Booming demand for Advent calendars has resulted in a plethora of new products and a welcome pre-Christmas seasonal boost for a number of printers.
In addition to the traditional perforated window style Advent calendar, and those containing small chocolates, there has been an explosion in alternative treatments.
These range from novelty calendars featuring pet treats or foodstuffs such as pork scratchings, to deluxe versions costing more than £100, containing items such as gin, rum or whisky samples; and high-end cosmetics.
Personalised calendars – for either corporate use or as family gifts – are also proving a hit for some printers, and feature on a number of web-to-print sites.
The category overall is proving more popular than ever, according to Woodmansterne director Seth Woodmansterne. The Watford firm produces its own range as well as licensed calendars featuring brands such as Where’s Wally? and The Gruffalo.
“It certainly feels as if the umbrella term, and the whole Advent calendar market, has grown,” Woodmansterne said. “It’s a good one for retailers as it’s a nice product for the build-up for Christmas.
“One of our products is a 3D village Advent calendar where you build a village out of 24 die-cut items. This is selling really well and we’re making tens of thousands of them.”
FMCG brands are also getting in on the act. Graphic Packaging International worked with Kellogg’s to create a special Advent promotional sleeve to wrap around mini-packs of its cereal, with the sleeve being fully-recyclable.
Key account manager Craig Massey described it as “a fun project”.
“We believe it’s the UK’s first breakfast Advent calendar. We are delighted that the finished product delivers such a fun countdown to Christmas,” he said.
But the trend is not without controversy. Following a Twitter storm over internet personality Zoella’s £50 ’12 Days of Christmas’ Advent calendar, containing a selection of trinkets including stickers, glitter and a pen, Boots has announced that it will halve the cost of the product when its Christmas promotion starts on 16 November.
Food-on-the-go retailer Greggs has also apologised after launching the promotion for its £24 Advent calendar with an image depicting a sausage roll in a nativity scene, in place of the baby Jesus. The £24 calendar features tear-off vouchers and a £5 gift card, with a limited number of calendars featuring a card with a £25 value.
High-end brands such as L’Occitane, Charlotte Tilbury, Clarins, Jo Malone and The White Company have all come up with Advent calendar product showcases that are luxury packaging items in their own right. Retailer John Lewis also produced its own beauty product Advent Calendar, costing £149, for the first time.
Many high-end calendars, typically promoted as containing products with a value far in excess of the cost of the calendar, are already sold out.
Woodmansterne said that planning for Christmas 2018 was already well underway: "We're already making Christmas cards and Advent calendars for 2018 and the sample runs and mini-batches of stock are done," he added.