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This article contains affiliate links* Listen, I just HAD write about the Chanel Advent Calendar 2021 debacle! So, today you are getting a spontaneous summary of why Chanel is currently battling with thousands of mocking Gen Z comments on their social media accounts, plus I am introducing you to 5 advent calendars for 2021 that are kicking the Chanel Advent Calendar’s little booty with almost hilarious effortlessness.
The Chanel Advent Calendar 2021 Controversy, Explained
Since most of you probably aren’t as chronically online as I am these days, you may have missed the controversy surrounding the 2021 Chanel Advent Calendar. It all started with a seemingly innocuous video by TikTok user Elise Harmon, who shared a first look at the Chanel Advent Calendar she had just bought herself, for the staggering price of 825$. This is the first time the luxury brand has brought out an advent calendar, it is a special limited edition meant to celebrate the 100th birthday of the iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance. The advent calendar is meant to represent a stylised No. 5 perfume bottle and is filled with 24 boxes. Unlike other advent calendars, however, the first box is the number 5 (get it? Because, you know, No. 5…woah quirky branding).
Harmon was visibly excited about her purchase – as a Chanel lover and long-time customer, she sounded enthusiastic about what high end beauty surprises would await her. However, her enthusiasm was quickly dampened after opening the first box, which contained…stickers?! Cheap, simple dollar store style stickers too, nothing fancy or special at all. And it only got worse from here, or more hilarious, depending on how you feel about the whole debacle that is the Chanel Advent Calendar 2021. In quick succession, Harmon posted more videos unboxing the rest of the calendar’s contents. Apart from a few actually valuable and valid items such as a full-sized nail polish and two lipstick minis, the calendar also contains: a small flip book showing a No. 5 bottle opening, a bracelet with a plastic Chanel logo, a tiny handheld mirror, a small, cheaply made paper weight in the shape of a Chanel No. 5 bottle (I’m sensing a theme here, hmmm), and a mini dust bag. Yes, a dust bag, with nothing in it. There was also a confusing assortment of key chains…too many key chains.
Given the premium price for this advent calendar (even the Liberty London Advent Calendar 2021 “only” retails at 625£), the contents are almost bafflingly low-end. As someone who has been blogging about beauty advent calendars for years now, I have to say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Even the Zoella Advent Calendar catastrophe of 2017 was harmless compared to this, given that the Zoella calendar at least only cost around 50£. Most premium beauty calendars are filled with a number of full sized items, plus generous travel sizes. And, I also have to add, they are usually less flimsily made than the Chanel Advent Calendar 2021, with its boxes made out of thin cardboard and tumbling all over the place when you remove one.
Well, suffice it to say that Elise Harmon’s unboxing videos quickly went viral, and since Chanel’s TikTok account is inactive, TikTok users flocked to the brand’s Instagram account to leave some truly hilarious comments on the latest image. Chanel, however, seems to be pretty much unperturbed by Gen Z’s gleeful cancelling of the brand, and I fear that the backlash won’t have much of an effect on them long-term.
5 Advent Calendars that Are So much better than the Chanel Advent Calendar 2021
I personally feel that the beauty advent calendar hype is on the decline as a whole. I have been doing a list of beauty advent calendars in German since 2016 and the buzz it produced was always incredible. But last year and this year, not as many people clicked on the list, let alone buy any of the high end calendars. I just feel that the moment advent calendars started to cost more than what most people spend on the entirety of their Christmas shopping, it all kind of went downhill.
Ah, but if I had enough money to splurge on a high end advent calendar for 2021, I would have likely chosen one of these 5! So, in order to make some more fun of that ridiculously overpriced Chanel Advent Calendar 2021, let’s look at 5 other beauty advent calendars for 2021 that are all so much more impressive and such better value for money.
MAC Advent Calendar 2021
This year’s MAC Advent Calendar is really a sight to behold, with that brightly coloured, Swinging 60s style, optical illusion-esque design. It is also filled with 24 MAC products, a mix of full-sized and minis, with nary a sticker in sight. Even at full price (around 300$) it was pretty great value for money, but given that you can now find it heavily discounted at a number of online shops, e.g. German retailer Zalando* (only 179€!), at Lookfantastic* for only 236.95€ (around 202£/265$), or at the German MAC store* for a fantastically low 159.00€, this is a really great bargain if you want to stock up on some MAC goodies.
Some of the items you can find in the MAC Advent Calendar 2021:
- Full sized matte lipstick in “Mehr”
- Small eyeshadow in “Omega”
- Pro Longwear Paint Pot in “Bougie”
- Full-sized Powder Kiss Liquid Lip in “Mull It Over”
- Full-Sized Mineralize Blush in “Warm Soul”
Dior Advent Calendar 2021
The Dior Advent Calendar 2021 is probably the most popular calendar on TikTok right now, with commenters asking the luxury brand gifting one to poor Elise to make up for the awful Chanel calendar! Sure, this luxury makeup, skincare and fragrance advent calendar is mostly filled with travel and sample sizes, and thus I am somewhat sceptical if it really is good value for money purely going by price point. But, let’s face it, the calendar wins the award for the most beautiful design, hands down. Dior worked with artist Alice Shirley to create a magical garden that opens up to reveal a golden and softly blue theatre, with 24 windows that hide the various beauty goodies.
