Advent is the perfect for focusing on the joy of the season, but it can also seem really commercial. A couple of years ago we started our Advent acts of kindness, an alternative advent for kids to try and refocus this time away from receiving to giving. Lasy year we made a Reverse Advent Calendar.
Donating to a food bank is a really visual activity to do with children and it can make a massive difference to families and people in need.
What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?
I would love to say this is my idea, but I am sure it has been around a while. Firstly you need to grab a basket or box, and every day leading up to Christmas, add something useful to the box.
The idea is that you add 24 items just like an advent calendar.
Then you can donate it to a food bank, a family in need or your church.
A reverse advent calendar is perfect to do as a group too. You can put the box in your classroom, workplace or do it as a larger family group and take turns at adding to it.
What to put in a Reverse Advent Calendar
If you are anything like me you will wonder what to put into your reverse advent calendar or give to a food bank.
All donations are appreciated, but like me stressing in front of my cupboards I know most people want to know that what they are giving will actually help people.
- Tuna – It’s packed full of protein and can be cooked as part of a meal or eaten straight from the can
- Things with ring pulls – Yep, This is probably one of the biggest tips I can give you! Homeless people often don’t carry tin openers due to the amount of stuff they have to carry around so if the tin of food you give doesn’t have a ring pull on it then they might not be able to eat it. Such a little thing that can make a difference!
- Baby formula. As anyone who has formula fed a baby knows, formula is a big drain on your finances. This is a great way that you can support families with young kids.
- Nappies. Yep, same thing. No one should be worrying about how often they can afford to change their child’s nappy or if buying a new pack means less food that week.
- Chopped pork or corned beef. These both used to be cheap sources of protein but the price of them has really risen. They’re super versatile as like tuna, they can be used as part of a meal or can be eaten cold.
- Baked beans. And yes, apparently the value ones are more than ok to give!
- Tinned curry. A great way to help people have a nice meal with some flavour in it. They also often contain some vegetables in them which is helpful.
- Irish Stew. This is also something that gets requested a lot.
- Kids snacks. As all parents know, kids can eat a lot and need topping up with food regularly!
- Pot noodles. A good source of protein and carbohydrates.
- Big Soups. Tinned hearty soups need to be better nutritionally than others.
- Rice Pudding. Stodgy, filling and very popular.
- UHT Milk for people who don’t have access to a fridge.
A big thank you to Crafts on Sea for help with the list of what to donate.
Help throughout the year. Your help and support at Harvest and Christmas is really, truly appreciated, however, please don’t forget food banks throughout the rest of winter. January, February and even March can be exceptionally cold and people living in poverty need your help just as much then.
This is a wonderful idea and a great way to focus on giving rather than receiving. Thank you for sharing your tips on what to put in.
What a fantastic idea….I have never heard of a reverse advent calendar before.
Great tips too….I never thought about donating things with ring pulls! So thoughtful x
What a lovely idea, I like how you’ve given a list of suitable food and stuff to put in it too. I remember as a kid whenever we had a harvest festival at school my mum would sort out the oldest tin in the cupboard that hadn’t been used. Sometimes just giving is enough, sometimes a little thought into what you are giving is even better.
What a wonderful idea! I think i might get the mums in on this at school and donate nappies and formula.
Thanks for sharing x
I’ve seen this on your Facebook before now and it’s such a great idea x
What a nice idea! I really like the reverse focus on giving instead of receiving. Great way to teach compassion. Are you letting your kids chose the items that go into the box?
Thank you! I am challenging Hungarian families to choose doing it this year. Hope many will expericence the joy of giving.
Thanks for sharing this again Jen, I love the idea of your reverse advent calendar
You know how much I loved this idea last Christmas Jen and I love that there are so many people following your amazing example by sharing their versions of this for Christmas this year.
You should be proud to have inspired so many people x
What a lovely idea, I will certainly be doing this in December
I really appreciate your tips of what to include, I am getting a box sent from Co-op and a £5 voucher to get my reverse advent started so I will definately be ticking of a few items from your list x
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Some fab tips! We do give to food banks particularly at Christmas but i love this seems more meaningful and such a good message for your children.
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Thank you so much for sharing this. You’ve inspired me to do this myself! I always like to do something for advent, but this year I was struggling for ideas. Christmas is such a horrible time of year for families in need, with adverts everywhere making family life look perfect, when the reality for some is very different. I’ve got my list of 24 items together, and can’t wait to get started. Thanks for sharing!
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This is a brilliant idea, I’ll need to get a cardboard box and start filling it up 🙂
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