Reverse Advent: Tips and Ideas

Up until last year, I hadn’t heard of a reverse advent. It came up when I was searching for alternatives to Christmas shoeboxes. I have a real bee in my bonnet about Operation Christmas Child. You can read my rant about that HERE if you’re interested.

I wanted a simple way to be able to give back at Christmas time. This year of all years, there are going to be so many families who will be struggling with just the basics let alone having the luxury to buy any treats that help to make the festive time so special.

It breaks my heart to think of children out there not getting Christmas gifts. But it’s even more heartbreaking so to think of the parents knowing what they are missing out on. If I can help, even in a tiny way, I will.

So what is a Reverse Advent?

Basically, instead of receiving a little treat or chocolate every day like you would in a traditional advent calendar, you give something instead. This can be essentials like food or toiletries or little treats like biscuits or stocking fillers.

What you’ll need:

  • Two containers
  • 24 items (or as many as you want)

The Reverse Advent Containers

Last year, I had a big bag with all the goodies I’d bought or collected. I also had a cardboard box which I decorated as the hamper to donate. This year, I’ve made it even more simple. I’ve just bought a giant sturdy gift bag that cost me £1 from Home Bargains.

What Items to Include:

As much as all donations will be appreciated, you’ll want to make sure your items have the biggest impact. So, I recommend contacting your local foodbank, homeless shelter or local charity to find out which items they are most in need of. Some may have this information on their website or Facebook page.

As a rough guide, you’ll need non perishable food such as pasta, rice, cereals or tinned goods. Often, food bank are in need of tinned meals or hearty long life substantial items. Tinned sponge puddings and long life milk and juice are also good purchases.

I wanted to balance this with some treats such as chocolate, a few small gifts and Christmas goodies. I ended up getting a mini craft set and candle too.

When to start the Reverse Advent

You can run your reverse advent alongside your traditional advent calendars and there is a nice symmetry in getting something each day and also giving something each day. This is what we did last year. My girls opened their chocolate advent calendar and then chose an item from my bag to add to the Reverse advent hamper.

However, you do need to be mindful of the fact that late December can get very busy. You may very well run out of time to make your donation unless you plan it in advance. I’ve decided this year to run it through November so that I have all of December to get our hamper to the food bank.

Keeping Costs Down

If you were to buy 30 really lovely items, your hamper would end up costing a significant amount of money. In order to put together a reverse advent without costing too much or requiring too much shopping around, I highly recommend getting the items from a shop such as Home Bargains.

Here you’ll find it easy to get almost all the items for under a £1. The way I shopped was to choose an item such as a shower gel and scan the shelf for the best deal. You’ll be amazed at how many items come in at 69p, 79p and 89p and some even lower.

Double Benefit

Finally, enjoy taking time each day to be grateful that you have the things that you are adding to the reverse advent. I found this was a great conversation starter with my children and gave us the opportunity to discuss the importance of charity and helping when we can.

Merry Christmas Everyone


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