I also find it super charming that all the miniature samples look exactly like their full-sized siblings! Among the products featured in this beauty advent calendar are a 5ml J’adore Eau de Parfum miniature, a 10ml Capture Totale Super Potent Serum travel size, and an exclusive, 85ml La Collection Privée Christian Dior 30 Montaigne scented candle.
You can still find the Dior Advent Calendar 2021 at a number of retailers, or order it directly online at Dior* – it retails at 410€ here in Europe, which crazily enough makes it still so much cheaper than the Chanel Advent Calendar!
Feelunique Advent Calendar 2021
No, but truly – this one is such an underrated beauty advent calendar, when it provides such solid value for money! The Lookfantastic Advent Calendar 2021 may not look as posh as, say, the Dior one, but it’s also a lot more affordable and you get a selection of different brands and products. Since Lookfantastic is a British company, you get 25 instead of 24 products. Fun fact, advent calendars are a German invention, and since we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, we have 24 days of advent only!
The Feelunique Advent Calendar 2021 features products from popular beauty brands such as Elemis, Medik8, Laura Mercier, Sol de Janeiro, and even a full sized Huda Beauty palette. It originally retailed at 135€ (152$/115£), but Feelunique* is now selling it for only 90,06€, which is such a good price for that selection of (mostly travel-sized) products.
L’Occitane Advent Calendar 2021
I have a soft spot for the L’Occitane Advent Calendar and have been tempted to get it for myself literally every year since it first came out. Not only is it really solid value for money, but unlike the truly uninspired, cheap design of the Chanel Advent Calendar, the people at L’Occitane always deliver in terms of originality and beauty. The French natural skincare and fragrance brand tends to work with local artists for their calendar designs, and they also think carefully about the sustainability problems attached to any advent calendar, trying to minimise extra packaging and creating reusable calendars.
L’Occitane offers two versions of their advent calendar, a “regular” one and the more luxurious version. Both versions contain mostly travel sizes of some of my favourite L’Occitane products, from body products to facial care to shampoo and co. I just find them so darling, and at a price of 59€/79$ for the regular version (with a value of 99€), this one is such great value for money! You can still find the regular advent calendar in many countries via the L’Occitane store*, but the premium version is sold out almost everywhere, except for the UK store* (where it costs 99£).
Essence Cosmetics Advent Calendar 2021
I am not sure if the Essence Cosmetics Advent Calendar 2021 is actually sold outside of Germany (Essence is a German brand, in case you didn’t know!), but I just have to mention it here because if you want to see “value for money” embodied in one advent calendar, then the Essence Advent Calendar really just wins, hands down! Even though it’s gotten quieter around this calendar compared to previous years (one of my first ever blog posts to go viral was about the Essence Advent Calendar 2015 (!), people were just crazy for it), this is still one of the most popular beauty advent calendars here in Germany.
The Essence Advent Calendar 2021 is filled with 24 full-sized makeup and nail products, 21 of them in a special limited edition, for a price of only 24.99€ (around 29$/22£). Now, at this point in time this limited edition calendar is usually out of stock, and it is officially sold out on the Essence website, but sometimes you can still snatch it up on Ebay. I would, however, be careful about paying horrendous prices for this advent calendar, because it’s great at the price original, but not that great that it’s worth anything over, say 50$ max.
The Chanel Advent Calendar “Scandal” of 2021 – So, Is Chanel Cancelled now or…?
Gosh, I kind of wish it was – Chanel has been problematic for a long, long time now. I mean, Coco Chanel was a Nazi sympathiser and tried to re-gain control of her perfume brand from her Jewish investors during the Holocaust with the help of her Nazi lover, even working as a spy for the Nazis (though to be fair, she mostly did this to help her nephew out of prison – as an aunt, I simply can’t blame her for that). Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most iconic Chanel designers there ever was, made too many awful comments during his lifetime to name them all here, but especially in his later years, he constantly fat-shamed female celebrities such as Adele and also said some really problematic stuff about Muslim immigrants here in Germany. Chanel also keeps increasing the prices for their bags while the quality seems to go down.
But, let’s face it, people like me or the thousands of TikTok teenagers and early 20s commenters on the Chanel Instagram account won’t make a difference to the brand’s strategy of overpricing products to make them seem desirable. With brand ambassadors such as Jennie from Blackpink, Chanel will likely remain a top brand and keep attracting a new generation of designer brand loving 1%ers. Personally, I just find the whole thing darkly comical, a sort of Emperor’s New Clothes style, late-stage capitalist allegory for how easily all of us fall for the hype of “exclusivity”, me absolutely included. Because, I am going to be absolutely real with you: if Chanel would send me one of their bags tomorrow, I would probably get all sorts of excited and flustered. And the Chanel Vitalumière foundation really is amazing, I can’t lie. Sigh.
Happy advent 2021 to you all! I’m going to open my MIIN Advent Calendar 2021 now – it’s got K-beauty goodies inside (sorry, already sold out)!
Let me know in the comments: What’s your opinion about this whole crazy Chanel Advent Calendar saga?
Take care guys, and stay safe – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest K-Beauty and skincare news, and check out my other work, e.g. my review of the AXIS-Y Quinoa One-Step Balanced Facial Cleanser!
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