If you're looking for a brand new Christmas tradition for you and your family, we've got an idea that is not only fun to do, but will teach your little ones some special lessons over the festive season.
Everyone loves advent calendars to count them down to Christmas Day. Most children adore receiving one at the beginning of December because it gets them excited for Santa coming, and every surprise that they open on the way is a promise of what's to come.
But if you want to try something a little different this year, you can create an advent calendar that you and your children put something into every day instead of taking something out. Read on to find out more about reverse advent calendars, and how to make one yourself!
What is a reverse advent calendar?
Reverse advent calendars work by you filling them every day with with items of food or clothing that can then be taken to a food bank or charity in order to help those less fortunate that are struggling at Christmas time.
After gathering helpful items all month, you can take everything you've saved to your local help scheme, homeless shelter, church, charity, etc. on Christmas Eve and know that you've given a Christmas present to someone that really needed it.
Not only is this a fun thing for the whole family to do together, from creating the advent calendar structure itself to picking the goodies to go in it, it more importantly teaches your kids the importance of helping others and seeing the bigger picture at Christmas.
What to collect for your reverse advent calendar
Different charities will ask for different kinds of contributions, but generally speaking you should be collecting either clothes and toiletries, toys and entertainment or food. Here are some suggestions to fill your reverse advent calendar with:
- Dolls, teddy bears, figurines
- Pencils, crayons, paper, colouring books
- CD's, DVD's, books
- Hats, gloves, scarves
- Make up, toiletries
- Baby clothes
- T shirts, jumpers
- Arts and crafts, jigsaws
- Bath towels, hand towels, blankets
- Tinned goods such as fruit, tuna, baked beans, copped tomatoes and rice pudding
- Cans or (plastic) bottles of fizzy or still drinks
- Chocolate and sweets
- Biscuits and crackers
- Crisps and savoury snacks
How to make your own reverse advent calendar
Making your own reverse advent calendar is really easy, and fun for the children. Our Kids Kitchen blogger Sarah Barnes explains in our video exactly what she did with her little ones to make theirs, simply using a basket and their own food cupboard.
Follow these five simple steps to start this sweet tradition with your children.
Start either 24 or 12 days before Christmas and decide whether you're going to collect food, clothes or presents.
Pick something to collect your advent calendar gifts in. This can be something really easy like a basket or cardboard box, or alternatively you could make individual pockets for each day using strips of cardboard and even add some paint and glitter to jazz it up.
Every day choose something from your own supplies or from a store with your family to donate to your reverse advent calendar.
A few days before Christmas when you can make some time, take your offerings down to your local food bank or charity and donate them.
Spend some time with your little ones imagining who you might have helped by starting this special tradition and ask everyone to pick a reason why they are lucky this Christmas.
Where to take your reverse advent calender
There are loads of charities that accept gifts at Christmas time and organise for them to be delivered to those who need them most. Make sure you get in touch with your local branch of these charities to check that they will take your items:
- Crisis.org for food and clothes
- FareShare for food
- Salvation Army for Christmas toys and gifts
- Great Ormond Street Hospital for games and entertainment gifts
- The Trussell Trust for food
- Samaritans for toys and toiletries
- Barnardo's for toys, toiletries
- The British Heart Foundation for toys and clothing
Are you trying the reverse advent calendar tradition this year? Tell us all about it on our Facebook page!
Parenting advice, hot topics, best buys and family finance tips delivered straight to your inbox.
Mariana is a lifestyle writer who has written for Goodto.com and My Imperfect Life. She joined the Goodto.com team as an intern after completing her journalism MA at City University. After six months spent writing about food, celebrity news, and family trends, Mariana left to write for Healthy Food magazine - but returned in 2017, to join the Future team once again. In her spare time, you’ll find Mariana in the kitchen cooking for her friends.
The adorable sign Prince Louis can’t wait to be a future King like his brother Prince George
The Wales youngster made a telling move during a secret visit to the Strictly Come Dancing studios
By Selina Maycock Published
This baby name is giving 'retro chic' vibes and it's predicted to be a top choice for parents in 2024 – would you choose it?
It’s stolen the limelight right at the last minute
By Daniella Gray Published
40 naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas that are so easy to copy for Christmas 2023
Need some naughty Elf on the Shelf ideas? We've got you covered, and not in honey like some naughty elves might do...
By Stephanie Lowe Last updated
John Lewis predicts these are the 10 must-have toys for Christmas 2023
The retailer has spoken! John Lewis reckons these are the toys to snap up before they sell out
By Heidi Scrimgeour Published
Charity Christmas Cards to buy in 2022: Cards For Good Causes charity opens over 100 Christmas pop-up shops
If you're looking for charity Christmas cards to buy in 2022, check out Cards for Good Causes, the Christmas card retailer that allows you to choose which charity your money goes to
By Ellie Hutchings Published
Will we have a White Christmas in the UK? 2023 odds and Met Office predictions
It would be the first properly white Christmas in the UK in 13 years
By Ellie Hutchings Last updated
Best Christmas jumpers 2022: 31 of the best festive knits for women, men and teenagers
All the best Christmas jumpers for 2022
By Emily Stedman Last updated
When to take your Christmas tree down - the tradition explained
If you want to know when to take your Christmas tree down and if it's bad luck to take it down at the wrong time, we've delved into the tradition to find out the answer
By Ellie Hutchings Last updated
What does the shape of a candy cane represent?
Find out what does the shape of a candy cane represent and why they are associated with Christmas
By Ellie Hutchings Published
The 12 best Christmas crackers 2022 - for all budgets
We've rounded up the 12 best Christmas crackers to add a touch of magic to your table
By Mollie Davies Published