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Give Back This Season with a Reverse Advent Calendar

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More Giving

Reverse Advent Calendar

What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?

This clever way to give back has you collecting items every day in December to donate at the end of the month to a homeless shelter or food bank! I made a FREE printable of suggested donation items that you can print and use for convenience.

This is the REVERSE of a traditional advent calendar, where usually the kids enjoy a piece of chocolate each day or get a toy. The holidays are a busy time full of celebration, excitement, and magic. It’s also a time when charities and food banks are in need of supplies for the less fortunate.

Give back: Reverse Advent Calendar with printable on the side

Make this a small act of kindness your family can partake in to make a difference in someone’s life. Plus, this can be a great way to incorporate the importance of donating during the holidays, even in the workplace! I love this idea so much. ❤️

Reverse Advent Calendar – example items on a table

Reverse Advent Calendar


Supplies Needed

  • Use a wrapped or decorated box to Collect Donations
  • Donation Items: Jackets, Canned Food, etc.
  • FREE Printable Donation List
  • Paper Numbers to Label Donated Items



The first step is to grab a box and designate it as your donation collection.


You can decorate it if desired and make it something for the kids to help with.


I made cards with numbers for each day of the month so we can attach that to our items as we place them. That part is definitely optional.


Take your Reverse Advent Calendar donation box to your local shelter or resource charity center.


Optional: Hand out the FREE Printable Donation List for to your co-workers if you display a donation box at your office or workplace.

Reverse Advent Calendar – kleenex, gloves, deodorant, oatmeal, and more

What items go in a Reverse Advent Calendar?

You can cater your box to a specific local charity and reach out to them to ask what they’re most needing. I created a list of items most shelters and food banks need as a general guide to use for your box of donations. Some of the things I included are basic hygiene needs like toothpaste and deodorant, jackets, blankets, and then things liked canned goods, packaged snacks, etc.

Reverse Advent Calendar - the PDF printable

give back: Reverse Advent Calendar box filled with items

Such a thoughtful tradition!

I love this opportunity to give back to those in need. Plus, this can be done at a reasonable price point (and you can share any stockpile items if you’ve got extra).

Join The Discussion

Comments 17

  1. Sara

    An easy way to do this year-round is to collect toiletries from hotels and cruise ships. I have a 14″ × 14″ × 14″ box that is full from 4 years of traveling. It is so heavy that I almost need a dolly to move it. Now I need to decide which cause to give it to and how I am going to get it there.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow! Great idea- Thnaks for sharing Sara!

      • jpfinch

        Some groups will come to you to pick it up. Just Google “Donation Pick up”…

    • Suz

      So glad you posted this Sara! We have collected these hotel and sample size items through our church and then about once a year our small group would create quart zip bags with a shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap. We added other items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, and dental floss as we had them. We gave these to a local homeless shelter and a shelter for victims of abuse. A great project and so appreciated by the receiving organizations.

    • Kate

      My moms’ club just collected travel-size toiletries like that and made up kits for teens who come through our local children’s center (they help kids who have been abused or neglected), so that might be an idea for you! We used makeup bags.

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        That’s such a nice idea! Thanks for sharing Kate!

      • Rama

        Wonderful idea! What a thoughtful thing for your mom’s club to do.

  2. Lindsey

    Love this creative idea that shifts the focus on what others need. This is such an important message (especially for the little ones). Thank you for sharing!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks Lindsey! I agree! <3

  3. Jill

    I love this idea! Definitely doing this.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great! Thanks for stopping by Jill!

  4. Cassie

    I did this last year from your post. This year, since I have a beauty box subscription and don’t use all of it, I’m going to make up some little bags for a women’s shelter.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh that is so nice! Great ide Cassie 🙂

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh fun! Yes it will! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Tonia!

  5. J

    My kids and I will be doing this in place of their advent countdown calander. Let them understand how spoiled our generation of kids have become.

  6. Nicole lavare

    If I had the money I would give everyone on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube a gift and it will be coming from my heart to you guys

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