The Pleasure of the Luxe Advent Calendar
A new column for people whose fantasy life involves a lot of shopping.
Every holiday season I buy multiple Advent calendars. I’m not so moved by counting down to Christmas as I am excited by the idea of getting a present every day. (If there were 365-day versions, I absolutely would want that.) Making coffee and feeding my dog are so much more fun when I first open up a tiny window and see what’s waiting for me. It’s also nice to have useful Advent calendars, so I get a Nespresso one every year to have a new assortment of coffee pods. And I usually buy my dog a treat Advent calendar. (I like Lily’s Kitchen, which is a British organic dog treat company.)
Europe is far more committed to Advent calendars than the United States is, so I highly recommend browsing a store like Selfridges for its highly specific, gleefully British selection of themes, which includes gin, tea, Wedgwood and so many variations of chocolate. I also like the idea of the Kiosk48th advent calendars. That’s a Danish art and design brand that sells chunky ceramic candelabra and handmade place mats of Iraca palm. I hesitate to endorse this one because there are just four presents — one for each Advent Sunday — and Advent calendars with fewer than 24 days seem to miss the point of a daily endorphin rush, but I’m sure the presents are completely delightful.
Sometimes I am taken by the whimsy of an Advent calendar and succumb to buying several edible versions for myself. This year I want the François Doucet calendar for covered fruits and nuts. I imagine opening it at night and reclining with chocolate-covered almonds in one hand and a very slim, very cold flute of Champagne in the other. And while that sounds deeply pleasant, the calendar did not make the cut when a friend asked for my recommendations for the most over-the-top luxurious advent calendars.
Buying scented candles can be tricky because you’re either buying one for someone else and have no idea if they’ll like it, or buying one for yourself without really living with it first. Also, I don’t believe in having one signature house scent. It’s cool if you’re in the Bode store and know it will always smell like Oud — that’s reassuring — but at home, so much depends on the weather, what time of day it is, your own mood. The obvious answer is having a wardrobe of home scents.
I do, but I’ve been hoarding candles and incense for two decades. A faster approach would be the Diptyque Advent calendar, which includes 10 scented candles in its most popular scents (yesss to Mimosa and Feu de Bois), soap, perfumes and some kind of metal holiday decorations. This year, for the first time, Diptyque is including all three of its limited-edition holiday candles, which I am a complete sucker for because they have names like Étincelles (“Spark … a comforting scent that blends the smell of a wood fire with delicious notes of coffee and chocolate”). Maybe all you need to know is that this calendar glows in the dark? $480.
Almost exactly six years ago, I had just checked into a hotel in Berlin, where I was supposed to meet a longtime friend and sometimes more-than-friend who was living in England. He never showed up. No call, no email, nothing. I was hurt and confused and went to the hotel’s spa to book a massage and got distracted by a display of Susanne Kaufmann Advent calendars. I bought one and hauled it back to New York.
I don’t know if it was the St. John’s wort in the bath oil or just the overall luxe-but-no-nonsense Teutonic branding, but I have never gotten over a man faster. There are many, many beauty Advent calendars — I’ve heard the Liberty one is coveted, and La Mer seems fancy — but the Kaufmann calendar is the best combination of useful (travel-size products) and splurgy (so many lotions and oils to rub on your body). $510.
Once I read that Justin Timberlake wore a fresh pair of socks every day and then, I guess, just threw them away. I’m not sure if the story is true or where I read it, but it has stayed with me for the feeling of bounty that all those perfect and clean socks must have given him. It’s a feeling I chase every day.
Hanky Panky has an Advent calendar that includes 25 pairs of underwear. (I wouldn’t throw them away after wearing but rather delight in not having to do laundry for so long.) It involves a few buy-ins: that you’re between sizes 2 and 12 and that you want to wear a low-rise thong. It’s like “It’s Raining Men” but with lace panties in so many colors that I counted nine shades of blue and green alone. $660.
Harry & David
I’m going to lead with why I think this advent calendar is really classy, which is: One of the items is a Royal Riviera® pear — a variety of Comice pear hailing from France — wrapped in gold foil. If I had my way, this would be behind Door No. 24.
Actually, if I had my way, there would be an Advent calendar entirely made up of obscure or semi-obscure fruit varieties wrapped in gold foil, but the fact that there is one is the most elegant thing I can think of at the moment. I would also eat the hell out of the trail mix, the single slice of baklava and the mint chocolates.
But really this is about spending $200 on the ability to open up a single pear from gold foil. My heart beats faster in anticipation. $199.99.
Tiffany & Company
Tiffany & Company has this four-foot-tall Advent calendar made of wood that looks like a stack of boxes. The store is doing a collaboration using Andy Warhol’s greeting card designs. When it’s opened, it reveals 24 boxes in Tiffany’s signature blue. The calendar is grand and lovely!
But that’s not the point. The point is that “clients can work with their preferred client adviser to curate the perfect Advent calendar.” Which means I could, in an Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby” kind of way, dictate my own gifts or send some benevolent and vaguely rich husband I lack to fill it up.
How about the Tiffany HardWear graduated link necklace in 18-karat gold ($15,000)? Maybe throw in one of those new Tiffany Lock bangles in yellow gold ($6,800)? And ever since I watched the Netflix series “Halston,” I’ve been ready to start an Elsa Peretti collection, so I’d get a silver or a gold Bone cuff — or both, I have 24 days! I would be sure to get some diamond studs for all of my friends because, above all else, I am a kind and generous fantasy gift giver. Price unknown!