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Parenting & Education in Ireland

Tips for Organising your School Fair

Where do you begin?

Organising a successful School Fair takes many months of planning. The key to success is a well organised, enthusiastic and motivated committee. It will be necessary to organise regular meetings, initially monthly, and then fortnightly and weekly as the day grows closer. Initial committee meetings should review the aims and objectives of the activity. If possible, draw on the previous year’s committees for advice and experience. Encourage as many people as possible to join, or become a ‘friend of’ the committee.

Fair Committee

Once your Fair Committee is in place, allocate specific tasks to individual members. Key members of the committee will include Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary

Stall Co-Ordinators

You then need to appoint co-ordinators for each stall and activity. These co-ordinators may appoint their own sub-committee, made up of parents and friends willing to assist. The co-ordinator will need to organise helpers on the day, and organise a roster of those volunteers. It will also be their responsibility to source items for the stall. Appointing these coordinators takes the pressure off the key Fair committee members.

If your school has a large ethnic mix, approach those groups to provide food or craft stalls based on their country of origin.

Other non-stall coordinators:

You will also need to appoint co-ordinators to look after the following:

* Equipment hire * Electrical requirements
* Publicity * Signs – for display at the Fair
* Security * Competitions
* Sponsorship * First Aid

Selecting a Date

The most important starting point is a date. Consult with other schools or groups in your area who might be holding similar events. You do not want your date to conflict with another local school hosting a similar function. You will also need to ensure that your school is not involved in any major sporting events away from the school on that date. Check also that you don’t coincide with such sporting events as grand finals.

Selecting a Theme for your event

Theming your event is a good basis for stall selection. Possibilities are endless. Popular themes are country fairs, Christmas & Summer fairs, multi-cultural – international fairs, etc.

Your theme can set the mood for the day and the colour scheme – going with a country fair your coordinators can be encouraged to dress their stalls with hay and dried flowers, an international fair can use flags. You could encourage the children to dress in keeping with the theme and have prizes for the best dressed.


Draw a map of the grounds/hall and plan out where each stall should be positioned. Pay attention to the mix of stalls.

It is best to confine your Fair to a limited area rather than spreading through the entire grounds. In this way, you keep your audience circulating around your stalls. Spreading out too much can loose customers. Choose an area that has good flat sites and, if possible, electricity.

On the day of the Fair a map can be handed out to people as they enter so they can easily locate the stall they are looking for. This map can be on the back of the day’s programme of events. Have your event co-ordinators dressed in clothes that are easy to spot so that people arriving to set up stalls can easily find them.

On the day of the Fair, consider using spray paint on grass, or chalk on bitumen and concrete, to mark out stall areas, or use prominent signs.

Select a central area for the stage for entertainment (if you have any). Ensure this area has plenty of clear space for audiences


You will need to appoint one or two people to act as MC for the day. You will need to ensure that a good sound system is in place – one that can be heard from the entire site. MC’s must be given a comprehensive listing of stalls so they can promote them throughout the day and “specials” as they come to hand, as well as raffles, lost children, etc.

Consider sourcing entertainment from within your school or social group. If each class is encouraged to perform one song/dance routine on the day, you are assured of a good turnout of families. Liaise with the performing arts section of your school for special performances such as dance, bands, etc.

Also look to your local community - sports displays such as Martial Arts and local dance schools might be popular. If your school hall is rented out to sporting groups they will probably be delighted to put on displays and promote their activity as well.


Publicity is an extremely important aspect – it is vital that you get the message out to the local community. Appoint a publicity officer to promote the event. Local newspapers will generally give free publicity for events. Invite local schools to attend. Search your school community for people with contacts in media or PR, as well as printing for posters. Assess the possibility of a major prize for attending.

School newsletters are a major promotion tool to school families. Include an extra sheet specifically for Fair promotion. Start well in advance and promote a different stall each week using a different coloured paper. Your school family is where you source your goods. Target a different item each week seeking requests for donations and help. Actively promote businesses which have offered help or sponsorship for the event. Offer prizes to the class with collects the most donations. Have free dress days leading up to the Fair and ask for a donation of food, cake ingredients and other items in return for not wearing a uniform.

Check with local councils before placing posters on streets as this may be prohibited in some areas. Many radio stations run a community hot line and will promote your event on air at no cost.

Security and Money

It is essential that a secure area be set aside for collection and counting of money. Generally the school office area. You must have an area which can be locked. School Fairs, fairs and festivals, when well organised, can raise considerable sums of money.

Coins and money bags are available from your bank. It may even be possible for a coin counting machine to be made available. Make floats available for stall holders prior to the Fair commencing. Keep detailed records of the amounts given. Supply stall holders with bags for collecting money during the day. People collecting money should wear a badge to identify themselves to stall holders. Ensure that stall holders know the correct procedure for handing over money during the day. Ensure that adequate change remains on the stall. Ensure you have calico bags made in advance for each stall. Make and clearly name two for each stall – cash collectors need to know what stall money came from so it can be correctly recorded.

