A successful Santa's grotto can reign in a big profit, but you may be keen to try something new at your Christmas fair this year. Take a look at these alternatives...
1. Mrs Claus' Kitchen
Bake batches of plain biscuits and cut these into festive shapes (trees, gingerbread men, etc). Alternatively, you could ask local bakeries for donations or buy in bulk from a wholesaler. Give children the chance to add their own twist with squeezy bottles filled with different-coloured icing, and bowls of miniature sweets and silver balls for decorations. Charge £1 to decorate and eat. Cover your workspace or school kitchen with lights and festive bunting, and have a staff member or volunteer dress up as 'Mrs Claus', there to lend a hand when needed!
2. Breakfast with Santa
If your Santa would prefer to be out and about than inside a grotto, invite pupils to have breakfast before school or on the morning of your Christmas fair. Purchase juice, boxes of cereal, croissants, fruit and bread for toast from a local supermarket or wholesaler. You could presell tickets on the playground or in the classroom, or ask for payment on arrival. Charge between £1-3 for breakfast and a small present - these could include Christmas stories, colouring and puzzle books, crayons or mini selection boxes. Set up tables in your school hall, and decorate with festive tablecloths, paper plates and cutlery. During the event, have your Santa circle the room, handing out presents and chatting to pupils while they eat their breakfast. Children could also have their photo taken with Santa, which could be printed and place in bookbags at the end of the school day.
'We hold this event for two hours on a Saturday morning. We cater for up to 100 children aged three and over. We require parents to stay at the event, and Year 6 helpers dress up as elves.
Tickets cost £5 and the breakfast is donated by a parent who owns a local coffee shop chain. We boost profits by selling hot drinks and pastries to parents and running a raffle of donated prizes for younger children.
Children can write a letter to Santa for 50p using our template - Santa even emails them a reply! A volunteer dresses as Santa and gives each child a present. Last year we made £650.'
Eleanor Long, PTA Vice-Chair, Evenlode Primary School, Penarth, Glamorgan (450 pupils)
3. Storytime with Santa
Little children can find visiting Santa quite intimidating, with a strange man, wearing a crazy outfit, huddled in a dark cavern! Rather than children entering the grotto one at a time, how about setting up your grotto to house an intimate gathering of children, with Santa as your celebrity storyteller? Run this as part of your Christmas fair and create a cosy atmosphere with a fake fireplace, fairy lights, beanbags or cushions for the children to sit on. Sell tickets beforehand, offering a choice of time slots, and invite groups of children to sit with Santa for 10-minutes of stories and present-giving. Have your Santa read a selection of festive stories (don't forget 'Twas the Night Before Christmas!) and give out small gifts to pupils at the end.