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Tips for hosting the perfect school holiday shop

By: Kaitlin Krull-- 2015-10-05 3:02 pm --

It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year...

Holiday shopping time seems to come around earlier every year, but, as we know at Modernize, it can’t hurt to be prepared. Including your kids in the yearly Christmas shop is important for their emotional and social development, but letting them choose their own gifts for family and friends can often feel more stressful than fun. Hosting a Santa’s Workshop or similar holiday shop in your local school is an excellent alternative to dragging them around countless mall stores and supermarket aisles. If you’re interested in hosting up a holiday shop yourself, check out these handy tips to help you plan, set up, and execute an inexpensive, quality Christmas store. 

Research and recruitment

Before you dive into the deep end of school fairs and shops, do some research. Ask around in the school playground, or search the Internet for some bright ideas for your holiday shop. Many schools have successfully hosted Santa’s Workshops for students, so check out school websites, photo albums, and news articles online.

Your event is more likely to succeed if you have people helping you out. Ask friends and other parents to volunteer their time for planning, contacting vendors, and assembling sale items, snacks, and craft tables. The great thing about having friends help out is that everyone brings something different to the table, so you’re likely to have lots of fresh new ideas and plenty of hands during the lead up to and on the day of your event.


Probably the most important part of planning your Santa’s Workshop school event is collecting your sale items. Contact local vendors and large wholesale retailers far enough in advance to get timely delivery of your stock. If you have everything set up and ready to go well ahead of time, you can be more organized about what stock you still need to fill your shop shelves.

The best way to save money in this area is to use a wholesale retailer like DollarDays, which stocks anything and everything you could need for gifts, including toys, clothing, bath and body products, and home decor, all at incredibly low costs. They even have a dedicated holiday section on their website, so you can stock up on Christmas themed items and even have your own gift wrapping station on the day using their wrapping paper


A great school holiday shop is about more than just buying cheap gifts: make it a day (or days) to remember with holiday themed activities, crafts, and snacks. 

If you choose quality seasonal crafting activities, kids can take home their completed projects as part of their purchases on the day. Make it yourself Christmas tree decorations, hand decorated cookies, and personalized stockings are all simple, inexpensive crafts that can be completed in a short amount of time and packaged up to take home.

Fair-style stalls and games will add to the festive atmosphere of the workshop and get everyone in the mood for giving (and shopping!). Standard party games such as cornhole, pin the tail on the donkey, and even dunk tanks can be amended slightly to fit in with the holiday theme, so use your volunteers’ strengths and present quality, fun activities for participants. 

Organize your gift tables according to type of gift and potential recipients, if applicable (candles, ornaments, and other home decor items together, kids’ toys together, etc.). Make sure items are correctly and clearly priced so there is no confusion when it comes time to pay. 

No school event is complete without a great snack table. Fill your holiday shop food area with traditional, homemade Christmas cookies, cakes, and other seasonal favorites. If you want to make a few extra pennies, ask volunteers and parents to bake extras and sell long-life cookies in tins for a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.

On the day

The most important thing to remember on the day of your Santa’s Workshop event is to be prepared. Make a checklist of everything that needs to be done, keep contact details for volunteers, and organize all your stock in portable crates and boxes so they can be easily arranged on shop shelves.

Assign a volunteer or two to each stall or stand, taking into account everyone’s individual strengths. Keep money boxes organized and stocked with change, and make sure they are stored securely with a trustworthy volunteer. 

When children arrive for the Workshop, make sure they know everything that is on offer so they can get the most out of the experience. If your workshop is particularly large, a map of the stalls is a great idea to help everyone get around easily.

Most importantly, stay calm! There are bound to be a few bumps on the day, but if you stay positive you can more easily handle any issues that may come up.

Settling up

A great way to make your holiday shop event go even further is to give back to the community. After you’ve covered the cost of setup, snacks, and gift stock, any proceeds can go to a local charity. Virtually every community has an organization that helps children in need over the holidays, so consider giving some money or leftover gifts in this way.