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16 Jun 2019
How to Design Craft Projects for Large Groups

Are you looking to engage a large number of people at your next event?  Are you a corporation holding a picnic or a school holding a reunion?  May I suggest a crafting table?  Sure, there are wonderful offerings out there for party entertainment: balloon twisters, face painters, airbrush tattoos and photo booths just to name a few. But there's nothing quite like taking home something that you or your child has made themselves.  

I've been planning large events with over a thousand crafters for over 15 years. I have a few pointers for you if you would like to try this out at your next event.

Choose a project that is simple enough that young folks can do it, but engaging enough that older kids can get into it.

 

sand art

water bottle decorating

pennant making

jewelry/beading

hat decorating

flower pot decorating and planting 

decorating sunglasses

making rolled or granulated candles

painting rocks with Uni-posca pens (they dry instantly)

Stay away from things that are super messy.  If something has to dry it's probably not a good idea for a large group.  We've done such things as piggy banks and birdhouses in the past but the fact that people had to leave them behind to dry ended up with 10% of the artwork being left behind. 

You want something that folks can carry away with them.  And as to the mess, if you do decide to offer something like painting, make sure you have ample baby wipes and disposable aprons - parents will appreciate your keeping their kids clean.

Choose a project that can be done in 10 minutes or less.  You want everyone to have the opportunity to craft.  They can't do that if the tables are crowded with people spending 30 minutes on their project.

Make sure you have shade/ heat.  Depending on where and when you are crafting, make sure your area is comfortable, not only for the crafters, but those running the station. 

 No one wants to bake in the sun while crafting.  

Make sure you have enough space to accommodate your guests.  See my equation below to figure out how much space, manpower, and time to you need.

Make your station a "stand up" crafting station.  If you want to maximize the number of people who can come through your station at any given time, you want to keep them from sitting.  Chairs invite individuals to plant themselves and once they do so, it can be very hard to get them motivated to move on in a timely manner.

Make sure you have enough supplies. 

When doing large numbers of crafters my common set up is to make sure that each table has exactly the same supplies.  So that depending upon the number of tables you have you will want to buy accordingly.  If you are limited in space, then I suggest making back up kits that can replace items as they are expended.  One important point, if you are offering a variety of supplies, for say sunglass decorating, you may run out of a certain charm or jewel, that can't be helped. You'll never know what will become the "popular" item on the table.  

Don't offer a project that can be used as a treasure chest, unless you want to see all your supplies disappear.  Folks have a tendency to fill things like bags, totes, & jewelry boxes with supplies rather than decorate them.  I've seen it happen time and time again. Instead of putting materials ON the box, they put them IN the box.  It becomes a sort of scavenger hunt/free for all.  Trust me on this one...

Staffing - For me, the standard rule is this - 1 assistant per 6/8 foot table, unless there is excessive hot gluing that needs to happen. 

We have a rule about hot glue, no guest ever touches a hot glue gun, only staff.  This is for safety and liability reasons.  If you are offering a very glue-heavy craft you may want to have 3 staff per every 2 tables (or 1.5 people per table...).  On the flip side, if you have a very easy craft, such as placing stickers on water bottles, you can lower the staff to 1 per every 2 tables.

Location of your crafting area will determine how hard it is hit.  If you don't have a lot of space, resources, or staff, but still want to offer crafting, then place your station in an out of the way spot.  Advertise it, but don't put it front and center.  Conversely, if you want crafting to be the focus, then put your station in a place everyone will pass, either near food and drink stations, near the entrance, or in the center of the space.

Here's the formula I use for figuring out how many people I can accommodate in any given amount of time.  It's a pretty basic formula which takes into account the number of people at the table, the amount of time the average person will spend, length of the event and number of tables.

60 minutes ÷ average crafting length x number of kids per table x length of event = total number accommodated 

Take sand art for example: the average kid spends 5 minutes making 1 sand art creation.  You can safely accommodate 5 kids at a 6-foot table or 7 at an 8-foot table.  So figure you can rotate a new child in every 5 minutes.  Divide 60 minutes by 5 to get the number of rotations per hour - in this case 12. Your event is 4 hours long.  You can do 60 x 4 or 240 kids in 4 hours.  So, let's say you want to serve 1000 kids.  Divide 1000 by 240 and you get about 4.25 tables.  To be safe, I would do 5.

If you have 5 - 6 foot tables full of supplies you should be able to serve 1000 people in 4 hours.  Staff-wise, you'd want 5 people - 1 per table.

Supplies

This can get tricky, depending upon the craft.  In my world, I'm all about having lots and lots of stuff for people to use.  However you will have to pay attention to your budget which will have to include basic supplies (scissors, glue, markers) presentation (linens, display boxes) in addition to the materials themselves.  

Let's use sand art again:

5 oz of sand per bottle.  Multiply that by the number of crafters - 1000 - so in this instance you'd need 5000 oz. or 313 pounds of sand. Say you want to offer 8 colors - divide 313 by 8 - which gives you about 40 pounds per color.

I personally like to present my sand in big bottles (it's much cleaner and easier to use) Some people prefer bins with scoops and funnels.  I would do 2 sets of bottles per table (16 bottles, 2 of each color), Each bottle holds about 1.5 to 2 pounds of sand, which means I'd have 80 bottles total and leftover sand to refill as needed (It's always good to have an extra set of hands on deck to help with things like refilling bottles).

For set up, I find a "U" formation works best, because it allows the staff to work safely with the guests and gives them a space to store extra supplies.  I usually ask for one "back table" for every 4 work tables. This is where we set up the glue guns or restocking supplies.

I do hope this guide helps, but if not, feel free to contact me via the website and I'd be happy to personally advise you on the supplies, staff, and table needs.  Or...you can just hire me and my team!