Stall ideas

New parents to the school may bring new ideas. Look for businesses owned within the school All items should be priced prior to the Fair commencing. . Generally prices should be a little below the shop prices for a similar item. Don’t change prices until late in the day - towards the end of the Fair it may be decided to reduce prices to encourage quick sales. This should be discussed with the Fair coordinator. Always ask companies if they are willing to provide stock on consignment – this will save you having leftover stock at the end of the day and save you having to reduce prices.

Consider making each year level within the school responsible for a particular stall.

Listed below are a range of ideas which you may find useful when organising your school fair. Some are only suited to outdoor fairs but could be adjusted for indoor use.

Asteroid Blaster
An easy sideshow for the kids to make. All you need is some very large water pistols and some empty soft drink bottles – 3 litre ones are good. The object of the game is to have a ball balancing on the top of the bottle and it has to be hit by a blast of water form the water pistol. If you dislodge the ball, you win a prize. Spray paint your bottles with whacky colours and make your balls look like little planets. Experiment with different balls – table tennis, golf etc. to find what suits the force from your water pistols. You don’t want everybody to win, but you also don’t want it to be too hard. You can vary the degree of difficulty – every ball has to be dislodged or only one.


Either ask a sponsor to provide printed balloons and helium to give away or ask your local balloon shop to set up a stall.

Book Stall

second hand books and magazines are always popular – add DVD’s and videos to your stall to increase your range


Great fun and easy to run, simply have balloons attached to a board with a number behind each board. As the punter busts the balloon they win the prize corresponding to the number behind. You can buy cheap toys as prizes and have a couple of major prizes for interest

Cake Stall

Send home empty cake boxes the last week of the Fair with requests for cakes to be delivered to school on the day before the Fair.

Coffee & Tea Stall

A must and with the popularity of special coffees, approach your local coffee shop with a view to setting up a cappuccino machine

Craft Stall

Set up a craft group months before the event to make craft items. If you can’t establish a craft group you can always scour your local markets for a suitable stall and ask them to pay a percentage of takings. Craft stalls are particularly good if your Fair is on Mother's Day weekend. Think about dividing your craft items up - jams and pickles into a gourmet food stall, skin care and bathroom luxuries in a pamper stall, toys and baby clothes in a baby stall. You can also create themes around colours - a blue stall, a red stall, a pink stall.


Without a doubt one of the most popular activities with the kids! If you can't source a dunk tank, consider making your own stand for a wet sponge throw - just as effective!

Duck Pond

Fishing plastic ducks out of a pond is an age old favourite. Insert a little metal hoop into the mouth the duck and a small hook into the end of a bamboo rod. Number the base of each duck and make even numbers winners. You only need a small prize like a mini chocolate bar.

Face Painting

Always popular with the little kids. Select your designs in advance and make sure everyone can reproduce them. Photograph the designs and laminate the images – this makes it easy for the little ones to make their choice. Look at temporary tattoos for older children. You can also book in professional face painters who will pay you a percentage of their takings.

Flower Stall

Take a trip to the flower market the day before – you can make up bunches yourself or buy them ready made. If you don't live in a capital city with a flower market, source a local flower farm. Make sure you place your order well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Farmers Market
Think of having a farmers market at your Fair to attract extra visitors.

Gourmet Foods Stall
Pickles, jams and preservatives, gourmet biscuits and cakes, all very popular. This stall can compliment the craft stall.

Hair Colour Stall
Really popular with the kids – spray on wild colours for great fun. A good alternative to face painting for older kids. You will need to buy several cartons of spray colour as it is very, very popular.

Ice Creams
Ice creams are always a popular treat, especially on those hot days. It can be difficult for a school to set up its own ice cream stall because of the need for refrigeration. Booking an ice cream vendor/van is the ideal solution

Lucky Plate
Another easy sideshow using a paddling pool. Fill the paddling pool with water and float a small china plate in the water. Put a €2 coin in the plate. Draw a line about 2 metres from the pool. If you can throw a 20cent piece onto the plate, you win the prize. Practice as you set up the stall to decide the best distance for the line. The 20c coins will usually bounce off the plate.

Name the ...
Have an item like a baby born doll and sell tickets to name her. At the end of the day the winning name is pulled from a box and the person who selected that name wins the doll. Alternatively you can have 100 names already selected and you sell the names

School Merchandise
Sell pre-printed school merchandise such as T-Shirts, Caps, Mugs, Keyrings and tea towels. This is especially good if you have a school anniversary to commemorate

White Elephant
White elephant, pre-loved, trash and treasure – there is always a ready market for second had goods. If you can provide a collection service for donations you will always get a great selection of items. You might need to offer delivery on larger items as well.

After the Event

Immediately after the event, put on a barbeque/reception for all the parents who helped. It is a great way of using up left over food and is really appreciated by the helpers.

Don't forget to write thank you letters to all the organisations who donated goods and the people who gave their time to make your event a success

A Friendly Disclaimer

We hope you find these tips useful. They are however only tips and we don’t claim to be experts or cover all the angles. We don't accept responsibility for any loss where anyone acts or refrains from action as a result of material on this web page