Day 1: Advent calendars

It’s December! This means that the countdown to Christmas has officially begun (about a month ago) and that we can now openly show our love for the Christmas season without anyone telling us that “it’s too early to put up Christmas decorations… in March!” Yay! In order to properly celebrate this season, the duck and I have decided to do away with our intense laziness once and for all (well… for the next 24 days?) and write about all kinds of things that we like (or don’t like) about Christmas in Germany and in general. Because today is December 1st, let’s start with one of our favorite traditions: the Advent calendar!
tea calendar duckIsn’t the duck pretty, posing nonchalantly on top of our personal Advent calendar? Well, those of you who know us or those who looked at the analysis of my teavelopment throughout the years, will not be surprised that our Advent calendar of choice is tea-related. We were hoping for a Yogi Tea one because we have seen them around in past years, but the one that we got during our drugstore exploration looks pretty nice, too. Of course, the duck and I would love to have at least 50 different Advent calendars, but opening 50 doors each day kind of beats the purpose of having an Advent calendar (and that of being lazy). Instead, we took pictures of all the Advent calendars that we thought looked interesting and compiled a list of the top 10 calendars we would like to have this Christmas season, but don’t:

24 days of magic

First, some history (well, just a tiny little bit of it): The Advent calendar is said to have its origins in 19th century Germany. Back then it was much simpler than some of the calendars you can find in stores nowadays, but it did the job it was designed for: counting the days until Christmas Eve (because that’s when Christmas is traditionally celebrated in Germany – on the evening of December 24th). Most commercial Advent calendars comprise 24 doors/pictures/gifts and you can find them in pretty much any store by late October (Halloween isn’t that big in Germany, so there’s no need to wait until after Halloween to put out all the Christmas goods – some grocery stores even start selling Christmas candy as early as September). For the sake of completeness I should mention that there are Advent calendars that feature more than 24 days, or fewer, depending on the year. They have a more religious background, usually start on the first Sunday of Advent and might go as far as Three Kings’ Day on January 6th. Technically, all Advent calendars have a religious background, but I guess not everyone who uses an Advent calendar does that for religious reasons, same as with Christmas in general – even if you’re not a Christian, you might celebrate it in some way, exchanging gifts with friends and family or, if you’re in Japan, with your sweetheart over a nice KFC dinner. If you’d like more info on Advent calendars, I’m sure your favorite search engine will give you much better explanations than the duck and I. We’re too excited to share with you:

The duck and my top 10 list of all the Advent calendars we said ‘no’ to this year

#10 Chocolate Advent calendar


Of course the duck and I would want to have a chocolate calendar. And, if we got to choose, it would probably be one filled with kinder chocolates because this is the kind (heh) of chocolate that reminds us of the time we were Kinder, children. It’s funny how Ferrero doesn’t just make one kinder Advent calendar per year, but several! So, the duck and I went with the biggest and most fun-looking one we could find. Of course we’d be happy with pretty much any other chocolate Advent calendar, as well (as long as there’s not too much caramel involved), because chocolate is beautiful!

#9 Pet Advent calendar


We looked, and looked, but couldn’t find a calendar for ducks. We did, however, find quite a few for animals, primarily cats or dogs. This Advent calendar we found during our drugstore discovery day looked so cool, that we couldn’t help but snap a photo of it and put it on our list. We have a friend who wouldn’t say ‘no’ to the snacks and the catnip comfort pillows hidden inside this pretty calendar (also, just how glorious is the cat on square #8?!).

#8 Healthy juice Advent calendar

adventcalendars-7Sure, there are lots of Advent calendars out there for lovers of wine, beer, spirits, or other kinds of alcohol. But what if you don’t trust yourself on 24 days of alcohol? Well, then this Rotbäckchen Advent calendar might be worth a try. The brand is known for natural not from concentrate juice with lots of vitamins and added minerals. The duck and I prefer a daily shot of healthy stuff to help us through this chilly month that has colds lurking behind every corner, rather than a daily dose of alcohol to help us forget about how sick we are. But that’s just us. We’re not judging you if you’d prefer to get your pre-Christmas vitamins through red wine and cherry liqueur!

#7 A homemade Advent calendar


Of course, each homemade Advent calendar is different, and, if the calendar-maker (who is hopefully not you, because where would the surprise be?) knows you well, there won’t be any things in there that you detest. But, if you’re opting for some help with the presentation of your homemade calendar (that is not for yourself), this crafting set for a cozy little Christmas village, consisting of 24 paper houses, sure looks nice! Gosh, you might even be able to recycle the little boxes for next year’s calendar, or, as a holiday home for your depressed gachapon animals!

