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Is there an alternative to the school Fair/Fete?

(42 Posts)
PTAblues Tue 25-Nov-14 17:18:44

So we had our winter fete last weekend and I've come away pissed off as usual. We have quite a large PTA but it's basically 4 or 5 people doing all the work. Lots of others floating about pissing on everyone elses' chips, bitching and getting very little done. New ideas met with lots of eye rolling. Almost impossible to get helpers for the day. Not much support from the school- except the same few teachers. Same old, same old.

We raise a reasonable amount of money because we have a biggish school - mostly from the Raffle.

But we have 2 Fayres a year- another one in June. I can't bear it. I spend the 6 weeks before working flat out in my spare time. I know I don't have to etc etc.

Has anyone come up with an alternative to a fair/fete at any time of year that could make us the same sort of money. One a year wouldn't seem so bad if we could do something else.

lemisscared Tue 25-Nov-14 17:34:46

Oh, i feel your pain - there are four of us who actualy DO anything on the PFA, everyone else just comes along and poo poos ideas or say they can help, then its "oh i'd love to help but its my goldfishes birthday" or some other bullshit.

We are getting more support from the teachers this year because they have asked us to raise £££s So we told them to get their fingers out of their arses. One of the teacheres told us that organising a christmas fair was easy - the temptation to tell him to do it was pretty high i can tell you!

As for alternatives? Not sure, we usually raise about 2,500 at our fete and the other events tend to be less. Quiz nights are good if you can get the bums on the seats as all you need is a quiz master, someone to write the quiz (appeal to parents?) and organise the food - we find cheese and nibbles work the best. We charge £8 each with 8 to a table.

Really just marking my place to find alternatives too as we face very similar problems.

redskybynight Tue 25-Nov-14 17:38:57

DC's school doesn't do a fair for just this reason. Instead their main money spinner is 4 discos a year (halloween, Christmas, Easter, Year End)- they sell tickets and then refreshments at the disco but there is minimal organisation and parents tend to be happier to come and help out on the night as they can watch their DC at the same time.

ReallyBadParty Tue 25-Nov-14 17:41:34

Personally, I'd rather just give money to the school once or twice per year and not have all these events.

Sometimes I feel as though they are never done asking for money/help and I am weary of it.

lemisscared Tue 25-Nov-14 17:53:37

Reallybadparty - yes, im aware that this is a problem. We run alot of events and i worry that we overdo it. We do look to external sources for funding as well. It is a difficult balance to strike, what we are raising money for this year will benefit all of the children in the school in a big way and there simply isn't money in the school's budget to buy them. I don't mind giving up my time to help support the school as my child benefits from this.

PTAblues Tue 25-Nov-14 19:10:40

£2,500 seems really good to me. We get about £1400 for each fair but there are 450 kids so we should be gettng more. I'm sure the parents are just bored of the whole thing. As am I.
I was out begging stuff from shops the night before because our donations for our Hamper were sooo poor despite the fact it wasn't one of my many jobs.
Part of the problem is that the head of the committee never feeds back to the parents what the money is to be spent on.

PTAblues Tue 25-Nov-14 19:15:57

In our area council cutbacks have been so great that the PTA money is becoming even more important to the school.

toastedmarshmallow Tue 25-Nov-14 20:03:18

My DCs' school runs film night maybe once a half term. They charge for entry and refreshments they make quite a lot. Not really an alternative to a xmas fair but maybe in addition to?

Not sure if there is an alternative really, every school does them and even though they at probably a nightmare to run the kids really enjoy them, so your efforts are appreciated!

TeenAndTween Tue 25-Nov-14 20:19:53

This Christmas we are having a shopping event with external stalls paying pitch fees. We are only doing a raffle and one other stall. This has massively cut down on the work involved both in advance, for setting up, and to run the fair. We expect takings to be down, but so much less trouble.

Discos do well too.

ReallyBad I am sure that if you get your cheque book out and write a covering letter saying here is your donation for the year, so please don't expect any more, then your PTA will be very grateful.

