Run a family barbecue

A family barbeque at the end of the school year, or at the start of the new year brings the entire school community together to meet, mingle and have fun.

A family barbeque at the end of the school year, or at the start of the new year brings the entire school community together to meet, mingle and have fun.

Focus on bringing families (and teachers) at the school together to enjoy an afternoon or evening of fun. While fundraising might be your main focus throughout the year, creating social opportunities for parents and experiences for pupils is just as important. By not charging for entry and without the need for babysitters, a family barbeque may encourage less confident or hard-to-reach parents to come along. Take into account that rain can come any day of the year, so wet weather plans are crucial!

Breaking even

Even if the primary purpose of your event isn't to fundraise, you don't want it to cost you money. Although you might not be charging an entry fee to your barbecue event, try to cover your costs through other means. Work out how much your costs will be, and use this as a gauge to price up the food and offer additional money-generating activities. If you have space, set aside some stalls for the children to get involved in whilst their parents enjoy the barbecue. Face painting, craft activities, pick a lolly game, cupcake decorating... what will generate that bit of extra cash to cover your costs?

High-quality meat

Don't underestimate the power of a good burger. Good quality meat for the barbecue is vital! If people end up picking bits of gristle out of their teeth, they are unlikely to rock up to the barbecue next time you have one at your event. Local catering companies may offer frozen meat on a sale or return basis. Offer fried onions - you can't beat the smell to get people salivating! Consider a vegetarian alternative such as vegetable samosas. Use large oil-drum BBQs and have several people cooking and serving/taking money to avoid tedious queues.


Serve burgers and hot dogs in napkins to keep down costs. Other food, such as jacket potatoes and salads will require plates and cutlery (and possibly somewhere to sit). Have plenty of sauces available and lots of bins nearby for rubbish!


Get everyone up and active (to work off those burgers) by offering games of rounders, or a competitive five-a-side match. Adults and children will both enjoy playing team games together, although adults may need a reminder of the rules for rounders, having not played for, ahem, a few years! You can have mixed teams of all ages and abilities so that no one gets left out, but beware: adults tend to get competitive!

Unsure on how your evening will pan out? Read these three case studies from PTAs via our Facebook page:

'We have our family BBQ each year and it has become a really fun event for all our families. We run it from 5pm til 11pm. I would suggest a bar (always a winner!), and children's non-alcoholic cocktails! We have a disco outside and Irish dancing displays, a raffle, a stall for children selling glow sticks, bubbles, bags of sweets and glow bracelets. Children love it when it gets dark. We hired a candy floss lady last year who also did popcorn which was popular. The dads man the actual BBQ cooking. You need lots of helpers to sell tickets, work the bar; stall etc that's what can be tricky needs a rota done early. Good fun, with lots of planning!' Becky Hession

'We do some games through the event, including sticks in sand; guess sweets in jar plant a sunflower seed etc. Bouncy castle and face painting is popular too. We let children or classes do a mini show starting half way through keeps parents longer! Have a back up plan in case of rain. Good advice is to get the BBQ fired up early as our very popular, we get our burgers and sausages at discount price from a popular butcher in town.' Myra Smith

'We do ours on a Friday in June 5.30-8.30 as folk get busy at weekends when the weather's nice. We buy the meat from the local butcher and he lends us his BBQ. We have a rota of dads on the BBQ, and make sure they wear food-handling gloves. We have a bar with draught ale on a hand pump (this needs to be brought up a few days earlier to settle). We have a couple of stalls or a treasure hunt to keep the kids happy. We also put skipping ropes, balls, etc, out on the playing field. We do a colour-themed hamper raffle (donations from the children), which we draw at the end. It's good to have something to signify that the event has in fact ended and it's time to go!' Jane Campbell

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