I first heard of the idea of a reverse advent calendar last year, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t take much notice of it. I then saw a post this year on one of my local Facebook groups, about collecting for a reverse advent calendar and I thought about it in a bit more detail.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. The decorations, the days out, the shopping, the spending time with friends and family – and of course, the food! I plan my Christmas shopping weeks in advance, picking all my favourite sweet and savoury treats as well as the alcohol.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve even been moaning this year that there will be no processco, no pate and no cheese board for me in my pregnant condition. But what about those who never have these at Christmas? Who barely even have a tin of beans and slice of bread for their Christmas dinner.
Well this year I’m determined to think about others. To think about those who literally have nothing. To think about what I can do to give back, to help out another family and to make someone else’s Christmas that little bit more special. So this year, I’ll be doing a reverse advent calendar, and encouraging Alfie to get involved too.
What exactly is a reverse advent calendar? It’s basically a box that you fill with food. Instead of opening a calendar door and taking out a tasty treat for yourself every day, you put an essential food item in a box instead. Here’s a list of the types of food you can put in:
- Pasta sauce
- Tinned meat
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned fruit
- Long life milk
- Cakes (if not fresh)
And here are some special Christmas food items you might like to consider including:
- Non alcoholic Christmas pudding
- Iced fruit cake
- Box of Stuffing
- Jar of Cranberry sauce
- Mixed nuts/peanuts/crisp
- Chocolate coins
- Advent calendar
- Minced pies
- Biscuits (savoury or sweet)
- Gravy granules
- Tinned pies
- Tinned ham
- Baby food
- Custard (powder or box)
- Fruit Juice/squash/fizzy drink
- Small Christmas decorations
You should avoid anything fresh that needs refrigerating or anything frozen, and please do check the dates on your food – by all means clear out your kitchen cupboards, but don’t include stuff that went out of date in 2015 😉
I’m also going to add a few extra bits that could be used for Christmas presents or warm winter essentials like gloves and scarves. I think the thing to remember about food banks is they are used by people just like you and me. It can be so easy to get yourself in a situation these days where you can’t put food on the table for your family. You might have had an unexpected bill, like your car breaking down and you need to get it fixed to get to work. You might be self employed and someone hasn’t paid that invoice they’ve been promising to pay for months. You might have had to choose between eating or putting your heating on.
So I urge you to take part in doing something different this year. Most areas in the UK will have a food bank that are desperate for items. I’ll be donating to my local one this year. For any local readers, check out this group for places you can donate to and timings for drop offs. For those of you further afield, this website will list your nearest food bank.
It can be so easy to moan about being “broke” but to most people that means they can’t go for a drink after work, or buy a new dress for their Christmas party. It doesn’t mean you can’t put food on the table this Christmas. The number of those using food banks is steadily rising – the Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017. This is a statistic I’m truly shocked about.
So if you do one good deed this Christmas, help out someone local. You never know who might be in trouble – the lady you sit next to on the train to work every day, the man who serves you your paper every morning or the child who waves at you when you walk to work.
Christmas is a time for giving, so please give what you can, when you can. Someone out there will be very grateful for your help.