Visiting Father Christmas in his grotto is the highlight of the school Christmas Fair for most kids, which is why PTA volunteers go to such great lengths to make their grottos magical. Here are our top tips for delivering the Christmas magic:
Secure a sponsor
A good sponsor can help your PTA create a truly magnificent grotto. Think carefully about what would be most beneficial before deciding which businesses to put on your nice list. For example, a local accountant might offer a cash donation for gifts, a DIY store or garden centre might loan you a shed or donate decorations, or a supermarket might send along a team of elves.
Desperately seeking Santa
If there’s no obvious choice of Santa at your school, ask parents and grandparents. You’ll need to find someone who’s able to engage the children without being too chatty! Make sure there’s always one or two elves with Santa to help manage the time slots and queues, provide a comfy chair and plan in one or two comfort breaks.
Take advance bookings
Selling pre-booked slots for Santa’s grotto can solve a lot of the headaches that traditionally come with running a grotto. Aside from avoiding the kids disappointment when they arrive too late to secure a spot, and the stress that comes with long queues, it takes the guesswork out of ordering your Santa gifts, because you know the numbers up front.
Parentkind members can use the PTA Events platform to easily and securely sell booking slots (fees apply on ticket sales, read more here). Kids and parents love the fun boarding passes!
Call on your parents for help
Draw up a list of jobs and use all your communication channels to make sure everyone knows you’ll need lots of helpers. Ask class reps to help spread the word, put a notice in your school newsletter - whatever works best at your school.
If you’re using your PTA Events website to sell tickets, make the most of your captive audience and ask for helpers using the volunteer management tool – it’s much easier for parents to say ‘yes’ to helping on a stall for an hour when they know they have a grotto spot secured for their child.
Turn waiting into an activity
Keep your Santa visits running like clockwork by creating a waiting area (or holding bay). Ask children to arrive 10 mins before their slot to an area near the grotto, set up so the kids can watch a Christmas cartoon, listen to a Christmas story or write a letter to Santa, before being escorted into Santa’s grotto by an elf.
Use a white board, projector or flip chart to display the slot times or ticket numbers that are currently in the waiting area and with Santa.
DIY Santa grotto ideas
Once you’ve decided where your grotto will be located, you can set to work planning the decor. When it comes to Santa’s grotto, we believe more is more, so really go to town! If you’re using a classroom, make it cosy by putting up a gazebo. Use dark fabric around the sides, borrow a comfy chair for Santa (he’ll be very grateful), add bean bags or cushions for the kids, a Christmas tree, some gift wrapped boxes, and lots of fairy lights. There’s bound to be a parent or two who’d really enjoy helping to make the magic happen, so ask around. Here's a little bit of magic our Member Support Team created in the meeting room here at Parentkind HQ last year!
For more tips and ideas, read our Santa’s Grotto Guide.