Visitors may expect festive food classics such as turkey baps and hot chocolate at PTA Christmas fairs, but taking the lead from the makeup of your school community and suggestions from volunteers can yield delicious results. Choose from options including meaty, vegan or vegetarian, homemade, locally sourced, supermarket-bought, or get your fair catered by external vendors.
Pulled pork rolls
‘At our last fair, we sold pulled pork rolls with pork cooked two ways. My husband cooked one on the barbecue overnight with applewood. In the morning, he shredded it, put it into the slow cooker before the fair and served it just in its juices. A PTA helper cooked the other version in barbecue sauce in her slow cooker. She started it in the morning and it was ready by the end of the school day. We served the rolls with sauces like barbecue sauce and apple sauce. The pork cost £13 from Costco, and we got between 28 and 30 portions from it, which we sold at £3 each. We made a vegan chilli as well and both completely sold out.’
- Rhonda Hodges, secretary, Penny Acres Primary School PTFA, Holmesfield, Derbyshire
‘We run a “family kitchen” where we ask parents to cook their signature dish in bulk and PTA volunteers sell it in portions at the Christmas fair. We’ve done it at every fair for the past ten years, since before my children were at the school. It is very profitable and, as we’re an East London school with a diverse community, we get a lot of different dishes from all over the world such as dhal, jollof and pasta. Everyone loves it!’
- Amanda Campbell, chair, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School PTA, Wanstead, London
Pasties and sausage rolls
‘We’re in Devon so, of course, we sell pasties at Christmas. We source them, along with sausage rolls, from a local supplier, a Plymouth-based company called Friary Mill. We usually get traditional Cornish and vegetarian pasties and large sausage rolls. They offer a trade price list, which enables us to sell at a profit. We generally charge below shop price to keep the costs down for our families.’
- Kelly King, co-chair, Widey Court Primary School PTFA, Plymouth, Devon
Nepalese restaurant food
‘We charge the local Nepalese restaurant £200 to sell food at our Christmas fair. It was a huge hit last year. We always try to choose somewhere local to support the businesses and the Nepalese restaurant has links to the school. We always charge a set fee to whoever we ask to do the catering.’
- Jessica Bush, chair, St Mary’s Primary PTA, Oxted, Surrey
More ideas for mains
Turkey and stuffing baps
The classic PTA Christmas fair food. Roast and slice turkey crowns and serve in baps with stuffing and gravy.
Burgers and sausages
If your event is outside, set up a barbecue and make burgers and sausages in rolls. Add onions and a selection of condiments. Run a parallel operation for meat-free burgers and sausages.
Pigs in blankets
A more Christmassy approach to cooking sausages. Wrap them in bacon and cook them in the school kitchens if you have access. If not, ask parents to cook them then keep them warm at the event in chafing dishes or warming hotplates.
Soup and a roll
Easy in terms of logistics and warming if you’re holding an outdoor event: offer a couple of flavours of soup, one meaty, one veggie, and serve with a buttered roll.
Make your hotdog stand vegan (or vegetarian) using meat-free hotdogs with tasty toppings such as fried onions, mustard and ketchup. Many people find they don’t taste much different from traditional meat hotdogs.
Vegetable samosas are another delicious meat-free option. Try to get a donation or a good deal in bulk from a nearby South Asian restaurant or ask a willing parent to prepare a batch.
Beloved of many meat eaters as well as veggies, falafels are the quintessential snack throughout a large section of the world. For a Christmas twist, serve them with cranberry sauce.
Pulled jackfruit rolls
The meant-free alternative to pulled pork rolls. Ask if any vegan or vegetarian parents can help cook or serve them and use the same tasty sauces as on the meat version.
Non-alcoholic mulled wine
‘We’d planned to sell a mulled apple drink, but we couldn’t easily source any at a reasonable price. So we bought Sainsbury’s non-alcoholic mulled wine, which tasted really good! We didn’t have a huge turnout because of bad weather but we still made £112 on the mulled wine and snacks!’
- Laura Lee, Cringleford CE VA PTA, Norwich, Norfolk
‘We didn’t have a licence, so we couldn’t sell alcohol. Instead, we made hot chocolate. Caffè Nero donated the cups and we used Cadbury’s hot chocolate powder mixed with water, which we topped with squirty cream and marshmallows. We bought it all from Booker, where PTAs can have a wholesale account. We sold the hot chocolate for £1.50 a cup, which was very profitable. The warming drink was a welcome addition to our outdoor Christmas carol singalong!’
- Holly Davis, chair, Raeburn Primary PTA, Bromborough, Wirral
More ideas for drinks
Alcoholic hot chocolate
If you’re running a hot chocolate stall, offer an adult variation by adding a shot of Baileys Irish Cream or other cream liqueur.
Mulled wine and cider
Mulled wine is a classic winter warmer. Make your own with plenty of spice and citrus, or buy bottles ready-made. For a twist, offer mulled cider for the adults alongside a child-friendly version made with apple juice.
Get a keen mixologist to mix up a child-friendly warming punch with juice, squash and sliced citrus fruit.
Soft drink stall
Offer squash and other soft drinks for the children, including something more unusual like hot Vimto or hot Ribena.
‘It was my first Christmas fair, and I wanted new ideas. A local café called Coastal Coffee offered to loan us their snow cone machine as it was off-season. They were also kind enough to donate the syrups, so we just needed to purchase ice and the cones, making the cost minimal. The snow cones went down amazingly well considering it was winter and very cold outside.’
- Harriet Valentino, chair, Romilly Primary PTA, Barry, South Wales
Snowman poop and reindeer poop
‘For our first fair as a new PTA, we gave out snowman poop, which was little marshmallows in a bag, and reindeer poop, which was the chocolate raisins. My wife, who is also on the PTA, does packing and printing at home and has a sublimation printer, so she printed bag covers with the contents and the name of our PTFA.
- George Mee, chair, Friends of Rosemellin PTFA, Cambourne, Cornwall
More ideas for treats
A Christmas fair isn’t complete without mince pies. If you can’t galvanise a team of parents to make some, how about approaching a local bakery? Supermarket mince pies could be a possibility too.
Many countries have traditional biscuits for the Christmas season. The best-known are the German lebkuchen, small spiced ginger cookies. But there are plenty of others, such as Dutch speculaas or Czech Linzer tarts. Reach out to your community for their family knowledge and create a stall selling traditional international treats.
Make a selection of marshmallow treats. Put three on a skewer, and decorate with sweets and icing to make a marshmallow snowman. Dip them in chocolate and add sugar eyes and candy canes for antlers to make a reindeer. Get creative!
- Let us know what food you serve up at your fair – drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org