Look, I really do get the appeal of beauty advent calendars. To start with, they are actually very good value for money. Often containing product worth double the RRP of the calendar, buying a beauty advent calendar is the perfect way to try new products and save some money while you’re at it. Secondly, I think they are a really great way to discover new products without having to fork out for a full-size.
However, as a beauty editor that feels very passionately about the amount of waste that the beauty industry creates, something about advent calendars jam-packed with loads of mini products made out of plastic and glass makes me feel a bit uneasy. Most of all though, I find myself frustrated year after year about just how quickly they seem to sell out. Sure, it’s great that retailers aren’t left with surplus stock, but trying to keep on top of what’s sold out makes my job tricky.
And I want to be clear that I am not knocking beauty advent calendars here. I totally get their appeal and I can see how the good points outweigh the bad. But personally, for the first time this year, I haven’t got one. It wasn’t an intentional thing, mind you. I just didn’t sign up for waitlists, and by the time I went to purchase (Space NK’s was a total feat), my first choice was sold out.
I am now a beauty advent calendar-less beauty editor. But the truth is, I’m kind of OK with it. Not because I think they’re a waste of money, but because there are some other options out there that I, personally, would prefer. This year, beauty brands have seriously upped the ante when it comes to luxury gift sets. They costs about the same as an advent calendar and, granted contain fewer products, but for the most part, the contents are full-sized, carefully curated and come with really hefty savings.
So, if like me, you missed out on an advent calendar this year or simply thought you wouldn’t get the use out of one, keep scrolling for the 12 best luxury beauty gift sets that make for the perfect alternative.
1. Harvey Nichols Let It Glow Hamper
Harvey Nichols has totally smashed it out of the park with its beauty hamper selection this year. Not only does it come housed in a super-cute basket that can be used as décor all year round, but the product offering is really impressive. With this particular gift, it’s like they hacked into my mind to create the perfect skincare edit. From Sunday Riley and Sarah Chapman to Eve Lom and Dr. Dennis Gross, it contains some of the most critically-acclaimed beauty products around.
2. Elizabeth Arden Brighter Days Ahead Ceramide Set
I am a big fan of ceramides as an ingredient in skincare. They help to keep dry winter skin at bay and deliver that all-important glow. This very aesthetically pleasing set from Elizabeth Arden contains four of the most-loved ceramide products around so that you can glow well into the New Year.
3. Augustinus Bader The Hero Face Hydrators
A couple of high-ticket advent calendars this year contain mini sample sizes of Augustinus Bader’s cult The Rich Cream. However, I already know that the brand’s moisturising skincare products are for me, and I want those formulas by the bucket load. This gift set is expensive, but with 15% off in the sale at Liberty, there’s a pretty penny to be saved.
4. Jo Malone London House of Jo Malone London Fragrance Gift Set
The Jo Malone London advent calendar sells out year after year, and I totally see why. It’s filled with adorable minis that make for the perfect carry-on beauty products for holidays. However, this set is a fraction of the price of the advent calendar and contains impressively large products (60g candles, 100ml body products and a 30ml perfume). It’s all still carry on-friendly, but there’s more bang for your buck.
5. Dior Rouge Dior Minaudiere and Lipstick Holder
I really had to stop myself from buying the epic Dior advent calendar this year. It is a thing of beauty, but it’s also £400. This gift set, on the other hand, is going straight in my basket. More than half the price of the advent calendar, it contains a Dior lipstick, with three refills, in a very cute clutch bag that can be used all year round. A Dior bag for £156? Don’t mind if I do.
6. Aromatherapy Associates Moments to Treasure Aromatherapy Vault Collection
This treasure trunk puts so many advent calendars to shame. Aromatherapy Associates is responsible for creating my favourite bath oils, candles and body products, so this Christmas set was basically made for me. With eight generously sized mini bath oils, three roller balls, a travel candle, a couple of mini shower oils and a bunch of full-sized classics to boot, it’s safe to say I would shed whole tears if I received this for Christmas.
7. Liberty Go Big, Then Go Home Beauty Kit
If you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds, you can still score a luxury beauty booty thanks to Liberty. This cute set, complete with a Liberty draw-string bag, contains a bunch of makeup and skincare hand-picked by makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon. The contents are worth a whopping £200, which means a saving of £140.
8. Selfridges Christmas Ultimate Stocking Filler
Another epic saving, this time from Selfridges, is this gift set. It contains one of my top body scrubs (Sunday Riley Charcoal Smoothie), the cult Refy Brow Sculpt, a Lano lip balm (it’s one of Rosie HW’s go-to brands), and a whole load more. Again, it’s worth £200, but it’s all yours for just £70.
9. Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Dreams Come True
10. The Body Shop Nutty & Nourishing Shea Ultimate Gift
Another more affordable option, this mammoth gift set from The Body Shop brings all of my favourite body and hair products together. The body butter is one of the best that money can buy, and the hand soap is stationed at every sink in my flat. If you want a beauty gift set that will get used up to the last drop, this is it.
11. Estée Lauder Repair + Renew Skincare Treats Skincare Gift Set
Excuse the singing angels. This year, Estée Lauder has wrapped up my skincare dreams in one single gift set. Containing my desert-island skincare product (Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, FYI) with three accompanying minis for the same price as the serum on its own, I’d say this is a sure-fire hit.
12. Lancôme Beauty Box
I rarely splurge on Lancôme products (with the single exception of Advanced Génifique Face Serum), but whenever I do stumble across something from the brand, I end up loving it. This year, I have already treated myself to this collection of cult Lancôme buys, and I am counting down the days until it arrives. I’m particularly excited for the very adorable La Vie est Belle mini perfume and festive makeup palette.