It’s that time of year when – in more normal circumstances – Christmas fair planning and fundraising for schools would be in full swing. This year, with Covid-19 restrictions in place, it’s going to be a bit different. However, we’ve been thrilled to see so many creative school communities and PTAs use Patchwork to set up brilliant virtual Christmas fairs. You can join them and bring a bit of sparkle and fun to families for Christmas. And raise money for your school too – of course!
Savvy schools and PTAs began using our site over the summer to set up virtual events, and now with winter around the corner, they’ve discovered a virtual school Christmas fair works brilliantly too.
Why organise a virtual school Christmas fair?
It’s a really easy, colourful and engaging way to celebrate the Christmas season safely; in a way that’s fun for families and raises essential funds for your school too. With Patchwork, you can set up a virtual fair – where each “patch” represents a stall or activity. Whether it’s a competition or a game, items to purchase, a request for donations, or just some fun ideas for the kids to do at home, everyone can take part – no matter how much or little they have to contribute.
Payments are collected securely through the site via PayPal or Stripe and go direct to your PTA or school account. Also, because this is a virtual event, the Christmas fair isn’t just limited to one day – you can keep the page open for a few weeks to maximise donations and give everyone a chance to join in the fun.
Oh and maybe the best news of all – there’s no need to rope parent volunteers in to get up early on a Saturday to set up, or stay behind to clear up all that cake and glitter! A virtual fair means no mess, so you can put your feet up and enjoy a mince pie and a mulled wine and watch the funds roll in.
How will my virtual fair look?
A Patchwork virtual fair works so well because the page is extremely visual, inviting and easy to use. The only limit is your imagination, so you can really make it look and feel festive with Christmassy images and plenty of colour, glitter and sparkle.
How does a virtual fair work?
As visitors scroll over the virtual fair patches, they will see how much each activity or item costs, and they can add patches to their basket, adjusting quantities if necessary, leave a message if they need to communicate any information to you, and then pay securely via PayPal or credit / debit card.
How do I set up a virtual Christmas event page?
It takes just minutes to setup your school’s virtual Christmas Fair page, and we even have a readymade template that you can easily customise and edit to suit your event.
Visitors don’t need a password or an account to visit your page – you just send them your unique URL and they’ll arrive directly at your virtual fair, ready to start taking part!
We recommend including a variety of patches, so some might be games or activities that the kids can take part in – (perhaps you can offer the winner a small prize or certificate). Some patches represent items that you are selling. You could see if any parents make Christmas wreaths or facemasks for example, or you might have some stock of school water bottles to sell. It’s also good to include things that don’t cost money – for some this has been an especially tough year, and Christmas puts an extra strain on budgets. Perhaps you can run a Christmas art competition, or ask the kids to send in pics of their festively decorated homes or gardens? Conversely, there are also some families who do want to donate but don’t have much spare time. So, it’s a good idea to include a patch or two that are straightforward donations – you can be quite specific about what the fundraising is for – maybe the Head has requested funds for new books for the library, or some new laptops or other tech.
What kinds of activities can I have at our virtual Christmas Fair?
It’s been really fun to see the kinds of things schools have been adding to their virtual Christmas Fair pages – some of our favourite easy-to-organise ideas are here:
- Festive pet show – Kids pay a small fee via the page to enter and email entries to the PTA team for judging!
- Christmas bake-off – For a small entry fee via the page, kids can cook up some Christmas themed cakes or biscuits and send photos to the PTA team who will award the bake off crown!
- Guess the name of the reindeer – (or the number of decorations on the tree) – upload a photo of a Christmas stuffed toy, or a decorated tree and ask the children to play guess – for a small fee of course!
- Dare a teacher – get the children to pay to vote for the teacher they’d like to see do something silly – maybe get dressed up as an elf or try and eat three mince pies in under a minute. The teacher with the most votes (or highest donations!) has to do the dare.
- Win a mystery prize / enter the bottle tombola – for a small entry fee, children are entered in to a mystery prize draw or the bottle tombola.
- Deck the halls – perhaps this could be a free of charge activity, to make sure everyone can take part. Ask children to click this patch to say they’ll decorate a corner of their home and make it look really festive – then they can send their entries via email for judging.
- Sell items from local businesses or crafty parents – if you have parents who can sew, bake or make something, or know a local business happy to supply, you can sell items via the page for a bit of variety and great fund raising potential!
- Ask for cash donations for your school’s wish list – for parents who want to donate but don’t have much time, add a patch that’s purely monetary. Maybe £5 towards some new books, or £20 towards some new tech equipment. Don’t forget all cash goes direct to the PTA to spend as you need!
- Christmas doorstep portaits – Families can book and pay via the site and then you’ll need to recruit a willing photographer parent to donate their time to do doorstep portraits – Christmas themed ones can be really fun!
- Make your own jolly jar – this is possibly the most popular stall at the traditional Christmas fair! Of course this year it has a twist. For a small fee, get the kids to enter a competition to make their own magnificent jolly jar at home, decorate it and then send in a pic so the winner can be chosen! Then they get to eat their own jolly jar treats, making it a risk free, easy and very popular fundraiser that the kids will love!
How much work is it to set up?
Setting up a page is simple and you don’t need any tech know how – anyone can do it! The Patchwork platform is very intuitive so it’s unlikely you’ll need assistance, but if you do we are a friendly team and are always on hand to help. You’ll need to sign up with a few details to create an account, once you’re happy with your page you can link it with your chosen payment method (PayPal, Stripe or both), create your own URL to share and then it’s ready to go live! If you want to add or delete patches, change the text or images, or indeed make any other changes to the page you can continue to edit it even after publishing. You can also add a collaborator if other PTA members would like to get involved too. One thing’s for sure – a virtual Christmas Fair is a whole lot less work than a real one – and yet still a great way to raise money, and get a bit of that school community feeling back – albeit digitally for the time being!
How will I keep track of activity on my virtual fair page?
In your Patchwork account you’ll be able to view and edit your page, and also see who has contributed to what. So you can manage payments in, see how many orders there are against each patch, and send messages or thanks to parents for their help in making the event a success. You can easily export all data from your account in to an excel spreadsheet to make post event admin manageable.
How does Patchwork make money?
We usually charge a 3.6% commission for our service, but we have made a commitment to waive our usual fee to help support schools and families, especially during this difficult time. Just enter the code FREEFORSCHOOLS when you first save your page and our service will be completely free to use. Please note that PayPal and Stripe charge their own small commissions to process your payments. You can read more about how these charges are calculated here.
We hope this has helped inspire you to set up your own virtual Christmas fair page! Don’t forget to use the code FREEFORSCHOOLS to waive our fee, and let us know how your event goes by following and tagging us on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter! If you need to get in touch please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org