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Lemonade stand: Turning lemons into dollars for charity

Updated on November 6, 2016

The lemonade stand: Turning lemons into dollars for charity

Lemonade stands are a fun and easy way for kids to raise money for charity. Here I'll cover the best locations, recipes, marketing ideas, and ways to make them fun and entertaining. Also how to add a TWIST to make it even more fun and profitable.

My sister and I use to have sell lemonade and cupcakes at a table in our front yard. That was before I was old enough to babysit and after I was young enough to pick up (glass) coke bottles to turn in for, I believe 2 cents each.

I never got an allowance as a kid, even though I performed a lot of chores around the hours. Consequently, I spent a lot of time searching for ways to make money. Besides babysitting, I mowed lawns, pulled weeds, hung clothes, ironed clothes, folded clothes -- boy did I get tired of clothes -- washed dishes, dusted, cleaned bathrooms, and caddied for my Dad!

The most fun I had earning money was selling lemonade and cupcakes with my sister, Jackie. We had so much fun and we learned a great deal about customer service, cash management, planning and of course cleanup.

I'll share with you what we did and give you some ideas of how to convert that info into a way to earn money for you or your favorite charity.

Read on and I'll also share our secret recipes and THE TWIST that had kids flocking to us dragging the grownups with them.

A simple lemonade stand (priced way too low!)

A simple lemonade stand (priced way too low!)
A simple lemonade stand (priced way too low!)

Keep it Simple, but have an alternative

As with anything you want to sell, keep it simple. Only have a couple of options. Why? Because if you give a person too many choices, they may not choose any. They'll say, "Let me think about it. I'll be back." And, they might mean it. But come back? They might not.

Lemonade and cupcakes worked well when I was a kid, but now due to the health revolution, I'd add bottled water and a non-sugared, low-fat cupcake as well. Maybe a blueberry or banana muffin.

For those people who just have to have "iced caffeine" you could sell Cokes and/or Pepsi. You can pick up good deals and sell them for $2 dollar each.

If you do this, make sure to have a recycle container available for the empties. You'll be able to turn those in at a recycle center and get a little more money for your charity.

Don't forget the dogs!

No matter where you go in our town, people are walking their dogs. What that means to your lemonade stand is that you should have a large bucket of water next to your table -- with a sign -- for our canine friends.

The sign could be something as simple as, "Dog water" or, "Dog Water Bucket", "For the Dogs". Or, be silly and make up something really silly.

If a dog drinks, the owner is more likely to buy something. In fact, they will probably feel obligated to. It's the Law of Reciprocity: You did something for me so I have to do something for you.

Give it a Twist

Give it a Twist
Give it a Twist

Give your lemonade stand a twist

As I mentioned earlier, my sister and I had it fairly easy in that we lived in a trailer park. One with a gaggle of kids of all ages. They came because we were the new shiny thing. But they stuck around because we were fun -- we had a twist to the normal bake sale.

They not only stuck around, but they attracted more kids and those kids attracted more yet. They also ran home to get money and many brought back their parents. And grownups just can't resist buying something from a kid -- especially an enterprising one.

What was our twist? It was pretty simple. We put a penny in the bottom of every 6th cupcake cup before we poured the batter and baked them. The person who found the penny got a free cupcake.

We had some cupcake without frosting (my favorites) and if someone won from one of those, then some kid would buy one of those thinking all of the non-frosted cupcakes had pennies. If someone won with a frosted cupcake with red sprinkles, then those sold.

We thought we were being optimistic by baking a dozen more cupcakes than the last sale. But, we literally always sold out no matter how cupcakes we baked. So, I guess we weren't optimistic enough!

People love surprises, the chance of winning and the hooting an hollering of the others when they won or lost.

So use this idea or come up with your own twist but have a twist and make it fun!

Another Twist Idea - Taste Test

Another Twist Idea - Coke vs Pepsi
Another Twist Idea - Coke vs Pepsi

Why not have a Coke vs. Pepsi taste challenge? You could have paper cups filled with Coke or Pepsi. Invite people to pay say, 25 or 50 cents to take the challenge to see if they can guess what was in the cup they tasted.

If they are correct, then they get a FREE drink of their choice -- Coke, Pepsi or Lemonade. People love these contests. Everyone is positive that they can tell which is which. But can they? I've seen these done and quite frankly, most people don't know the difference.

It will draw attention to your lemonade stand and more business. If it looks like more people get it right, just quietly close down the contest and sell the canned Coke and Pepsi. No one will be the wiser.

Oh yeah, don't forget to code the bottom of the cup as to what you put in it -- Coke or Pepsi.

Location, Location, Location

When we held our lemonade stands, we lived in family trailer parks with lots of kids just looking for something to do.

Other great locations would be any place where a lot of people are socializing. For instance...

In front of a busy business

Safeway in my town often allows non-profits to hold fundraisers.

Youth Sporting events

In the small town of Fort Bragg, CA, annually there is are soccer playouts where teams from all over California come to participate. It's a perfect place for holding a lemonade stand to raise money.

Garage sales

Garage or yard sales are another perfect place to have a lemonade stand. I've attended many and I always buy something from the kids even if I'm not hungry or thirsty.

Farmers Market

During the summer months Fort Bragg and Mendocino, a neighboring town, hold farmers markets. These are good locations. You'd have to check, they may charge you for participating, but it may just be worth it. Who can resist a kid with a lemonade stand?

