How To Run a School Holiday Shop


At many schools, a holiday shop (also called a Santa shop) is a beloved tradition that gives students the opportunity to pick out gifts for their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other people important to them. Whether you’ve run a holiday shop before or are just starting to think about it, this school holiday shop planning guide for PTOs and PTAs includes helpful information so you can have a well-run event at school or online.

By registering to access this free guide, you’ll be opted in to receive communications from PTO Today and our sponsor to help your group do great work! You may unsubscribe anytime.
How To Run a School Holiday Shop

Inside the School Holiday Shop Planning Guide:

How To Choose a Service Provider
An overview of the benefits of using a service provider, and questions to ask before signing a contract (while all holiday shop companies provide inventory and support, their services can differ, and it’s important to know what you’ll be getting).

In-Person or Virtual Holiday Shops
More holiday shop service providers are offering virtual and in-person holiday shop options. Learn how the different formats work and which might be the best fit for your school parent group.

Planning Your Holiday Shop in 6 Weeks or Less
A detailed planning timeline, including tips for the key ways to promote your school holiday shop.

Organizing Your Shop
Holiday shops are typically easier to organize than PTOs and PTAs might realize, especially if a service provider handles the bulk of the inventory details. Get the scoop on volunteers, supplies, working with teachers, location and setup, floor plans and inventory management, helping students who need financial assistance, cash management, and gift-wrapping.

Field-Tested Tips for Success
Best practices such as giving your group enough time to plan your shop and helping kids stay within their budget.

Decoration Ideas and Hacks
Scroll through a photo gallery with new uses for cardboard boxes, solo cups, balloons, pool noodles, and more.

Make Your Shop a Family Event
Activities to add on to your shop to welcome parents and other caregivers.

Thank-You Gift Ideas for Volunteers
Cute, festive, and low-cost ways to let holiday shop helpers know you appreciate their efforts.

Holiday Shop Forms and Tools
Clip art, flyers, volunteer sign-up sheets, budget envelope labels, social graphic Canva templates, and sample emails to request volunteers for four common shop names: Holiday Shop, Santa’s Workshop, Candy Cane Lane, and Winter Wonderland.

By registering to access this free guide, you’ll be opted in to receive communications from PTO Today and our sponsor to help your group do great work! You may unsubscribe anytime.

Penguin Patch

What Is a School Holiday Shop?

School holiday shops give students the opportunity to look at a range of items and buy holiday gifts (for moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and even their pets) “in secret” during the school day. They’re often set up and run by PTOs and PTAs in a school library, gym, or other similar area.

Volunteers help children choose gifts and work within their budgets. It’s the enjoyment of helping children and seeing their delight in choosing special gifts that largely accounts for why parent groups do these shops. The holiday timing coupled with the satisfaction of what it provides makes a holiday shop a perennial favorite event and fundraiser.

While previous generations of school and PTO parents relied on moms who liked making sellable crafts or searching year-round for bargain items to sell (and some still do), many parent groups these days are turning to service providers to ease their load. Companies that specialize in holiday shops supply inventory, provide detailed help on running school shops, take back unsold items, and more.

Generally, when schools use a holiday shop service, they order merchandise on consignment—they don’t send money to the service provider until the shop is over, and they only pay for what’s sold. Parent groups are free to mark up the items, but many run a holiday shop as a service and tradition for children rather than as a fundraising activity.


@demimctizic A sneak peak of our Holiday Shop! PTO Mom life! #pto #momlife #happyholidays ♬ Holidays (feat. Earth, Wind & Fire) - Meghan Trainor