Always-updated guide to summer fair games and stalls

The ultimate guide to the most popular and profitable games and stalls for your summer fair.

With restrictions relaxing, you may feel ready to hold a socially distanced summer fair - or perhaps a virtual event would be preferred in your school. Whatever you choose, here are plenty of ideas on games to run and how to adapt them. Think we've missed any? Email editorial@pta.co.uk with your suggestions.

Adopt an animal

Ask for donations of good-quality soft toys or source free ones on a classified ad site such as Gumtree. Put them through the washing machine, attach a name tag and put all the names in a hat. Children pull out a name to find out which animal they've won.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Photograph the teddies with their nametags attached. Hold a raffle where the first prize is the largest teddy, working down to the smallest.

Badge making

A variety of badge making machines can be purchased online, from smaller versions ideal for use on year stalls to more expensive, sturdier alternatives. If you don't want to invest, see if your local Lions or Rotary club has one to lend. Cut out images to the correct size, and use your machine to make badges for visitors before their very eyes. Create badges using your school logo or get visitors to draw their own. Price according to how much the badges cost to make.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Run a design competition to get some exciting summery designs, which you can then turn into badges and sell online.

Beat the goalie

The player has three chances to get a football past the goalie. This could be a pupil or a member of staff complete with huge inflatable goalkeeper gloves. If the player succeeds, they win a prize. Use lines on the ground to maintain distancing. Charge 50p for three goes.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Set up a sponsored save, where children are sponsored for how many goals they can save in a set amount of time. Ask families to send in footage to edit together as a celebratory compilation.

Biscuit decorating

Ask for biscuit donations from a local supermarket, or encourage volunteers to bake a few batches each. Use summery cutters – or ones related to your theme. For the decorations, use icing sugar and food colouring to make colourful icing. Put the icing into special squeezy bottles to prevent it from drying out. Offer participants a selection of mini-sweets and sprinkles in small bowls to complete their masterpiece. Charge 50p per biscuit.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Put together decorating sets containing some biscuits, a tube of icing, plus sprinkles and sweets. Sell them online and send home with children.

Bottle flip

Ask players to hold a partially-filled water 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.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Ask families to send in videos of their attempts to be made into a compilation, ensuring they're happy for these to be shared. Enter all entrants into a prize draw. Encourage them to decorate the bottles too, awarding a prize for the best.

Bottle tombola

Ask for donations of bottles. These could be anything from wine and juice to shampoo and sauce. Label up the prizes with raffle tickets and ask players to draw a number to see if they've won. Depending on how many donations you get, you may want to give a prize every time or only for numbers ending in zero and five. Remember that if you have alcoholic prizes, only over 18s can play, but you could run a child-friendly version too. Charge 50p-£1 per ticket depending on your prizes.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Raffle bottles off online, and then send prizes home with children if child-friendly, or deliver to homes if alcoholic.

Cake stall

Ask for cake donations from local businesses in the lead up to the fair. Price according to size and intricacy.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Take orders for a tasty tea to be delivered to people's doors. This could include scones and jam, cooling drinks, iced biscuits and tea and coffee. Try sourcing the items from local artisans for an appealing offering. Parents order their food online in advance, and it's delivered fresh to their home on the day of your fair. If there's a baker in your community, get them involved.

Choco card

Lay out a pack of cards on a table, placing a sweet treat on some and booby prizes or nothing on the rest. Players choose a card from another pack and win whatever is on the identical card on the table. To make this Covid-safe, have the second pack laid out randomly on a table and ask players to point to the card they choose, which the volunteer can then turn over. 

Chocolate/sweet jar tombola

Ask for donations of chocolates and sweets in the months running up to the fair - this could be via a mufti day. Label the prizes with raffle tickets ending in zero and five, and fill the tombola with all the tickets. The player wins if the number they pull out of the tombola corresponds to a prize.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Raffle prizes off online and send them home with the children.

