We don't do a traditional Advent calendar at our home. My kids don't need small trinkets (our baby is a magnet for tiny items) or more candy (we still have Halloween candy). Instead, we do a "Reverse Advent Calendar." Every day, from December 1st thru December 24th we put an item into a laundry basket that can be donated.
I really like doing a Reverse Advent Basket because it shows young children a very literal meaning of giving back to others. When we go to the store during the month rof December, I ask each of them to find something that they would like to add to the basket that someone would need, not want. It often takes a few tries for them to find an item that a person would need. At first they bring a fun toy or a new book and we have to talk about how those are nice, but wouldn't someone who had very little probably prefer warm gloves? If someone had no money to call a loved one, would they rather have a bag of quarters or a bag of M&Ms? The wheels in their heads start turning and they start to begin to understand what it is to need.
It is also a good reminder to me of how much I have and that I should appreciate it. We take the basket to a charity on Christmas Eve. Check with local organizations to find out what some of their needs are to help guide your selections.
Here are some items that we put in our basket:
- gloves chapstick
- granola bars
- peanut butter
- bag of quarters