ALDI, Trader Joe's and More: The Advent Calendar Craze of 2023

From traditional chocolates to tuna, fine jewelry and beer, diverse collections generate seasonal excitement
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Bonne Maman preserves
Bonne Maman's advent calendar includes limited-time flavors Apricot and Banana, Caramel with Cinnamon and Fig with Cardamom.

Not that long ago, chocolate candies were pretty much the only thing behind numbered tabs in advent calendars. In 2023, there’s an advent calendar for virtually any kind of palate.

Advent calendars, named for the pre-Christmas anticipatory season of advent, have been a retail and grocery staple for decades. Now, grocers can merchandise unique advent calendars across several departments and categories.

Some food retailers create a big buzz around their eclectic collections. ALDI, for example, has staked a claim on its advent calendars and offers more than 20 different kinds this year, from a cheese calendar to a cat food calendar. Its wine advent calendar is a perennial favorite; this year’s version came out Nov. 1. Shoppers can buy 5 Days of Sweet Red Wine, 5 Days of Dry Red Wine and Sparkling Wine Variety Pack. The traditional version is already sold out at many locations. 

Likewise, Lidl US has a loyal following for its series of advent calendars, which hit stores in early November. This year’s assortment includes chocolates, cheeses and treats for dogs and cats.

Trader Joe’s shoppers can also find more advent calendar options this season, including those with food, with health and beauty items and with games like crossword puzzles. According to Tara Miller, the retailer’s marketing director, the 12 Days of Beauty advent calendar was first launched in 2019 and has been redesigned this year. “When you walk into the store, you'll notice it. The cool thing here is it's kind of like an advent calendar, and you open one window every day and you get a new prize, so to speak. Or you could open it all at once, it's up to you,” she explained during the latest Trader Joe’s podcast. “This year, 11 of them are new to this package, so we think that's kind of cool.”

Many CPGs have unveiled limited time advent calendars for the season, including Hershey’s, Lindt, David’s Tea and many more. Bonne Maman Preserves gave shoppers a sneak peek of its 2023 limited-edition advent calendar in October; this year’s version features 23 mini spreads and a honey.

Stouffer advent calendar
For the first time, the venerable Stouffer's brand has created an advent calendar filled wth seven frozen meals to help time-strapped families at mealtime.

Jones Soda Co. is also out with an advent calendar with 25 days of craft sodas, fun holiday bottles, swag and other “surprises,” including the early release of a new product to be launched in 2024. "As we count down to the holidays, we're celebrating 2023 and unveiling the latest edition to the Jones family," said Marjorie Helm, operations manager. "An advent calendar is the perfect way to capture the excitement and fun."

Another brand getting into this segment is Stouffer's, which is selling its first-ever advent calendar online. A box shaped like a gingerbread house includes seven frozen Stouffer meals, including Family-Size Macaroni and Cheese, Lasagna with Meat and Sauce, Bowl-Fulls Chicken Bacon Ranch Bowl, Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Bake, Homestyle Mashed Potatoes, Pepperoni French Bread Pizza and Ultimate Five Cheese Mac. 

There’s even a calendar for tuna. This year, Bumble Bee Seafood launched its first “Tuna Lovers” advent calendar, available for online ordering at Shaped like a fish, the 12-day calendar includes a dozen varieties of Bumble Bee tuna pouches. 

“While no one asked us to create a tuna advent calendar, we’re all about having a little fun and showing people it’s okay to be a proud tuna lover,” said Jeremy Zavoral, brand marketing director. “Tuna sales usually slump during the holiday season, but we’re trying to change that trend by showing how tuna makes a great snack meal before the main meal.”

Some retailers are going all out on non-food advent calendars. Sam’s Club, known for value pricing for members, is selling a 25-Day fine jewelry advent calendar that retails for $3,799.

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