How to run a surprise gift room

Encourage the gift of giving while raising money for your PTA with a surprise gift room!

A surprise gift room is a great way to give little ones a taste of independence. Whether it's for Christmas, Mother's Day or Father's Day, you can help children pick a present for the ones they love while boosting the PTA piggy bank.


Charging the same for everything is the simplest option, but having a range of amounts means there's something for everyone. Keep items at pocket money prices, around £1-£3, and price things depending on how much they cost - for example, if it cost £1, double it to £2.


Collecting orders through a pre-order form means you can know how much to buy (and of what, if you include a male/female recipient question) and receive the payment in advance, so you don't need to worry about children forgetting on the day. Limiting the number of gifts per child prevents stocks running out before everyone's had a chance to buy.


It's always great to receive donations, but there's a risk that items will be of dubious quality! The safest option is to ask for monetary donations, which you can then spend as needed. Alternatively, a non-school uniform day where pupils pay into the present fund is an easy way to cover costs.

Who to buy for

While it's traditional to offer gifts for parents, widening the options means more profit potential! For Mother's and Father's Day, have options for grandparents too, and Christmas is a brilliant opportunity for pupils to buy for their siblings. Whatever your choice, ensure you have a similar number of presents for each group.

What to buy

It's fine to have some themed gifts for your stall such as Christmas decorations, but keeping a lot of the stock generic makes it easier to reuse leftovers. If you're unsure about what to buy for men and women, sway more towards items that appeal to everyone.

  • For him: ties, handkerchiefs, torches, car freshener, ice scrapers, beer mugs
  • For her: make up, manicure set, nail polish, jewellery, candles, bath bombs
  • For everyone: chocolates, jars of sweets, shower gel, body spray, scarves, gloves, socks, coasters, stationery, plants, keyrings, photo frames, mugs, calendar, diary, fridge magnets
  • For siblings: colouring books, toys, teddies, games

Combine cheaper items to make something more spectacular to buy and give. Think mugs stuffed with chocolates or hot chocolate kits, or layer up sweets in jars.

Where to buy

If you have the storage facilities, shop all year round for bulk bargains to maximise profits. Hit the shops when non-perishable items are being sold off in the days after Mother's and Father's Day or the January sales to buy good quality items at discount prices. These can be saved for next year, or generic items can be used at your next event. Places like Home Bargains, B&M and pound shops are fantastic options throughout the year.

For a quick and easy option, Your Fundraising Gift Shop offers packs of presents suitable for all three occasions, which can be bought wrapped or unwrapped.


Your Fundraising Gift Shop offers the option of having items delivered pre-wrapped, but this does increase the cost of gifts. If you want to keep outgoings down, hold a giftwrapping party with your committee and volunteers, or get pupils to wrap their presents at your event. This will require plenty of helpers and patience, but it means that no one has to wrap a pile of presents all in one go.

Choosing a date

With a Father's or Mother's Day sale it pays to hold the event as close to the day as possible - this way you can take advantage of forgetful parents and pupils, and there's less time for buyers to lose presents!

For a Christmas room, holding it at your winter fair means everyone is already gathered together. On the other hand, people may be less inclined to spend as they're already giving to other attractions, and your sale is restricted to the length of the fair. While it may be practical to do everything at once, running your surprise room as it's own event may be more profitable, as you can have it open for as long as necessary so everyone has a chance to buy.

Running your room

If your surprise room is going to be an individual event, consider when you're going to hold it and how long for. This will depend on how many pupils/classes you have to get through. For an organised approach, run it during the school day, taking children class by class to choose their gifts. If there are too many to get through, do one day for KS1 and one for KS2.Otherwise, holding it after school means parents can wait in the playground while children shop. Although you may have to do this for a few days so everyone has a chance to buy something, having parents at the ready to give a few pounds to forgetful pupils can only be a good thing!

Whatever the decision, dividing the room into choosing and paying areas will ease the flow of people. If pupils are going to wrap presents themselves, set up a third area for wrapping, complete with helpers, where children can wrap gifts and write labels.