Behind the Pack: 2021 advent calendar special

Katie Nichol

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Behind the Pack: 2021 advent calendar special

From Champagne to chocolate via cosmetics, Luxe Packaging Insight spotlights a selection of advent calendars to have hit the market this season and the packaging suppliers that brought them to life.


UK-based ethical premium chocolate brand Cartografie called on Studio Minerva for the design of its advent calendar inspired by Japanese bento boxes. Some 25 individually boxed pralines, ganaches and discs are nestled in the laser-engraved lacquered ash wood box (Moran’s Wood Components). The recyclable gold boxes inside are made using FSC certified papers - Fedrigoni Coated Papers in Sirio Pearl 300 printed by C&D Prints. The cushion pads are sourced by Meridian Speciality Packaging. A gold card cover printed with an illustration of the cocoa’s terroir is placed on top of the box, which is then tied with a velvet ribbon (Simply Ribbons). The box is designed to be kept, re-used and then refilled for future Christmases via a subscription model.

For its limited-edition advent calendar, French chocolatier Pierre Hermé worked with illustrator Safia Ouares and glassmaker Verrerie de Meisenthal. The purple structure in the form of a circular crown is adorned with the artist’s gold and pink illustrations. Chocolates are housed in drawers around its exterior. In the center sits an artisanal glass bauble produced by Verrerie de Meisenthal that can double as a Christmas tree decoration.

Luxembourg-based chocolatier Genevah’s advent calendar (CenturyBox) combines an offset printed background with hot-stamped golden stars, numbers in puffy varnish and debossed footprints. On the front, a grained effect is achieved with offset printing, while the gold font combines hot-stamping and debossing. The advent calendar is held closed with a gold color-matched ribbon (Papillon).

Chocolatier Christophe Roussel’s midnight-blue advent calendar (Riverpack) sports a star motif. Made of FSC cardboard and paper, it is designed to be reused as a box: consumers simply remove the PET insert and the sheet of cardboard with window cut-outs.

Belgian chocolate brand Pierre Marcolini’s advent calendar consists of a rigid board structure sheathed in coated paper, which is printed and hot stamped. The insert is in RPET, while the two front-opening doors are held closed with a ribbon. For supplier Cosfibel, ensuring alignment of the printed design across the doors proved technically challenging.


In line with the trend for 12-day advent calendars, The Glass’ offering holds 12 miniature bottles of grand cru wine (100ml). The structure combines 320g, FSC-certified paperboard and micro-flute, decorated with four-color printing evocative of kraft paper. Shopluxe’s in-house design arm conceived the advent calendar, which was made at Grumbe, Cosfibel’s factory in Spain.

Champagne De Venoge’s white and gold advent calendar houses 23 muselets retracing the history of the champagne brand, as well as a bottle of Princes Blanc de Blancs Champagne. The structure is sheathed in glossy, 160g paper, printed in Pantone and hot-stamped gold. It features a magnetic closure. For supplier DL Com, conceiving a system to insert the wire hoods that would be quick and easy to implement in production was a key challenge.


After a successful 2020 operation, La Thé Box once again called on supplier Verpack to create its advent calendars this year. The tea subscription brand has unveiled three calendars: one in the form of a book and another depicting an illustration of a tearoom were introduced last year with cardboard inserts and a simplified design for products that are easy to assemble and pack. New for this year is a rectangular box, Noël à New York. The 24 doors are placed on the four faces of the advent calendar, with each side adorned with an illustration by the artist Joy Laforme. Offset printed and protected with a glossy lacquer, it features a double lid with tabs to strengthen the structure. A notch enables the calendar to be suspended using a ribbon.

Tea brand Dammann Frères opted for an “enchanted Christmas” this year. The calendar is produced by La Paper Factory and designed by De Vog. “Each illustration was created as a clue to the flavor or name of the tea contained behind each one; for example, cake with a rabbit and a carrot for Carrot Cake, a crown for Night in Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower and a bistro table for Christmas in Paris,” explains De Vog. The calendar is offset printed and hotstamped in gold.


Beauty brand MAC’s Box of Tricks advent calendar sports an optical illusion graphic. Its differently size drawers hold both mini and full-sized products. When fully opened, the box can flip back on itself to form a square, displaying six days per side – ensuring the hinged sides could turn back on themselves was a challenge, says supplier Knoll Packaging. Made of 100% FSC cardboard and paper, the calendar is recyclable, but is also designed for reuse.


