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

A fun way to teach your kids about giving

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

For 4 years, we've been doing something different though (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 about 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:


Here's a list of items the STARRY provided us with new:

  • Diapers
  • Cribs
  • High Chairs
  • Playpens
  • Clothing (primarily ages 0-12)
  • Car seats
  • Formula
  • Toys
  • Gift cards – Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, HEB, Carter's, Fandango (for family night or foster parent date night!)


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

  • HEB and Walmart Gift Cards
  • Baby shampoo/wash
  • Baby lotions
  • Sippy cups
  • Deodorant for men and women
  • Razors for men and women
  • Shaving cream for men and women
  • Pots and Pans
  • Linens – Twin size Blankets &Sheets sets/Pillows/Large body towels
  • Cleaning products (Lysol, dish soap, general household cleaners, bathroom cleaner, etc.)
  • Amazon registry and Target registry
  • Ongoing needs list

Hope Alliance

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

  • ANTI FLU ITEMS:  Lysol, Clorox Wipes, Kleenex, etc.
  • $10, $20 or $25 Gift cards (to be used for groceries, gas, gifts, etc.)
  • Laundry detergent pods 
  • Air mattresses (self-inflating preferred)
  • Paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, plates, cups, tissues, etc.)
  • Bath Towels and washcloths
  • Twin Comforters/Duvets and large blankets
  • Twin mattress protectors and Twin sheets
  • Toiletry items (full size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc.)
  • Children's clothing (sizes 4T through teen, boys' clothes a priority; new or gently used)Socks for adults and children
  • Tennis shoes of all sizes
  • High Chairs
  • Baby soap/lotion/shampoo, baby wipes
  • Ear plugs, sleep masks
  • Night lights, small lamps, small fans
  • Baby monitors, alarm clocks
  • Tupperware
  • Amazon Wish List and Target Wish List

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. It's best to check with the organization first.

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?

1. 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, STARRY, SAFE, and Hope Alliance. 

2. 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. 

3. 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. 

4. 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/reverse-advent-calendar-challenge-december-1st".

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