Winter event ideas

Need inspiration to bring some fundraising fun to the winter months? Browse these PTA success stories...

Looking for successful fundraising ideas for the winter term? We chatted to PTAs to hear their tried and tested events, complete with tips and advice!

Festive trail and market

‘Our PTA wanted to run a Christmas treasure trail. We’d have liked a walking trail, but as we live in a rural area and it was December, we decided it would work best if done by car. The trail began at our school and finished at a local activity centre. We themed it around the 12 days of Christmas, using wooden pallets for decoration. One of the PTA mums made and painted the boards, leaving us with few other costs. Participants used a map to find the boards, and write down the letter hidden at each one. Once they had all the clues, they could solve the puzzle that would allow them into our Christmas market.

Participants could begin the trail any time between 10am and 12pm, and it took around an hour. We charged £10 per car, regardless of how many passengers, and the “treasure” was a hot chocolate and Christmas biscuit when they reached the 12th pallet display, which was also the location of our Christmas market. The market had more than 30 stalls, including one selling home-made items made by parents. We charged each stallholder a fee of £5 plus a raffle prize donation, and our pre-school ran a Santa’s grotto.

The day raised just over £1,200. Being a small rural school, we were over the moon! The children really enjoyed the event and it was a good-value afternoon out in the otherwise expensive run-up to Christmas.’

Leanne Bambrough, Longtown Community Primary School, Longtown, Hereford (70 pupils)

Wreath-making evening

‘Our wreath-making nights have been growing in popularity since they began five years ago, with a group of parents attending every year who now bring friends and family along too.

The event usually runs from 7-10pm on a weeknight at the beginning of December. We start advertising the evening and selling tickets (through ParentPay) for £10 each, around a month in advance. The price includes a moss ring and some basic bits of greenery, as well as hot drinks. We ask people to bring a pair of gardening gloves and their own secateurs (and most bring wine and nibbles too). There is very little preparation involved: we order eight-inch moss rings and pre-cut specialist florists’ wire from eBay; buy a few decorations, baubles and ribbon from the local pound shop; collect pine cones from the woods and dry out slices of oranges overnight in the oven. We encourage people to bring their own decorations too.

Sourcing and collecting greenery is usually the most time-consuming job. Last year, thankfully, our local garden centre donated a van-load of greenery, which they also delivered, in return for some publicity.

We set out tables, lined with newspaper, in the school hall, and place greenery around the room. We provide written instructions on every table, but so many of us have been going for years now that there is always someone to ask if people don’t know what they’re doing!

We also buy wine, chocolates and biscuits, wrap them in cellophane and hold a raffle. It’s popular because we have a captive audience and everyone is in a Christmassy mood! Last year, the evening made a profit of over £700 from ticket sales and the raffle.’

Melanie Irvin, Chair, Friends of Chandlers Ridge Academy, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough (395 pupils)

Christmas coffee morning and show

‘An event we always make sure we have time for is our Christmas coffee morning, where pupils put on performances. The success of this event is down to teamwork between the school staff, the PTA and parents.

Parents are asked to donate cakes, which we serve along with tea, coffee and squash. Raffle prizes are donated, which means that expenses are kept to an absolute minimum. About five to six members of the PTA help at the event – a couple on the door taking entrance money and selling raffle tickets and the rest serving refreshments. We charge an entry fee of £2 per person (refreshments are included), and £1 for a strip of raffle tickets. The school do most of the preparation for the event, but the PTA puts out all of the tables, chairs and decorations the night before and also sets out the refreshment area.

The event itself is fabulous. Every child in the school takes part, including our pre-school pupils. Each class spends time rehearsing their performance: some sing, some rap, some do a topic-based performance, some play musical instruments while others read poems or stories they have written. The success of the event is down to the amount of support we receive. Our hall is always packed with parents, carers, grandparents and friends, and raises approximately £400.’

Anne Appleby, PTA Co-Chair, Thomas Eaton Primary Academy, Wimblington, Cambridgeshire (164 pupils)

Christmas at Hele’s

‘We hold our Christmas shopping evening every year on the second Tuesday in November from 7-9.30pm in the main hall. Tickets cost £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for pupils, including a drink. Pupils are given a letter to take home with a ticket request, asking for information such as the number of tickets required, preferred refreshments and a contact number for if they win a raffle prize. Each ticket is numbered, and that becomes their raffle entry. We start contacting stallholders in July to give them plenty of notice, and we keep a look out all year for new stalls.

Last year we sold 137 tickets before the evening and another 40 on the door. We charge stallholders £10 a table plus a prize donation for the raffle. Last year, students from a Hospitality and Catering course made cakes and refreshments which they sold on the evening and donated their profit to the Friends. Last year ticket sales brought in £350, our 23 stalls made £212 and refreshments totalled £47. Minus expenses, Christmas at Hele’s made almost £600.

Julie Felwick, PTA Chair, Friends of Hele’s, Plymton, Plymouth

Christmas calendar

‘We thought the idea of a PTA calendar had great potential. So we approached twelve local businesses who have ties to the school and sold them advertising space at the bottom of each page for £30 each, trying to offer a date that was relevant to them – for example a florists in March for Mother’s Day. We then enlisted the help of the school in providing a self-portrait for every child and member of staff in the school. Each month of the calendar would have a class allocated to it, and the two final months were taken by the teachers and staff. On the front cover, we put our school logo along with a couple of photos: one of our spiritual garden (which the HSA helped pay for) and one of our fun day.

We wanted to include every date that was relevant to the school, so we compiled a list of all key dates, from term times and INSET days to our own fundraising activities such as the disco and fun day. As a Catholic school it was also important for us to include parish fundraising events. Once all the documentation was in place and we were awaiting delivery, we sent out an order form through every pupil, pricing the calendars at a very reasonable £4 each. The response was extremely positive and in total we raised £1,082. We were thrilled with the outcome, especially as this was our first attempt. Potential advertisers have already approached us for next year.’

Michael Wall, Holy Family Catholic School, Worksop, Nottinghamshire