I mentioned the giving cans in passing in this post, but I think they need more explanation because I am really pleased with how they turned out. I can't take credit for the idea: the original calendar came from here, and the idea to put them on cans came from another member of our Advent Conspiracy group at church, and it just so happened that the local cannery was about to place an order for those excellent cans with coin slots in the top, the better for the veterans to sell poppies for Remembrance Day, when we came along and asked them if they might have anything to suit our purposes.
What I did, and I worked really hard on this, was figure out how to print the calendars onto labels that would fit on the cans. This was a challenge because while I have considerable skill with spreadsheets, I have little to no skill at desktop publishing. However, I did make it work, with help from Chris - who also suggested using the full-page labels you can buy from Staples, rather than trying to find labels that were pre-cut to the size I wanted.
Because I was making 36 of these, I wanted them to all look the same and to look semi-decent (the one above is the worst one, with a very crooked label, and so naturally that's the one I kept for myself). If you just wanted to make one for your own family, you could just use any old jar, and either tape the calendar on, or have it hanging nearby, or whatever.
The calendar printed on the can says:
Dec 1 - 10¢ for every hot water tap in your home
Dec 2 - 75¢ for every vehicle your family owns
Dec 3 - 5¢ for every pair of jeans you own
Dec 4 - 5¢ for every bed in your house
Dec 5 - 25¢ if you get a daily newspaper
Dec 6 - 3¢ for every cosmetic item you own (this sparked a lot of conversation about what exactly constitutes cosmetics. We decided lip gloss, perfume/cologne, nail polish, facial moisturizer, and any kind of hair styling product counted.)
Dec 7 - 3¢ for every pair of footwear (I'm appalled to say that between the three of us, we own 36 pairs of footwear, and no, that does NOT count socks.)
Dec 8 - 5¢ for every meal with meat this week
Dec 9 - 15¢ if you have pots and pans
Dec 10 - 20¢ for every tv you own
Dec 11 - 10¢ for every flush toilet in your home
Dec 12 - 5¢ for every blanket you own
Dec 13 - 15¢ if you have dishes for food
Dec 14 - 3¢ for every light switch in your home
Dec 15 - 5¢ for every window in your home
Dec 16 - 5¢ for each magazine subscription
Dec 17 - 20¢ for every bathtub or shower
Dec 18 - 10¢ for every outside door you have
Dec 19 - 25¢ if you have more than 25 CDs/ DVDs
Dec 20 - 10¢ for every non-tap-water drink this week
Dec 21 - 25¢ if you have a snow blower or lawn mower
Dec 22 - 3¢ for every hair care product
Dec 23 - 15¢ for every bedroom in your house
Dec 24 - 2¢ for every soap bar or dispenser
Dec 25 - 15¢ for every present you received (Ooh, that last one's a killer, eh?)
$45 can help to build a freshwater well for a family who needs it. Is that easier to do than we think it is? Give the gift of life this Christmas.
Every afternoon I sit down with Gwen and a big jar of coins. I count out what needs to go in the can, and she puts it in. I don't know how much she understands at this point, but I intend to continue this tradition every year. I find this particular exercise very moving because not only is it a great tool for collecting money, but it gives you an opportunity every day to think about the things you have that most of the world doesn't have. And after that, it's pretty hard not to cough up the change.
I gave out about 30 of these cans at our church's Advent Fair on November 29th, and told people that they could either bring back the full cans to the church and donate to our safe water cause, or they could donate them to another cause close to their hearts. It will be interesting to see how many come back, but more than that, I hope I get the chance to talk to people and hear how they incorporated this into their routines, how it changed their thinking around Christmas and their attitudes about the many material things we take for granted every day. That would be fascinating to me.
If you decide to do something like this in your family, please share your story with me!