After years of never quite having the time (or bravery!) to launch Advent Calendars, in the summer of 2022 we finally decided to take the plunge.
Planning exactly the right combination of festive gifts during the hottest summer ever was surreal, but if the last few years had taught us anything, it's that it's never too soon to plan for Christmas. We were apprehensive as to whether 2022 was the right year to bring out such a product. Would folks be holding back? Would energy bill worries scupper such luxuries? We decided to proceed with caution and with the help of some Instagram polling figured offering a lower-priced option alongside the full 25 day bonanza felt right.
Working with a local packaging company we built prototypes, choosing gifts for each day that offered variety, value and never-before-seen products we hoped would go down well. The aim was to keep the majority of the contents a surprise. Over the years of our subscription service we've learnt that people mostly like the element of surprise, especially when it's a gift for themselves. Working with small business we've known for years, as well as finding new brands whose work we loved, meant there'd be a chance to support other independents with this big project.
There were hurdles to overcome in the planning, with a few items having to be swapped as they wouldn't fit in their individual windows. We also learnt that thin gifts have a tendency to slide in to a neighbouring compartment during delivery no matter how well you secure them (apologies again to those who opened Day 10 and found it empty!)
When pre-orders opened in mid-October, we were amazed at the uptake. We stared at each other wide-eyed across the studio, staggered that so many wonderful customers were trusting us to deliver on their expectations. Interestingly, The 25 Days of Christmas was by far the bestseller. We'd expected The 12 Days of Christmas to be the frontrunner, given its lower price, but its big brother was top of the charts from the start.
We set about packing the advent calendars in November, with the workshop team dedicating almost a week to carefully nestling gifts in each little compartment. It was a labour of love, with us all feeling a little apprehensive about how they'd be received and hoping the heavy, precious parcels would be delivered safely.
We couldn't reveal the contents ahead of recipients opening all windows meaning it was weeks before we could release this video. It also meant we didn't have any immediate feedback from people, leaving us hoping that by Christmas Day we'd have a better idea of how they'd gone down.
Whenever we've launched something new we always have our hearts in our mouths. It feels foolish to presume that people will be pleased with the thing you've spent so long creating. In a small business like ours it is vitally important to keep our feet on the ground, and make sure we're delivering exactly what our dedicated customers are wanting. With a significant investment in the Advent Calendar packaging, contents and logistics - it was one of the biggest risks we'd taken since the pandemic.
Thankfully during the Christmas break our team WhatsApp group was kept busy sharing some truly wonderful feedback as it came in. It was as if the entire team took an out-breath, knowing we'd got the Advent Calendars right. Here's some snippets:
What you need to know for 2023
Advent Calendars will be back for Christmas 2023! To be the first to know when pre-orders open, please ensure you're signed up to our emails. We will only be able to post them within the UK and anticipate opening orders in October.
'Will there be more options?' It is highly possible that we'll be offering some different types, based on customer feedback. We heard from many customers that they'd like a single tealight per day option. Having initially looked at the packaging costs for this we aren't sure whether it would be possible. (As an insight, the boxes cost around £10 each - meaning that for a 25 Day Tealight Advent Calendar we'd be looking at a cost of £30 to £35 to our customers. With a larger budget we can absorb that kind of cost, but it becomes harder with smaller value items like tealights. We aren't sure that £35 for 25 tealights feels like very good value?)
'Can I pay in instalments?' We're working on a solution for spreading the cost throughout the year. Keep an eye on Instagram or your emails for news!
'I'd love to know what I'm getting' That's understandable! We're hoping to come up with a way of revealing the contents to those who'd like to know, while keeping it a secret for those that don't.