How to Organize a Holiday Vendor Fair at Your School

By Patti Wigington

With more and more people running home-based businesses these days, having a holiday vendor fair is a great way to raise a bit of extra cash for your school, as well as provide parents and teachers with a way to do some pre-holiday shopping. By inviting members of the community to participate, you can organize a holiday vendor fair at your school that becomes an event people are sure to talk about for a long time to come.

How to Organize a Holiday Vendor Fair at Your School

First, figure out a date and location for your event. You'll need to plan this well in advance with school administrators. After all, you don't want to book the gymnasium for the same day as the big basketball playoffs. The best time to host a holiday vendor fair is in mid- to late November. This allows people to do their holiday shopping before the big Christmas rush begins. Not only that, but it means you'll be in time for other holidays, such as Hanukkah. Determine in advance how many vendors you'll be able to accommodate.

Next, start soliciting vendors. Begin by sending home a notice with all students. Figure out what sorts of vendors you're willing to host; since it's a school, do you want someone at your fair who sells adult novelties or wine? Will you take more than one vendor who sells the same thing, such as both a Mary Kay representative and an Avon consultant? Are vendors required to bring their own tables and decorations? Are spaces on a first-come, first-served basis?

Be sure to collect money from your vendors in advance. Requiring your vendors to pay for their space is reasonable. Depending on how busy you think your event will be, anywhere from $10 to $50 is a fair rate. Space rental needs to be low enough that it's worth it for the vendors to appear, but high enough that you can cover your other expenses. Another great way to raise funds is to ask each vendor to contribute an item for a raffle. Sell raffle tickets the night of the event and give away the items to winning ticket holders.

Once you have all your vendors lined up and committed, get the advertising out there! Notify local newspapers, send flyers to other schools in your district, and be sure to send a reminder notice home with students a day or two before the event. Place a notice in the school newspaper, and if you have a school website, put information on the main page.

The day of your holiday vendor fair, make sure you have plenty of volunteers. Someone should continuously walk through the event to make sure there are no hazards like loose electrical cords lying around. It also helps to have runners checking on the vendors, to help out if they need anything. Offer your vendors complimentary refreshments throughout the event; it won't cost much, and it'll make them happy. Play holiday music in the background and have snacks available. (You can even tie in a bake sale to this event if you like.)

Finally, make sure your customers are accommodated. Keep boxes and bags on hand so that people can carry their purchases more easily. If possible, have a cart or two available to transport larger items to the parking lot. Recruit student helpers to clean up, and be sure to thank your volunteers when the event has ended.

Tip

Because many home-based businesses involve taking orders and delivering products later on, you may want to request that your vendors do only cash-and-carry sales.

About the Author

Patti Wigington has been writing for nearly twenty years. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites and in a number of print publications, and she spent five years as a staff writer for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper. She is the author of a children's book, a novel for middle grade readers, and two adult novels.