Event Guide: Christmas Fair

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But it’s also the busiest time for those hard-working volunteers who put on a Christmas event for their school community to enjoy. So to make things a wee bit easier, we’ve put together this event guide packed with ideas, hints and tips for a magical festive fundraiser!

Date and Venue

Get ahead of the crowd!

With carol concerts, nativities and parties to squeeze in alongside the Christmas shopping, December is usually the busiest month of the year for families! So plan a date for your fair as far in advance as possible, checking local listings to avoid a potential clash with other festive events.

Will you need to source or hire any extra equipment? Tea urns, games, a grotto, Santa?! Again you’ll need to book as far ahead as possible to guarantee availability during the busy festive period.

PTAs are split on whether to hold their fair after school, or at a weekend. But if you’re planning to hold your event in school, it’s a good idea to liaise with the caretaker or management team about out-of-hours access for setting up and clearing away. You should also check their policy on putting up decorations, especially if any area has been recently decorated! And don’t forget to carry out those all-important risk assessments!

Fun and Games

Let us entertain you!

Festive games and stalls will attract lots of attention at your event (and hopefully make a decent profit too!) Allocating a stall per class or year group will help to share the workload – and how about letting the kids decide which games they are in charge of and what the prizes are?​

We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Christmas Fair stall ideas here – packed full of inspiring stall and games ideas, as well as food and drink and other fundraising suggestions! Be sure to check it out and share with your committee.

To cut down the cash handling, you could try using a token system. Customers buy a book of tokens (eg 4 tokens for £1) and these can be exchanged for goes at games stalls.​

Of course no Christmas event would be complete without a visit from Father Christmas! If you’re anticipating a large crowd of kids eager to see him, you could ask families to book slots in advance so they are guaranteed an audience with Santa. This will also help you determine the number of gifts that will need to be purchased and wrapped before the big day. Some schools also book reindeer to make a special guest appearance – what a cool photo opportunity! (And another chance to make some extra cash – what a lovely gift for grandparents!)​

Some companies now hire ready-made grottos for fairs (we’ve even seen an inflatable one!!) but with a little bit of imagination and creativity it’s possible to set up your own very cheaply, using a gazebo, festive material and lots of fairy lights! Add a Christmas tree, some decorations and presents and you’re good to go :)​

Inviting local businesses to have a stall at your fair is a win-win – charge them a nominal fee for a pitch or agree a profit-share and you’ll both benefit! Crafts, jewellery, gifts and toys are always popular, and kids love the opportunity to buy a gift for mum and dad or their grandparents and friends.

Help create a festive atmosphere by playing Christmas tunes, or having the school choir or band near the entrance, and invite people to come along wearing Santa hats – you could even sell them at the door!

Read our “Christmas Is Coming” blog for more great festive fundraising ideas.

Food and Drink

Warm up the crowds!

Some winter warmers will no doubt go down a treat at your fair: think delicious hot chocolate, teas and coffees, or maybe mulled wine (your school will need a licence to sell this – or you could plump for a non-alcoholic version!) And how about mince pies, Christmas cake, gingerbread or candy canes for the kids?

If your event is during lunch or tea time, then something simple to prepare like hot dogs or jacket potatoes could make you a tidy profit, or perhaps delicious bacon rolls or turkey and stuffing sandwiches?!

You could also organise a Christmas-themed Bake Off, auctioning off the best cakes and selling slices of the other entries – that’s 100% profit guaranteed! (Make sure any bakers include a list of ingredients in case of allergies.)

There are some cute Christmassy food ideas here on our Christmas Pinterest board, as well as loads of lovely craft and decoration ideas too.

Promotions

Spread the festive cheer!

​Christmas events can be one of the most profitable fundraisers in the PTA calendar, so effective promotion will be the key to your success. If you’re inviting the local community to join in the festive fun, make some colourful banners and flyers to advertise your event – you could even include a hot drinks voucher as a festive gesture to neighbours of the school!

Contact as many community What’s On guides as possible with details of your event, and don’t forget local newspapers, radio and social media advertising too.

Organising a raffle or prize draw is a great way to promote your event and draw the crowds (your school will need a gambling licence though.) Sell tickets in advance and also on the day, and if you announce the winners towards the end of the fair, you’ll keep the crowds there for as long as possible!​

Getting a local business to sponsor all or part of your event can bring in a cash injection – and great advertising for them too! Or try approaching a local estate agent to put adverts on their For Sale boards.

A printed programme complete with a map of your event will not only be really handy for fairgoers, but also a fantastic advertising space for those local businesses and sponsors. Parents are often a wealth of untapped resources when it comes to contacts and services within your local area, so make sure you ask them!​

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Volunteers

Get the man (and woman!) power you need!

Getting enough volunteers on board for a big event like a Christmas Fair can seem very daunting, but there are a few easy ways to make sure you have enough manpower to make your event a big success.

The first golden rule is to be as specific as you can about what you need! Fear of the unknown can be a major barrier for people who haven’t helped out before, so be clear and precise about what jobs need doing, how long you need help for and whether or not the kids can tag along. And also remember to break up any tasks into small, manageable chunks – people are much more likely to step up for a half hour slot on stall, rather than 3 hours stuck selling Santa hats!

If you have class reps, this is the time to really put them to work! Challenge each class rep to fill a stall rota, and try to get teachers on board too – they can spread the word at parents evening, or put up posters requesting volunteers on the classroom door.

Or…..you could set up a free PTAsocial account and post a Christmas Fair volunteer rota for the whole school to access online! No more chasing reply slips or pestering parents at the school gate – just browse the available slots on your mobile, tablet or PC and tick a box to volunteer for a task. Easy! We’ve even set up a Christmas fair event template to help you get started! Click here to set up your free account and watch those volunteer slots fill up 🙂

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