The Christmas Fair is the highlight of many school calendars. It’s fun, festive – and an important source of funds for the school or its chosen charities. And as anyone who’s ever been involved on a PTA or Friends Committee will know, it’s also jolly hard work. So which ideas provide the best return for all that effort? We’ve compiled a list of our favourites….
1. Charge an entry fee
An easy way to raise funds, but this does require a rota of reliable parents to collect the cash.
The price charged by schools ranges enormously – from £1 to an eye-watering £25 per adult in some central London Schools. And whilst the parents have their wallets out, why not take the chance to sell them an environmentally-friendly hessian bag with the school logo emblazoned on it to take their goodies home? Markup by 200%.
The most successful Christmas Fairs and Fetes engage pupils first and foremost. Encourage them to run their own stalls. Ideas include:
• The mobile jukebox. A confident child can burst into song from a premade list of songs. For 50p a go, the money will start raking in;
• The mobile argument machine. For 50p children can offer witty insults and arguments to recipients. Ask the Head for suggestions of children who would fit the bill.
Another popular idea is to invite a local children’s author to perform in front of an audience. Assign an empty classroom and charge around £3-5 per child. These events can be extremely popular so you may like to consider how parents can pre-book tickets. Ask the author to bring some of his/her books to sell and donate half the proceeds to the Fair.
3. Don’t forget Santa
Every child wants to whisper their Christmas wishes into Father Christmas’s ear – but Santa is rarely to be found on the high street these days. Don’t let your Fair disappoint. All you need is to borrow some Christmas lights to create a grotto, a burly father dressed up as FC and a cheap chocolate selection box or other gift from Aldi or Lidl. Charge £4 per child and you will find this is one of the most popular stalls of all. At least half will be profit.
4. Face painting/hair streaking
Another fail-safe money-spinner and perennially popular with girls in particular. You’ll need one or two reasonably arty mums to man the stall but you’ll be surprised at how many half-decent face painters there are. The only outlay is to source face paints and washable hair-streaks. Charge £3 per child.
Auctions are generally the biggest money-spinners of any Christmas Fair. Some schools have online auctions, others have a more traditional auction. Prizes are often donations from parents. Teachers promises are wildly popular and can range from a teacher offering to take a small group to a film to a coaching lesson in kicking a football. If you are going down the traditional auction route, it is best to have someone with a little auctioning experience to optimise the value of various auction items. Selling mulled wine before the auction can also help to fuel the bids.
Imaginative games designed by pupils offer a great return on very little investment. Games with lots of noise or a gambling element are winners. Whether it is knocking down tin cans, smashing plates, nerf gun shootouts- very popular and very cheap to assemble. Tombolas – with donated bottles from parents – are always popular and pure money-spinners.
7. Recycled clothes and toys
No financial outlay required but quite a bit of patience and time in sifting the better quality stock. It’s worth adding a note on collection bins requesting parents to only donate the kind of toys and clothes they would be happy to buy themselves – and not use it as the opportunity to offload broken toys and tatty clothes.
• Good quality children’s clothes are always popular particularly expensive items like coats or special dresses.
• Second hand ski wear is usually a sell-out.
• Dressing up costumes for younger children are also very in demand.
• Toys are okay but a children’s bookstall is much more popular. And easier to control the quality.
• Second hand bikes can also raise a lot of money. Parents can donate or ask for a minimum return.
8. Sweet treats
Stalls selling sweets or Dunkin donuts are popular and good fundraisers. And it’s only once a year and all in a good cause… so leave your inner Grinch at home and embrace the spirit of Christmas.
Make sure the pricing doesn’t involve any tricky counting of change – not only will you always be running out of change but post-Fair counting will be more onerous.
9 Don’t forget the cakes, either!
While we’re on the subject, asking for donated cakes for the cake stall is another pure-profit fundraiser.
Cake stalls are popular at all fairs so long as the pricing is not too ambitious. No matter how beautiful or exotic the cake is, most parents won’t spend more than £10 so do be realistic.
Smaller items such as flapjacks or brownies can be more successful than big cakes as children will spend their money on them as they wander round the Fair.
10 Let Classlist help out too!
We’re here to help. Use Classlist to send messages asking for help with manning stalls or to publicise star attractions such as Father Christmas or a famous guest. And you can use Classlist afterwards to share photos of the fun.
Happy Christmas – and happy fundraising!
Sign up to Classlist – it’s free. The UK’s largest school parent to parent network.