Reviewing The 2013 Advent Calendars (With Spoilers)

Which Advent calendar gives you the best value on the countdown to Christmas? We spoil everything by opening them up.

Have you got your advent calendar yet? It’s a major decision, one that shouldn’t be undertaken without careful thought. But how can you make such a choice when the whole point of Advent calendars is that you don’t know what’s inside them? As a public service, we’ve checked to see what kind of treats you’ll get each day from some of the more popular calendars.

Extra difficulty: All calendars had to be available a five-minute walk from the BuzzFeed U.K. office in London. Because we’re lazy.

5. Cadbury

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Source: Sainsbury’s, £2.00
Rating: 2/5
Review: Poor effort, Cadbury. Chemical-tasting chocolate, blobby and indistinct shapes, minimal shape variation with numerous repeats (including several consecutive repeats — who wants an elf two days in a row?), and a general lack of ambition drags this down.

The inside of the doors also loses marks.

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Cadbury tries for cutesy Christmas-themed phrases, many of which end up sounding more like something a serial killer would say. “I told you I’d see you again! I WIN!” Chilling.

Chocolate spoilers:

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

In order: Santa, snowman, Santa, snowman, unidentifiable blob, snowman, elf, elf, snowman, unidentifiable blob, blob, elf, maybe a reindeer, blob, blob, Santa, elf, blob, elf, blob, reindeer, reindeer, Santa.

4. Hello Kitty

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Source: Marks & Spencer, £2.00
Rating: 3/5
Review: Competent, but unspectacular. Chocolate nice, shapes clear and with good variation, but little added value — and curiously untwee. It’s a Hello Kitty Advent calendar. It should be a ridiculously sugary explosion of adorable pop kitsch. Instead, Hello Kitty’s gone for tasteful.

The inside of the doors just have fairly plain illustrations:

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Chocolate spoilers:

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

In order: snowman, cracker, present, candle, stocking, wise man and/or shepherd, reindeer, star, unidentifiable figure that may be a terrifying scarecrow, cracker, stable, lamb, donkey, angel, holly, bell, teddy bear, some kind of bird possibly a robin, wise man/shepherd, Santa, tree, sleigh, wise man/shepherd.

3. The Gruffalo

Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

Source: WH Smith, £3.49
Rating: 3/5
Review: The nicest chocolate of our five calendars, and — possibly controversially — it includes a big extra chocolate for the 25th (customisable with a name if you get it from Thornton’s itself, but not from other outlets). Disappointing number of repeats in the shapes, though.

The inside of the doors are pleasant — they have pretty Gruffalish pictures on them — but add little value.

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Chocolate spoilers:

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

In order: Santa, cracker, bauble, present, Christmas pudding, different kind of bauble, present, first kind of bauble again, Christmas pudding, present, bauble 2, Santa, cracker, bauble 1, Santa, bauble 2, Christmas pudding, Santa, present, Christmas pudding, bauble 1, bauble 2, cracker, cracker, BIG MERRY CHRISTMAS THING.

2. Percy Pig

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Source: Marks & Spencer, £2.00
Rating: 4/5
Review: A strong attempt to recreate the Percy Pig experience in chocolate form. No, it can’t quite replicate the classic Percy taste, but the “raspberry- and strawberry-flavoured white chocolate” is nonetheless an exciting change from the chocolate norm. Like the other M&S calendars, good shape variation let down by only one consecutive repeat.

Like the Gruffalo, the doors just have nice little drawings in them. Pleasant, but could work harder.

Tom Phillips / BuzzFeed

Chocolate spoilers:

Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

In order: holly, stable, penguin, wise man and/or shepherd, lamb, stocking, cracker, cracker, reindeer, bell, wise man/shepherd, tree, sleigh, angel, unidentifiable figure that may be a terrifying scarecrow, snowman, star, candle, some kind of bird possibly a robin, teddy bear, present, wise man/shepherd, Santa, donkey.

1. Where’s Wally?

Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

Source: Marks & Spencer, £2.49
Rating: 5/5
Review: The king of the calendars. Good chocolate with very few repeats, and literally hours of fun in the hunt for Wally and other characters. There’s a word search on the back too.

The inside of the doors adds real value to the calendar.

Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

A new character to search for every day!

Chocolate spoilers:

In order: snowman, cracker, present, candle, stocking, wise man and/or shepherd, reindeer, star, snowman or maybe a penguin, cracker, stable, definitely a penguin, baby deer, donkey, angel, holly, bell, teddy bear, some kind of bird probably a robin, wise man/shepherd, Santa, tree, sleigh, wise man/shepherd. (Basically the same as Hello Kitty.)

Or, if this all seems too much, you could just go for a Ginvent Calendar.

Spoiler: gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin, gin.

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