Every year, round about now I get tagged in pictures of a gin advent calendar that retails at around £100. A “wee dram” of gin in a tiny bottle between 24 little windows that looks cute but over the years has crept up in price and has never really struck me as being great value for money. Yes it looks amazing and would be a stunning gift for any gin lover but this year it is selling for £125 for a total of 72cl of gin. When you can buy a bottle of damn fine gin for less than £30 paying four times that for it to come in an advent calendar sounds a bit like a raw deal to me.
Which got me thinking that maybe I could do it a bit more cost effectively.
The first thing you need, of course, is an empty calendar with spaces big enough to hold a small bottle of gin. If you do a search on the web there are loads to choose from, Amazon has them, eBay, Hobbycraft, there are hundreds to choose from in all sorts of price ranges so you could spend a lot on a lovely wooden one and make it into a bit of a traditional thing, or you could buy a relatively cheap cardboard one and get rid of it each year. You could even do it with just a little numbered tag on a ribbon and just stand the gins on a table. The possibilities are endless.
I was all set to get one on line when we happened to be in Marks and Spencer’s one night buying bedding. They have a great deal on at the moment for a beauty advent calendar which you can buy for £35 as long as you spend £30 on other items. The items inside are worth over £250 and I am ashamed to say I have taken them all out and dumped them in a drawer because it was really only the calendar I wanted!
Whilst I have to factor in the £35 I have spent on the calendar this year, next year I won’t have that expense as I will be keeping it this year and reusing it for a good few years to come.
That bit done it then just came down to finding the gin.
All high street supermarkets sell miniatures now (and you dont have to stick to gin, you could do a mix of vodkas and rums too) and independent wine shops also have them too so you shouldn’t be stuck for choice to fill your little windows. There is even a website I have just come across (three years after making this calendar) called Just Miniatures so you could give them a go.
Now it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that if you buy 24 at £5 each you are spending as much as you would on the original gin advent calendar, but the difference with this one is that you get twice as much gin for the money, and rather than them being identical bottles you get a great variety of different little bottles to look at as you sample that day’s gin.
Once you have then bought your 24 or 25 bottles it just remains for you to fill up your calendar in no particular order.
The other bonus with doing this with slightly bigger bottles is that you have enough gin in each bottle to share. Drinking for me is a social activity, it isn’t something I do alone. I don’t drink to wind down or just because I can, I like to share a drink with Mr B on the sofa at the end of the day, or go out for drinks with friends. Having a bottle that is only 3cl would mean I can’t share the gin with Mr B as it would only make one drink. Having an advent calendar full of 5cl bottles means there is enough for us to both to have a decent sized G&T (or G&L in my case).
Starting on 1st December over on Instagram I will be sharing the gin from that day’s window in a photo post at the end of the day. It will either be alongside an unusual tonic, or in a recipe, or just about the history of the gin or distillery. I am calling it #Ginmas and do hope you will come along and join me with your tipple each day.