Assemble 24 numbered envelopes and ask the children to choose one. Inside they’ll find a card telling them the prize they have won or that they’ve been unlucky. Keep swapping the cards around, so no one knows what they will get. Award small prizes or tokens for other games or stalls (ie free cake from the cake stall). For more excitement, secure a few bigger prizes, such as vouchers for local attractions.
A variety of badge-making machines can be purchased online, from smaller versions to more expensive, sturdier alternatives. If you don’t want to invest, ask if your local Lions or Rotary club has one they can lend. Create badges with your school logo, or ask visitors to draw their own on a ready-made template. Make the badges before their eyes and price according to how much they cost to make.
Ball or Brussel?
A lucky dip where players get either a bouncy ball or a Brussels sprout. Wrap sprouts and sprout-sized balls in tinfoil and ask participants to choose. They keep whatever they’ve picked. Work out the ratio of sprouts to balls to ensure you make a profit. Recycle the foil. Compost any leftover sprouts or give them to pet owners. Alternatively, use chocolate balls instead of the bouncy variety. Ask your supermarket community champion for donations.
Ask for biscuit donations from a local supermarket or encourage volunteers to bake a few batches in Christmassy shapes. Offer children icing sugar and colourful icing in squeezy bottles to prevent it from drying out, and let them be as creative as they wish. Let them finish their masterpieces with a selection of mini-sweets and sprinkles in small bowls.
You’ll need two packs of playing cards. Lay one pack face up, placing a wrapped chocolate on some cards and booby prizes or nothing on the others. Offer the children the other pack face down and let them pick a card. They win the prize that corresponds to the card they choose.
Elfridges/Secret Santa shop
Buy a selection of reasonably priced gifts, such as socks, smellies, keyrings and boxes of chocolates, or request donations of similar items – maybe in exchange for a non-uniform day. Lay out the items in different price bands, so children can choose and wrap a gift for a parent or loved one. If children are entering the secret Santa shop without a parent or carer, make sure the volunteers running it are DBS checked.
Festive human fruit machine
Obtain three child-sized boxes and cut holes out at chest height. Place a selection of items inside each box, such as crackers, baubles, carrot (snowman nose), coal and candy canes. Stand one child in each box. At the same time, they must show one of the items. If all three match, the player wins! Make it easier by awarding a prize for two of the same item.
Guess the address
If there are any keen bakers in your community, ask them to make a gingerbread house or assemble one from a kit using plenty of sweets for decoration. Players pick from a list of addresses (eg 3 Elf Avenue, 12 Snowball Lane) to determine where the house is located. The winner gets the house.
Guess the name of the elf
Buy a giant elf toy and release photos of their mischievous deeds in the run-up to your fair. Create a poster-sized grid with 100 possible names. Ask pupils to pick an elf name and enter their own name and class (or a contact number) on the grid. At the end of the fair, cut the sheet up and put the selected names in a hat. Draw one out to be the winner.
Ho Ho Hole
Paint Santa’s face onto a large sheet of hardboard and cut a hole where his mouth should be. Prop up the board and ask participants to aim small, unbreakable (preferably Christmas-themed) items at his mouth. Ask infants to stand close to the board, juniors further away, and adults at an angle to make it even trickier!
Hook a cracker
Ann Davies, Ridgeway Primary School PTFA, Burntwood, Staffordshire: Buy boxes of crackers when on special offer (or ask for donations). Punch a hole in each one and attach a paper clip formed into a loop. Place the crackers upright in boxes and ask pupils to hook them out using ‘hook a duck’ rods. Participants win a cracker every time!
How many presents are in the stocking?
Fill a stocking with exciting, wrapped Christmas prizes – the kind you would put in a hamper. Display it at your fair and ask visitors to guess how many presents are inside. The winning guess receives the stocking and all its contents. If there are multiple correct guesses, pull one out of a hat.
Knock Santa down the chimney
Stephanie Scott, PC Member, St. Josephs RC Primary, Aberdeen: To make the game, you need a cardboard box painted to look like a brick chimney stack, a large Santa cuddly toy and white soft balls – ideally that look like snowballs. Children are given three ‘snowballs’ to throw at Santa. If they knock him down the chimney, they get a small prize.
Knock the elf off the shelf
Sit three small toy elves on a wooden plank (or shelf) a reasonable distance apart. Give players three attempts to knock them all off. Those who dislodge all three keep the elf of their choice. If they only get one or two, they get a sweet.
Lucky (Lapland) squares
Print a map of Lapland and divide it into squares. Pick a winning square, which will be the secret location where Santa has hidden the presents. Charge £1 to guess which one it is and write down a name and contact number. At the end of the fair, reveal the winner and award a prize.
