It first caught my attention last year around mid-December, by which time the advent season was already well underway. A simple, yet wonderfully generous idea of thinking differently about a tradition, the reverse advent calendar suggests giving instead of receiving a daily gift, and we are definitely on board this year!
In today’s navel-gazing world, we always welcome ways to teach our children to look outward and share. Putting aside a donation every day so that there is a collection of items to hand over to a charity at Christmas is such a great concept, especially if our children participate in the handing-over part and see the smiles such a gesture will bring. Then we know we have not only helped people in need, but also planted a firm seed in the minds of our children that they, too, can make a difference in the lives of others.
Not sure how to go about creating your personal reverse advent calendar? Follow our simple brainstorm map – in no particular order – and get inspired!
- What will you donate? Food items, clothing, toiletries, toys, books, presents, small furniture and other household goods are ideal for giving.
- Which charity will you chose? Here in Cyprus, there are a number of organizations that always appreciate help: the local Municipal Supermarkets food banks, the Cyprus Red Cross, St.Catherine’s Agapi, Cyprus Stop Human Trafficking and Caritas Cyprus to name but a few. There are also many remarkable charity shops, in aid of refugees, cancer patients, animal charities and other worthy causes, who will sell your second-hand donations for a small fee and then use the funds raised to help their cause. Contact the organisation of your choice and find out what they need most.
- Where will you collect your donations? A great way to involve the children is to have them design a cardboard box with 24 compartments if you decide on collecting smaller sized items.
- When will you start your reverse advent calendar? While December 1 is usually the start date for the chocolate door-opening type, it may be useful to start the reverse one earlier in order to hand over your donations at least one week prior to Christmas.This way the charity can get organised and pass your donations on, in time for the festivities.
- How much will you spend on your donations? Christmas brings additional expenses anyway, so you may find it useful to set aside a limit beforehand. Alternatively, this may be the ideal time for a clear-out of your children’s toys, clothing and books that they have outgrown over the year. Every little helps!
On Christmas Day, when you’re sitting around the table with your family and enjoying your meal, spend some time talking about the great deed that you have done by adopting this new tradition!
Encourage a conversation where you all share the reasons to be grateful to not just Receive this Christmas, but also to be able to Give.