All about fair prizes
Everyone loves taking part in a game or a challenge at a
school fair, but we all know that the prizes are where the real
excitement lies! There's a lot to think about when sourcing prizes:
What kinds of prizes should you offer? How many do you need? Where
can you source them, and where can you store them before and after
the fair? We've got everything you need to know about fair prizes
in this one handy guide.
What kinds of prizes?
A token system allows for quality over quantity.
Rather than winning lots of small prizes, children win multiple
tokens, which they can then take to a prize stall to exchange
for a selection of larger prizes (or a turn on your main
attraction), based on the number collected. This means all of your
stalls can be 'prize every time' without it being too costly, or
the PTA having to source too many gifts. The token system is sure
to encourage people to stay at the fair for longer, and will lead
to busier stalls as children try to win enough tokens for their
Ask parents if they can donate a jam jar full of
unwanted items to be prizes. You could request items, such as
erasers, small notebooks, tiny toys and bouncy balls. Can parents
save these items up from party bags during the year? Or ask parents
to donate sweets, avoiding chocolate if your event is to be held in
hot weather. You could also ask parents for donations of cuddly
toys in good condition. Give them a quick wash and they are ready
for their new life.
Get more variety by asking local retail outlets
if they can help. Target a mix of independent and chain stores -
independents may be more willing to support the local community,
won't be asked constantly, and may have more unique gifts, while
chain stores usually have an allocated allowance for charitable
donations. You could also ask local supermarkets or garden centres
if they have anything they have too much of or can't sell due to
Before you start buying prizes, gauge how many
you need for your event. After each event, keep a record of how
many fair prizes were used and how many are left over to help you
plan for future events. If this is your first event, how many
visitors are you expecting? If you're unsure about how many prizes
you need, buy non-perishable, non-seasonal goods so you can keep
any leftovers for your next event. Bulk-buying is often cheaper and
avoids the risk of running out - your stall can't function if there
isn't a prize - so if you have the storage space, bear this in
mind. Alternatively, buy on sale-or-return from wholesalers or
supermarkets and take back any leftovers. To prevent running out of
prizes in the first hour of your summer fair, make a back-up plan
for picking up extra stock.
Where to buy
Supermarkets: great for seasonal deals and loyalty
points, but supermarkets will sometimes have limited stock or set
limits on how much you can buy in one transaction.
and discount stores: Stores such as Home Bargains, B&M
and Poundland may also have limited stock. Pound shops sometimes
sell smaller versions of items, so check you're buying the
Wholesalers: At wholesalers such as Booker you can
easily buy as much stock as you need in one trip. Booker offers
sale-or-return on leftover non-perishable goods, meaning you can
over-buy and take back any unused items. Sign up to a Booker account with PTA+ to access
its wholesale prices, normally only available to businesses.
Online: It's easy to find discounts when shopping
online, thanks to the multiple voucher code websites available. You
can also make purchases through shopping affiliate schemes, such as
Give As You Live or The Giving Machine, so the PTA makes money as
retailers: The PTA+ suppliers directory is full of trusted
suppliers with experience in the fundraising sector, or visit our
offers page for current deals.
sales: 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
Day, Father's Day, Easter, Halloween or Christmas, to buy
good-quality items at discount prices. These can be saved for the
following year, or more general items can be used at your next
event. For example, floral mugs being sold off after Mother's Day
can be a great token stall prize.
Compare prices: Use price
comparison websites such as pricespy.co.uk and price trackers like pricehistory.co.uk or camelcamelcamel.co.uk to check whether you're
getting the best deal.
Think about storage
Assess your space when making purchases so you
don't buy more than you can store. When storing food with a long
shelf life it's important to make sure it's kept safely and cleanly
rather than in a damp, draughty PTA shed! Keep food in a cool, dry
place in clear, air-tight boxes so that you can see what's in each
box to prevent things being forgotten and wasted.
If you don't have space available at school, ask
if committee members have spare space you could use, such as a
garage or shed.
Audit your stock
If you have perishable goods, keep a record for
each item of how many you have, where it's stored and its expiry
date. Audit stock each year to see what you have: what do you use,
and what's sitting around gathering dust? If you have items you
don't need, sell them on. Audits will prevent you buying more of
what you already have and act as a reminder of what equipment you
have available, which can help with planning future events.
With everyone becoming more aware of the impact
of plastic, you may be wondering how you can find an alternative to
small, cheap plastic prizes that will no doubt break or be
forgotten about after the event. Here are some more environmentally
friendly prize ideas that are less likely to end up in
seeds - try peas, sweet peas or beetroot, which all have
flexible sowing times and are easy to handle.
Seedlings - if you have a green-fingered parent
ask them to cultivate some seedlings. This is inexpensive, exciting
for the children, and educational too.
Books - ask for donations at a mufti day or scour
charity shops - some offer children's books for 50p or less.
supplies - crayons, colouring pencils and pavement
Stationery - make packs with notebooks, pencils
Games - card games, wooden yo-yos, skipping
toys - wooden beads, cat's cradle, French knitting dolly,
marbles, die-cast toy cars, felt finger puppets, teddies.
Raisins - a healthy choice in recyclable
seed bombs - The Land Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and RHS
all have recipes, and they can be made colourful with natural food
Vouchers for other stalls - if
the vouchers are for games stalls then this will cost you nothing
as a prize. Just make sure you don't offer too many of them, or
people will be constantly running between stalls and never win an
If you're left with too much after an event,
there are several options. Keep non-perishable goods for your next
event if you can. If you don't have space, sell or donate them to
another PTA, or host a sale event after school to get rid of excess
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