Decorate a jar

Ask pupils to decorate and fill a jam jar which the PTA can use for a tombola. Jars can be filled with sweets or toys and could be decorated according to the theme of your fair if you have one — award prizes for the best decoration. Depending on how many jars you have, every ticket could win. Charge around 50p a go.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Send jars home, asking pupils to decorate and fill them. Collect them far enough in advance to leave them untouched for a few days, and then raffle off online. Award prizes for the best decorated.

Decorate a fairy door

Fairy doors have become popular in the last few years and give your pupils something unique to decorate at the summer fair. Make basic arch shapes out of cardboard or wood, and supply eco-glitter, paint, beads and pompoms so children can make their doors sparkle.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Create kits to sell online so families can decorate their doors at home. 

Find the £1

Fill assorted jam jars with tissue paper, with a one-pound coin taped inside one of the lids. Ask players to choose the jar they think contains the coin, charging 20p for one go or £1 for five. If they pick correctly, they win the money. TIP: Tape the coin into a boring little jar rather than one with a distinctive lid or shape as people will be less likely to pick it. Replace the pound as necessary. To make it Covid-safe, only the volunteer opens the jars. 

Guess the teacher

Collect baby photos from staff, or take photos of staff members in a summery disguise (think sunglasses, straw hats and Hawaiian shirts). Create an answer form and ask players to guess who's who. Correct entries are entered into a draw to win a prize. Charge 20p-50p to take part.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Post the photos on your website or social media (with permission from participants). Create an answer form using a website such as Google Docs for players to complete.

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, asking visitors to guess how many items are inside. To increase numbers, you may want to wrap some smaller items individually. The winning guess receives the basket and all its contents! If there are multiple guesses of the same number, pull them out of a hat.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Post a photo online of your basket, and ask people to email their guesses.

Human fruit machine

Ask three people (children or adults) to don a grocer's apron, complete with a big pocket at the front. Get together three types of fruit - bananas, oranges, apples, kiwis etc. - and give your grocers one of each type to put in their pockets. Standing in a socially distanced row, the grocers pull a piece of fruit out of their pocket simultaneously. If all three fruits match, the player wins! Make it easier by offering runner-up prizes for two matching fruits.

Lolly lottery

Obtain a box of lollies and colour some of the sticks with a felt pen. Push the lollies into a cardboard box stick-first. Charge between 20p and 30p for children to pick one. All players get to keep their lolly, but those with coloured sticks win an additional prize.

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 and class or contact number. At the end of the fair, reveal the winner and award a prize.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Source a map and divide it digitally into squares. Participants can email their choices or write them into the comments on social media.

Money tree

Send envelopes home, asking parents to donate between 20p and £1. Punch a hole in each one, and pin them to a paper palm tree on the wall. Charge 50p to choose an envelope (pointing to avoid too many people touching the same thing). The top prize is £5, but fill some with sweets and vouchers for other stalls too.

Name the teddy

Source an impressive cuddly toy and display it next to a clipboard 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 event.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Create a list of names and upload it online. Ask participants to email their guess of the toy's name or use the comments on social media. The winner receives the toy.

Pin the tail on the donkey

Paint a tail-less donkey on a sturdy piece of board that will stand up to being outside. 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. Charge 20p a go.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Create a colouring page of a donkey without its tail. Ask children to colour it in and add a tail of their own design, before submitting a photo via email. Award prizes for the most creative.

Piggy racing

'We bought four battery-operated pig toys from Hawkins Bazaar, marked lanes with tape on a table and held races! We charged 50p a go. The piggies were a bit expensive, at £15 each, but we made our money back the first time we ran it. We now make around £50 each time.' Julie Caines, PTA member

VIRTUAL FAIR: Stream your race via Facebook Live, asking people to guess the winning pig in the comments . Enter those who guess correctly into a prize draw. As outlay on this is expensive, we advise you only to do it virtually if you already own the equipment.