DoughnutSelfie Tue 25-Nov-14 20:23:33

Chocolate Bingo instead of money prizes.

lemisscared Tue 25-Nov-14 20:31:45

We havea mixture of independent stall holders and our own stalls.

Do you have any parents whose employers do matched fund raising? So if their stall raises £500 the employer matches. We say that person has worked on the most profitable stall, usually the raffle. We get £££ from our bottle tombola . We do a non uniform day and ask for a bottle as "payment".

We also have a few teachers who do sponsored events. This raises a fair bit.

ReallyBadParty Tue 25-Nov-14 20:37:19

I don't want to out myself as a miserable anti social cow grin

I regularly volunteer as a minion to help out at these things, and provide my crap baking and inadequate tea making skills wink

noramum Tue 25-Nov-14 20:37:43

We do 3 discos and started doing our own firework which raised over £3000 despite pouring down with rain and two other large ones in the neighbourhood.

What helps here is knowing for what the funds are raised for. The PTA announces their goals at the start of Autumn term together with the HT, this year they try to buy more iPads plus paying for panto and news playground equipment. So people are having an idea where the funds go to.

But I think some PTAs have to think a bit. Our infant school one held their meetings only in the morning and basically shut out working mums regardless that they were offering to host on the evening or do work with their employers blessing, I had free printing access for example.

And asking for help and when you turn up being told "Oh, we finished already". Hm, I never volunteered again.

Archfarchnad Tue 25-Nov-14 21:27:42

My DDs' ex-primary school used to do a sponsored fun-run once a year (no competitive sports day). The kids ran round a large chunk of the school playground and sports pitch and got paid for each round by indulgent grandparents and coerced neighbours. Sometimes grandparents would sponsor kids amounts like a euro per round and then be astonished when the kids ran 50 rounds - but nobody was EVER held to paying up in full if they couldn't afford the total. The kids just collected as much money afterwards as people could afford and brought it into school. On average we would raise about 7 or 8000 euros between 350 kids. It usually went on sports or playground equipment. I think the fun-run was popular because it was something healthy for the kids but not competitive in the sense of winners and losers - the idea was that everyone who ran was a winner, even if a round was all they could manage.
The individual classes did run stalls selling cakes and soft drinks, but that was up to the parents of that class, and the class got to keep any income for things like buying ice-creams on day trips. So all in all there was relatively little central organisation, but a huge return on investment.

goingmadinthecountry Tue 25-Nov-14 23:16:21


I speak as a former chair (and still member) and as a teacher. If parents told me to get my finger out of my arse, I would probably refuse to have anything to do with PTA ever again. I'm not paid to turn up on a Saturday. I could organise our fair easily (probably in my sleep) but that's not the point, neither is it my job. I know I could organise the fair easily because I have done so many times in the past. I always found people would support us if approached in the right way. If a PTA works well with a school, it's fantastic. If they have their own cliques and agenda, it's a nightmare.
I fully appreciate the support the PTA members give and always support when I can.

PTABlues, totally agree that it helps when parents see where the money goes.

Good luck to all with Christmas Fairs!

goingmadinthecountry Tue 25-Nov-14 23:17:06

Our PTA are lovely by the way, and work WITH us.

PTAblues Wed 26-Nov-14 09:53:07

There are some good ideas here. I think my idea would be to hold a fair once a year then supplement it with other less bothersome ideas that would bring the same money in.
The real problem is there are a group of people who have been on it for a good number of years who basically wany everything to stay exactly the same. Any new ideas are regarded as a criticism of what has gone before rather than just incremental improvements- so they get snotty and try to sabotage stuff. I have been on it for 3 years and I'm still regarded as an incomer. I think i could deal with it better if I thought it wasn't going to roll around again until next year.

deXavia Wed 26-Nov-14 10:01:34

If they want the fairs to run the same, then let them do it and focus on something else. Of course of it's successful let the whole PTA take credit. Our school does film night, kids and parents love them. Tends to be classics you wouldn't get on a big screen and in theme so we had a Tim Burton near Halloween, next week is a Christmas one.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Wed 26-Nov-14 10:13:36

End of year performance with ticket entrance. Free tickets for helpers.

