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How To Do a Cake Walk

A rundown of the basic steps needed to organize and execute a successful cake walk at your next PTO event.

Cake walks have long been a popular activity at parent groups events, and they’re still going strong. That’s probably due to the cake walk’s simplicity: As music plays, children walk around a large circle with numbers. When the music stops, a number is picked from a container and the child standing closest to the corresponding number on the circle wins a cake. Sounds like a sweet deal!

Over the years, parent groups have added their own twists to these events, but here’s a guide to help you put together a basic cake walk.

What you will need:

  • Donated cakes or other prizes
  • At least two parent volunteers—one to name the winners and the other to help children playing the game
  • A music device, such as an iPhone or portable CD player
  • A table to display prizes
  • Construction paper or pieces of cardboard to display numbers
  • Chalk, markers, or crayons for writing numbers

Square away official business first: Find out whether your group will need a permit.

  • Some states and local governments require gaming permits for cake walks. To find out whether a permit is needed in your area, search online for “charitable gaming” and the name of your state.
  • It’s also a good idea to call your city hall and county government to ask whether they require any paperwork.

Setup: Picture a large circle.

  • For outside events, draw a circle on pavement. Write numbers around the circle using chalk, or tape paper or cardboard pieces with numbers around the circle.
  • Indoors, you can use pieces of paper, each with a number written on it, to create a circle shape. Or set up chairs to form a circle.

How it works: Think of musical chairs.

  • The game begins when music starts; children walk around the circle as the music continues.
  • When the music stops, children move to the nearest number.
  • A parent volunteer pulls a number from a hat (or any container) and the child with that corresponding number wins the cake.
  • The process is repeated for a certain period of time or until prizes run out!

Prizes: It doesn’t have to be just cakes; you can be creative.

  • Many groups put their own spin on this event, giving out prizes like cupcakes, candy, or a variety of different baked goods.
  • Some give away little trinkets in an effort to reduce the amount of sweets at the carnival or festival.

Where do all the cakes (or other sweets) come from? Rely on donations.

  • Some groups work with local bakeries to get donated cakes.
  • Other groups make requests to parents and community members to send in cakes and other baked goods.

Is this a fundraiser? It can be.

  • Some groups sell tickets to participate, and if all the prizes are donated, the event can be a moneymaker.

Things to consider: Food rules and playing fair.

  • Check with your school to see whether rules about food and snacks will apply at your event. You may need to use approved packaged goods as prizes.
  • Make sure you securely display the numbers so that children do not become confused (and upset) when a winning number is called.
 

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