Send brightly coloured envelopes home, requesting parents donate between 20p and £1. Fill an extra envelope with £5 for the main prize and any remaining with chocolate coins. Punch a hole in each one and hang them on a Christmas tree with ribbon. Charge 50p to choose an envelope. Point at them with a wand to avoid cheating.
Carrie Cooper, Great Easton Primary School PTA, Essex: Put a laminated colour picture of Rudolf under a fish tank full of water – Rudolf’s nose should be red and slightly bigger than a £2 coin. Players drop the coin into the tank, and if it lands entirely on Rudolf’s red nose, they double their money. No prizes are needed. Give the stall helper a towel for when they need to fish the money out. This surprisingly tricky game will have adults and kids coming back to play again and again!
Pick a snowman’s nose
Fill a deep tray with sand. Buy around 30 carrots (snowmen’s noses) and paint five of them gold on the tip. Bury the carrots in the sand. Those who pick out a golden-tipped carrot win a prize.
Pin the nose on Rudolph
Natalie Corcoran, Telford Infant School PTA, Leamington Spa: The same idea as Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Ask if anyone in your community can make a big Rudolph face with a bright red nose. Blindfold players and ask them to place their pin on Rudolph’s nose. Those who locate the nose get a prize and everyone else gets a sweet for trying.
Pluck a turkey
Like ‘pick a straw’, but with an added Christmas twist. Make a giant papier-mâché turkey, and, instead of straws, add feathers with coloured spots on the bottom. Each colour represents a different prize.
Arrange 20 plastic flowerpots in a grid and put a prize in every 10th pot. Cover each one in Christmas tissue paper secured with an elastic band. Children punch through the paper to find out if they’ve won a prize. Replace the tissue paper and prizes as necessary.
Paint Rudolph’s head on a large piece of hardboard and attach tinsel-covered hooks on the antlers. Make hoops out of bent tinsel-covered coat hangers. Participants throw the hoops at the antlers, aiming for the highest hooks, which attract the best prizes.
Snowman snap and snowman smash
Paola Armstrong, PTA committee member, St Patrick’s RC school, Shropshire: Ask the children to save plastic bottles from their packed lunches or request donations from parents. Remove the labels and decorate them to look like snowmen: make hats out of the lids and use Sharpie pens for the bodies. Use them for two different games.
Snowman snap: paint the hats in different colours and hide them in some ‘snow’. Those who pull out a pair win a prize.
Snowman smash: set up your snowmen in a ten-pin bowling format. Paint a tennis ball white and roll it down a big tube to see if you can knock down all the snowmen. Award prizes for those who get all ten.
Louise Skitt, Willow Tree Primary School PTFA, Harrogate: Fill a paddling pool full of shredded paper or discarded packaging and hide snowballs (ping pong balls) amongst the paper. Children win a lolly each time they find one or a bigger prize if they locate a ball with the words ‘ho ho ho’ written on it. The younger children love this game.
Splat the present
Carolyn Sparks, vice-chair, Friends of Southover School, Lewes: Re-purpose Splat the Rat as a Christmas fair game. Turn your drainpipe into a chimney complete with Santa at the top, and launch presents down it for the children to whack. Older children might prefer to splat an elf or even Santa himself.
Encourage visitors to scour every stall at your fair by holding a treasure hunt. Display festive icons around the site and invite children to find them all. Participants pay for a form and fill in the name of the stall where they found each icon. Award prizes for all completed forms.
Where in the world is Santa?
Display close-up photos of well-known landmarks from different countries and challenge players to identify the locations. Award prizes to those who guess them all.
What’s in the stocking?
Sarah Ellis, Friends of Garvestone Community Primary School, Norwich: Hang some distinctive, colourful socks on a line and put a small item such as a marble, comb or penny into each one. Create a form with a description of each sock and spaces for each participant’s name and telephone number. Players must guess what’s in each sock and write it down. The winner is the person that gets them all right. Pull names out of a hat if there’s more than one winner.
Wildlife-friendly reindeer food
Sprinkling reindeer food for Rudolph on Christmas Eve is a lovely tradition for many families. Ensure they’re doing it responsibly by selling eco-friendly reindeer food. Even products labelled as edible, such as edible glitter, can be dangerous to wildlife, so use a recipe from a reputable source, such as those from the RSPCA. Or give the birds a secret treat by selling pre-packaged bird food mixes like these from the RSPB as reindeer food – who’s to say Rudy doesn’t love a sunflower seed? Buy in bulk and divide into bags with ribbons and a tag. Be aware of nuts in pre-mixed products if yours is a nut-free school.
How to maximise profits
- Offer a variety of games at your fair to encourage visitors to stay – and keep spending their money – for longer.
- Encourage participants to play more games by offering multiple turns, ie 50p a go or three for £1.