Does anyone remember the days when advent calendars were just simple cardboard sleeves where each window revealed a religious image, from a star to an angel, culminating in a full blown picture of the nativity scene on 24th December? I do. My mother had a small selection of calendars that she would rotate year after year, the windows already well and truly open, which my sister and I (we had to share) prodded further open, knowing full well what we would see. When I finally discovered chocolate filled calendars it seemed too late to indulge in them, I was a grown up and didn’t feel that Peppa Pig chocolate calendars were really appropriate. But today’s calendar is a whole other beast, completely unrecognisable from the 20th century offerings. These days advent calendars don’t have much to do with the countdown to the birth of Jesus and much more to do with self treating. Today’s offerings tend to centre around two main categories: drink and beauty. From mini champagne bottles to specialty whiskys you can find practically any tipple you may fancy, and when it comes to beauty, well. The brands have truly gone all out, with exquisitely designed boxes to reveal beautifully crafted mini luxuries. So ahead of December and the first perforated window being pealed open in homes all across the UK, join me in discovering this classic beauty advent calendar from Durance.
Family owned beauty and lifestyle brand Durance hails from the beautiful French region of Provence, known for its lavender fields, sunny weather and of course wine. Named after a major river in south-eastern France the brand certainly makes the most of the natural local ingredients, from olive oil to lavender essential oil. Fragrances are developed in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, and the brand even has a rose named after it, the Durance Rose. Products are manufactured in their Provence workshops surrounded by fields and located in a commune called Grignan, which features a beautiful castle at the top of a hill. Having spent every summer there for the past five years I can confirm Grignan is one of the most picturesque European locations I’ve visited, and Durance is a perfect reflection of what the region has to offer. Their factory store is where I invariably end up making a detour at the end of every summer, picking up Christmas gifts to bring back to the UK. Sounds tempting right?
The Advent Calendar
I probably shouldn’t admit to this, having built my career exclusively within the beauty industry, but until now I had never experienced a beauty advent calendar. I know. Considering my obsession with minis and travel sizes I don’t know how I’ve resisted temptation for so long. So I’m finally diving in with the Durance advent calendar. A pattern of delicate graphics is featured throughout the box, with motifs such as holly sprigs, cinnamon sticks and hazelnut clusters bringing the Christmas theme to life. The box is designed to open up like a book, revealing windows of various sizes on either side. It’s a handy shape to display on a narrow shelf or mantelpiece however the downside is that when fully open the gold foil decorating the front of the box is hidden from view.
The Beauty Treats
So what mini surprises are hidden behind these numbered windows? Unlike the calendars marketed as the 12 days of Christmas this one contains 24 gifts, ranging from candles to beauty products. Durance are known for their extensive range of fragranced candles so it’s no surprise that scented tea lights make up half of the contents here. It does mean that when opening the calendar you’re greeted with a powerful waft of perfume, but lit individually to give each fragrance its moment, you can be sure that your home will smell of Christmas throughout, from orange and cinnamon to myrrh. Just don’t burn them all at the same time.
The first window helpfully reveals a lovely glass tea light holder, ready for all 12 tea lights that are to come in the following days. There is a total of 6 fragrances (all of which are part of the brand’s full size Christmas collection) so you can burn two tea lights at a time without mixing perfumes. My favourite scent is a gently woody pine fragrance called ‘au pied du sapin’, literally meaning ‘at the foot of the Christmas tree’ – where presumably you would find yet more treats.
On to the hand and body care treats: there are four 25ml shower gel tubes ranging from berry-scented to invigorating verbena, camellia and refreshing lemon and ginger. These are accompanied by two small tubes of rich and cocooning hand cream as well as two 25ml body lotions: Monoi and Poppy. The latter is my favourite scent, a delicate floral that I’ve rarely come across in beauty products. The product line up is completed by three mini savon de Marseille featuring traditional essential oils of rose and lavender, as well as the not-so-traditional peach. These famous soaps have been around since the 17th century, originally used to wash everything from linen to bodies. Mixing local olive oil, alkaline ash from sea plants and Mediterranean Sea water, the savon de Marseille is gentle on skin and leaves it feeling supple and nourished.
Priced at £49.00 the Durance advent calendar is on the more affordable end of the spectrum, with ultra luxury offerings from Dior and Space NK going up to £280.00 and £250.00. The mini products featured are a true representation of the brand’s values and brings a slice of Provence into your home. What is your favourite product featured in this year’s Durance advent calendar ? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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