The reverse advent calendar


It’s been the longest, shortest year. December is almost knocking on our doors and with it the looming spectre of Christmas.

What would the “looming spectre of Christmas” look like? I’m seeing a giant Santa, or maybe a gargantuan snowman.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, I even had mince pies this week! I just always succumb to the pressure around making sure that everything is “right”, having everything ticked off the list. 

Saying that, this is probably the ideal year to shake off any preconceptions about what the perfect Christmas looks like. With life tipped upside down to a more or lesser extent for everyone, we can all of us aim for “good enough”. I will be keeping this in the back of my mind.

One idea that recently caught my eye is the “reverse advent calendar”. It seems like the concept has been around for a few years, but if you, like I, are a little late to the party then it basically works on the following premise: for every day of advent you put aside one item to donate to a foodbank or charity.

After you’ve decided whether you’re opting for 12 or 24 “days of Christmas”, designate a particular box, container or corner of your home where you can put your donations every day. 

Before you get started have a think about the type of thing you’d like to donate. Different charities will have different requirements. I’ve heard of animal shelters needing baby socks to keep their residents’ feet warm! Food banks will often have lists of preferred goods: non-perishable foods and new items. They tend not to take donations of second hand clothes, for example.

Tinned fruit and veg, biscuits, pasta sauces, tea and coffee, tinned fish or meat all form part of a typical food bank parcel. Non-food items such as toiletries, feminine hygiene products and baby supplies such as nappies are also useful.

Most charities will have a list of useful or required items on their website, and there’s no harm in dropping them a line if you’re still not sure. The Trussell Trust have a useful list of suggested food and non-food items to donate to a food bank.

And you don’t need to head to the shops everyday, you may be able to “shop” your kitchen cupboards – just be certain to check “use by’ dates!

Once your advent calendar is complete you can take it down to your charity of choice. Bear in mind that operating hours may vary, particularly over Christmas. You may need to take your reverse advent calendar over as a New Year’s donation in January if Christmas Eve isn’t practical.

On that note, if you’ve missed the boat for December there’s no reason why you couldn’t undertake a similar daily donation project for another month of the year. People are often very generous at Christmas so donations coming in at a later date would be most welcome!

The reverse advent calendar seems like an idea that the whole family can get involved with. It’s a chance for little ones to think of others and taps into the true spirit of Christmas giving. It looks like the start of a new Christmas tradition!

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