#6 Scented tea candle Advent calendar


The duck and I  have a thing for scented candles. But, we are also picky about what scents we allow to fill our room… or, rather, the 5cm radius around the tiny tea candles we light sometimes when we’re sitting at our desk at night. This is why we’re not quite sure if we actually would appreciate a calendar with a different scented tea candle for each day leading up to Christmas Eve. We do like the festive color palette and that the candles are sparkly and come with a little tree shaped candle holder, though. So, I think, the duck and I would give this calendar that we spotted at a bookstore a try. If we don’t like the scent of one of the candles we could always just take a step back, out of its scent zone.

#5 Skin care Advent calendar


When the duck and I saw that Advent calendar in the window of a branch of The Body Shop, we were in love in an instant! Sure, we would get the calendar for the products. We like the brand, though we’re too cheap to shop there most of the time. However, the main reason for us to get this calendar would be how awesome it looks. I mean, even if, after you bought it, it’s not as awesomely presented at your home as it is in that store window, the calendar looks great, even if each little gift box is placed neatly in the four ‘shelves’ inside the big house-shaped box. Wait! Is that the fancy store version of calendar #7?!

#4 Organic snacks Advent calendar


The duck and I like snacks A LOT, especially if they’re organic (and we can tell ourselves that they are at least a bit healthier than regular snacks, even if they might have just as much sugar)! This is why there is yet another drugstore Advent calendar on our list. This one features small packs of sweet snacks, a lot of them Christmas themed, from dm‘s organic food brand. Some of them are even vegan (you know, to share with your vegan friends, because why would you get a calendar that also includes non-vegan snacks if you were a vegan yourself). If, like us, you find it almost impossible to resist the urge to buy all the Christmas foods, and, unlike us, love spending money, this calendar would be perfect for you!

#3 Kid detective Advent calendar


The Three Investigators, a group of riddle-solving youth detectives, are known in Germany as Die drei ???, the three question marks. The duck and I love playing sleuths, and when we discovered this riddle-filled Advent calendar, we were about to round up the Shinjuku City Pals for yet another exciting puzzle solving adventure! When we saw the age recommendation (ages 8+) and the little detective toys that are also part of the calendar, the duck and I decided that it would be best to use this Advent calendar only between the two of us (as to not upset our detective pals who might feel that their intellect has transcended 8 some decades ago and to keep all the toys to ourselves AHAHAHAHA!), if we ever were to get it.

#2 IKEA Advent calendar


It’s no secret that the duck and I love going to IKEA and that our dream neighborhood to live in is, hands down, IKEA Heights! This is why this year’s IKEA Advent calendar is so close to the top (or the bottom, since this is a countdown?) on our list of calendars we’d like to have. Yes, it contains chocolates (we’re actually not too keen on fancy chocolates… as you can tell by our #10). But what makes it so special is that it also contains two gift cards that are worth at least €5 each (but a few lucky calendar owners might even get one that’s worth €1000), which gives you a perfect reason to visit this magical store yet again! This nice combination of sugar, luck and an excuse to go to IKEA is the reason this calendar is our #2.

#1 Playmobil Advent calendar!


The duck and I are not ashamed at all to tell you that the Advent calendar it was hardest to say ‘no’ to this year comes from the children’s toy line Playmobil! Sure, the €50 price tag made it a bit easier to resist this dream of a townhouse, but we’re not joking when we’re telling you that we’ve always had a weakness for Playmobil house settings and, if we didn’t move so often, we’d probably actually buy ourselves a Playmobil Advent calendar, just to assemble the scene little by little and to look at it every Christmas. Or, even better, we would keep the packaging and re-wrap the calendar for us to use every Advent season (maybe we could use the calendar at #7)!
adventskalender-11Realistically speaking (as the cheapos that we are), we would probably get the one that shows a Christmas living room scene with a cozy-looking paper backdrop and the friendly-looking snowman that the girl on the box of the townhouse calendar holds up excitedly, at less than half the price. Actually, we might give in one year and positively buy one of those (or we’ll just get the Christmas bakery set we saw on their website as part of our annual Christmas decoration). There are only so many years you can stay strong!

What was in our teadvent calendar, you might ask? Well, naturally we write most posts in advance because there’s no way the duck and my lazy bums can crank out a post a day! So we don’t know yet what the mountain herbs tea that we got for day 1 of our Advent calendar tastes like. However, if we’re not super lazy, we might update this post with a subjective duck-rating for today’s tea… at some point. We’ll see. (We probably won’t, though.)

What Advent calendar do you have/would you like to have this year? Are there any that you would love to have, but, for some reason are hesitant to buy?

See you tomorrow (hopefully)!

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