PTAs have built up a wealth of knowledge over the past year, experimenting with new technologies and holding virtual events. This summer, combine new skills with traditional ones to create the right celebration for you.
If you want to hold a fair this year, take your favourite elements and combine them in a safe way that makes supporters happy. A theme will help tie it together: country fayre, carnival or seaside could all work.
A virtual fair is a safe bet and can go ahead no matter what. Overcome the lack of face-to-face contact by finding creative ways for attendees to see one another online. Plan a mixed day and make it clear which platforms you’re using for each part. Ask your head teacher to record an opening speech and book a virtual act such as a magic show or comedian. Use social media to post games and challenges such as throwing balls into a bucket, scavenger hunts or dressing up. Guess the number of sweets in the jar, name the teddy, 100 square grid and many other fair regulars can be adapted for a virtual audience too. Ask for donations via your usual online platform. If the school agrees, you may be able to recreate a few favourite stalls and games during school hours just for the children. Assemble them in the playground where classes can visit in bubbles.
If groups are allowed to meet outside, hold a hybrid event. Ask supporters to register online to receive a fair programme containing ideas for the day, times of any virtual shows or talks, plus links and templates for competitions or challenges. Speak to your usual fair sponsors about advertising or see if they will offer a voucher as a prize. On the day, families can gather informally in private gardens, the park or open countryside for races, challenges and outdoor sports, such as:
- Egg-and-spoon race: Families can bring spoons and hard-boiled eggs from home or use teaspoons and marbles. Mark out lanes with cones or lengths of string or cord to keep distancing in place.
- Beat the goalie: The player has three chances to get the ball past the goalie. Comedy gloves for the goalie always go down well!
- Sack race: Bulk-buy sacks so there’s one for everyone or suggest groups use old pillowcases. For more fun, get mums and dads hopping along too!
- Chalk Pictionary: Find a tarmacked space where children can spread out and draw pictures for the others to guess. Draw a grid on the ground so they can stay distanced.
- Musical statues: If it won’t annoy the neighbours, get everyone dancing with some party music, adding an element of competition with this classic game.
- Water fight: Build some defences, behind which players must remain. Creating them from whatever you have available makes for a fun project before the game has even begun. Using water pistols, players must try to hit their opponents. Four defences work well, with children taking it in turns to play.
- Circle games: Spread everyone out in a circle, using markers to make sure no one moves too close. Play games such as Simon says, splat, zip zap boing or charades. For bigger groups, make multiple circles, mixing them up for more social interaction, if regulations allow.
Ask supporters to video their attempts and submit to the PTA for judging. Don’t get too competitive – it’s just for fun. Award small prizes or vouchers, which can be delivered by volunteers or collected from the school, if they are willing.
Hold some whole-school activities online as well, so everyone comes together at the same time:
- Hook up with a local business to sell activity sets for families. Think pizza-making kits, craft packs or ceramic art. Run an online lesson.
- Host an end-of-year quiz. Set some questions where the answers can be a drawing, show-and-tell or a song, to stretch logical and creative muscles.
- Ask families to send in photos and video clips of all the things they have achieved this year. Edit the clips together and premiere the film on the day of your fair.
A bigger summer fair could go ahead with careful planning. Start making plans with a summer date in mind, which could be moved to autumn, should the need arise. Marketing materials, stall ideas and requests for sponsorship could all be carried over if necessary. For fair-planning ideas and a checklist, read our guide.
For a big celebration with minimal work for the PTA, hold a circus. ‘We’re taking bookings now and our two circuses will start touring again as soon as we reach step four,’ says Patricia Randall, director of Happy’s Circus. ‘We do all the work, so the PTA can run a circus at quite short notice. We’ll be Covid-safe, following government guidelines on groups sizes, social distancing, sanitation and face masks. We only ask for a small booking fee upfront, which can normally be transferred to another 2021 date if Covid results in a show being cancelled.’
A day (and night) outdoors
For an outdoor event with more flexibility, combine elements of a picnic, barbecue or garden party with a campout.
Choose a day or a weekend, and let families decide what will work best for them. Encourage supporters to post photos or videos of their picnics or barbecues on your social media, and hold online games and challenges to foster a sense of community. Add a campover element where families sleep in a different room of the house or in the garden. Help children to connect by challenging each class to learn a campfire song and sing it together. Host an online bedtime story for pupils and their fluffy friends.
A day outdoors works really well once two households or more can mix outdoors and the warm weather arrives. Create a picnic, barbecue or campout kit containing ideas for activities. Find a local butcher who can provide barbecue packs to take away – with a kickback to the PTA – or sell picnic lunchboxes.
Scale up your day by suggesting team games and circle games for bigger groups that can be played without too much equipment (see previous page). Encourage families to be inclusive. If people are gathering in parks or the countryside, remind them to be considerate of others and take waste home. If camping out, families could join forces in gardens or book a local campsite together.
If guidelines allow, a bigger event on the school field may be possible. Ask families to pre-book, and hold a picnic or garden party where people bring their own food and are sat in groups of the permitted size. Use a PA for entertainment or find a local band who can play at a distance. Ask an ice-cream van along or sell ice-pops, making sure people queue in a socially distanced way. Hold races and challenges for the children and their parents alike. If the school will allow camping, make sure it is booked in advance and plan for shared toilet and handwashing facilities.
Raffle or silent auction
If a day out doesn’t appeal, how about a raffle or an auction? Once you’ve sourced the prizes, make it clear how winners can claim them. Will you deliver, or can they be collected from the school?
Hold an online hamper raffle. Ask each class to donate items based on a summer theme such as picnics, gardening, games or the beach, and make up hampers based on each one. For a rainbow hamper raffle, allocate a colour to each class and request donations in the class colour, holding a non-uniform day where classes come dressed in their colour too. Use an online site such as Raffall or People’s Fundraising or run a text raffle through a site such as DONATE. If you’re advertising your raffle, you’ll probably need a licence. See our online raffle FAQs.
Alternatively, a silent auction is a great way for participants to get prizes they genuinely want. Ask supporters and local firms for prizes and hold it on a dedicated site such as Auction of Promises or Jumblebee. If you have a PTA Facebook group, hold a silent auction by posting details of each prize separately and asking for bids in the comments. DONATE also offers online and silent auctions where guests bid online or by text. For maximum variety and value, source a combination of products and services.
Hold an auction of promises. It’s easier, and more fun, to come up with ideas for promises when small groups are allowed to gather. How about a sports lesson, help with IT, or a meal for two donated by a local restaurant?
Hold a traditional auction where people can view lots and bid in-person. It’s easier to whip up a competitive spirit when people are face-to-face, resulting in higher profits for the PTA. Seat groups in bubbles of the size allowed. To give everyone a chance, offer lots online prior to auction day.
Within a diverse group of parents there will be a diverse set of circumstances, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for donations to help the school. If you’re holding a big event, combine free activities with paid-for options so there’s something for all budgets.
- Admission or registration: Charge a small fee to participate or suggest a donation amount. Source a treat, such as an online voucher for cake or coffee from a local company as part of the package.
- Virtual donation bucket: Ask for donations during your event and make sure everyone knows how to give to you online.
- Non-uniform day: Hold a non-uniform day before your event based around your theme, if you have one.
- Takeout and delivery: Ask local shops and restaurants if they can provide a picnic box, barbecue pack, craft beer selection or wine delivery. Alternatively batch-cook curries and sell with sides and cooking instructions. Offer a vegetarian option and take payments online in advance.
- Competition: Hold challenges and competitions with a small fee to enter each one.