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Including a free make your own advent calendar printable and food bank donation ideas
We all know that Christmas is the time for giving, but what if you had nothing to give? Many UK families are turning to food banks for help as, especially in December, when they are stretching to save.
Making reverse advent calendars are a great idea when you can afford to give a little back and are true lifesavers to families who have nothing at all.
Even if you can’t afford to give a lot, buying one extra tin every time you go shopping can make a real difference in people’s lives.
These small food parcels given out could help a family see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. This is why, as part of the UK money bloggers community, we are asking all our readers to please give what you can or to take part in our reverse advent calendar challenge.
This is a great alternative advent calendar idea for the whole family to get involved in.
How to save money while raising a family
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What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?
It’s been around for a while, but it’s mainly where you open a calendar over the 24 days of advent and give something back to other families in need.
Your emergency food package may not go to just one family but may be shared out within a few homes.
Food advent calendars are a great way to give back to your local community and generally low cost.
Food bank donations
Everything is appreciated, but if you like a good list (and I do) then this is what most food banks are looking for:
Chicken In White Sauce
Baked Beans with Sausages
Chilli Con Carne
Soup (particularly the chunky soups)
Potatoes – Can be tinned or packet of mash
Other Misc Veg. Tinned
Cereal: especially Weetabix (ideal for single people) as it can be split to make more parcels.
Packet of Noodles/Savoury Rice
Treats (Crisps, Chocolate, biscuits, crackers, seasonal foods)
Toiletries – deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand wipes
Household items – laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid
Feminine products – sanitary towels and tampons
Baby supplies – nappies, baby wipes, and baby food.
Please remember to search on your local food bank website to see what they need. Many will have a very clear list of what they are short of.
Think of the kind of food your children love to eat this time of year and go from there. Treats are accepted so please go wild if you can!
It doesn’t matter when you start. We will do ours during December, but some people like to start now ready to donate before Christmas.
Fill your own advent calendar
If you’d like to have something official, then why not print off our FREE downloadable printable advent calendar which also gives you access to our FREE Resource Vault with over 17+ money saving printables.
Each window has a different idea of what you could donate. We open one a day and add the item to our box, the kids take it in turns.
We also have this free A4 printable if you’d prefer just to kick if off as you go.
It’s so easy to make your own advent calendar. We use a free software called Canva and download it as a PDF so its easy to print. You can also print very cheap colour A4 copies from your local library.
You do the Reverse Calendar however you like, but it really is a fun activity as well as a nice way to give back.
Saving money to give back
If money is a real factor, then have a look at apps like Checkout Smart*and Shopmium*, which all allow you to get free food.
Check the offers on the apps first, purchase the item, upload your receipt and get your money back. It really is that simple. There are loads of offers on there, so give it a try, you really have nothing to lose.
See if you could also save a chuck on your life cover. Compare your current cover with comparethemarket.com* and check you’re on the best deal for your family.
Buy your life insurance online through comparethemarket.com and you could claim an Amazon.co.uk Gift Card* from £25 to £135*. Simply quote and purchase your life insurance online through comparethemarket.com to receive this offer. (*Amazon.co.uk Gift Card value dependent upon your monthly premium and Insurance provider. Offer available for policies applied for online. You will be contacted to claim your Amazon.co.uk Gift Card shortly after paying your third monthly premium. Full T&C’s can be found here.
Meal Plan every week before you shop. You can make your own weekly meal plan or download my meal plans and shopping lists for free from the Resource Vault. These will help you save money which hopefully means you can afford to give a little back.
You can also switch energy suppliers. Using a switching service like Swiftcraft* can really help you shave some money off your energy bill.
If you do your shopping online then you could be getting cash back. Have a look at:
Swagbucks* is another great site you can earn. While you shop online you can watch entertaining videos, search the web, answer surveys and find great deals that earn your points. These get turned into gift cards to your favorite retailers like Amazon and M&S or you can get the cash via Paypal (with fees.)*
Right now Swagbucks* are offer an extra 1,500 SB (£10) ‘swag up’ bonus promotion available for all new members. Sign up through this link*, then shop with any of their stores with a minimum spend of £25 and receive your normal cashback and your £10 bonus!
