“To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” Mark Twain
Here’s a great Christmas tradition that I recently stumbled upon.
It’s called a Reverse Advent Calendar, and it’s a good reminder that while it’s awesome fun to unwrap presents, we should think about the joy we can give others as well.
The Reverse Advent Calendar is the brainchild of Canadian Julie Van Rosendaal, who came up with the idea in 2015 as a way to get donations for her local Foodbank. Then the idea was then adopted and popularised by Foodbank in the UK.
A Reverse Advent Calendar is where you collect an item each day in the lead up to Christmas to donate to your local Foodbank, charity, shelter or refuge.
Rather than getting a surprise every day, you give one.
(Or you could do both and double the fun.)
What I like about this idea is that it’s a tangible way for children to learn to think about the needs of others and give items that match those needs. Although charities are always looking for monetary donations as well.
How to Start a Reverse Advent Calendar
Before you get started, there are three important points to be aware of:
- It’s a good idea to contact your local charity and ask them what they need most, so you’re giving exactly what is needed.
- Plan to give your donations to your charity a week or two before Christmas so they can deliver goods on time or ask them exactly when they need it.
- Make sure you donate new items, not used.
- If you donate foodstuff, make sure it’s non-perishable and in date.
Then it’s just a matter of collecting an item each day and putting it in a box or bag ready to give to your charity before Christmas.
Of course, this is something you can do all year round. At each shop, pick up one extra item, especially if it’s 50% off and then donate your goods each month.
Ideas for Your Reverse Advent Calendar
While it’s a good idea to check with your local charity first and ask them what they need, if you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few ideas:
- Non-perishable food
- Dry foods
- Christmas or other special foods
- Tea, coffee and other drinks
- Sporting equipment
- Baby needs
Other Ways to Give at Christmas
Instead of giving stuff, you can, of course, donate money. Donating online is quick and easy, and it enables charities to invest the money exactly where it is needed.
Here is a small selection of charities in Australia. If there are others you know of, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
And of course, all of these charities welcome donations throughout the year, not just at Christmas.
- Salvation Army – Our local Salvos is working together with our local library to collect new books to give to kids, but they have a range of other Christmas appeals.
- Share the Dignity – Give a handbag full of essential items for homeless women.
- Kmart Wishing Tree – Run in conjunction with the Salvation Army, you can buy a toy and leave it at the Kmart wishing tree.
- Foodbank – Here’s a list of Foodbank’s most wanted food items. Aussie Farmers Direct, in conjunction with Foodbank, have a meal box you can buy to donate.
- Smith Family – Donate online.
- Unicef – Donate online.
- Givit – “Australia’s biggest secret Santa” connecting donations to what people need.
- Australian Refugee Christmas Drive – Donations needed before 30th November.
- Red Cross – Donate online.
- St Vincent De Paul – Donate online
- Uniting Care – You can donate at or take a gift to your nearest Target store.
- Mission Australia – Donate online.
Christmas is a time of giving, and a Reverse Advent Calendar is a great way to give. However, there are lots of other ways you can give at Christmas and plenty of charities out there ready to divide the Christmas joy amongst the whole community.
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Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.
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