Take the Reverse Advent Calendar Challenge – Starts December 1st!

One of our Christmas traditions is the advent calendar. Our kids LOVE to open one little surprise every day in December.

This year, we're going to do something a little different (although we're still doing the usual advent calendar for our kiddos) and we challenge you to do the exact same: A Reverse Advent Calendar.

What is a reverse advent calendar?

A reverse advent calendar is an act of kindness and a way to brighten other, less fortunate families' Christmas and the days thereafter. The idea behind this is straight forward: You grab a box or basket and every day leading up to Christmas you add something useful to the box.

Not only is this a fun thing for the whole family to do together, from creating the advent calendar box itself to picking the goodies to go in it. It also teaches your kids the importance of sharing and helping others and seeing the bigger picture at Christmas.

What to collect for your reverse advent calendar

We have partnered up with local nonprofit organizations that serve families and kids in and around Austin. And they would LOVE to receive your reverse advent calendar at the end of December after your kiddos have filled it up with goodies.

Here are the nonprofit organizations and some ideas and lists of things they would appreciate:

Texas Baptist Children’s Home

Here's a list of items the Texas Baptist Children’s Home provided us with:

  • Body lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Body wash (Axe for teen boys)
  • Razors
  • Hand held mirror
  • Hair ties
  • Movie size box candy (any flavor)
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Chapstick/lip balm
  • Socks
  • Deodorant
  • Brush/comb
  • Chewing gum
  • Mints
  • Fidget spinner
  • Gel pens
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Devotional book
  • Cinemark movie cards
  • $5 Sonic Card

LifeWorks South Austin Youth & Family Resource Center

Here's a list of items the LifeWorks South Austin Youth & Family Resource Center provided us with:

  • Bottles of water
  • Lip balm
  • Hand warmers
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Tissues (Kleenex)
  • Canned food items
  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Crackers w/ cheese or peanut butter
  • Facial cleansing towelettes 
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Shaving razor
  • Bar of soap
  • Small brush or comb
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Gum/mints
  • Walmart/HEB/Visa gift cards
  • Notes of encouragement


Here's a list of items the SAFE provided us with. New items only please:

  • Baby wash/lotion
  • Pack of baby wipes
  • Body loofah poof
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Hair brush/hair products
  • Make-up
  • Nail tools
  • Razors/shaving gel
  • Hand towel / wash cloths
  • Colorful writing pens
  • Journal notebook
  • Pair of socks 
  • Ziplock bags
  • Paper towel roll
  • All-purpose cleaning spray
  • $1 store headphones
  • Cat food / dog toy

Hope Alliance

Here's a list of items the Hope Alliance provided us with: 

  • Gift cards to HEB, Wal-Mart, Target, movie theaters
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, plates, bowls, Kleenex 
  • Laundry detergent/pods, Lysol, dish soap, general cleaning supplies
  • Baby items: Wipes, baby shampoo, diapers (any size), formula, baby monitors (working, used or new), footed baby sleepers
  • Body wash/lotion, deodorant, hair care products, tampons, feminine pads, cologne/perfume
  • Pillows, new/gently used sheets (twin/queen), bath/hand towels, wash cloths, blankets
  • Pajamas – new, Women Large, XL and XXL 
  • Socks, panty hose (must be new)
  • Sport shoes – Women and children & teens, all sizes (new or very gently worn)
  • Sports/training bras, Women’s underwear -  All sizes (must be new)
  • Duffle bags and luggage 
  • Alarm clocks, wallets, teen purses  
  • Board games, books (ages 0 – 13), DVD’s (no R rated, no violent content)
  • Toys (ages 0 - 13, new or gently used, no used stuffed animals) 
  • Art sets for younger children and teens
  • Winter clothing for kids and adults (new or gently used, no used under garments) 

Other ideas: books, toys, crafty items, school supplies, gift cards to kids experiences/activities (check out our directory to get ideas), pretty much anything you'd put in an advent calendar or stocking for your child. Got additional ideas? Share them here!

How to make your own reverse advent calendar

It is really easy and fun for the kids. Just follow these 4 steps:

Step 1: Prepare the calendar box

Pick something to collect your advent calendar gifts in, like a basket or cardboard box and have your kiddos decorate it. Lay it out with pretty napkins, fake straw, a small pillow or blanket, a towel, a drawstring bag or small backpack, or whatever else you can think off that covers the inside of the basket. Hang some ornaments, candy, or little toys on the outside. If you go with a cardboard box, have your kiddos draw or write some notes on it, or have them decorate it with stickers or lots of little self-drawn pictures, add some glitter to jazz it up, or simply wrap it in pretty wrapping paper.

Step 2: Prepare your calendar items

Make a list of things you want to put in your reverse advent calendar and go shopping! If you want to make it a little more personal, have your little ones make some crafts or write little notes to go with each or some of the items.

Step 3: Fill your reverse advent calendar

Let you child add the first item to the calendar on December 1st and continue adding the supplies you've prepared every day until December 24st.

Step 4: Deliver your reverse advent calendar

After Christmas take your box to one of the nonprofits mentioned above (or any other charity or nonprofit organization of your choice) and bring a big smile on someone's face.

Missed the start of the challenge on December 1st?

No biggie. The boxes aren't delivered until after Christmas, so just create your box and fill it with items for every day you've missed so far and starting tomorrow, add one item every day.

How to help make this challenge a success?

If you're a regular reader of our blog, you may have already figured out that we love to support local nonprofits and fellow Austinites. Soooo, how can you help make this challenge a success?

Take the challenge!

It would be totally awesome if the two reverse advent calendar boxes our kiddos are working on won't be the only ones making their way to children and families who are cared for by the Texas Baptist Children’s Home, LifeWorks, SAFE, and Hope Alliance. 

Tell your friends and family about the reverse advent calendar challenge

Tell your family and friends about the challenge or simply share this article on your social media pages. 

Share pictures of your reverse advent calendar boxes

We'd love to see pictures of how your reverse advent calendar boxes are filling up. These pics may inspire others to join in the fun, so please share your pictures, stories and fun ideas on what to put in the boxes on our Facebook page as well as your own. 

Challenge your families, friends, neighbors and co-workers on Facebook

Have you ever been nominated and accepted to participate in in any of the  challenges such as 100 Happy Days, Seven Black & White Photos Of My Life, 7-Day Gratitude Challenge, Love Your Spouse Challenge, and the like, floating around on Facebook?

If that's your thing, post a picture of your reverse advent calendar on your Facebook page, and challenge as many friends as you want by tagging them in your post: 
"I'm taking the @LiveGrowPlayAustin #ReverseAdventCalendarChallenge. I nominate XYZ to take the challenge. Here's what you need to do and what the challenge is all about: https://www.livegrowplayaustin.com/blog/2017/11/10/reverse-advent-calendar-challenge-december-1st".


A big Thank You from Texas Baptist Children’s Home, LifeWorks, SAFE, Hope Alliance, and us at Live Grow Play Austin. 


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