Real Food Tips: Advent Calendars (without candy!)

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I touched on the subject of Advent calendars last year, but today I want to expand on the topic by including a detailed list. I like lists. :) As I mentioned our Advent house (which I bought at Target a few years ago by the way) was once filled with little pieces of highly processed candy, gum, chocolate, etc. I used to even let my girls open the doors and eat the junk before breakfast. This was just three years ago…wow, have times changed!

So anyway, I moved away from the candy for obvious reasons, and started going on these intense retail hunts looking for little toys that were tiny enough to fit behind those doors. This was no easy task, and to top it off that stuff really was just “junk” too since they were mainly little plastic items made in China that our children quickly forgot about or lost. So I no longer feel like racing around town and spending time/money on little knickknacks our kids honestly do not need. And I also don’t feel it’s necessary to fill this little house with organic less-junky candy (that is still candy by the way) during an already sugary time of year.

So inspired by This Lunch Rox, below is the official list for our newly renamed “Giving House.” And the criteria for these ideas were basically random acts of kindness that you could perform without having to go somewhere special (like a shelter or hospital). Of course going to such places on a regular basis would be fabulous in an ideal world, but I know how it is around the holidays so I personally did not want to over-commit during an already busy time! My girls seem to be okay with this change so far, and I am even including a free business card sized “printable” version of this list in case you want to follow suit and simply cut out these ideas for your own Advent calendar as well. I’d love to hear any other Advent ideas and suggestions in the comments below!

Our New Advent “Giving House” List

  1. Mail a card to a relative that you have not spoken to in a while.
  2. Do something especially nice and out of the ordinary for your sister or brother.
  3. Write a letter to your teacher telling them what you most like about his or her class.
  4. Give someone a nice compliment they wouldn’t normally expect.
  5. Pack your own school lunch so mommy can take the night off.
  6. Go out of your way to “help” another child or adult.
  7. Play with a friend at school that is alone at recess.
  8. Choose 2 or 3 non-perishable food items that you can set aside to donate to a local food bank.
  9. Write a thank you note to someone who has helped you recently.
  10. Cut some flowers out of your yard (or make flowers out of tissue paper) and give them to either a teacher at your school or a neighbor.
  11. Sit with someone different at lunch that you don’t know very well (and get to know them!).
  12. Decorate cards that you can mail to children who are sick and in some cases fighting cancer (cards can also be sent to their siblings).
  13. If you see a piece of trash on the ground (at home, school, or outside) pick it up and throw it away…be sure to wash your hands afterward!
  14. Choose at least one article of clothing to donate to Goodwill or a child in need.
  15. Email your congressman or the President asking them to consider an issue that you feel is important for your community.
  16. Make a small craft and mail it to one of your cousins.
  17. When you get to school ask your teacher if there is something you can do to help him or her in order to get the morning started.
  18. Tell each member of your immediate family what you love about them.
  19. Choose at least one toy or book to donate to Goodwill or a child in need.
  20. Offer to take one of your neighbor’s dogs (or your own dog) for a walk.
  21. Do a chore around the house that no one has asked you to do, but that needs to be done!
  22. Call one of your grandparents on the phone (or facetime/skype!).
  23. Write a letter to a soldier thanking him or her for serving our country.
  24. With your parents help research a charity you can either donate money to or support through a future event (like a “fun run” or soup kitchen). Put it on the calendar and commit to it.
  25. Give everyone in your family a big {squeeze} hug and kiss and tell them what you are thankful for.
Download a free printable version of this list that can be cut out for your Advent calendar!


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117 comments to Real Food Tips: Advent Calendars (without candy!)

  • Susie

    This is perfect-thank you!! I did a combination of mini dark chocolate and a kindness calendar last year. The challenge is to come up with new and exciting ideas each year so this is a great help. Love the ready to print format as well.

  • […] it, and we will be doing a family mural one day.  This site is random acts of kindness.  And this list has alot of good ideas we’ll be […]

  • Julia

    I have two girls (7 and 8). My oldest LOVES it–the conscientious, stoic one, the rule follower who likes to do the right thing. My youngest reads each one and if there’s “work” involved, I get a little “What….!?!?! I have to write something…?!?!” But by the end of the day, she’s fully on board.

    One small suggest though. Either offer it as a Word doc or don’t put the numbers on them. I’ve had to rejigger ours as some things that should happen at school are happening on a weekend, and then others just don’t make sense for our family (e.g. on the 23rd, we will be with all our grandparents, so no need to skype w them.)

    I’ve also printed our on heavy duty card stock–2 in each pouch, so that each of my girls can write down on the back on if what they did. I’m thinking (hoping) that next year we can pull it out and read about all the things we did last year to put us back into the giving spirit.

  • […] the idea of the kindness elf, the simple wish list for kids, minimalist stocking stuffers, or the good deeds advent calendar (which I chose to do, after modifying a few things on her list for more age 5 appropriate […]

  • SaraB

    This is perfect! I just bought a little house from Target yesterday. And with three kids, fitting three pieces of candy in there would be iffy, anyway, lol. :)

  • Heather

    These sound great!

    We have an Advent calendar similar to yours, and I went through the same things – the kids were either getting teeny tiny toys or stickers, and nobody was really happy with that arrangement. So we’ve tried different things over the years. The thing my kids love the absolute best are scavenger hunts! In the Advent calendar I will put the first clue. And they have to follow that clue to find the next clue, etc. After 5 or 6 clues, they find the “prize” (usually something like a new toothbrush, a book, a handmade card from me, etc.). For them, the exciting part is the scavenger hunt – it doesn’t really matter what the prize is. As the kids have grown up, the clues have changed. When they were just learning to read, they were easy and we focused on shapes, colors, etc. as they get older, the clues become more challenging to read, and now that they are avid readers, the clues really make them think (almost like figuring out a riddle). They love it. AND, since we do it in the evening after dinner, running around the house and up and down the stairs gets rid of their last bits of energy! It’s one of their favorite things about Christmas.

  • Jennifer H

    We bought one of these several years ago at an after Christmas sale for $15 – it’s a great tradition that keeps the candy out and Jesus in:

  • Laura

    Just wanted to mention because I manage three meals a week for the marginslized that people tend to give much at xmas. Maybe plan times to do do real food meals for soup kitchens in your area. We cook as much unprocessed food as we can. The poor c as n get as much free processed food ss they want. When giving canned food drives buy tuna, pasta, real chicken broths, gift cards to grocery stores. Thank you so much for caring. Laura

  • Alix

    There are so many good ideas in the comments, it’s worth going back to read them all. I think for older kids it could be fun to put little craft items in each box that they put together at the end to make something (I bead, so I was thinking beads for a bracelet, etc). I have a small baby so our advent calendar is just a decoration for now, but looking forward to doing a giving tree ourselves in coming years.

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