From twinkling lights and tinsel to indulging in gourmet food and gifts, it’s easy to see why Christmas is dubbed the most wonderful time of the year. But, it’s important to remember the spirit of giving is at the heart of the holiday.

29 November 2018

While spoiling the kids and grandkids is without a doubt a good time for all involved, sometimes the best way to keep them grounded, as the merry madness ramps up, is to encourage them to think about other families doing it tough.

Reverse advent calendar

The reverse advent calendar is the newest tradition you should start with your beloved youngsters this Christmas.

It’s a twist on the original advent calendar; instead of eating a chocolate a day in the countdown to Santa coming to town, each family member places non-perishable food, clothing or toy in a box to be donated to a charity.

A reverse Advent calendar

A reverse Advent calendar

Start out by getting each family member their own empty cardboard box to fill with donated goods. Plan to give your donations to a charity a week or two before Christmas, so the items can be delivered to families in need on time. It’s also a good reason to start celebrating Christmas in November without having to apologise to all the people who get in a hump over celebrating early.


The aim of the reverse advent calendar is to teach children to give a surprise rather than receive one. Give your little ones the freedom to choose which charity they would like to support – it could be a food bank, children’s charity or animal shelter. It teaches them to look outside themselves, while making a difference to disadvantaged families or furry four-legged friends in need of some love.

Donating time and money

Many charities call for cash donations at Christmas because the money can be spent where it really makes a difference.

There are many long-standing and reputable charities running annual Christmas campaigns, including the Salvation Army and Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal, which has been running for 32 years. Plus, the RSPCA is running a Guardian Angel program aimed at finding homeless animals a forever home.

Give the gift of time

Give the gift of time

Or, perhaps you would prefer to donate your time by volunteering at a community food service packing hampers, or at an animal rescue organisation. It will be an eye-opening experience, but one you can bond over as a family while also giving back to the community. 

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