12 Studies of Christmas: Advent Calendars

Tom Chalton Hellyer

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13

April 2022

16

December 2020

12 Studies of Christmas: Advent Calendars

Tom Chalton Hellyer

|

13

April 2022

16

December 2020

Next up in our 12 Studies of Christmas series - advent calendars. Invented by German Lutherans in the 19th Century, these festive staples have mutated from collections of Christmas pictures and the occasional chocolate into massive gift stockpiles, full of beauty products, toys and even yachts!

We wanted to find out about advent calendars, what's in them and how people open them. So we asked 100 participants from across the UK and USA and these were our results.

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How many of our participants have an advent calendar this year?

After everything that 2020 has thrown at us, you might expect people to treat themselves to a gift-laden Christmas countdown. Yet we found that 51% of our participants did not have an advent calendar this year.

What kind of calendar did they go for?

Of the 49% who did have a calendar this year, just under half had chocolate behind their doors. More traditional (but altogether more disappointing) pictures came a dismal second with 22.6%. Meanwhile the increasingly prevalent beauty products, alcohol and assorted gifts came next.

Behind-the-Advent-Calendar-Doors-1
Pie chart showing the most common types of advent calendar

Do people resist the temptation to open each door on the correct day?

Advent calendars have one, very simple, easy to follow rule – open their 24 doors on the correct 24 days. Despite this, a shocking 10% of our participants said they open all their advent calendar doors at the same time!

Our study cohort was split evenly between men, women, the US and UK. But, of those participants who break the advent calendar golden rule, 90% were from the USA and 70% were men. We should also note that 30% of these rulebreakers had just pictures behind their doors. So they gained no material benefit from their terrible behavior, beyond some Christmassy cartoons. Were they worth it to end up on the naughty list?

Our thesis was that people who can’t resist opening all their doors at once would show a lack of self-control in other areas of their lives. Yet our other questions failed to draw a conclusive distinction between the advent calendar bandits and the law-abiding majority.

Interestingly, though, we found that people who did follow the advent calendar rules were 15% more likely to drink and eat to excess on Christmas Day. Perhaps the anticipation generated by their correct advent calendar usage led to a bigger blow out on the day itself? A lesson in delayed gratification.

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