Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

November 23, 2011

Advent Calendars - Choc or Not?

As Dec 1st approaches, the travesty of modern Advent Calendars will, once again, rear its ugly, chocolatey head and make me sigh inwardly as I leave the supermarket checkout.

Gone, it seems, are the simple, paper Advent Calendars of Christmas Past where you opened a little window and found a lovely picture of a toy soldier or a teddy bear or a robin in the snow. Gone, is the delight of comparing your picture to your sister's to discover that she got a rubbish bauble picture and you got a snowman. Gone is the sheer joy of the Double Window for 24th December which you tried and tried to resist peeking at for the entire month. Gone is the thrill of the Christmas Eve nativity scene which was eventually revealed behind that final, huge window. Gone are these simple, happy advent times.

Now, we have the dubious festive delights of, Peppa Pig, The Simpsons and Ben effing Ten - all with a nasty, cheap chocolate hiding behind the 'window' in a crappy plastic tray which will inevitably be eaten for breakfast because, obviously, the windows are opened first thing in the morning. What, pray tell, is festive about that? Huh? HUH, Tescos, M&S and other offending shops -what do you have to say for yourselves for foisting this annual travesty upon our poor, unsuspecting children? Call me a snob, call me scrooge, call me whatever you like, I would rather consume an entire platter of brussels sprouts than have a chocolate advent calendar in the house.

Thankfully, sense has prevailed among some and there are still a few paper calendars to be found. We have had a UNICEF advent calendar for the last few years - it's a lovely calendar which goes right back to traditions, keeps things simple and does just what an advent calendar is supposed to do - count the days down to Christmas with festive pictures behind each window. We also have a lovely hand-made fabric calendar which, admittedly, does have a little pocket for each day of December, but that doesn't necessarily mean the pockets will be filled with sweets - possibly little notes to the children, or something (when I've got around to thinking about it) but not chocolates every day.

So, who's with me? What's your opinion of the advent calendar - do you choc, or not?



  1. I have to disagree with you :)
    We love our advent calendar traditions. We try and find one which is more Xmas themed than character branded and some of them now are less crappy plastic and more quite attractive and fun.
    It's a harmful way to count down the days, and one small chocolate after breakfast and before teeth-brushing harms no-one.

  2. The availability of non choccy ones here in Australia has meant that I gave up early. No advernt calendars at all here. The kids make their own countdown thing.

    If, however, they made an advent calendar stuffed with Lindt Balls, I would be thre with bells on.


  3. I agree with you HCM, there's nothing Christmassy about Peppa Pig (well, not unless you're cooking a ham). We have a basic fabric advent calendar and I've ordered an Alison Gardiner traditional card one too - didn't know about the UNICEF ones. The boys can take it in turns to open the doors. I haven't decided what is going in the fabric pockets yet, but I reserve the right to resort to chocolate!

  4. I love the picture ones but that because we used to have them.

    I too hate the Peppa pig/ Simpsons style thing, though they have been consumed in our house too.

    My two often choose to have picture ones these days as it always more fun playing guess the picture on these ones. Which I might add is a game that gets played every day!!! :-)

  5. Totally with you on this one HCM. No chocolate advent calendars in our house either (although being in Russia, chance would be a fine thing). I can't think of a worse start to the day than giving your kids a sweet at breakfast time. And yes, I know I sound like a killjoy, but it's my house...

  6. I can absolutely see where you're coming from. I got caught up in the chocolate Advent calender years ago for my son.

    A chocolate Advent Calender is not always simply a chocolate advent calender though. You see my son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 8 years ago and things were VERY difficult then. He self-limited himself to certain virtually no food, but did include chocolate (Duh!)...and had difficulty with delayed gratification; i.e couldn't wait for Santa, or his birthday on Dec 22nd! December was a difficult month! ASD kids are usually very visual kids so you can imagine the sheer JOY I felt when I came across a CHOCOLATE (ie FOOD) Advent Calender (ie Visual timetable) 6 years ago!!

    With one fell swoop I could feed him a breakfast chocolate (I was that desperate!) that acted as a reward AND help him 'wait' for Santa!

    Things ain't always as they seem, eh?

    xx Jazzy

  7. I am on the fence with this one! My children love the chocolate ones, although I do cadbury's or thornton's rather than the cheap supermarket ones! They enjoy the chocolate but more than that, they enjoy the countdown to Christmas. Phoenix trading donsome nice paper ones, we had one from them last year where you learnt how to say hello in a different language behind each door and they loved that! This year we have a Lego advent calendar, which I know they will love and I thought it would be a change!

  8. Im on the fence too. If I could think of something better than chocolate to put in them, I would make a fabric one with pockets. And also the purpose of an advent calendar is to build excitement about christmas, not about getting a chocolate every morning. But a small chocolate every morning isnt going to do that much harm. I would just compromise with a good quality christmas themed one rather than a cheap character one. Interesting post.

  9. I've always had these because before they were available here my aunt used to send Milka ones to us from Germany. I loved lording it over my 7 years younger sister who used to just eat them all in first few days whereas I would open them day by day, more often than not I was made t break the chocolate in half. Now, I buy them for my kids, just the cheap Santa themed ones and my kids love doing the countdown and both manage to eat only one a day. They always compare the pictures behind the chocolate too - they're still important. My aunt however has upped the stakes and sends my kids Playmobil calendars. It is amazing how they can spend a whole day playing with 6 tiny plastic envelopes or a basket of minature carrots though. There were tears last year when I finally threw out the cardboard scenes. Pricy though, I wouldn't buy them myself. I make an advent wreath with them and make a big deal about the lighting of the candle once a week, we use themes of peace, hope, love and joy...but I'm a tradition collector. I've only a few years to make memories I go with making as much magic as possible. :)

  10. I have to disagree with you on this one. Christmas is all about tradition. But traditions do change. Just because your advent tradition favoured the picture ones doesn't mean that children today find any less magic in their chocolate filled ones. Growing up, I always had the choc calendar. Even now, if I was to have a piece of chocolate first thing in the morning - (a VERY rare occurance) - at any time of the year, I'd feel all Christmassy. So I say, let this generation have their chocolate, even if it's the cheap, chalky kind.

    Although, all that said, I do agree with you on the branded calendars. I say, go for choc but go for a Christmassy choc.

  11. I have a wooden tree with 24 little draws underneath and each holds a little wooden tree decoration wrapped up in tissue and I put a choclate coin with each one. I pack it away the year before i a different order so each year as the draws are opened up it is a surprise which one comes out and its like greeting old friends and we still get a bit of chocolate. Tradition and tummy, a great christmas mix! I've also bought a bar of chocolate from Lakeland with the advent days printed on it this year. it looked so cool. We also have an advent candle which we burn together on a Sunday evening for the weeks worth of days. Advent is a very special time. I love the advent Sundays.

  12. drawers - arrrgh failed english again!

  13. I let them have the chocolate! Nothing beats a sugar rush in the morning. But I won't buy Simpsons/Peppa Pig or whatever because I dislike overly branded things and they're just not very Christmassy. I have one of those fabric ones with pockets and I put in little treats - chocolate coins or maybe a tiny weeny toy towards the 25th.

  14. Not a fan of the chocolate ones (we've not been able to have them for the last couple of years because I've yet to find a nice dairy free one) - we have a wooden one, sadly means I then have to rush around filling it with jelly babies and bits of plastic jewellery

  15. We have our own homemade one. Some days have chocolates and other have non-chocolate items! Always enjoy the countdown to Xmas!


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