Thayer Allyson Gowdy
There's something wonderful about setting up an old-fashioned, do-it-yourself lemonade stand on a summer afternoon. Even nicer: watching a group of eager, smiling children selling drinks and treats on the lawn and giving the money they earn to charity. Not only do the kids feel the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause, they also get to practice math skills and have a great time mixing and sampling recipes. In fact, it's a perfect excuse to throw a casual kids' party, inviting your child's friends to join the festivities.
Announce the gathering by sending out invitations on recipe cards: Print the party details on one side of a 3-by-5 index card and a recipe for lemonade on the other side, making it clear that the kids will make the lemonade at the party and don't need to bring anything from home. The day before the sale, have your child help make a batch of brownies and blondies to offer alongside the drinks. A sweet extra: Choose two or three fruit-flavored syrups kids can add to individual glasses just before serving.
Guests should arrive about an hour before you plan to open for business. Older children can assist in assembling the lemonade stand and painting a display banner. For the selling area, we used a plain rectangular tabletop over two trestles, both from Ikea; you can also put out a card table and cover it with a colorful vinyl tablecloth. Reserve one end of the table for the bank (we used a cardboard storage box from Ikea; kids could also decorate a shoebox), and provide a roll of quarters for making change. Position the stand to be visible from the street, and have an adult in the selling area at all times to make sure young children stay in the yard.
To make an eye-catching sign, outline the word lemonade on a 6-foot length of butcher paper or white cotton twill and let kids fill it in with paint. Staple the ends of the paper to 8-foot garden stakes and press the stakes into the grass behind the table. Place a smaller sign on the table with prices and the name of the charity that will benefit. Set out plastic or paper cups and colorful accessories like straws and napkins, and store extra ice nearby in a large cooler.