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Christmas fair countdown

The earlier you start planning your Christmas fair, the more time you and your team will have for your own riot of Christmas parties and shopping! 

Use the following checklist or download and print off a handy PDF.

  • Establish who will be taking the lead on the event and form an organising sub-committee.

  • Book the date and time with the school. Announce the date to parents and put out a request for volunteers. If running non-uniform days in exchange for contributions (such as sweets or hamper contents), schedule the timing for this and let parents know.

  • Start discussing ideas for a theme (or check out our top theme ideas) - Winter Wonderland, Christmas Market, etc - and consider whether you want any headline attractions such as a Rodeo Reindeer, synthetic ice rink or pantomime. Use our supplier directory to search for suppliers and book early.

  • If possible, review last year's event, looking at which stalls were most popular and which ones generated the most money. Need some inspiration? Read our game and stall ideas and testimonials. Agree a shortlist of stalls and work out how many volunteers you will need to help run these.

  • Your theme may dictate your choice of stalls and the type of food and refreshments you decide to serve - work out who and when food will need to be ordered/bought. Do you also need large bags of sweets for prizes for stalls? To minimize waste and maximize profits, order from Booker cash and carry (they offer a sale or return option on complete, unopened packs). Not a member with Booker? Find out how we can fast-track your registration.

  • If planning to sell any personalised items at your event, such as calendars, recipe books or Christmas puddings, you will need to source a supplier and get the process started. Read our list of festive printed product suppliers for inspiration. 

  • Create a schedule for your project working back from the date of the fair. This might allow for running a design competition with pupils, letters home inviting parents to pre-order items and collating orders/monies, etc.

  • If running a secret present room, where children choose and wrap gifts for parents, consider ordering a ready-made pack rather than relying on donations of a dubious quality! Your Fundraising Gift Shop sell specialist packs, either wrapped or unwrapped. 

  • Get the children involved! Discuss with the school any ideas you have that teachers might need to do in class, such as making wrapping paper or tree decorations to be sold at the fair. Ask the school to appoint one teacher who you can liaise with throughout.

  • Start contacting local businesses to source sponsorship (of your grotto for example), raffle prizes, etc. To improve your chances of success, do this before other local schools start asking!

  • If serving alcohol you will need to complete a TEN (at least 10 days before your event). You will also need a Lottery Licence if selling raffle tickets prior to the event - if you already have one, check the expiry date.

  • Create a list of stalls with time slots and consider how many volunteers you will need for each stall and for how long. Begin slotting in those who have already agreed to help against each stall/attraction to help identify gaps. 

  • Compile a database of helpers' email addresses so you can keep in touch with them instantly if needs be. Bear in mind data protection regulations when doing this.

  • Don't forget to explore match funding opportunities. There are hundreds of organisations in the UK offering their employees the chance to have their fundraising efforts matched. If any of your volunteers work for companies offering match funding, be sure to put them on your most lucrative stalls! 

  • If you're providing a programme, appoint someone to compile this (with the help of our programme guide) and consider selling advertising into it.

  • Aim to start publicising the event about six weeks before, with posters in libraries, doctor's surgeries, leisure centres and local playgroups. Plan a leaflet drop to local residents inviting them to attend the event. Get editable posters and flyers from PTA Print Shop.

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