Advent is soon approaching. One of the things people associate with Advent is the Advent Calendar. You count down the days until Christmas Eve, by opening a little window in a box. each window contains some sort of treat, such as a chocolate. Today, I’m writing about the Reverse Advent Calendar. Instead of taking something out of a box, we put something in.
The idea of a Reverse Advent Calendar is something showing up more and more frequently. With a regular or specialized Advent Calendar you open a door every day, and receive a treat. For the Reverse Advent Calendar, you take an empty box. Each day you add a good items and on Christmas Eve take it to your local food bank or food bank supplier.
For this year I’m suggesting two variations on the Calendar. The first is the more common a straight forward one. This involves collecting non-perishable food items and donating them to a food bank. This is a good thing to do.
Neither is better than the other. They are just different, and different is good. I’d like to suggest a couple of differences between the typical reverse version, and the second version.
First, when creating the second version, choose someone you have a connection to. It’s good to support food banks. However, we are always at one remove from the people who receive the food. Over the last few years, particularly since Covid, we have lost connection with each other. Giving to someone we know helps to rebuild connections with each other.
Second, the first version tends to focus only on staples. Staples are good, and necessary. However, the second version would give the giver the chance to add extra nice, and helpful touches.
Things to consider with your reverse advent calendar
One thing to remember is if people are struggling to meet basic food needs, they are likely struggling to meet other basic needs. You might want to throw in a pair of socks. Maybe add some mittens or gloves.
Another thing to think about is how often meals are monotonous for people. How about throwing in type of specialty sauce, or honey. If you want to, you may wish to throw in an item or two from a small scale, local maker. That way you help not only someone who is struggling to meet basic needs, but someone who is trying to make their business work.
So, earlier I said connection is important. One way of adding connection is by creating a Reverse Advent Calendar as an activity for a group of friends. Maybe you want to do it as an office Christmas project. Perhaps your church or community group could create one or two. As an idea, it could work for a book club.
You will notice the second version is more expensive. I’m not trying to encourage anyone to overspend. However, it might not hurt if this Reverse Advent Calendar makes us stop and think about how we spend our money. Also, it’s another reason for us to do it as a group. Finally, Advent is traditionally a season for self-reflection.
Reverse advent calendar – food bank version
|December 3||Box of Cereal|
|December 4||Peanut Butter|
|December 5||Stuffing Mix|
|December 6||Boxed Potatoes|
|December 7||Macaroni and Cheese|
|December 8||Canned Fruit|
|December 9||Canned Tomatoes|
|December 10||Canned Tuna|
|December 11||Boxed Taco Kit|
|December 12||Dessert Mix|
|December 13||Jar of Applesauce|
|December 14||Cranberry Sauce|
|December 15||Canned Beans|
|December 16||Box of Crackers|
|December 17||Package of Rice|
|December 18||Package of Oatmeal|
|December 19||Package of Pasta|
|December 20||Spaghetti Sauce|
|December 21||Tomato Soup|
|December 22||Chicken Noodle Soup|
|December 23||Canned Corn|
|December 24||Canned Green Beans|
The above are a set of suggestions for a Reverse Advent Calendar to be delivered to a food bank. You may wish to substitute other items. Food banks often have very little in the way of perishables and semi-perishables to offer people. If you collect those items towards the end of your calendar, they could be something a little extra to offer people in need of food assistance at Christmas time.
Version number two
|December 3||Pair of Socks|
|December 4||Canned Tomatoes|
|December 5||Peanut/Almond Butter|
|December 7||Honey (try local)|
|December 9||Canned beans|
|December 10||Specialty Sauce/Condiment|
|December 11||Package Rice|
|December 12||Chicken Noodle Soup|
|December 13||Canned Corn|
|December 14||A Bottle of Wine: Guards against|
|December 15||Pasta Sauce|
|December 16||Canned Fruit|
|December 17||Grocery/Coffee Shop Gift Card|
|December 18||Package of Stuffing|
|December 19||Can opener or other useful|
|December 20||Spaghetti Sauce|
|December 21||Tomato Soup|
|December 22||Box of Crackers|
|December 23||Package of Oatmeal|
|December 24||Package of herbs or spices and|
These are just two possibilities for Reverse Advent Calendars. This is the kind of project you can let your imagine run wild with. Perhaps you might want to create one using various hygiene projects. Maybe create one with a variety of household utensils. Your imagination is the only limit in this project.
A not comprehensive list, of local makers
Most items can be picked up at local grocers, or pharmacies. Below is a list of specialty stores where you might want to pick up one or two items to include in your calendar. Again, I have no desire for anyone to spend beyond their means for this.
These are just a few of the local places that carry a wide range of products to consider for your calendar. Maybe you have a neighbour or friend that has a small business you wish to support. Or, you don’t live in Winnipeg, and wish to support your own local makers. If you have more ideas, or places, please add them in the comments section.