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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Pasta Dinner

It's over and it was a big success! Alright we haven't finished counting up the money so I'm not sure exactly how much we made, but we did great last night selling raffle tickets and more importantly families seemed to have a good time so I feel confident saying that it was a big success. It also was not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be which of course is excellent. The class baskets were amazing. Each class was assigned a theme and the kids brought in different items to create baskets like "Kids Can Cook", "Parents Night Out", "Red Sox" etc.

So how exactly did it work? Add a box of envelopes, masking task tape, scotch tape, labels to write the names of the winners on the prizes, and handful of pens plus the main ingredient of a group of enthusiastic parent volunteers and teachers to the long email I sent out below.

Instructions for Pasta Dinner

Thank you everyone for volunteering to help out at the Pasta Dinner. In order to avoid (or at least minimize) mass chaos, I thought I would put out some instructions so that you know what’s going on when you arrive. I would encourage you to read all the instructions, not just those that relate to your assignments. That way, if anyone has any questions, you can point them to the right answer. In addition, if someone is running late or if one area gets busier than others, we may move people around on the fly.


Order of Events:
1. Transport items to High School
2. Set up the “reception hall” at High School
3. First Seating ending with 50/50 raffle drawing
4. Wipe down tables
5. Second seating ending with 50/50 raffle drawing
6. Clean up and raffle drawing
7. Transport raffle items to Elementary School

This document provides more detail on the first two “events,” explains the raffles, and then describes all of the assignments that people have for the dinner.

1. Transport items from Elementary School to High School
Time: 3 PM

We need to move A LOT of items from High School. Most of the items need to be transported directly from Elementary to High School (Operation Skip Junior High). These items are:
• The popcorn container centerpieces (currently in the gym)
• The class baskets (currently in the gym)
• The professionally designed Pasta Dinner signs
• The big bag of crayons and Q-tips (No I am not kidding. They are needed for the activity table and face painting).

We need to move a smaller number of items from my home, which I am describing as Operation Imelda Marcos. That involves picking up several garbage bags filled with wrapped shoeboxes. I can’t fit them all in my car.

We do NOT need to worry about the cash box, as the treasurer will ensure it gets where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

My cell phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Please call if you are running late and wondering if you need to make a trip back to Elementary School. My husband will be at the HS by 3:15 PM to set up the slide show and also to keep an eye on the items as they arrive.

2. Set up the “reception hall” at High School
Time: 3:30

The cafeteria, or as I like to refer to it, the reception hall is immediately to the right once you enter the high school. We need to setup 3 things: the area for the prizes, the area for “the grub,” and the signs that differentiate the first 2 areas.

The Prizes

The raffle items, including the class baskets, will be placed on the long rectangular tables farthest away from the windows. This ensures that families (particularly our excited children) will have ample opportunity to admire the goodies on their way into the dinner and as they go to and from the kitchen. Many of the tables are separated from each other by columns and by a condiment cart, so there will be several, separate raffle tables.

I would like the class baskets kept in one area if at all possible. If we end up completing setup early enough, we may try to organize the other raffle items into groupings (restaurant, camps etc.) but I won’t be too stressed if each table ends up being its own hodgepodge of items. Either way, several teachers have recommended that we spread the teacher donations out amongst the other prizes.

Each raffle item also has a plastic frame (4x6) with a description of the item and a tracking number on it. Each description also lists the number of winners. For example Company X has 3 winners written on it, so we will draw 3 separate winners from the Company X box. The raffle prizes themselves will be in a purple bin under one of the tables, but most of them will not be out for display, unless they are gift baskets or bottles of wine. No gift cards will be displayed.

One wrapped shoe box should be placed next to each of the plastic frames. The slit in the shoebox should be clearly visible, as this is where people who want to win that particular item will deposit their tickets. If you are setting up the shoeboxes and frames, please copy the corresponding tracking number from the frame onto the shoebox, in case they accidentally get separated.

Each class basket also has a plastic picture frame (5x7) with a description in it. There will also be a shoebox for each class basket. The class baskets will be displayed.

We have extra picture frames, extra wrapped shoeboxes, and blank prize description cards under a table. If a new item shows up, please grab one of each and handwrite the description.

Again, we do have 4 babysitters coming to high school starting at 3 PM and staying through the first seating and possibly the second and cleanup.

The Food
All of the other tables, including those against the windows, are available for our customers. The centerpieces need to be placed on the tables. We will have spare glue guns and yellow tissue paper just in case we need to “touch up” a centerpiece or two.

The Signs
We will also need to set up music stands to hold the posters. There are posters directing people to raffle tickets, face painting, the bathrooms, etc. They will obviously need to be placed appropriately.


There are 3 raffle drawings, a 50/50 drawing at each seating and the main raffle prize drawing after the second seating is over. No one needs to write their name or other information on any of the raffle tickets.

The 50/50 raffle tickets are a “double roll.” When a person buys a ticket, the double roll is split so that one ticket goes into the box and the other is kept by the buyer. Alice will do the drawing at the end of the first dinner and call out the winning ticket number. Whoever has that ticket wins HALF of the proceeds of the 50/50 raffle, with the other half going to the PTO as part of the fundraiser. If no one responds, another ticket is drawn. Once someone wins the prize, the remaining tickets are discarded, and a separate 50/50 raffle is conducted for the second seating.

For the main raffle prizes, each raffle ticket number has been/will be recorded in my husband's Excel spreadsheet along with the name of the student whose family purchased the ticket. Families will put their tickets into the shoeboxes of the prizes they want to win. When we draw the winning ticket(s) from each shoebox after the second seating, the winning ticket number will be recorded in the Excel spreadsheet to match it with the family that bought it. If the prize winners are still around, they can take their prizes home. All other prizes will be returned to the Elementary School office. I will notify winners on Friday. Prizes and baskets can be picked up on Monday during normal school hours. If parents cannot pick up a prize, they should contact me to make arrangements. I suspect that this will be a common question.


