The best Advent calendars for 2019: Hot sauce, 'Game of Thrones' and more

Christina Vercelletto, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu November 21, 2019

A primer for the uninitiated: Advent calendars technically aren't calendars. They're essentially boxes, with little "doors" numbered 1 through 24, each of which opens up to reveal a small present. The idea is that you get one surprise every night during Advent, which runs from December 1 to Christmas Eve.

Advent calendars started out decades ago as a fun tradition for kids. You may remember having one yourself, probably flimsy cardboard filled with bland chocolate and procured at the drugstore. But in the last few years, we've seen a redefining of the concept. Advent calendars are by no means just for kids anymore. You can ring in the holidays with grown-up versions that range from high-end beauty indulgences to gourmet delicacies.

Whether you're into makeup, hot sauce or "Game of Thrones," here are the best Advent calendars for 2019. The weeks leading up to Christmas just got way more fun.

Lego Friends Advent Calendar ($29.99; lego.com)

The diminutive brick-building projects that emerge from this calendar can be used as tree ornaments, gift wrap embellishments, or stocking stuffers for sibs.

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Pukka Organic Teas Christmas Calendar ($17.74; amazon.com)

Afternoon tea time just got an upgrade, with one ethically and sustainably sourced organic tea after another.

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12 Days of Sparkle Advent Calendar ($128; anthropologie.com)

You'll shimmer through the season with the goodies hidden inside this calendar. Bedazzled bobby pins and post and hoop earrings will brighten your December nights.

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Bonne Maman 2019 Limited Edition ($56.99; amazon.com)

Petite pots of jam, jelly and honey, in flavors such as sweet orange & mandarin and cherry & blackberry, stand ready to brighten up those dark December work mornings.

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The Body Shop Dream Big Deluxe Beauty Advent Calendar ($97.54; amazon.com)

For devotees of self-pampering, it doesn't get much better than opening up the likes of a bath bomb or a rich body butter every day for a month.

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Birchbox Countdown to Grooming Advent Calendar ($35; birchbox.com)

Here's one for the guys, loaded with grooming products on the order of Baxter of California Beard Grooming Oil and Kiehl's Facial Fuel SPF 20.

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Ciate London Mini Mani Month Advent Calendar ($60; sephora.com)

The yuletide surprises encased in this winter treasure trove include full-size and mini paint pots and a limited-edition nail file. The polish has a special gel technology that makes it super shiny and tough, but still easy to remove.

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Godiva Advent Calendar ($23.96, originally $29.95; godiva.com)

This exquisite collection of confections couldn't be farther from your childhood chocolate Advent calendar. Filled with such delights as white ganache bliss and raspberry and dark chocolate stars, it's enough to thrill the most refined chocolate aficionado.

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L'Occitane Signature Holiday Advent Calendar ($64; amazon.com)

Inside each door of this luxe Advent calendar is an indulgent beauty treat, from Shea Butter Hand Cream and Almond Shower Oil to Verbena Body Lotion and Cherry Blosson Bath & Shower Gel.

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GoodBoy Pawsley Advent Calendar for Dogs ($19.62; amazon.com)

You just can't leave your loyal pal out of the December fun. Indulge your furry best friend with their very own daily treats. Think duck bites, crunchy chicken and calcium "bones" and chewy chicken stars.

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'Game of Thrones' 12 Days of Socks ($34.38; amazon.com)

What could be better for your GOT-loving lady than unboxing pair after glorious pair of themed crew and no-show socks?

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BYOB Hot Sauce Advent Calendar ($79.95; amazon.com)

Spice up the season with this big ol' calendar full of Louisiana-made hot sauces. Each bottle is adorned with a different Christmas-y label.

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24 Tastes of Christmas Holiday Home Advent Calendar ($49.95; papersource.com)

Sweeten your holiday with this charming, old-timey Advent calendar. Each drawer of the day pulls out to reveal four candy surprises from luxe confectioner Sugarfina.

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Man Crates Jerky Advent Calendar ($79.99; mancrates.com)

All he wants for Christmas is — a buffet of beef jerky? That'll be easier than you expected. He'll uncover 25 spicy, meaty treats, in flavors such as habanero, chili lime and ghost pepper.

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Playmobil 1.2.3. Advent Calendar ($25.68; amazon.com)

Each day of the season, tots will find a new figurine representing Christmas in the forest waiting for them.

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Lancome Paris Holiday Advent Calendar ($110; lancome-usa.com)

Beauty mavens, rejoice! Everything from Advanced Génifique Yeux eye cream to Mini L'Absolu Rouge lipstick in Caprice is tucked inside this luxe case.

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12 Days of Roses ($249; venusetfleur.com)

It's an indulgence, but if you adore roses, this lavish calendar may well be the highlight of your month. It's filled with Venus ET Fleur's iconic spray Eternity roses. In case you're unfamiliar, these are real roses that are treated to stay fresh and fragrant for a year. Gorgeous.

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12 Days of Party Prep Advent Calendar ($49.50; anthropologie.com)

'Tis the season to be glam. As you discover everything from Eva NYC Kweeen Glitter Spray to Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels to silk scrunchies, you'll be ready for every holiday soiree.

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Wood Winter LED Light Up Countdown Calendar ($39.99; worldmarket.com)

For the DIYers out there, here's a whimsical keepsake with European style that you can fill with trinkets year after year.

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Joe & Seph's Popcorn Advent Calendar ($79.95; amazon.com)

Snag a snack a day in festive mini bags. Gourmet flavors include the luscious (raspberry cheesecake) and the unusual (banoffee pie or speculoos, anyone?)

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.