in the spiritual growth that comes from anticipation and preparation.

    Some leaders read the Bible as Napoleonic Code (what isn’t directly instructed is illegal), some read it as English Law (whatever isn’t illegal is permissible). These forms of interpretation come from European legal history.

    What you choose to celebrate (or not) is part of your experience of the Christian journey, but everyone doesn’t have the same experience. We are not all intended to be manufactured robots, thinking and acting alike. We are unique and precious.

  3. Lauren,

    It’s interesting to note that neither the exact date of Jesus’ birth, nor that of other servants of God are referenced in the Bible.

    The only birthday celebrations mentioned in the Bible are Pharoah (Genesis 40:20), where the chief baker was hanged; and Herod (Matthew 14:6), when John the Baptist was beheaded.

    It should also be noted that none of the shepherds who were notified by an angel that Jesus had been born bore him any gifts when he was a baby (Luke 2:1-20); only the Magi did when Jesus was a young child, because they believed he was to be the king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2,8).

  4. Fran-Matthew 13:42…also Matthew 25:41 plus in Revelation 20:10 and 20:15 all
    show/say that hell is a real place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!
    You can’t take hell out of the Bible because you don’t agree and the verses
    you use to say they are remembered no more doesn’t mean that they cease
    to exist…it’s just that they are no longer on earth but in hell. Read the Bible.

  5. Christmas was invented as a commercial.

    “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…”
    – (John 20:31)

    False advertising. There is no product to show for any of it.

  6. One of my fav blog quotes is still “Religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the cowardly, and the stupid, and for those who would profit from them.”

    Christmas in recent years has displayed much of all five of those sets, but the profit set does best of the pathetic bunch.

  7. Karla,

    Thank you for your reference to Matthew 13:42 as well as Matthew 25:41.

    As Matthew13:32 brings out, Jesus was speaking parables about the kingdom.
    A parable is defined as being “a short simple story, usually of an occurrence or a familiar kind, from which a moral or religious lesson may be drawn.”

    In this case, he compared the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed (this was not literal). He told them he was the sower of the seed, the field was the world, the good seed were the children of the kingdom, and the weeds are the children of the wicked ones. The enemy who sowed the weeds is Satan, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels (verses 38-39).

    Verse 40 brings out that the weed are gathered and burned in the fire at the end of an era (verse 40) and that they would be cast into a furnace of fire with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Since this is a parable, and fire is a symbol of complete destruction, that indicates that all the wicked ones and all those who oppose God and his kingdom and its rulership over man on earth will be destroyed by God, just as he did in Noah’s day.

    2 Peter 3: 7 confirms this by saying:

    “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition (or destruction) of ungodly men.” So they will be destroyed, with no hope of resurrection.

    Matthew 25:41 brings out that: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Therefore, Satan and his angels will also receive eternal destruction.

    Revelation 20:10, 15 refers to the devil being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, confirming his eternal death, as well.

    But how can we be sure that thus lake of fire is symbolic and not a literal place?

    Revelation 20:14 answers that question as it states: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

    So, how can a “condition of man” known as death be thrown into a literal lake of fire? That is an impossibility. Even the grave (hell/Sheol/Hades) will be thrown into it, so the grave will become non-existing as well.

    Revelation 21:3-4 provides the outcome of this taking place:

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be NO MORE DEATH, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain be any more; for the former things are passed away.”

    All these scriptures point to eternal death for the wicked ones and those who oppose God and his rulership; and eternal life on earth for the meek ones who accept his rule.

    And yes, hell, or the grave, is a real thing and has taken in millions of people since Adam and Eve sinned against God, and brought death to their descendants.

    But God will put an end to man’s big enemy, death:

    “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1Corinthians 15:26)

    As to your comment about the dead being forgotten that is so true, especially by those of us living, but Ecclesiastes 9:6 speaks further of the dead (from verse 5) as follows:

    “Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished, neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

    That scripture therefore confirms that dead persons do not exist or live and that they are not aware of anything (comparable to being in a coma). How loving is that? 🙂

  8. Karla,
    Please show me from the Bible the Scriptural basis for the “Advent” and how it was celebrated by Jesus, his disciples, apostles and first-century Christians. Thank you.

  9. Fran- At this point we can just agree to disagree because the part where you
    say there is no more crying/sorrow/He will wipe the tears from their eyes is
    for the people who are saved not the people who are in hell plus first born
    over creation refers to rank not that Jesus was created.The Bible says in the
    beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God
    then the Word/Jesus Christ became flesh/dwealt among us. Jesus is the Word
    so if in the beginning was the Word/Jesus which is Christ He was not created!
    Revelation 1:17 Jesus says I Am the First and the Last so He was not created!
    I suggest you do some more research on hell/the Trinity/Godhead. God bless.

  10. Fran…Plus hell is the holding place for people who go to the Lake of Fire so
    that’s why hell gets tossed into the Lake of Fire. Bible is very clear that hell
    is a very real place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Bible
    says it would have been better if Judas had never been born because in hell
    there is torment and the rich man was in agony in hell so he wanted to go
    warn his brothers not to come to this place of torment but was told that he
    couldn’t cross over because there was a gulf between him and Abrahams
    bosom where the Old Testament saints went before Jesus went to the Cross
    to set them free to go to heaven. The myth of purgatory comes from when
    Abrahams bosom was in hell for the Old Testament saints that died before
    Jesus went to the Cross. Once again the Bible is very clear that hell is real!

  11. While we’ve got Fran dumping bible bile on us again by the truckload, let’s take a closer look at some of the horrid guidance purportedly from her nasty sky fairy that’s in that book of horrors. From both foul testaments, and note the following text about context and interpretation issues:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    1 Timothy 2:11
    “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

    Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Leviticus 25
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don’t get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it’s in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god’s mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your “god” couldn’t come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken “out of context”, and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you’ve made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish superstitions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

  12. Karla,

    John 5:28, 29 brings out:

    “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are IN THE GRAVES shall hear his voice; and shall come forth; they that have done good to a resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (King James version)

    Again, as this scripture brings out, dead persons will be resurrected from their GRAVES (also known as Sheol, Hades and hell), and not a place of fiery torment.

    Said resurrections will take place during the millennial rule of Christ Jesus as King of God’s kingdom on a worldwide basis.

  13. Karla,

    Okay… So there is no Scriptural basis for the Advent then… Just another man-made tradition like the Scribes and Pharisees came up with in Jesus’ day (Mark 7:9-13).

  14. I’m always amazed at the number of non-religious people who subscribe to RNS and want to comment here. But, heck! It takes all kinds. So Happy Holydays to y’all anyway!

  15. Fran,

    Don’t bother with debates here. You know most people who claim to be christian cannot back up their faith from scripture. Or if they try, its usually one passage which does not reflect the true meaning of the passage. They would rather “hold to the traditions of men as doctrine”. Save your healthful words for one who is willing to have face to face discussion. Not the internet.

  16. Jay-What are you talking about? Most people on this site back up what
    they say with Scripture. The only one twisting things is you because in
    your comment you just twisted/distored the Truth of what I wrote and I
    stick to what the Bible/Word God says so take a look in the mirror and
    get the all facts right before you just assume things. Hell is real and the
    Bible is the Word of God/Truth not manmade traditions. Read the Bible!

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