Plant sale

Invite green-fingered parents and pupils to grow plants to sell in the months running up to the fair, or appeal to your local garden centre. You could also offer buyers the opportunity to paint their own pot, or repot their plant in a pot of their choice – make sure to source wildlife-friendly paint.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Create surprise plant boxes to sell online, where families pay a set price for a selection of plants to be delivered to their door. Price depending on costs. Alternatively, deliver 'paint your own pot' kits, with the option of including a plant too.

Sand art

Children can layer coloured sand in a vessel of their choice to create a summery souvenir. To keep costs down, collect pretty jars before the fair – start after Christmas when lots of gifts come in attractive jars.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Sell kits online for some colourful fun.

Soak the teacher

(Nicely!) ask teachers to either stand behind a cardboard cut-out or be put in the stocks so the pupils can sponge them. In the run-up to your fair, find out who's willing to do it and create a rota with your most prominent volunteer (the head, perhaps) as the culmination of the day. Charge 50p-£1 for three sponges.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Seek out some staff members willing to be sponged by family members in their gardens. As each fundraising milestone is achieved, raise the level of competition by revealing a more senior member of staff to be soaked. When you reach your top target, it unlocks the head! Share the video on Facebook.

Sock game

Hang socks on a washing line and put small items in each, e.g. a bouncy ball, a coin, a shell. Players guess what's in each sock, and the winner is the person who guesses all the items. Pull names out of a hat if there is more than one winner.

VIRTUAL FAIR: In a dark room with a strong light, photograph the shadows of several different items. Post them online, and ask participants to fill in a Google Form to guess what the items are. Award prizes to those who have the most right answers. If the items are exciting enough, they could be the prizes!

Treasure hunt

Display summery images around your fair, encouraging children to explore and find them all. Sell forms for 50p-£1. Children fill in the name of the stall where they found each image and receive a prize when they return the completed form.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Post a list of scavenger hunt items for children to find around their homes. Make them quite general so everyone will have something that fits. It could be something that makes a noise, something you would take on holiday, something yellow, something cuddly and so on. Entries can be submitted by emailing a photo of the finds. These can be entered into a prize draw if you wish.

Washing line

Peg numbered envelopes to a washing line, some filled with prizes, some filled with tokens for other stalls, and some filled with 'try again' slips. Let children choose an envelope and refill as needed.

Water into wine

A few months in advance of your fair, ask parents for clean, used screw-top wine bottles. Ask for donations of full wine bottles from your local supermarket. Fill the empty bottles with water. Wrap all the bottles in newspaper, and charge £1 for over 18s to pick a prize. Aim for a ratio of one bottle of wine to five bottles of water.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Raffle bottles online and deliver to homes, or ask parents to pick them up from school.

Welly wanging

Bring some tradition to your school field with a welly wang. Corner off an area of grass so you can make sure no visitors fall foul of a flying welly, and invite participants to throw their wellies as far as they can down the course. Record the throws and give a prize at the end to the winner. Alternatively, set a winning length where anyone who reaches it automatically wins a prize.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Set up a sponsored wang, where children are sponsored for each foot (pardon the pun) their welly travels. Ask families to send in footage to edit together as a compilation which can be shared with sponsors.

Wheel of fortune

Ikea sells a wheel of fortune game, (or find a creative parent to make one) which you can decorate however you like. The different triangles can have things like 'win a lolly', 'free spin', or 'not a winner'. Charge 20p-50p per spin.

Where in the world is the teacher?

Display close-up photos of landmarks from across the globe with pictures of staff members added in. Run a quiz challenging people to identify the locations. Award prizes to those who get enough correct answers.

VIRTUAL FAIR: Post the images online and ask for guesses via a Google Docs form or email address. Award prizes via a draw.

Do you have any fantastic ideas for summer fair games? Email us now at editorial@pta.co.uk.