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I should add a caveat here… ‘of varying degrees of quality’.

There are definitely six examples here, but I would suggest that only four and a half are actually 'innovative'.

I’ll start with the best one, which is the reason why I began this journey in the first place. Well that and an uncharacteristic wave of festive spirit after enjoying a post-lunchtime liqueur chocolate. Then if you can tread with increasing amounts caution through the remaining examples, that would be great.

So with the formalities dispensed with, let's begin...

Mcdonald’s ‘Festive Countdown'

The ‘100 McDonald’s moments’ campaign is an HTML5 infinite grid style canvas, that users can explore on any device.

McDonald’s has added an advent calendar to the campaign.

Clicking (or swiping if you’re on a smartphone) unlocks a simple piece of animation that illustrates a customer’s small-enough-to-be-tweeted story.

Exploring the infinite grid is a deeply satisfying experience, if just for the animation of the grids popping up in quasi 3D and the way it zooms in and out of the landscape.

Nokia’s ‘Zoom Project’

As part of its charity work, Nokia has spotlighted several causes that it believes deserves more support in its charity calendar.

Six reporters, representing the different charities, have been tasked with telling their respective stories only using the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Using the tabs at the right side, you can zoom in and out of the hi-res picture. You can also drag and drop the comment icon, add your own story, and let other users find it when they click on the respective speech-mark icon.

You can support the different charities with a like, tweet, share or comment, and the cause with the most support will receive a donation from Nokia.

Two advent calendars in. So good, so far.

Giraffe's 'Treat-a-day giveaway'

The restaurant chain immediately presents you with this pop-up when visiting its site, which is tantamount to harrassment if you're not feeling particularly jovial that day.

Opening the door reveals a short piece of Flash animation (take that iPhone user), and your treat of the day.

This particular 'treat' was a lengthy PDF file on how to decorate a Christmas tree properly.

To be fair, at least I learnt something (I certainly won't be hanging baubles from the tips of branches any longer!) and there's a button that says 'please don't show me this advent calendar again', mercifully.  

Headline’s prize advent calendar

Some companies are offering competition based advent calendars, where the user can enter a prize draw on that specific day only.

There’s nothing too cost heavy for the publisher, but day one’s prize of signed David Beckham books was a good incentive to keep coming back.

Bloomsbury’s bizarre guinea pig calendar

I did warn you.

Winning absolutely zero prizes for design here, especially bearing in mind this is Bloomsbury, the publisher of Harry Potter. Here’s another publisher’s attempt at a prize advent calendar.

To credit Bloomsbury, the prizes are pretty good. To criticise the publisher, the closing dates are way too generous and they use the same picture of a guinea pig every single day.

I realise that I shouldn’t have even bothered using this as an example, but I’m locked into my own remit here, and I felt it was important to highlight how half-arsed this is. Makes me feel nostalgic about Giraffe.

I dread what’s coming next.

National Museums Liverpool’s educational advent calendar

Well this is not too bad after all.

It’s cute, it’s nicely animated and more importantly, when you click on a door you get an exclusive artefact with a piece of 'interesting historical information'.

I’ll leave you with this picture of a zebra in a children’s hospital.

Well I’ve learnt my lesson.

I shan’t return to this subject next year.

For more festive tomfoolery, here's a post on the slightly bonkers new Argos christmas gift site.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 6 December, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Will

Hello!

I thought I'd just stop by to point out that the giraffe advert calendar is actually mobile friendly. It's a mixture of CSS and SVG animation, no flash to be found. There is even a mobile specific version here:

http://giraffe.net/advent

So, please think (and right click) before accusing people of flashing in the future...

Merry Christmas!

p.s. The way your reCaptcha refreshes the whole page when you attempt to refresh the image is really user friendly, I love writing comments twice. I'm surprised none of your commenters have picked up on that yet.

about 3 years ago

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Barney

Hi Christopher,

Enjoyed your article. You're obviously experiencing online-advent-calendar fatigue, but here's just one more - from charity Citizens Advice.

http://www.adventcalendaronline.co.uk/cab/

Let us know what you think!

Barney

about 3 years ago

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Kat

How about M&S International ?

about 3 years ago

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Arnostka

By far the best online advent calendar I came across... :o)

http://decko.ceskatelevize.cz/advent

almost 3 years ago

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Drew

The McDonald's one is fantastic, in my opinion.

Friendly on tablets and phones and the whole swiping around experience is really nice. But I can't for the life of me figure out how they did it - the code seems really well hidden, so do the images! I'd love to try my skills and recreating it!

almost 3 years ago

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