Top Ten Things I Learned At Santa’s Workshop

Sometime last May I received a phone call from the PTA President at Stevie’s school asking me if I’d be willing to run for PTA President. Only, the whole “run for PTA President” thing is a little much because it actually involved no running.

And no competition for that matter.

The fact is that there wasn’t one single soul willing to do the job.

Except for me.

Pardon me if this post seems vaguely familiar. I know I have referred to *the phonecall* in several posts. The phone call that I SHOULD have had the sense to not answer, or at least think about before I agreed.

Anyway, like I was saying, a phone call came. I answered. And accepted.

End of story.


Along with the title of PTA President, I inherited a consolidation mess, fund raising attempts, a few PTA meetings, and Santa’s Workshop.

If you are not familiar with Santa’s workshop, let me take a second to explain. A fund-raising company sends you a list of items and the head of your workshop (or last year’s President) picks about 50 items from the list. A week or so before the workshop, the items, plus a cash register are sent to your school. Parent volunteers will then unpack and display all of the items. Then, throughout the week, the children will make umpteen trips to the workshop to spend every. last. dime. they have. The workshop will make a tad bit of money for the school and the children will learn valuable lessons about budgeting, giving, and patience.

First, I need to say that for the most part, I enjoyed working Santa’s Workshop. The children were polite and excited and particular about choosing gifts for their loved ones. In addition to that it was fun meeting other moms and several teachers I had not yet met. With that being said, I sure learned some valuable lessons this week that will be a big help to the poor soul who inherits the workshop next year me.

1. Invest in some sort of change counter. And by some sore of change counter, I mean a device that does not include human hands separating the silver from the pennies in a pile of loose change in an attempt to round up $7.00 for the AVON silver hearts bracelet that “mommy will just love!”  The money in most cases will be sticky and hot and gross.

2. Invest in some sort of loose change wrapping device. – And by some sort of wrapping device, I mean something that will make rolling six rolls of pennies each day easier than it is if you do it by hand.

Something like these from Office Dot Com.

Seriously, the rolling of the coins was enough to drive me insane.

[Note to self: Order these immediately!]

One would think the bank would roll the change in their fancy, shmancy coin rolling machine but that would be way too easy. (Ahem!)

3. You should schedule someone in Santa’s workshop as soon as the school doors open. You know what they say about money burning a hole in the pocket. The children are eager to spend their money and will do it at 7:00 am if permitted to do so.

4. Have a giant calculator on hand. – And by giant calculator I mean a calculator that will be easy to see and easy to operate because before you ring up 97.9% of the children on the cash register, you will need to add their purchases up on a calculator to insure that they have enough money or else you will use every last inch of register tape ringing and voiding orders of over-zealous children that bring $17.00 worth of merchandise to the counter with about $3.00 worth of dimes in a ziplock bag.

5.  Bring some hand sanitizer. – And by hand sanitizer I mean a big, honkin’ bottle of it that can be used by the hundreds of hands that will make their way through the workshop.

6. Ditto for the tissues. – Only instead of hands, they will be used for noses. Runny, wet, slippery, sneezy, snotty noses.

7. Wear some comfortable shoes. – And by comfortable shoes, I mean some shoes that will allow you to jump up, check a price, grab a cheaper item and have it back to the table before the next child in line shoves that child out the door.

8. Dress in layers. – And by layers I mean about three of them that can be quickly and easily peeled off once the maximum capacity of the workshop is reached and the library begins to feels like a sauna. Beads of sweat will be rolling off of your forehead within minutes and you will be having an internal struggle about whether to pass out or ring up this one last order before collapsing right here in the middle of the library. Even though it is about 19 degrees outside,  you will need to stick your head out the door often for some fresh cool air.

9. Order some trinkety stuff from Oriental Trading. – And by trinkity stuff, I mean stuff that you can sell for $0.25 because every single $0.25 item that you have on hand will be gone by Thursday becuase kids want to spend every. single. cent. they. have.

10. Tape one of every trinkety type item to the table and put the rest out of reach of germy littly hands. Otherwise a pencil within reach could have up to a million germs on it before it is claimed and purchased.

11. If your Santa’s Workshop features little plastic poppers (like these from Fun Express Dot Com), you should totally triple your order. Because if you have 500 of them, you will sell 500 and wish you had 100 more.

10. Remember your blood pressure pill. – And by remember your blood pressure pill, I mean, remember to pack an extra two or three in your purse on the off chance that you need an extra one by 10:00 am. And trust me, the odds are in your favor.

Now, wasn’t that a fun experience?

Head over to Musings Of A Housewife for more Things people learned this week. Most of which probably have nothing to do with Santa’s Workshop.