Reverse Advent Calendar for Christmas

a box food of food donations for a reverse advent calendar

Have you heard of, or done, a reverse advent calendar before?

I may have been living under a rock because this concept of a reverse advent calendar was a new one to me. But what a great idea. Especially this year when non-profit organizations are struggling more than usual.

We all know how a traditional advent calendar works. They are something that is used to count down to Christmas.

Maybe it is filling in a component to a manger scene each day or opening a flap on a picture. Growing up we placed felt ornaments on a felt tree. Today, in our family we have a simple one where the kids take turns moving the heart one pocket further each day.

In recent years, advent calendars have become more elaborate and more expensive. Often kids will receive chocolate or a small gift each day. Lego even has advent calendars. There are sock advent calendars.

In a season that already includes so much chaos and receiving of gifts, a reverse advent calendar is a nice way to help our kids remember to focus on others!

I love things that are simple and easy to do, even as a busy mom with young kids. This fits the bill perfectly!

There are a couple of simple free printables that you can use – you’ll find them at the end of the post.

a picture of a white drawer advent calendar with a graphic for a reverse advent calendar

What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?

Basically, instead of receiving something each day you follow a calendar and give something to a non-profit organization each day leading up to Christmas. It is easiest to have a box or basket in your house to collect the items in and then deliver it at the end.

Have a list with 24 lines for the 24 days to finish Christmas Eve. (Or 25 lines for the 25 days leading up to and including Christmas.) On each line you’ll write down what you are going to donate that day.

You can do one item per day, or you can organize what you are donating from most to least expensive and collect 1 the item on day one, 2 on day two etc.

What to Do For a Reverse Advent Calendar?

  1. First, you’ll need to decide what charity (or charities) you would like to collect items for.

Here are some ideas:

  • Food pantry
  • Clothes closet
  • Homeless shelter
  • Pregnancy center
  • Foster care
  • Veteran care
  • Humane society
  • Any other local organization you care about
  • You could drop the items off anonymously to a family you know needs things

2. Unless you are involved with the organization you choose, contact them and ask what needs they might have this winter.

You might as well spend money on things people need rather than something that will take up precious storage space and never get used.

3. Use the organizations suggestions to start filling in the lines on your Reverse Advent Calendar.

Other options instead of the simple printable version:

  • you can make a paper chain with what you are collecting for that day on each link. Every morning your kids can remove a link.
  • Write on slips of paper and put them in the reusable advent calendar you normally use.
  • Make your own advent calendar and replace the candy or gifts with papers saying what you are collecting that day. Here are two ideas.

4. Share with your kids what you are doing and why! Let them get excited and feel a part of this event:

  • Take them each day (or week) to purchase the items.
  • Have them read the calendar every day and put the appropriate supplies into your collection box.
  • If you have little kids, you could also hide the day’s items around your house and the kids have to go on a treasure hunt to find them and put them in the box – my kids would love this!

(If you are including Christmas Day in your calendar, do this first thing in the morning before you dive into presents and stockings. Start your day thinking about others, and have your kids know how fun it is to give.)

5. After Christmas, be sure to take your children with you as you go to drop off the supplies. You could even have them make thank you cards for the organization for the work that they are doing.

Now, here are some free printable reverse advent calendars I put together for you. Simply print them out, fill in the details, and hang it on your fridge!

Have you done a reverse advent calendar before? Which charities did you collect supplies for?

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