Updated: Feb 16
Craft projects are a wonderful way to connect with visitors and bring awareness to your cause. Art is a fantastic addition to any large event. You make your guests happy, and they’re left with a memory to remind them of all the fun they had with your organization. But creating a craft project that fits the pace of an event, is a unique challenge for even the most seasoned veterans. Fortunately, we’ve spent years making mistakes and learning from those experiences so that you don’t have to. Below are some tips and tricks we’ve discovered in our travels.
Keep it Dry
At a large event with hundreds of families rotating through at a time, keeping up the pace is of the utmost importance. There isn’t going to be the space to hang up items to dry, and even if there was, the chances of all your families returning to pick up their completed projects is pretty slim. Of course, you could ask them to carry their painted, gluey mess away with them, but it’s likely to leave a negative impression, especially once the project gets bumped and ruined. For this reason, we ALWAYS recommend that you keep it dry.
Yes, this will eliminate some projects from the realm of possibility, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create an amazing craft without all the added glue and mess. Double sided tape, self-adhesive gems and magnets, sticker eyes, and advanced prep work, can (and will) help bridge the gap. We’ll touch more on this as we continue.
Pre-Cut EVERYTHING in Advanced
Cutting an item out with scissors takes up valuable time, and for most people, it feels a whole lot like folding laundry. Scissor proficiency is additionally a learned skill that takes time to hone and develop, so it stands to reason that many kids are surprisingly terrible at it. It’s best to take the more mundane, time-consuming tasks (like scissor cutting) out of the guest’s hands. Opt to have these types of items prepped in advance, and waiting to use in the assembly of the project. Your ultimate goal is for visitors to leave with an amazing art project they created themselves, but most crafts are not made unique by the hand that used the scissors.
Materials and Organization
Most craft projects require several different components. When they’re all kept separate, organized, and the appropriate quantities are maintained, it creates a seamless production line of sorts. One of the few things capable of interfering with this is tape or one-off supplies. Bring enough tape dispensers, scissors, etc. so that multiple people can work simultaneously. Bins are your friend. Tape doesn’t have to be a fight word.
Have Samples on Hand
Chances are you won’t have time to sit down and teach each and every family how to complete the project, but if you have several copies of the project finished and on hand, it will help to demonstrate the overall goal. Even adults who are not as familiar with the project, can use the completed sample to deduce at least some of the steps in the process, and thus lend assistance to those in need.
Your samples may walk off, so always make sure you have a few copies. If possible, make them each a bit different to lend inspiration to participants.
Signage and Literature Matter
The goal when hosting a craft table, especially if you are competing with other table hosts, is to draw attention to your cause or organization. It isn’t enough to just stand there with some stuff on a table. Make a few signs to show who you are, what you do, and what you hope to accomplish. There should be at least one sign or banner that is large and brief enough to get the point across from a distance. For example, when attending vendor events, we usually hang a giant banner that reads “DIY Craft Kits” from the front of our table, or on the wall behind us if the space is available. One of our partners opted to use the name of their organization (Charlotte Harbor Environmental) for their “distance” banner. Nothing fancy or overly wordy. This way, the people walking up to your table know what to expect, and you know you’ve gained the interest of your target demographic.
Once people are engaged, your goal is to educate. Chances are people aren’t going to stand there and read. Offer them an experience they can enjoy and create a couple flyers they can take home. Have your business cards ready, and share the story verbally when you can.
In regards to the craft project itself, it often helps to have step-by-step instructions printed, laminated, and taped to the table in a few places for times when you are otherwise engaged.
Crafts produce trash. There’s no avoiding it. The last thing you want to do is present a messy table to your guests, and you can’t just abandon your table to find an appropriate receptacle. Bring something with you to collect waste. Tuck it under the table where people can’t see it, and clean up your space regularly.
Just because the project worked out on Pinterest, doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed win. The people posting successful crafts on Pinterest aren’t completing these samples with a line of people waiting impatiently behind them. Test the craft out first to make sure it can be done quickly and without any serious hiccups. If there will be kids present at the event, find a few “guinea pigs” to test the project on. Pay attention to the areas they need help, take notes, and make whatever accommodations you can to better prepare your staff and guests on the day of the event.
Plan for Weather
Many large events are held outdoors. Even if the forecast isn’t calling for wind, prepare for gusts. There is absolutely nothing worse than having a tabletop full of craft supplies and miscellaneous paper bits circling around your table in some sort of cyclone-shaped beacon sent for the sole purpose of tormenting you and your staff.
Tents or awnings are the best protection from sun and rain. Make the investment. Bring sandbags and paper weights. Wear a fanny pack.
With a bit of added preparation, you can easily add a craft table to any large-scale event. It requires very little skill or up-front costs, and is a fantastic way to build memories with potential guests. Many non-profit organizations rely on these sorts of activities to drive traffic and increase donor participation, and it isn’t difficult to find a project that aligns with your specific mission.
So, go ahead! Get on Pinterest, search Teachers Pay Teachers, and find an amazing craft activity that will wow your visitors and keep them coming back for more.