School Fete Survival Guide

Rex Features

This is by far the most dangerous time of the year in school playgrounds. Yes, we are full in the school summer fete season - and mark my words, you would do well to avoid eye contact with anyone who looks like they are making their way towards you with a purposeful stride.

I too was once a school fete virgin. "Yes I'll help, put me down for anything" I would pipe up at those oh-so-earnest class rep meetings. "Don't care what I do, although face painting probably isn't my forte." I would helpfully offer my husband too - "You need help putting up gazebos and picnic benches in the pouring rain the morning of the fete from 7am? Consider it done. Richard will help, no problem."


But 10 long years of primary school fetes later, and with three more events of hard labour to go (not to mention attending secondary school fairs) I am flagging.

Hands up, I'll admit it, I've turned into one of those carping parents on the sideline with the (I'll concede) irritating and patronising line "been there, done it" when earnest newbies approach me in the playground, whipping out their clip boards and asking me to sign up for any myriad of actions.

Whether it's running the sad teddy tombola, timing unruly children on the bouncy castle (I've failed every time), burning the barbecue sausages or trying to flog raffle tickets to sun-burnt dads in the beer tent, I really truly have done my time. Honest miss, I have.

However there is a new school fete fundraising tool that has crept into existence in the leafy middle-class surburb in which I live. Every street you drive down is littered with estate agents boards, ostensibly advertising the fair but really just giving their own business a plug. The details of the fair are in tiny print and the details of the estate agents are in huge

print - and all for between £10 and £50 a board per house, which goes towards the grand fundraising total. I can't decide if this is fantastic or just plain lazy fundraising.

"What is that outside our house," my husband exploded when this year I agreed to have a board. "Since when did we advertise an estate agent's business in front of our house?" he thundered.

I fixed him with a steely glaze. "It was that or you and I were on the 5pm cleaning the school toilets after the school fete slot," I replied - a pure moment of game, set and match to mum.

Don't want to over-commit yourself to this year's school fete?

Follow our easy guide to not landing the worst jobs but still appearing to be helpful.

If you must run a stall, offer to do the home-made cake one.

It's by far the easiest. Loads of parents will donate cakes on the day, it's always one of the busiest and if you're lucky and sell out quickly you can spend the rest of the afternoon in the beer tent savouring some proper refreshments. Job done.

Tell organisers that due to an un-named medical condition you'd really rather not go into, you can only help on stalls where you can sit down and in the shade.

Therefore an excellent way for you to help is under a gazebo tearing up raffle ticket stubs and putting them in the drum. Make sure you limp to and from school a good two weeks before the fete. Ensure the gazebo is situated beside the tea and coffee stall/cake stall or Pimm's tent, depending on personal preference.

Apologise profusely and say you are away the weekend of the fete. Instead buy loads and loads of raffle tickets.

Far better to be in with a chance of winning a Kindle or £50 of John Lewis vouchers than "winning" a re-cycled McDonalds kids's meal toy from the hook-a-duck stall, or worse, winning back the tat you donated from under your son's bed.

Do you help out at the school fete?

With good grace or under sufferance?