Leigh Hatts  

Chocolate-free Advent calendars

The original printed paper Advent calendar invented in 1903 did not have a chocolate behind the doors.

An experiment with sweets failed in 1908 and chocolates only starting being included during the 1990s.

This year the shops are offering calendars costing as much as £79.99,  £85 and even £149.95. These, sometimes containing alcohol along with chocolate, have little to do with Advent or Christmas.

A gift-free calendar is more in keeping with Advent where the feast should be yet to come.

Charming Advent calendars with just pictures do exist and some even hint at religion.

St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street has a good selection. Below are several popular ones.


House of Commons

Parliament’s Advent calendar

The Palace of Westminster Traditional Advent Calendar is a unique design by Alison Gardiner on sale with the warning: “Please note: This advent calendar does not contain chocolate.”  Windows open to reveal images from the House of Commons.

£6.95 from Parliament Book Shop on corner of Parliament Street and Bridge Street or by post.



RA Advent Calendar

The Usborne Advent Calendar to Colour folds-out for colouring in day-by-day.

£6.99 from bookshops or by post.



Unicef Advent calendar

The UNICEF charity Advent Calendar made in Germany where the calendar was invented.

£5.95  online from UNICEF Market.


Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral in snow

A watercolour of Canterbury Cathedral in snow by Gerry Murray with images behind doors by Peter Livesey.

£4.99 from Cathedral bookshop or by post.

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