Reverse Advent Calendar – 2 Versions

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.

An Advent Calendar with a Christmas images on front. This is the inspiration for the Reverse Advent Calendar
A typical Advent Calendar

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.

A picture of a no name can of tomatoes
A can of tomatoes for the Reverse Advent Calendar


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 3Box of Cereal
December 4Peanut Butter
December 5Stuffing Mix
December 6Boxed Potatoes
December 7Macaroni and Cheese
December 8Canned Fruit
December 9Canned Tomatoes
December 10Canned Tuna
December 11Boxed Taco Kit
December 12Dessert Mix
December 13Jar of Applesauce
December 14Cranberry Sauce
December 15Canned Beans
December 16Box of Crackers
December 17Package of Rice
December 18Package of Oatmeal
December 19Package of Pasta
December 20Spaghetti Sauce
December 21Tomato Soup
December 22Chicken Noodle Soup
December 23Canned Corn
December 24Canned 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 3Pair of Socks
December 4Canned Tomatoes
December 5Peanut/Almond Butter
December 6Crackers
December 7Honey (try local)
December 8Pasta
December 9Canned beans
December 10Specialty Sauce/Condiment
December 11Package Rice
December 12Chicken Noodle Soup
December 13Canned Corn
December 14A Bottle of Wine: Guards against
food moralism
December 15Pasta Sauce
December 16Canned Fruit
December 17Grocery/Coffee Shop Gift Card
December 18Package of Stuffing
December 19Can opener or other useful
kitchen utensil
December 20Spaghetti Sauce
December 21Tomato Soup
December 22Box of Crackers
December 23Package of Oatmeal
December 24Package of herbs or spices and
Recipe Cards
Some ideas for version 2 of the Reverse Advent Calendar. Feel free to swap in and out any items you like. I hope giving these calendars will be a highly personal experience for both the givers and the receivers.

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.

local stores

Mottola’s Grocery

De Luca’s

Miller’s Meats

Love Local MB

Downtown Winnipeg Farmers Market

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.


  1. I love it. I still make my daughters advent calendar , even if they are teenagers, and I will definitely leave windows for something to give rather than find. 🥰

  2. Great idea, I only think that food banks need food before Dec 24th, right. Thanks for the list of ideas of food that can be donated.

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