Advent calendars are a popular tradition for the holiday season and help people count down to Christmas in a fun and festive way. Specifically, the calendar marks the period of Advent or the preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. Today’s version of the Advent calendar dates back to the 1800s. It is based on the German Lutheran’s tradition of writing chalk tally marks on walls or lighting candles to count the remaining days until Christmas.
Coming in different shapes and sizes, this type of calendar usually starts on December 1st and goes to either December 24 or 25. They can be standing holders with doors or window cutouts, hanging pieces of fabric, or individual containers. Each day on the calendar holds a small trinket to celebrate the season. Some examples of trinkets could be daily devotions, candy, books, toys, snacks, small gifts, or something special. There are even pet versions. A quick search in stores and on online shops will produce a plethora of various advent calendars. Whether you are into Christmas themed items, sports, a specific hobby, or a TV show or movie, there is probably an Advent calendar for it. For the entire month of December, items are taken away from the Advent calendar. By the time Christmas comes, the calendar is left empty, there are 24 or 25 treats for a person to enjoy, and can sometimes be used for next year. However, there is another type of Advent calendar that isn’t as well-known, but still has the same importance and value as the traditional one. In addition, this type of calendar doesn’t become empty by the end of the month; in fact, it becomes full. Let me introduce you to the reverse Advent calendar.
The reverse Advent calendar follows the same process as the traditional. It begins on December 1st and runs through the 24th or 25th. As mentioned above, you don’t receive a gift with the reverse Advent calendar. Instead, you donate an item to a box or container each day. At the end of the season, you will then take your items to your selected charity.
Making a reverse Advent calendar is simple and easy. First, select a charity or nonprofit organization you would like to collect items for. Be sure that your choice is important to you and your family. If you are having a hard time deciding on one nonprofit, select a few and divide up the days with specific items for a specific charity. For example, the first week will be items collected for one charity, the next week will be items for another nonprofit, and so on. This will help motivate you to donate and add to your box. Next, pick out your container to hold all of the items. Get creative and decorate your holder. You can even turn it into a theme or something that resembles your favorite sport, hobby, etc. Lastly, create a list of items to place in the box for the month of December. Check with your chosen organization(s) beforehand and see what items they need the most, items they accept, or any special instructions. Many nonprofits have wish lists for this time of the year. Then, start collecting! Some items may need to be bought, but second-hand items may work just as well. Also, get your family, friends, and neighbors involved. Ask them for donations to ask to your box, if you feel comfortable.
Don’t know where to start? Think of common items that food banks, nonprofits that serve homeless people, or animal shelters could use. Some of the items are:
- Nonperishable Food
- Canned Goods
- Pasta and Sauce
- Peanut Butter
- Hot Chocolate Mixes
- Baking Items and Birthday Celebration Ingredients (Often items for baking and birthday celebrations are overlooked for food banks.)
- Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
- Sanitary Products
- Clean and unused bath cloths
- Warm Clothes
- Socks and Shoes
- Home Items
A final idea for the reverse Advent calendar that doesn’t cost too much is a random acts of kindness calendar. For each day of December, complete a random act of kindness with your family and mark it down on the calendar.
Whether you are adding donation items to a box or filling up a calendar with kindness, the reverse Advent calendar will leave you feeling fulfilled with the holiday spirit. It is also a great way to teach your children and yourself about the importance of gifting and caring for others during this time of the year. It is a season of giving, not just receiving, and the reverse Advent calendar is the perfect way to do just that.