Always-updated guide to summer fair games and stalls

Our ultimate guide to the most popular and profitable games and stalls for your PTA summer fair

One of the most exciting elements of organising a PTA summer fair is choosing the games and stalls. We keep an ear to the ground and add our favourites as soon as we hear about them. Think we’ve missed any? Email editorial@pta.co.uk with your suggestions.

Badge making

Wow the children by making badges right before their eyes. Cut images and templates to the correct size and use the school logo or let the children draw their own pictures. Badge-making machines can be purchased online and come in many different sizes and prices. If you don’t want to invest, ask if your local Lions or Rotary club has one to lend. Work how much badges cost to make and add a small mark-up.

Beat the goalie

Ask a teacher to don large inflatable goalkeeper gloves and spend the day in goal. Give every player three chances to get a football past the goalie. If they succeed, they win a prize. Use lines on the ground to maintain social distancing if need be.

Alternative: Run a ‘sponsored save’ where children are sponsored based on how many goals they can save in a set time. Ask families to send in footage and share it on social media.

Biscuit decorating

Ask for donations from a local supermarket or encourage volunteers to bake batches of biscuits at home. Add summery food colouring to icing sugar for the decorations and fill squeezy bottles to stop it from drying out in the sun.

Bottle flip

A guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Ask players to hold a half-filled plastic bottle by its neck and flick it into the air. The aim is for the bottle to fully rotate, so it lands upright on its base. If they can do it, they win a prize.

Bottle tombola

Here’s a game for the over-18s. Ask families to donate anything in a bottle, from wine to shampoo and label these prizes with a raffle ticket. Players draw a number from the tombola and see if they’ve won. Depending on how many donations you receive, either award a prize every time or only for tickets ending in zero and five. If you exclude alcohol, this can be run as a child-friendly game.

Choco cards

A simple, fun fairground game. Lay a pack of cards face-up on a table. On some of the cards, place a tasty chocolate or a small sweet treat.  The remaining cards can be left empty or filled with booby prizes. The stall volunteers then offer each player a face-down pack of cards. The player chooses their card and wins the prize displayed on the matching card on the table. 

Coconut shy

A vintage favourite. As well as coconuts, you’ll need posts to balance them on, wooden balls and a backdrop – ideally a decorated tarpaulin, sheet or some large pieces of cardboard. Players pay to throw three balls and win either a coconut or an alternative prize if they manage to knock one down.

Crockery smash

This exercise in controlled violence always goes down well. Ask parents to bring in chipped old crockery or approach local charity shops for donations. Charge participants for three balls. There’s no need for prizes as the reward is in the destruction. For safety, supervisors and participants must wear safety goggles or glasses and the PTA should devise a careful plan for clearing up afterwards.

Doughnut eating

Challenge children to eat a doughnut without licking their lips. Those who succeed will get a lolly as a prize (as if they need more sugar!). Make sure you have napkins and hand sanitiser ready for afterwards.

Alternative: Hang doughnuts on a string and challenge children to eat them with their hands behind their backs. Make it more difficult by giving them a time limit.

Face painting

Children love having their faces painted, whether it’s with stock designs or something from their imagination. Enlist a group of parent volunteers skilled in art or beauty services and ask them to source a few options they can paint effectively. Offer simple designs such as rainbows or stars to prevent long waiting times. Add temporary tattoos or henna on the same stall as an alternative.

Fortune telling

Recruit a kindly teacher or parent to predict people’s futures. Ask the volunteer to dress in scarves and beads to bring a little magic to the stall. The teller can sit behind a curtain, it will add to the mystery! You may need a little disclaimer that your fortune teller isn’t a genuine psychic.

Guess the teacher

See how well the children know their teachers by holding a photo competition. Ask staff to send in their baby photos or take pictures of them in a fashionable range of summery disguises (think sunglasses, straw hats and Hawaiian shirts). Create an answer form and charge players to guess who’s who. Put every correct entry into a prize draw at the end of the day.

Higher or lower

All you need is a deck of oversized playing cards. The volunteer, also known as the croupier, deals a row of cards face down, and the player must guess if the next card will be higher or lower. If they guess correctly, they win a small prize. It’s a straightforward and enjoyable game that encourages lively audience participation.

How many treats are in the picnic basket?

Fill a picnic basket with tasty treats, outdoor toys and exciting prizes. Display it at your fair and ask visitors to guess how many presents are inside. The person who guesses closest to the correct number receives the entire basket, complete with contents! If there are multiple guesses of the same number, pull them out of a hat.

Human fruit machine

The bizarre aspect of this game is what makes it fun. When someone takes a turn, three volunteers randomly select pieces of fruit and present them with a flourish – either directly from a bag or, to make it more fun, through a hole in a board decorated to look like a fruit machine. If the three fruits match, the player wins a prize.

Jam jar prizes

Also known as Jazzy jars and Jolly jars. Fill jam jars with a variety of sweets, trinkets, and craft items. Label each jar with a numbered ticket and ask children to pick one by selecting a ticket from a bag or tombola drum containing corresponding tickets.

Lucky dip

Use an old-fashioned tea chest, plastic bin, or sturdy cardboard box. Fill it with shredded paper or sawdust and a selection of small prizes. Participants pay to pull out a prize and, with enough scrabbling about, everyone’s a winner. Just remember to add more prizes as the event progresses.

