In many homes, including mine, families display an advent calendar on December 1st as a way to count down to Christmas! Typically, these calendars either have pull out drawers or pockets where small goodies, like candy or a trinket are placed for children to receive as a small gift during the month of December.
Looking to teach your children about the gift of giving?
In addition to your traditional advent calendar, create a reverse advent calendar! Julie Van Rosendaal, a food personality created this extraordinary idea of making a reverse advent calendar as a way to give to the community! This advent calendar is a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how give to someone in need, especially during the holidays!
How does a Reverse Advent Calendar work?
Everyday starting on December 1st, instead of only taking a gift/treat from the advent calendar, choose something to give to someone in need by placing it into your “Advent Box”. You and your children continue to collect items for the 24 days leading up to Christmas Eve, at which time you and your family will donate your full box to a charity or family in need of your choice.
As a family, you will need to decide who or what charity you will donate to and come up with a list of items you can collect over the 24 days. These items can include practical things for the home like canned foods, kitchen items, bath and hygiene products. You can have a box entirely devoted to practicality or you can also add in some fun items like toys, yummy foods and sweets, candles and other things that sooth the senses.
If your budget allows, adding a monetary gift as well goes a long way. Create a donation jar, put a dollar or your spare change in it each day and see how it adds up! Your spare change could mean a meal for a family!
If you choose to donate to the four legged furry friends, think of items they would enjoy and could use to increase their quality of life such as snugly items/blankets, food and toys.
Once you have chosen your charity and the items to go into the Advent Box, set a realistic budget. In our house, the rule is $5.00 or less per item.
How to create your reverse Advent Calendar Box
You will need something to store all of your donated items. If you prefer to store in a box, visit your local wine and spirits shop for a box with cardboard dividers. Depending on the boxes’ size, you may need two. If you can’t find a box with dividers, you can simply chose a regular medium-large sized box or a large basket to store your donations.
To make the box festive, invite your kids to decorate it with wrapping paper, paint, jewels, etc making it a beautiful gift for the lucky recipient.
Looking for a charitable organization?
Some organizations and people you can donate to are:
Homeless shelter or a known homeless camp/person in your area. Check your local city/town laws on providing items to the homeless
Domestic violence shelter
SPCA/pet rescue organization
School, library, daycare center or retirement community
Hospital or cancer center
For a listing of additional charitable organizations who would be eager to receive your donation, click here.
Be sure to involve your children in the decision. Ask your children if there is anyone or place they would like to donate to; they just may surprise you with their thoughtful suggestions!