Gin, soap, wine or even plain old chocolate: everyone loves the countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar. But what about creating a reverse advent calendar where you give rather than get an item every day?
We’re joining up again with the #FoodBankAdvent campaign this festive season to give donations to food banks, making sure the poorest in our society will have something to eat over the Christmas period. December is the busiest month of the year for food banks with 45% more referrals from Citizens Advice, job centres, GPs and social services during the two weeks before Christmas. School holidays are often difficult for families on low incomes as they have to feed children who would otherwise have been getting free school meals.
The idea is to get an empty box and put one basic food item into it every day. You could do this for 24 days to mirror the advent calendar or even a whole month. Once it’s completed, take the box to your local food bank. You can find your nearest one by searching online or asking the local council. Many supermarkets and churches also collect donations. Alternatively, check out the Trussell Trust website here to see if they have a food bank in your area.
The sort of food required tends to be tinned or dried as it has to all be long-life. I’ve started mine (see picture) but think I might need a bigger box eventually! Toiletries, nappies, feminine hygiene and even pet food may also be needed – the food bank website usually posts a regularly updated list of the items they need most. And while it’s tempting to add Christmas treats and sweets, it’s actually the basics (plus any spare plastic bags to carry it away in!) which are most useful.
I particularly like this campaign (organised by the UK Money Bloggers) because it’s a great way to show children that Christmas is also about giving. You can get them involved in the project by asking them to decorate the box. Plus it plays into the Victorian-and-beyond custom of Boxing Day when collections (in boxes) were traditionally given to the needy.
If you’d like to join in, it’s probably best to start your reverse advent calendar now. If you want your donation to be used for Christmas, get it to your chosen food bank in early December as Christmas Eve will be too late to distribute it. But if you want to collect during advent itself, your donations will be just as welcome in January. Finally, putting a picture of your box on social media with the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent might encourage others to do the same and ensure no-one goes hungry this Christmas.
See our SMM guide to saving on Christmas here.