From titbits of cheese to daily protein balls, long gone are the days an advent calendar only offered up cheap bits of chocolate. 

Whether you’re looking for the perfect early gift to treat the food-fanatic in your life, or simply feel that you deserve to wake up to a daily surprise, there’s something to tickle the taste buds, whatever your vice.

When selecting your advent calendar, think about how many days you’d like to open (we’d argue that a true advent calendar needs the full 24 days at least!.

And don't forget to check where you’ll be keeping the months’ worth of wonder as some do require refrigeration – which might not be an option when the fridge is fit to bursting with other festive food.

We won’t judge if you send this link onto your nearest and dearest as a helpful hint.

How else will they know what you’d like to wake up to on December 1? We’ll be doing the same.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

BoroughBox Christmas snacking feast advent calendar: £79.99, BoroughBox

Indulge your inner foodie with this rip-roaring selection of artisan snacks from Borough Box, a company that champions independent producers from across the UK and beyond. Savoury morsels include Snaffling Pig’s maple crackling, Serious Pig’s crunch snacking cheese and Olly’s basil and garlic olives. Sweet treats include the oh-so-decadent Artisan du Chocolat salted caramel chocolates, mulled wine humbugs and a mini bar of Love Cocoa’s honeycomb crunch. No snack repeats itself and of the 24 doors, you’ll find a 50/50 split of sweet and savoury goodies.

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Fortnum & Mason’s feasting advent calendar: £200, Fortnum & Mason

Ok, so it’s not cheap, but when you ogle what Fortnum & Mason have managed to pack into this premium advent calendar, we think you’ll agree it warrants the price tag. From Fortnums’ own strawberry and champagne preserve to its pistachio and clotted cream biscuits, there’s sweet, savoury and even the odd tipple in-between. Treats have been cleverly dispersed to ensure you’ll be opening coffee on a Monday and booze on a Friday, ending with a mini bottle of Fortnum’s champagne to enjoy on Christmas day.

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Snaffling Pig pork crackling advent calendar: £17.50, Snaffling Pig

Ensuring the brand keeps its pork crackling lovers hooked, Snaffling Pig has introduced a special version for 2019, incorporating one of the hottest chillies in the world: the bhut jolokia. It’s not for the faint hearted so fear not, the original is still available if you’d prefer, as well as a gluten-free option. Complete with time-wasting puzzle on the back, this colourful calendar has been designed by Scottish illustrator Allan Deas and depicts a typically chaotic Christmas scene.

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Merry Pringles 12 day advent calendar: £16.66, Amazon

Most people can be split into two camps – those with a sweet tooth and those that will demolish a sharing bag of crisps in one sitting. If like us, you fall into the latter, you’ll appreciate waking up to a mini tub of Pringles for 12 consecutive days – in the name of counting down to Christmas of course. There are just four flavours – the original, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar and Texas BBQ, so expect some repeats.

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Marvling Bros Ltd chilli advent calendar: £39.99, Not on the Highstreet

Despite not sounding like the most festive of foodstuffs, this chilli advent calendar has a surprisingly merry vibe, with a chic Christmas jumper design on each of the 24 matchbox “doors”. Some of the chillies you will probably know – jalapeño, habanero and scotch bonnet – while others you’ll no doubt be braving for the first time – Trinidad scorpion we’re looking at you. Split into powders, flakes and pods each of the 24 matchboxes includes a recipe or advice on how to get the best out of your fiery new friend. Chilli-lovers and keen-cooks will get a kick out of this one.

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The 12 Curries of Christmas advent calendar: £29.95, The Spicery

Another way of spicing up your Christmas countdown is with this advent calendar. Here you’ll find individually bagged spice blends and a corresponding recipe too. Internationally-inspired, you can expect everything from a mild korma through to Jamaican curried goat. Even the Christmas classics have been given a spicy twist, with recipes for turkey seekh kebabs and spicy apple chutney; vindaloo pigs in blankets and brussels sprouts bhajis. Who needs chocolate when you can have curry.

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Ilchester limited edition cheese advent calendar: £10, Sainsbury’s

This genius idea is thankfully back for the third year running, thanks to inventor and food blogger Annem Hobson, from So Wrong It’s Nom. But this time she’s gone one step further with the addition of two more varieties of cheese, making it eight this year. It’s also a slimmer design then years gone past, taking up less valuable fridge space. From the sweet and nutty Jarlsberg to the West County’s Applewood, all the cheeses are suitable for vegetarians. Although the calendar ends on Christmas Eve, there’s now a cheese cracker as well (£3) to tide you over. The additional cracker contains two sticks of cheese, a jar of chutney, mini oatcakes and like all good Christmas crackers, a hat and cheesy joke.

