We all know about, and probably have, Advent calendars. But less of us have probably considered a reverse advent calendar. This year, I’m changing that and will be taking part in Foodbank Advent for the first time.
But this is not a new concept. 2022 will be the sixth year the UK money blogging community has banded together for our #FoodbankAdvent campaign – and this year it really is needed more than ever.
I took part last year and really enjoyed the experience.
- What is a reverse advent calendar?
- How can you take part in Foodbank Advent?
- Why should you take part?
- What should you include in your reverse advent calendar?
- How to donate your reverse advent calendar?
- An extra incentive?
What is a reverse advent calendar?
A reverse advent calendar is a really simple idea. With a standard advent calendar you open a window or door each day during the first 24 days of December. Though traditionally you’d just see a picture behind that window, you’ll now get everything from chocolate and toys for children, through to beer, gin and cheese for adults. I’m even considering getting one for my dog this year!
A reverse Advent calendar is different in two very important ways. First, it switches it so that rather than taking something each day, you put something in. For our #FoodbankAdvent campaign it’s essential food and toiletries.
You can read more about the campaign on the UK Money Bloggers website.
How can I get involved?
Anyone can get involved. All you have to do is fill up your own box with useful items. Put in one item a day for 24 days and take it to your local foodbank once you have completed your box.
You don’t have to go to the supermarket and buy one item every day, you can of course buy in bulk and just put one item in your box each day. With a second lockdown coming, this is the option I’ll be taking.
There’s lots of people joining in and we’d love to spread the word. Share your pictures on social media using the hashtag #FoodbankAdvent to encourage other people to join in. You can also tag me in your posts (@Katie20Percent / @20PercentKatie on Instagram) and I’ll share as many as possible!
Why should you take part?
While finances may be tighter than we’d like, most of us will still enjoy plenty (too much) food and over indulge in luxuries this Christmas. Sadly, that won’t be the case for everyone and many will spend the festive season worrying about where their next meal will come from. This is a small gesture but could help someone be a bit more comfortable.
I understand that the existence of foodbanks is the result of government policy failure. A functioning society should have no need for them. However, we will not change that overnight and in the meantime people are going hungry. Therefore, I believe, if we are in a position to do so, we should support foodbanks and those in need.
We do this in November, rather than December as it takes time for foodbanks to process donations and distribute the food. The aim is for the food to be distributed in time for Christmas, hence the need to compile the food and toiletries now.
What to include in your reverse advent calendar
Some reverse advent calendars include toys and craft materials, but we’re encouraging you to focus on food and toiletries.
You should find out what your local food bank needs as every food bank will have a different need. Some will have tins of baked beans coming out of their ears but be completely out of toilet paper. Most will share this information on their social media or website.
Also, you should be focusing on the items that go into a foodbank parcel. These are long-life and essential items such as cereal, rice, UHT milk and deodorants.
It’s best to avoid anything which is a bit weird or an acquired taste as these can’t be included in the food parcel. Though they’re distributed to people, it’s better to make sure your foodbank has enough of what it needs rather than a few jars of olives.
As it’s Christmas you might want to include one or two festive items to spread some much-needed cheer. Don’t go overboard, though! Remember, some of the food you donate might not be handed out until January.
What if I don’t want to go shopping every day?
You don’t have to go shopping every day to take part in Foodbank Advent. In fact, you don’t have to go shopping at all.
I try and buy in bulk when I go shopping and pick up around a week’s worth of items in one go.
Other people do one large online shop where they buy all the items they’ll contribute to their reverse advent calendar.
It’s up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to take part.
If you’re on a tight budget, you could always team up with friends or family members. This way it won’t cost you as much to complete your reverse advent calendar. Every donation helps so don’t feel bad if you can only donate a couple of items!
How to donate your reverse advent calendar
Many supermarkets will have an area for you to drop off donations, and this can often be the easiest way to deliver your collection.
You can also search the Trussell Trust website to find your local foodbank, which might have more details about how to give food or money.
An extra incentive
As an added incentive to get involved, I will be running my first ever competition! One reader/follower who completes a reverse advent calendar and tags/comments on my post at the start and end of the challenge will be randomly selected and I will donate £50 to a charity of their choice.
Make sure you tag me on Twitter or Instagram (@Katie20Percent) so I can see your posts!
Don’t forget to use #FoodbankAdvent on your posts too, so you can see everyone else getting involved and pick up some tips and ideas.
It would be great if as many of you as possible could take part in Foodbank Advent, so please do get involved!