The Utterly Inessential Shopping List: The billionaire’s advent calendar and a perfect barbecue for mid-winter al fresco

An object that is quite possibly the greatest advent calendar ever made graces our list this week, as well as a baffling tool whose unspoken feature is its ability to impart a feeling of wellbeing.

The world of retail is gearing up for Black Friday next week — indeed, many shops have already started, or are just about to — and we’ll be running a special feature next week. For now, though, relax and enjoy this selection of things that you definitely don’t need, but you probably want anyway.

When is an advent calendar not an advent calendar? When it’s an advent building

Would you call an advent calendar ‘utterly inessential’? Not if you’re seven years old, you wouldn’t, for how else are the young supposed to keep tabs of the days between December 1 and Christmas?

Put a £15,000 price tag on that advent calendar, however, and even the most well-heeled child might question whether . Of course, children are (presumably) not the target audience for this genuinely spectacular building, described by the makers as ‘an Advent Calendar to last a lifetime’.

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The calendar’s design is ‘inspired by the architecture of Belgravia’, while it’s crafted from oak burr and sycamore with marquetry in various other woods to create the beautiful 24 drawers — plus a hidden compartment for Christmas Day.

Wooden advent calendar — £15,000 from

A message in a bottle

Reusable Friends of the Earth water bottle

You know those insulated, metal water bottles which have been taking over the planet? We like them, because anything which involves getting water from a tap rather than paying £1.99 for tepid, plasticky liquid gets out vote.

We’ve never really thought of them in terms of saving the planet, but one of the companies who make them clearly has, and the result is the ‘Seal Snorkeller Ion8 Friends of the Earth’ bottle. The PR blurb describes it as an object that manages to ‘portray the majesty of our oceans’, then ups the ante to claim that this is more than a water receptacle: ‘It’s a message in a bottle,’ they say, ‘a statement in your hands.’

Seal Snorkeller Ion8 Friends of the Earth — £24.99 from, with 25% going to Friends of the Earth

Something nice to set on fire


If spending £45 on something which you literally set fire to and discard afterwards isn’t utterly inessential, then we don’t know what is.

The good news is that this candle will look pretty and smell divine as you watch it burn away.

To The Fairest Cécile candle — £45 from

You’ll need a good barbecue in case the oven breaks down on Christmas Day and you’ve no other way to cook the turkey

Weber Summit® S-670 GBS Gas Barbecue

It’s the middle of winter. Here’s a barbecue so good that you won’t even care that you have to go outside to use it.

(The Christmas Turkey thing isn’t even a joke, incidentally — we know lots of people who actually swear by cooking it on the barbecue, even when their main oven indoors is working perfectly well.)

Weber Summit S-670 GBS Gas Barbecue — £3,799 from

Surely this is worth it for the little leather pouch alone

Leatherman Heritage Charge+ TTi

In the highly-unlikely event that anyone who knows me has thought to consult this list before buying a Christmas present, look no further than this.

I don’t need it. I’m not even sure what it’s meant to be for. But it just looks amazing, and I just feel that my life would be better if I owned it.

Leatherman Heritage Charge TTi+ Multi-Tool — £209.95 from