Inspired by a library theme, La Mer’s advent calendar is designed to resemble a book. Supplier Knoll Packaging mounted two trays to a three-panel cover with extension edges. The "Tales of La Mer" title features prominently on the spine. In terms of decoration, a matte green pattern combines with a metallic gold highlighted by a spot gloss varnish. Inside, the drawers of this 12-day advent calendar contain travel-size skincare products.

For Sisley Asia, Anaik created a premium, cardboard advent calendar sheathed with FSC-certified paper and decorated with gold hot-stamping and glitter. The red and gold décor combine to create a visual representing the Maison Sisley, the French skincare brand’s emblematic Paris address. Double doors open to reveal an interior with 25 pull down doors, with each compartment holding a skincare product.


Aqua di Parma’s cylindrical-shaped advent calendar (Cavalieri & Amoretti of Pusterla 1880 Group) is coated with ICMA I Naturali Collection 353/215 110G FSC. In terms of decoration, yellow offset printing (two printing passes) combines with blue, gray and black, hot stamping (Kurz) and varnish. The box was made and covered entirely by hand. Magnets are used to hold the drawers closed. Ensuring maximum continuity of the decoration via the precision of the coating was key, highlights the supplier.

Luxury British fragrance brand Penhaligon’s’ advent calendar (Knoll Packaging) is in the shape of the brand’s fragrance bottles, with a red and white sweetie jar-style design. Made of paper-wrapped gray rigid cardboard with a removable green bow, it is offset printed in six colors and hot stamped in gold. Obtaining the perfect finishing of the opening and alignment of the numerous components as well as making the hinges resistant to wear over time was key, according to the supplier, who highlights the delicate and complex production due to the manual assembly of numerous components.

Diptyque’s advent calendar (Cavalieri & Amoretti of Pusterla 1880 Group) is sheathed in Algro Design 160g FSC. It combines black offset printing with Pantone colors and Kurz gold foil. While the external structure was covered manually, the drawers are lined using automatic production, then manually finished with the addition of ribbons and foam wedges. The calendar is held closed with magnets.


Online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter’s beauty advent calendar this year features 25 drawers housing both full- and travel-size products. Made from FSC accredited materials, the calendar’s recycled grayboard structure is wrapped in black paper with a textured, embossed pattern. A custom white hot foil with chisel embossed effect decorates the outside, while different color hot foil is used to number the drawers of varying sizes. “We spent time redesigning the drawer sizes this year to create an element of visual excitement,” explains supplier Delta Global. The advent calendar is held closed with a black Tencel ribbon that can be removed to facilitate recycling.

For its very first advent calendar, Chanel sought to recreate the shape of its iconic N°5 fragrance flacon. The monomaterial structure weighs just 500g thanks to Knoll Packaging’s Ecoform pulp material. To improve stability, four molded pulp “feet” were inserted into the structure. The calendar sports a debossed front panel with the Chanel logo hot-stamped in black. On the “neck”, a decorative paper collar is hot-stamped in gold. Inside, the folding cartons housing products including nail polish and miniature perfume are printed black.

L’Occitane Middle East’s circular-shaped advent calendar (Anaik) is decorated in midnight-blue with touches of gold hotstamping. The 30 drawers – one for each day of December – hold skincare, bath & bodycare products and fragrances.

Lancôme’s advent calendar, which scooped a Formes de Luxe Award this year, opens to reveal a miniature Paris cityscape that folds in on itself to the nearest millimeter upon closure. The Eiffel Tower is surrounded by 24 buildings, each of which contain a miniature fragrance or beauty product. Developed with Atelier Patrice Bégnier and produced by Cosfibel Premium, the recyclable advent calendar comprises a rigid base and boxes made of cardboard. The solid paper hinges are strong enough for the calendar to be opened and closed multiple times. The building shapes are created and attached by hand and protected with a varnish. The Eiffel Tower is coated in holographic polyester for a sparkly effect.

Supplier Dapy is behind My Biotyfull Box’s beauty advent calendar, made from FSC cardboard and paper. The main box is 1000g coated cardboard wrapped with 157g paper. Designed to optimize transport, the box closure with gold satin ribbon can be mounted with adhesives on the four corners of the box. Inside are 25 folding boxes in 270g CCNB printed cardboard with a white interior. The calendar sports a glossy finish and hotstamping on the two doors.

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