Make your grotto great

Santa’s grotto: top tips l Give Santa the name of the child beforehand

so he can make his message personal l Give Santa a code word or signal when the

time slot is nearing the end so he can wrap it up l Keep a few slots open for children who haven’t pre-booked their visit

at them with a wand to avoid cheating). Top prize is £5, but fill some with chocolate coins too. Pie Face: ‘Inspired by the popular board game Pie Face, we persuaded teachers to sign up to 15-minute time slots and sold paper plates of squirty cream for 50p each. Children had to stand behind a throwing line so no-one went up and shoved a plate in someone’s face!’ Sarah Everson, Secretary, Friends of Halsford Park Primary, East Grinstead, West Sussex (415 pupils) Penny drop: Laminate an A3 picture of Rudolph with a prominent red

nose. Place a fish tank filled with water over the top of the picture, and ask people to drop a coin into the tank. Those who land the coin on Rudolph’s nose win a prize.

Refreshments Go for a Christmassy take on the

typical ‘fair fare’, with these alternative food and drink ideas. Mulled wine: Use a slow cooker, soup urn or tea urn to keep it warm and charge £1.50-£2.50 per glass. When purchasing bottles, check that you can return any that are unopened so you can overbuy to avoid running

Visiting Santa at the fair is an exciting experience for children, so here’s how you can make it truly magical! Santa and elves: Appeal to dads, grandads and uncles, or try asking local community groups, who may also be able to lend the costume. To avoid queues, try using a two- Santa system. Be sure to alert parents beforehand, and avoid having them both walking around the fair at the same time! Enlist other volunteers as elves to manage and entertain those waiting. DBS: There’s no requirement for Santa to be DBS checked, but it’s best practice to make sure your volunteer Santa is aware of child protection procedures and understands how you would like them to interact with the children. Have another, DBS-checked person in the grotto while children are present, and encourage parents and carers to accompany their children into the grotto. Grotto: To make your own, use sheets of fabric to cover the walls and use tinsel, a Christmas tree, empty boxes wrapped to look like presents, cotton wool and fairy lights. Have a large comfy chair for Santa. Alternatively, how about hiring a grotto? ‘In 2016 we made our own grotto by emptying our PTA shed and draping it in white felt and fairy lights. Last year, we found it was much easier to hire an inflatable grotto, with the supplier giving us 20% of everything he made.’ Deborah May, PTA Chair, Warberry CofE Academy, Torquay, Devon (420 pupils) Presents: Aim to pay around £1.50 per child, depending on how much you charge. Gifts might include selection boxes, books or toys. On average, PTAs charge £3 to visit Santa, including a gift. Take a look at our suppliers directory for buying gifts in bulk: Better still, find a sponsor to pay for the gifts by offering them a sign at the grotto. Schedule: Draw up a schedule so that parents can pre-book slots. Think about what the visit will involve and how long this will take – will Santa read a story, ask them what they want for Christmas, or is it just a quick hello? Will children go in individually or in groups? ‘We sell tickets for half-hour slots in

advance, and we have a maximum number per half hour. We decorate a classroom, and each group of children has a Christmas story with Father Christmas. They then get a quick individual chat, a photo and a gift.’ Alison Ruth Murfin, via Facebook

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