Have nice nights/coffee out just for helpers to have their say and enjoy some friendship as well as feel more a part of a team. It attracts more joiners and gets people coming back, and the friendships speak volumes in the playground as no poster or school letter ever could.

For fairs, have a clear online rota so that people can choose to avoid bitchy miserable control freak 'helper' who brings everything down. There is always at least one! Give that person a vital job off on their own! (Check it isn't you.)

Sell hot and cold drinks at a bigger town fair for higher prices.

ReallyBadParty Wed 26-Nov-14 10:30:14

Ptablues; that is exactly my experience! When dd started school I went along all fresh faced and full of enthusiasm and ideas.

That was soon squashed out of me, hence the cynicism evident in my posts here grin

NotCitrus Wed 26-Nov-14 10:31:40

Film nights and discos make money at our school. Cake sales are popular but make little money. Alcohol-free mulled wine and mince pies at the Christmas performances was a huge moneyspinner last year, but then the concert was outside and freezing.

TheAlias Wed 26-Nov-14 10:38:27

Our school does very little fund raising except the 100 club.

People pay £1 per month per entry by standing order, there's a monthly draw and 50% of the take is paid as a cash prize. Most people pay £5 or £10, there's no pressure and no-one knows if you're in or not but the forms are included when the initial paperwork is sent out for new starters and we get a pretty good % take-up.

It's especially good because people often don't cancel the standing order when children leave the school, either out of laziness or a genuine desire to keep supporting the school/win the prize.

Very little work (compared to organising a fete)

The only other things are the school discos which are really a party for the children that happens to make a bit of money, rather than a fund raising event IYSWIM.

TeenAndTween Wed 26-Nov-14 10:42:29

I was very active on our committee for a few years. I like things to be properly organised, and tend to think through things in advance and deal with them. Generally things were done a certain way either because we tried them another way in the past and it hadn't worked, or because there was a clear risk/problem attached.

At some point you have to let new people have their head and do things their way, even if it is winging it. So I stepped off the committee. I let them decide what they wanted to run, and how they were going to do it, and I helped with very specific tasks. That way I didn't get stressed by their (lack of) organisation, and they didn't get put out by my raising comments on why things were done a certain way.

What I really don't like though, is people who keep saying 'why don't you ...' but never offer to do anything themselves, or even worse saying they'll do something and then not doing it.

gleegeek Wed 26-Nov-14 10:52:30

My dd would be distraught if there wasn't a Christmas Fair at her school! But last year we did something different - old PTA had moved on so we had a bit of freedom - we did nearly all stalls for the dc (apart from adult tombola which is a necessity!) No outside stall holders selling massively overpriced tat, it was all games, food and making stalls. The number of people who said it was the nicest fair they could remember for years, what a lovely atmosphere etc etc and we made a huge amount compared to recent efforts. I think sometimes people forget how much children enjoy activities with their school friends and parents!

Another thing our school has each year is a world music festival in the summer. Like a mini Womad/Glastonbury. The school music groups and talent show winners perform. Local choirs come and there's always random adult groups playing a bit of folk/rock/panpipes, whatever can be booked. Big beer tent, ice creams and bbq. There are stalls and bouncy castle too to keep the children occupied. It makes about £3000 usually.

PTAs are an interesting phenomenon. When it works it's a fab thing for the school, but when it doesn't it's enormously destructive IME.

PTAblues Wed 26-Nov-14 11:18:38

I love the idea of film nights. Especially at Christmas.

In our case it's the old lot who like to do the same things because they can basically throw it together at the last minute. They are not good at delegating to other new people. So they end up losing folk. I can appreciate if you've done it a long time you feel a sort of ownership of the events and also you loose a certain amount of enthusiasm for new things- but it's the naysaying that is unhelpful.
I will investigate film nights. a Christmas film matinee would be a lovely idea.

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