Food · Uncategorized

Why You Should Make a Reverse Advent Calendar This Christmas

It’s almost December which means Christmas is nearly upon us! (Sorry for those that don’t like any mention of Christmas in November!). I was browsing online earlier last week, when something caught my attention, a reverse advent calendar? Having never heard of this before I decided to do my research and once I had, I started immediately. Started by UK Money Bloggers the #FoodbankAdvent aims to make Christmas a little better for those in need. So let’s get down to the basics:

What is Reverse Advent Calendar?

A lot of you may already be aware of UK Money Bloggers #FoodbankAdvent Campaign, but for those of you who haven’t let me explain. A reverse advent calendar is a donation of an item by you into an empty box, everyday up until Christmas (or longer if you wish!), to eventually be donated to your local food bank to help those less fortunate over Christmas. However, it is recommended that you get your donations in as early as possible, the first week of December if you want them to be used in time for Christmas! We have already started filling our box for our food bank (West Cheshire), as after some research I found that the two weeks before Christmas are the busiest times for food bank referrals.


Regardless of it being Christmas, no one should ever have to go hungry or without the essential basics to survive. I am a firm believer that this can be anyone, at any point, whether its job loss or being too sick to work, family trouble, missed payments, and I know we would all hope someone would be willing to help us if we were in that position.  Food Banks are in desperate need, with the Trussell Trust stating that the statistics in their mid-year report showed that food banks in areas with a full roll-out over six months  or more have seen a 30% increase.

What Can You Put in Your Reverse Advent Calendar?

Food that is non-perishable with long sell by dates, ensure all food is well within date before it is donated (did anyone hear about the 70+ year old soup donated that made it into the news?!). Certain charities may ask for certain things, but if you search your local food bank they usually provide a ‘shopping list’ of items they require,  items they are well stocked up on and items they desperately need. Not always on the shopping list, but definite essentials, are sanitary products, baby wipes/nappies, toothpaste, toothbrushes, washing tablets/liquid.

Here is the West Cheshire Shopping List:

  • RICE

If you’re still unsure about what to donate or want specifics, you can contact your local food bank who can inform you what they need.


Are you ready?

If you’re taking part in making your own reverse advent calendar this year, you will be reminding someone that they have not been forgotten, that people care. Your advent calendar does not have to be expensive, add a couple of items onto your weekly shop, use coupons, 3 for 2 offers, well in date never opened things you have never used in your cupboard, or even club together with a friend and both put into it. Do not forget as well as the essentials, it is Christmas, so you can add some treats to your calendar with tinned pies, non-alcoholic Christmas Puddings, chocolates, biscuits, and toys. Do something really great, and help someone this Christmas, you never know when you might find yourself needing that help too.

If you cannot get to your local foodbank but would still like to participate, look for local drop off points where your donations will be collected. You can find Chester’s here:

For more info:

Are you making a reverse advent calendar this Christmas? Any tips on what else to add to our donation? Let me know!


Book Review

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena Review


      Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

      Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

   Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

     You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

The Couple Next Door focuses on a young couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who are new parents to a baby girl. Anne and Marco are invited to a dinner party next door, there’s just one catch, they have been told not to bring their baby. Under the reassurance of her a husband, a reluctant Anne goes along with this on the condition they will check on their daughter every half an hour. However, what starts off as a fun evening turns into every parent’s worst nightmare, as once home, they discover their front door ajar and their daughter missing from her crib.

Cue the arrival of the police, and Anne and Marco find themselves at the centre of a Child Abduction Investigation. Detective Rasbach is determined to look at every detail of the case – Did the parents cause her harm whilst intoxicated? Did they assist the kidnapper? Did the kidnapper know the child was home alone? Are the parents hiding something? Detective Rasbach thinks so.

Lapena sets the scene superbly at the beginning, making both Anne and Marco unreliable narrators, due to the fact that they were intoxicated the night of their daughter’s abduction. The Couple Next Door will make you doubt everyone’s version of events and question their motives and reactions. Lapena executes this well through the deterioration of Anne and Marco’s relationship throughout their prolonged wait for news of their daughter. Of course blame is the main theme in this story – If they hadn’t gone to the party, their daughter would still be here, wouldn’t she?

The characters within this tale have skeletons pouring out of their closets, ones they are desperate for no one to find. Anne is trying to keep the past in the past; the couple next door are not all what they appear and Marco is tangled in a web of lies, and Anne’s parents, too wealthy for their own good, but prove that money cannot buy happiness. Moreover, Detective Rasbach is more than happy to bring their skeletons out into the spotlight.

It was difficult to warm to any character in this novel, as anyone and everyone is a suspect. However, I did like the reminiscent scenes of Anne and Marco before their daughter, and how despite their recklessness, it is clear that both love their daughter.

Laced with heartbreak, lies and deceit The Couple Next Door makes for an intriguing psychological thriller, with Lapena throwing in twists that will keep you wanting more. I did find the plot to be a little rushed at times and the ending quite random, but that did not stop me reading and enjoying the book overall. The plot is well thought out and will show you how you can never really know someone, or what they are capable of.

Have you read The Couple Next Door? What did you think?