Lucky squares

Print out a map of a desert island and divide it into squares. Pick a winning square – this is where the treasure is hidden. Charge a fee to guess which square it is, taking down a name, class and contact number. At the end of the fair, reveal the winner and reward them with the ‘treasure’.

Alternative: Use a map of the school grounds or your local area for a fun twist.

Name the teddy

Source an impressive cuddly toy and display it next to a board with a selection of names. You could ask the school to provide a list of pupils’ first names on a numbered spreadsheet – children will often choose a familiar name. Generate the winning name using a random number generating website, such as random.org. Announce the winner at the end of your summer fair – they take home the toy!

Nerf gun target shoot

Ask for volunteers to lend a selection of Nerf guns for the day and paint some large targets on pieces of board. Invite players to shoot at the targets – the prizes get better the closer you get to a bull’s eye. Have a volunteer on hand to sanitise the Nerfs in-between goes.

Paddling pool golf

Set up a paddling pool at your summer fair and invite visitors to play a game of golf. Charge for three or five attempts to hit the ball from a tee into the pool. Award a prize for each time they succeed. Sanitise golf clubs between turns.

Pin the tail on the donkey

First, paint a tail-less donkey on a sturdy piece of board. Next, create a fabric tail with a sticky end. Blindfold players and invite them to pin the tail in the right place. Anyone who gets the tail close to the donkey’s backside wins a small prize.

Plant sale

One for the green-fingered parents and pupils! Invite volunteers to grow plants in the run-up to the summer fair and ask for donations from local garden centres.

Alternative: Run a pot painting stall where children paint a terracotta flowerpot using wildlife-friendly paint. They can then buy a plant to fit in their pot for a small charge.

Slime stall

Slime is always a good way to raise a smile. Ask volunteers to make different coloured slimes in the build-up to the summer fair and sell each tub for a small charge. There are lots of easy slime recipes to be found online.

Alternative: If you’d prefer not to set up a whole stall, slime makes a great prize for other summer fair games too.

Soak the teacher

Ask extra nicely if any teachers will stand behind a cardboard cut-out so the pupils can throw a wet sponge at them. Create a rota so everyone knows which teacher can be sponged and when. Leave your most prominent volunteer (the head, perhaps) until last for maximum excitement.

Tombola

Always popular, a tombola drum is a useful piece of kit for a PTA to own. Match donated or inexpensive prizes to the tickets contestants draw from the drum – usually only those tickets with a zero or five at the end.

Alternatively, run an adults-only version with bottles as prizes. While most of these prizes can be alcoholic, mix it up by adding soft drinks, shampoo, or even washing up liquid as a humorous booby prize.

Treasure hunt

Pick a little creature that will hide all over your summer fair. Perhaps a seagull, a bumblebee or something else summery. Before the fair, stick pictures of it to some stalls and print forms for the children to record where they find it. Encourage children who are old enough to run off and explore. Everyone receives a small prize if they return a completed form.

Alternative: Online treasure hunt. Create an online text-based adventure using free tools such as Twine (twinery.org) where participants can access clues through their mobile devices. Older children will love the interactive element, not to mention the freedom.

T-shirt upcycling

Set up a crafty stall (with some crafty volunteers) where children and their families can bring old T-shirts to be upcycled. Provide a range of materials and processes such as thread, applique, tie-dye, stencils, fabric paints and pens for them to use. Once completed, gather the children to showcase their decorated shirts and have a friendly competition judged by the head teacher and, if you have one, a parent with a connection to the fashion industry.

Water into wine

A few months before your summer fair, ask parents for empty, cleaned screw-top wine bottles. At the same time, find out if your local supermarket would donate some bottles of wine (full, of course!) Fill the empty bottles with water and wrap all the bottles in newspaper. Aim for a ratio of one bottle of wine to five bottles of water. Anyone over 18 can pick a mystery bottle.

Welly wanging

The world record welly wang is nearly 64 meters. While your community may not achieve such a feat, this particularly daft game does require a lot of space. Ask your community for any old, unusable boots. Create a designated area and invite participants to lob the boots as far as possible. Record the distances and award a prize to the winner at the end. Alternatively, draw some age-appropriate but challenging lines in the area and reward anyone who can throw their boot beyond them.

Whack the rat  

This activity goes by various names, such as Splat the Rat and Bat the Rat. To include it, you’ll need a handy volunteer to make the game first. Attach a length of plastic pipe onto a vertical or sloping board painted to look like a brick wall. The rat should be something sturdy that’s slim enough to fit through the pipe easily. A volunteer drops the rat down the pipe, and the player’s goal is to whack it with a bat before it touches the ground or lands in a box placed under the board.

Wheel of fortune

A classic crowd-pleaser at any summer fair. Adapt this one from IKEA, or ask a creative parent to make one for you. Add words such as ‘win a lolly’, ‘free spin’, or ‘sorry, try again’.

Wood slice decoration

A great craft idea for kids and adults to enjoy together! Either purchase pre-cut slices of wood online or ask someone in your community to cut them for you. The pieces should be around 5-8cm in diameter and you’ll need to drill a hole in each one. Use acrylic paint or pens to decorate them and add a string to make medallions or decorations.

NOTE: None of the above games require licences if you are playing a stand-alone game held on the day of the event only.

Once your shortlist is ready, download our summer fair checklist to help you stay organised.