Kitchen help
A PTO coordinator will oversee the kitchen and direct people as needed. My understanding is that the biggest job for kitchen help is to help children with their dishes as well as parents who are pushing strollers, carrying babies or just have their hands full. Children will be given bowls and adults will be given plates. The bowls are more expensive than the plates so the school only ordered enough for the kids. The bowls were suggested because in years past the spaghetti has slid right off of many kids’ plates as they try to balance them (again…not a 5 Star Restaurant).

The school has said that there is enough seating for everyone, and according to the list of tables that has been provided, there is seating to spare. Unfortunately, fear of insufficient seating is my biggest, current worry. Back to the mantra. This is a fun family fundraiser not a 5 star restaurant. If my worst fears somehow are realized, everyone should seek to turn over tables as fast as possible. Please help families who are finished eating clean up and direct them to face painting, coloring, raffles, etc. Then direct families who are looking for seating to their spot.

Face Painting
Face painting will occur at the activity table. I have purchased 3 face painting sets that each contain enough paint to do “50 full face paintings”. Full face painting seems over the top, particularly since few of us will have a chance to properly bathe our kids before they return to school tomorrow. I’m envisioning a much smaller scale painting, like a butterfly or heart on a cheek just for time and sanity. I got two large packages of Q tips, in addition to leftovers in the PTO cabinet to apply face paint. There should be plenty, so that we can be more sanitary than if we reused face paint sticks on multiple children. There will also be a package of baby wipes for those who suddenly are outraged by their initial paint choice and want a quick substitute. The high school students will be helping out for with the face painting for the first seating and maybe the second as well. The face painting is free.

The activity table will also have coloring pages from the clown as well as our sponsor coloring sheets. There will also be crayons so that the kids can color in their pages there. They can keep the pages, but not the crayons.

Clown Help
We need to think of the clown as Tom Brady and the PTO as a very good offensive line. The clown needs people to make sure that the kids aren’t invading her “bubble space”. She will also be making balloon animals. Some of these will be premade and put out on a table. This is also free.

Cleaning tables
After discussing it, I decided to not use the $25 Stop and Shop gift card to purchase cleaning supplies and instead use it as a raffle prize. Another PTO person and I both have cleaning supplies that we’ll bring to wipe down the tables between the seatings. The high school does not supply the cleaning products for this. If you have any that you can bring that would be great. If you bring a spray, please also bring paper towels. Although it was suggested that we also have wipes on the table for kids’ hands, there are too many people coming for that. We will instead direct people to the very nearby bathrooms.

Raffle Table Help
We will have a central raffle table where additional raffle tickets can be purchased. My husband will enter the raffle ticket numbers as they are purchased. He will need someone else to actually handle the money. Other people who are assigned to the raffle table will be responsible for supervising the dispersed tables with the prizes, frames, and shoeboxes and answering any questions. The raffle coordinator will decide who goes where. You may notice that the raffle tickets are not uniform. That is because we were fortunate enough to find a large supply of unused raffle tickets from previous years. We handed out two different sets of tickets.

Dinner Ticket Collector:
Your job is to collect the dinner tickets. The drinks people ordered are written on them as a reminder. Juice is tight. The HS put in a separate order for it. I also gave her the specific numbers for the milk and water. Anyone who didn’t specify what they wanted got put down as having water. We would like people to stick with what they ordered. Obviously use your judgment on this. If a child is melting down because they want juice instead of the milk their parents ordered they can switch. The person in charge at the school has said she’s putting out the number of drinks ordered plus a little leeway and that’s it. Once the drinks are gone, they’re gone. People cannot get extra drinks or seconds (although again use your judgment on that). There are water fountains located by the bathrooms. Again, we will have signs.

Many of you saw my desperate plea to convince people to switch from the second to the first seating. The families who received tickets and then agreed to make the switch were asked to bring their second seating ticket to the first seating. Those who show up early with second seating tickets are thus likely heroes, not attempted moochers. If there are any questions or problems please have them see me. I will have a list of everyone who switched.

A couple people also have Will Call tickets. These can be picked up at the raffle table. Every family going through the line needs to have a dinner ticket.

Cotton Candy
Each family received a pink cotton candy ticket. If there were more than four people, they received two pink tickets. Cotton candy should be handed out at the end as people are leaving.

50/50 Drawing
There will be a 50/50 drawing at the end of each seating. The principal will do the honors. Sellers should canvass the area several times during the dinner. They do not need to sell tickets the whole time. The tickets for this drawing are double tickets with one ticket going into the bucket and the other going to the payer. We need to make sure we split the money into prize and profit before each drawing.

Clean up
This is pretty much what it sounds like. We will need to pick up all the trash and pack everything up to go.

Raffle drawing:
Again the raffle drawing happens after the second seating. Someone needs to do the actual drawing and we need a couple witnesses. We will match up the raffle ticket number to the person who won the prize and record it. We then need to write the name of the winner on the prize if applicable or attach a label with the winners name on it.

Transporting Items Back to School

I know everyone is going to be exhausted but we need that last 15 minutes to bring the prizes and baskets back to the Elementary School.


posted by Alex Elliot @ 8:24 AM   0 comments
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Name:Alex Elliot
Home:MA, United States
About Me:Professional Mom of two cats, a dog, an ant farm, and oh yeah...two boys: a 6 year old and a 3 year old. Also found in my house is my husband who is known on this blog as The Big Giraffe.
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