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Misfortune Cookies anti-advent calendar: £29.99, Prezzybox

While some of us are watching Elf for the 872nd time and have been eating mince pies for breakfast since September, for others, this festive period can leave us feeling a bit bah-humbug. This advent calendar aims to address that, catering for even the moodiest of revellers with an “anti” Christmas advent calendar. Behind each black and white door, you’ll be treated to a black “mis”-fortune cookie (which also just so happens to be vegan), delivering a sweet hit and a negative comment – such as the cutting: “I hope you’ve got pets because you don’t have any friends”. There's also a pack of tissues for Christmas Day so you can dry your tears! Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will love it.

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Selfridges mince pie advent calendar: £39.99, Selfridges

Arguably mince pies are the absolute best bit about Christmas, so why save them for the big day when you could eat 25 in the glorious run up. It’s been redesigned for 2019 but still contains mini-versions of Selfridges’ popular classic, almond, chocolate and citrus topped pies, all of which are handmade in the Cotswolds. An extra-large drawer containing a mini icing-topped Christmas cake will be waiting for you on the big day.

Available October 25

Walkers Shortbread advent calendar: £14.99, Walkers

A Christmas cupboard staple, we always ensure there’s a stash of buttery Walkers shortbread on hand during the month of December. So it seems only fitting that it has incorporated this festive favourite into an advent calendar, new for 2019.  Embossed with iridescent snowflakes, the design incorporates the infamous Walkers tartan bow and behind each of the 24 doors, you’ll find an individually wrapped pure butter shortbread finger, round or chocolate chip biscuit. If you’re thinking of gifting, there’s also space to write a thoughtful message on the front.

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Kellogg's 12 days of cereal advent calendar and bowl set: £20, Debenhams

Arguably one of the most sensible advent calendars to wake up too, Kellogg’s has crammed nostalgic mini-boxes of our favourite childhood cereals behind each door. Whether it was Cocopops you scoffed before heading off to school or Rice Krispies, there are 12 doors to open on this red Christmas tree-shaped calendar, which comes complete with a retro bowl featuring the likes of Tony the Tiger and other children’s mascots.

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The Naked Marshmallow Co. advent calendar: £17.50, The Naked Marshmallow Co.

Back for the third year running is the sell-out calendar from The Naked Marshmallow Co. Big squishy flavours include salted caramel, butterscotch, milk and cookies, gingerbread, mint choc chip and the American inspired s’mores. To get the most out of it you’ll want to add on a toasting kit so you can melt your super-sweet mallows to perfection. Although flavours repeat, behind each door you’ll also be treated to a joke, fact or cheeky discount code for more sweet treats. Day 25 has an extra-large door containing a chocolate spoon to make a cup of hot chocolate with – best save some marshmallows to melt on top if you ask us.

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The Sweet Reason artisan brownie advent calendar: £69, BoroughBox

For chocoholics, it doesn’t get much more decadent than this. Instead of doors, the lucky recipient will receive a tray of freshly baked, individually wrapped brownies, with a numbered lid designed to prop up behind which will tell you what today’s treat consists of. It could be salted caramel (our favourite), Baileys, mince pie or even a very inventive mojito brownie. The last three days switch up brownies for an extra-large flapjack, shortbread and fruit cake. A lovely gift, each box can be personalised with a name and includes a greetings card.

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The Protein Ball Co. advent calendar: £12.99, The Protein Ball Co.

Gym-goers needn’t forgo a festive sweet treat thanks to this protein-packed advent calendar. Suitable for vegans, flavours include lemon and pistachio, goji and coconut, raspberry brownie and peanut butter and jam, as well as a special festive flavoured protein ball on Christmas eve. With no added sugar, soy or GMO’s, as well as being gluten and wheat free, it’s a guilt-free treat for the health conscious.

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Livia’s indulgence with bells on advent calendar: £39.99, Selfridges

Not all sweet treats are created equal, as proven by Livia’s, who create the most delicious morsels, entirely from natural ingredients. It’s a beautifully designed box, featuring pull out drawers and all of the contents are full-size, completely vegan, gluten and dairy-free. We’re particularly smitten with the salted caramel million squares which is good news as you’ll find four of them across the course of the month, along with the “nugglets” and caramel almond “dunx” – a type of biscuit, perfect for dunking in your cup of tea..

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BoostBox vegan protein advent calendar: £39.99, BoostBox

Building on the success of last year’s BoostBox advent calendar, this year’s range has been expanded to include an all vegan version. Featuring 25 full-size fitness treats from Bounce, Pulsin, Battle Snacks, Applied Nutrition, PhD, Vive, The Protein Ball Co., Boostball and Boostbutter – and not a single flavour is repeated. Not only will it appeal to bench-pressing body builders, but the contents are said to be worth over £60 if bought separately so you’re getting a bargain too.

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The verdict: Food advent calendars

If money is no object, go for BoroughBox’s artisan snack advent calendar containing both sweet and savoury treats from all of our favourite brands, however for something more budget-friendly and a little healthier, Livia’s Indulgence with Bells on gets our vote.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.