How to Have the Best Lemonade Sale Ever

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Setting Up a Killer Lemonade Sale

setting up the best lemonade sale

Over the weekend, Eleanor innocently asked whether she could have a lemonade sale. She reminded me that she asked before and I said we could. And… of course, she was right. So we set out to have the most epic of lemonade sales ever. Or at least, the most epic my kids had ever had. Point of order: I used to host a school-wide lemonade sale by my first graders when I was a teacher so I had a few tricks up my sleeve.

Step 1. Always Go For Fresh Lemonade

None of this powdered ish. Fresh is best. You’re going to need lots of lemons and sugar.

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use fresh lemons for lemonade sale

Step 2. Roll

Start by rolling the lemons. Apply a bit of pressure and this will help to release the juice and means you’ll get a lot more when you squeeze them! (This was Louisa and Arthur’s job.)

roll the lemons to get more juice out of them

Step 3. Squeeze

I cut the lemons in half and let Oliver do the squeezing with a tool like this (affiliate). Squeeze all the lemons into a bowl and then pour the juice through a small strainer to catch seeds and excess pulp.

squeezing the lemons

Step 4. Make Sugar Water

I mixed a bag of sugar with water and heated it on the stove to melt the sugar. And then let the water cool. I didn’t measure, but I’d guess there was about 2x water to sugar.

Sugar water on the stove

Step 5. Mix the Lemonade

Sadly, I don’t have much of a recipe and kind of mixed to taste. I filled my large 2 gallon coolers half way with water and then added about 1 cup lemon juice to 3 cups sugar water to start. Then I tasted and tweeked until each container was full. We had three containers: two basic sports coolers with nozzles on top, and then one like this with a spigot so the kids could help pour the lemonade.

Step 6. Make signs

We bought poster board and some glitter letters (Eleanor’s choice) and she made one sign for the table that included the cost of lemonade. Oliver chipped in and made another sign for the table as well as one with an arrow that we planned to hang down the road from our lemonade sale.

making lemonade signs

Step 7. Gather Supplies

Here’s what you need to pack. We loaded them all into a wagon and set up at the end of our block.

  • Small table
  • Tablecloth
  • Paper Cups
  • Cooler for ice/ cup or spoon for scooping
  • Container for change (with change to start)
  • Container for bills (with bills to start)
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Signs and tape
  • Bonus points: fresh flowers to put on your table

Step 8. Sell, Baby, Sell

At first, Eleanor could pour a cup of lemonade for every customer. As it got busier, her siblings helped and we tried to pre-pour a dozen or so cups to stay ahead of the crowds. To keep the lemonade from getting diluted, we added a couple of ice cubes right when we served people.

selling lemonade

Eleanor’s job was to make eye contact, greet people and to ask, “would you like some lemonade”. I know this seems so stiff and formal, but half the challenge of a lemonade sale is interacting with customers in a professional and grown-up manner… she did GREAT but it’s always helpful to give kids a clear script in situations like this. There were certainly times when she was preoccupied with pouring another cup of lemonade and I had to nudge her to greet her next customer, but she was a pro by the end of the sale!

greeting customers for lemonade sale

The benefit of the $.50 cup of lemonade is that making change is very easy. Eleanor’s a pro but both Oliver and Martha could figure out what was needed when it got crowded. And just like greeting the customers, we also practiced thanking our customers for their purchase. Again, these interactions may seem silly, but for children it’s SO important to have a sense of expectations and all of these exchanges helped to boost their confidence and I could sense them gaining comfort with every interaction they had!

setting up a great lemonade stand

Other things to consider:

Timing? Location?  How long to sell?

We set up or lemonade sale right on the route of a local parade. We were there for about an hour and a half to sell to people walking down to watch the parade and we sold our last cup to one of the bagpipe players who was walking home to her car!

lemonade sale during a parade

Cost per cup?

We used paper cups that were bigger than a small Dixie cup but smaller than a Solo cup and charged $.50 a cup. We figured 2 for a dollar was reasonable and bet on people being comfortable letting the kids “keep the change”.

money bins for lemonade sale

How much to make?

I have 3 coolers that are about 2 or 3 gallons each, so that’s how much we made. (We used about 6 pounds of lemons, one bag of sugar, and 1.5 packages of paper cups.) I figured that was enough to sell lemonade for more than 30 minutes and when we ran out, the sale was over! Turns out our timing and the amount of lemons was about right.

Setting up cups for lemonade sale

Most importantly, KEEP IT FUN!

I was the ringleader, and Eleanor, Oliver and Martha were the stars. When you make fresh lemonade, there are lots of SIMPLE jobs for the kids to help with so they can feel like they are part of the whole process. (Important.) But I also tried to anticipate any hurdles or interruptions so the kids were set up for success. (VERY important!) The younger kids were happy to be along for the ride, and the three older ones were thrilled to have made some spending money for their summer vacation. And yes… they’re already asking when they can have the next sale.

setting up the best lemonade sale

selling lemonade

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tips for hosting the best, most fun, most profitable lemonade sale ever.

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  1. Such coolness all around, and congratulations to Eleanor on such a successful lemonade sale! Cheers, Ardith (P.S. kudos to mom and the siblings for helping make it so.)

    1. Thanks, Ardith! Of course now we’ve set her expectations way too high so when she sells 7 cups at the next lemonade sale it will be a big ol’ disappointment. Haha! 🙂