Haggle on everything. If you haven’t checked your subscriptions in the last six months then it’s time to do it!
Don’t settle for the first price.
Start by phoning up all your existing suppliers for a better deal. Use a compassion site like GoCompare* to check you’re on the right deal.
For TV subscriptions, set aside an hour and check for the latest deals. If you’ve been with Sky TV* for a while then you may be able to join SKY VIP. You can get money off your existing package and offers on new ones. It’s true that you still have to haggle though so put aside a good hour and decide on the line you will cross ie canceling or not.
If you need to cut down then have a look at the below options that offer you free trials:
Amazon Prime* – Includes TV and next day delivery. Free for 3o-days.
Netflix – Loads of shows and free for a month.
Remember to set an alarm to cancel them before the date is up!
Using a free app like Plum* can really help keep your finances in order. It can help you track your ingoings* and outgoings and start to but a bit away when you can afford it.
What if you have no money for food?
If you’re worried that you have no money left to feed your family this month, please don’t despair. You may have no money for food right now but you’re still an amazing parent and things will get better.
Regardless of if you’re on universal credit or your financial situation, a food bank can help if you don’t have enough money to go around this month.
Please shallow any misconceptions you may have about using a food bank. Remember, your family needs to eat and so do you. You may never have dreamed that you, yourself would ever have to use a food bank but we all need help sometimes and that’s what they are there for.
A food bank is there to give people food to those in need.
Anyone can use a food bank regardless of their personal circumstances. It doesn’t matter if you and your partner work full time or if you’re single, they will help.
Food banks near me
There will be a food bank somewhere near you. We have a local Trussell Trust food bank and Salvation Army food bank plus a few churches that can help.
Please do get in touch with your local food bank and ask for help.
ToYou will need a referral to get food bank vouchers. To get one you need to talk to either:
Remember to tell them that it’s an emergency and you need to speak to someone today because you have no food and no money to feed your family.
Alternative Advent Calendar
If you don’t like the idea of collecting food then why not make a list of 24 things you and your family could do together to give back.
You don’t have to do all 24 things. By just doing one extra thing could make a big difference to someone else’s family.
Our list is:
1. Become a food bank volunteer once a month
2. Dress as Father Christmas and elves for our local children’s hospital
3. Playing a board game at our local residential home
4. Offer to litter pick at the kids school
5. Do a car boot sale and donate the earnings
6. Make Christmas cards to sell on Esty and donate the earnings
7. Make an extra meal once a week for our local food kitchen
8. Be a better neighbor and ask if we can help do anything
9. Volunteer at our local hospital
10. Get involved in a sponsored run
11. Collect all our loose change
12. Donate our unwanted clothes
13. Buy an extra gift for kids who have nothing
14. Offer our skills as a family for free to a local charity
15. Visit an animal shelter
16. Organize an event to help raise money like a local quiz
17. Write letters to kids in the hospital
18. Bake and donate to the volunteers so they have a treat
19. Give blood (us not the kids)
20. Challenge ourselves to be nicer people
21. Pay it forward by buying a meal for someone in need
22. Pick a charity and fundraiser
23. Hug more!
24. Offering a space at our Christmas dinner table to someone in need
Why not give some of these it a go if you can? It would be amazing if we could all support each other when we’re down and help out when we’re up!
- Christmas Dinner Leftovers: 13 Feasts Made From Your Christmas Dinner
- 1p Saving Challenge: How to Save Over £100 in 30 Days
- 51 of the Best Frugal Living Tips: This is How to Become a Frugal Family
How to save money on a tight budget
Looking for a way to save your family money? Then come in to our FREE Resource Vault and download our money saving printables. We have over 17+ you can use over and over again to help save your family money.
If you enjoyed this post and would like some more family friendly budget recipes or meal plan ideas, then head over to the budget food section here on Savings 4 Savvy Mums where you’ll find over 30 cheap posts dedicated to helping you cook and shop wiser for less. There’s enough tips to help you save over £300 a month! You could also pop over and follow my family food Pinterest boards for lots more ideas on how to eat well and spend less; Family Meal Plans on a Budget, Budget Family Meals & Budget Slimming World Recipes for Families.
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