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Ten ideas for an Italian-style advent calendar

There are all kinds of gourmet Advent calendars to bring more flavour into your Christmas preparations. Here we explore ten options from Italian companies

Advent is a time charged with symbolic meaning, much loved by adults and children alike.

In Christianity, it is a liturgical season of preparation for Christmas. It’s an almost magical time for everyone, in which the holiday atmosphere and sense of ceremony grow by the day.

As is always the case when it comes to great festivities, humans have created rituals that have become progressively richer over time and which, of course, also involve food. It all started with the custom—probably begun by the Celts—of baking sweets with sacrificial significance which were then strung up. The aim was to protect homes from demons during the period leading up to the winter solstice.

The Advent calendar, as we know it now, arrived in Italy from Germany as early as the 1800s but went ‘viral’ in the early 1900s. The Advenstkalender—that’s the name in German—easily caught on among families and children, who love to play with it and open a little box every day, from 1 December up to and including Christmas Eve.

Gourmet specialties for all tastes

Today there are endless versions of the Advent calendar, not only for children but also for adults. From homemade calendars to luxury ones, one is spoilt for choice.

The star of calendars all over the world is always chocolate. From big manufacturers to the artisan maître chocolatier, cocoa takes any form and flavour imaginable. But all specialty food brands compete to surprise consumers with delicious gift ideas. 

Eataly, with twenty-three locations around the world, offers an Advent calendar inspired by the windows of all its shops. Epitomising the excellence of Italian gastronomy, it sold out in no time (but you can keep an eye on the restocking on this page).

Wine and beer enthusiasts can easily find dedicated Advent calendars with mixed selections that also allow them to discover new products to get excited about. One worth trying comes from Birrificio Artigianale Ofelia and includes twenty-four 33-cl craft beers.

Guido Gobino, an Italian brand specialising in chocolate since 1950, launched its first Advent calendar this year, with 24 specialities that include both traditional flavours and new recipes (the shop is here).

Nio Cocktails, a Milanese ‘prêt-à-porter’ mixology brand, is offering a very original Advent calendar that includes 24 cocktails, two of each type complete with dried garnish, so you can toast at home with loved ones in the twelve days leading up to Christmas (to find out more, visit the brand’s online shop).

Birrificio Ofelia – birraofelia.it
Nio Cocktails – nio-cocktails.com

For a really stellar Advent calendar, look no further than Italian chef Paolo Griffa, who—recently awarded a Michelin star—has created a box for true gourmets (here are all the details).

Iginio Massari’s Advent calendar offers an assortment of haute pâtisserie, with shipments to Italy and select European countries. This is also a limited edition (full details on the website).

My Cooking Box, a Milanese start-up offering quintessentially Italian meal kits, provides a mouth-watering gift idea with its Advent calendar, including sweet and savoury temptations. There is a mixed version and one with tea and biscuits.

Paolo Griffa – facebook.com/GriffaPaolo
Iginio Massari – facebook.com/IginioMassari

Organic, gluten-free, recyclable: sustainable advent

Awareness of both dietary and environmental concerns is now widespread among consumers, who are seeking out products that are increasingly attentive to personal needs as well as those of the planet. Manufacturers are responding promptly and adapting.

The Italian company Ambrosiae, specialising in foods made with natural ingredients, offers an Advent calendar in its shop with fully organic, gluten-free, and plant-based breakfast products.

Altromercato, an Italian solidarity cooperative, has created Advent calendars with exclusively fair trade products (shop here, with shipping to Italy).

Ambrosiae – ambrosiae.eu

Using technology for good, Latteria Sociale Merano’s digital Advent calendar offers a zero-waste option: The boxes are virtual, but there are six prizes up for grabs every day to enjoy the dairy’s products. 

Not to mention the packaging, now made entirely with recycled and recyclable materials, or designed to be reused: a useful and loving way to give a second life to boxes, packing materials, and jars in the home.

Our additional recommendation
You can find a few delicious sauces here below, which are perfect with your panettone or to dunk your biscuits. In this period, you can prepare them or buy them with an advent calendar.

Mascarpone cream with Strega liqueur
Rum and orange flavoured chocolate sauce
Zabaione “al Moscato”
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