Top 10 refreshment stalls
The key to a successful BBQ is quality meat (selling
gristly burgers will simply shoot yourself in the foot for future
events). Offer fried onions too - the smell alone will guarantee
sales! Local catering companies or butchers may supply you meat at
a discount. Consider a vegetarian alternative such as halloumi
kebabs. Read our in-depth feature on running a
2. Cake stall
Cakes are always popular, and if you can get all your sweet
treats donated, this stall will be pure profit. As you can't
guarantee that donated cakes were baked in an allergy-free
environment, you should display a sign to that effect. Download donation request
poems. Nothing helps wash down a cupcake like a nice
cuppa, so position your tea and coffee stall near your cake stall!
Scour local charity shops for old-fashioned cups and saucers and
set up a pop-up cafe for a bit of vintage fun. Have a seating area
where parents can mingle. For more tips read our guide to making
the most of your cake stall.
3. Beer tent
Local breweries often supply barrels of real ale for PTA fairs -
they might even offer a discount. Otherwise look out for offers in
supermarkets. Aim to make around £1 a pint profit.
While contacting local breweries, you might want to consider
this idea, too:
'Our "barrow o' booze" does well, with donated alcoholic bottles
assembled in a wheelbarrow. Cloakroom tickets are sold for £1 per
ticket and one lucky winner takes the entire barrow home! We use a
standard garden wheelbarrow, with straw under the bottles. We wheel
the barrow around the fair to drum up sales. Last year made over
£200 profit.' Maurice Snell, PTA member, Friends of
'We sell 100-150 pints of real ale at our fair, for £2.50 each.
We phoned a local brewery, who were very happy to help and even
gave us a discount. The cost to us was £1.20-£1.40 per pint, so we
made about £1-£1.50 profit on each. We sold out of everything -
even the emergency reserves that I bought to reward my barbecue
team! I think it's dependent on the market, but we knew
we had a good group of people who like a drop of real
ale. We also bought a small supply of lager on offer in Tesco
(three for £20). We sold all of that as well!' Marc
Brunel-Walker, PTA committee member, St Josephs RC Primary
4. Pimm's (or summer punch!)
The great PTA debate: Pimm's vs Aldi punch (or other supermarket
equivalent)! Charge around £2 for a half pint glass of Pimm's.
Aldi's Austin's Summer Punch comes highly recommended and costs a
fraction of the price.
'The Pimm's tent at our fair was a massive draw - especially as
it was a sunny day! We sold Pimm's at £2 for a half-pint, full of
fruit and lemonade. Most of the fruit was prepared in advance, then
added to during the event as necessary. Our local Waitrose gave us
a 10% discount and let us buy on sale or return too. We made £150
Rachel Pearce, PTA treasurer, Foulds School,
Kareena Perry, chair, Friends Of Parkdale: 'We
hired a candyfloss machine from the local Scout group last year for
£35 - this included bags, sticks and the candyfloss ingredients.
They even ran it for us! We made a profit of £107 in an hour and a
half, charging £1.50 a stick or £2 per bag.'
6. Ice cream
If you have enough volunteers and access to a freezer, make
bigger profits at your event by selling ice creams yourself.
Remember that if you buy ice cream multipacks from the supermarket
(as opposed to a wholesaler), the ingredients and allergy advice
will not be included on individual packets, so this should be
avoided. If you decide to have an ice cream van instead, the
consensus among PTAs is to charge a flat fee of around £100 rather
than asking for a percentage of profits.
7. External vendors
From pizza to crepes or curry, there are lots of mobile food
vendors who attend events. Speak to local companies or search on Stallfinder.com. NOTE: any commercial third
parties need their own public liability insurance.
'We approached our local Domino's Pizza and asked if they
had a mobile pizza stall. They couldn't have been more
helpful! It cost us absolutely nothing, they sold slices of pizza
for £1 each, of which we earned 50p. They sent two members of
staff, a mobile stall and a supply of pizzas and packaging. When
they were running low, they contacted their local store and had
extra pizzas delivered by bike! At the end of the event they
gave us £60.' Lynda McCallum, former PTA chair,
Whiteinch Nursery School, Glasgow
Karen Todd, PTA secretary, Our Lady and St Teresa's
Catholic Primary: 'We sold samosas and bhajis which
were very popular and very tasty. A local lady paid £15 for the
stall and charged £1 each. We had a BBQ too and both sold out.'
10. International cuisine!
Roo Kanis-Buck, chair, Holy Family Friends
Assoc: 'Two mums from the Philippines run a noodle bar at
our fair, serving a chicken-based noodle dish and a vegetarian one.
They provide and cook on mobile gas rings. The takings last year
were £440! We use an area of the playground for the BBQ and other
food-related stalls, creating a food court. The noodle dish is
priced in line with the BBQ (around £2.50). I think it's vital to
get parents of other cultural backgrounds involved in the
organisation and running of stalls.'
For more advice
Read our guide to catering at PTA events. For up-to-date advice
on allergies and food, visit the Food Standards Agency website
If serving or supplying alcohol on unlicensed premises you will
need a Temporary Event Notice. For more details, read our FAQs guide to
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