Busy parks

Go to any busy park where parents are there with their kids on a hot day. Lots of kids, hot day, lemonade and cupcakes. What's not perfect about that?

Small town parades

Small towns seem to hold parades for just about any reason and my town is no exception. We have at least 3 every year. You could set up on any street in the town. You may even live on a street that people have to park or walk by to get to the parade.

Dog parks

where there are many dogs exercising their people. Set up near the water fountains -- make it like the water-cooler at work where people can stop and chat with other dog lovers.

Maybe make dog cookies too.They'd sell great!

RECIPE: best lemonade EVER!

This is the recipe we used for lemonade and it was so good, we had to keep ourselves from drinking our profits!

What really makes this recipe so good is making the syrup first - try it, you'll LOVE it!


24 4-oz servings OR 12 8-oz servings


2 cup sugar

2 cup water

2 cup lemon juice

7-8 cups cold water

1. Make a syrup by putting the sugar and 2 cups of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely - stir often.

2. Juice 8 to 12 lemons, enough for 2 cups of juice.

3 Add the juice and the sugar syrup to a large pitcher or gallon jar. Add 7-8 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength.

4. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.


If it's too sweet or weak for you, add a little straight lemon juice.

Serve over ice.

The perfect mini-cupcake pan

Cuisinart AMB-24MMP Chef's Classic Nonstick Bakeware 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan, Silver
Cuisinart AMB-24MMP Chef's Classic Nonstick Bakeware 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan, Silver
This non-stick mini-cupcake pan is perfect for those tiny, bite-size cupcakes. Great whether you're baking for a sale or at home.

RECIPE: The best yellow cupcakes ever

When we were kids, we used a Betty Crocker cake mix to make the cupcakes. These mixes are still a good choice today. They work especially well for younger children to make.

If however, you'd prefer homemade, which really can't be beat, this is my favorite recipe. These cupcakes taste great and but require a little more effort than a mix.

Makes: 2 dozen

Preheat oven to 350


5-1/3 cups sifted flour (cake flour preferred)

1 tsp salt

4-1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups milk

3 tsp vanilla

1 pound butter or margarine (4 sticks unsalted)

3 cups sugar

8 egg yolks

8 egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar


1. Sift together the four, baking powder and salt.

2. Add milk and vanilla to the mixture and mix well.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy (20-30 seconds).

4. Gradually add the sugar on high speed to the butter.

5. Add the mixture from #1 and 2 above to the butter and sugar mixture and beat on high speed for 4 minutes.

6. Beat the egg yolks together in another bowl.

7. Slowly add the egg yolks to the mixture.

8. Beat the egg whites in a glass bowl until peaks form.

9. Fold the egg whites into the mixture -- do not beat.

10. Pour into muffin pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes -- until a toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.


Cool before frosting.

RECIPE: Butter Cream frosting like Mom used to make

Frosts 2 dozen cupcakes


1-1/3 cup soft butter or margarine

6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar

3 tsp vanilla

4 tablespoons milk


1. Blend butter and sugar well.

2. Add vanilla and milk.

3. Beat until smooth.


If too stiff, add milk -- a drop at a time until desired consistency.

RECIPE: Simple but delicious Banana Muffins

A healthy alternative

This recipe is very simple but very good and good for you!

Makes: 2 dozen

Preheat oven to 360


6 ripe bananas

4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil (canola or olive)

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda


2 cups walnuts chopped


1. Mash and cream the bananas in a large bowl

2. Add oil and sugar to the mixture and mix well.

3. Sift remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) together then add to the banana mixture.

4. If adding walnuts, gently fold them into dough.

5. Pour into muffin pans and bake for approximately 10 minutes -- until a toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.

NOTES: One thing you might do is make 1 dozen without walnuts, then add the walnuts to the 2nd dozen. Put a walnut half on top of the ones with walnuts so you can tell which is which.

Something for everyone

Something for everyone
Something for everyone

Mini-cupcakes -- something for everyone

Mini-cupcakes could be a big seller for you. There are many people on restricted diets and can only have a small amount of sweets.

Others may be dieting to lose weight and the mini-cupcakes appeals to them -- it allows them to be bad, but not that bad.

And then there are the kids that show up with a couple of quarters and really want to buy something to help the animals -- or whatever charity your raising money for.

Mini-cupcakes allow you to have something for everyone.

FIV Cat Rescue
FIV Cat Rescue | Source

Don't Forget Your Charity's Handouts

Don't forget to have handouts: newsletters, flyers or other informational items for your charity out for interested parties. Maybe even a donation can.

Call and ask your charity for materials. They'll be more than happy to provide you with some for your lemondade stand. They might even give you an item to sell such as t-shirts, hats or other merchandise with their name on it.

Sunkist, yes of lemon fame, has a program to help kids take a stand and help a charity. On the Take a Stand web site, you can get Tools, Tips and Recipes.

"Get help selecting a charity, tips for running a successful stand, printable signs, refreshing lemonade recipes, food safety tips and more."

You can also get:

Lemonade For Sale Poster

Stand Price Sign

Stand Sales Tracker

How to Price Your Product

What more do you need? A TWIST!

For complete information, click, Take a Stand

Lemonade Stand Books for Younger Readers On Amazon

© 2008 Frankie Kangas


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