The author making lemonade with her kids.
I don’t know which one of us thought of the idea first — my older sister or myself. But lickety-split, we went from moping on the curb to jumping up with a plan: a lemonade stand.
My sister was eleven; I was eight. We scrounged up some notebook paper and used thick markers from my school box to create the signage. The lemon tree, growing wild on the side of the road, didn’t stand a chance. Within seconds it became a “who can pick lemons fastest” game. We trudged home with our t-shirts loaded like kangaroo pouches with the fruits of our labor.
We cut the fruit, then wrenched the halved orbs back-and-forth on the manual juicer. Miraculously, everything else was in the cupboard: sugar, cups and a pitcher.
We set up shop on the side of the road with the most traffic. Our first few sales were a boon to our confidence. On that day, we became Barnum and Bailey. Our cupped hands morphed into megaphones, “LEMONADE! Get your fresh-squeezed lemonade!” By 4 p.m., we had earned enough money to walk to the nearby 7-11 to buy candy and play Pac-Man for hours.
It was a simple experience, but it made a huge impression on me — a slice of the American Dream in a tasty afternoon package. And no doubt the reason that the tradition is still alive and well in neighborhoods today.
That’s why, every summer, I always make time for a lemonade stand. Both in homage to my own childhood, but also because it’s a fantastic way for kids to get a taste for the entrepreneurial spirit.
At our house, it’s an all hands on deck affair. I have five kids so it can be a bumpy ride, with a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But it’s worth the effort. Watching my kids working together, contributing their creativity in a fun, hands-on learning experience is a joy. And, at the end of the day, chances are pretty good that if they work together to create a quality product and execute their marketing plan, they will be rewarded for their efforts.
Tips for a Successful Lemonade Stand
- Help facilitate, but don’t micro-manage.
- Making homemade lemonade provides a rich landscape for kids to create a recipe, work together and make a delicious product.
- Have your kids write out two lists: a grocery list and a supply list for what they’ll need on site.
- Treat kids like the budding entrepreneurs they are, and let them make the decisions. For example, organic lemons might be ideal, but they are more expensive so is it worth the cost?
- Make sure kids help tidy the kitchen and sanitize the workspace.
- Butter knives are great for little ones to cut the lemons.
- Don’t forget the handmade lemonade sign and the tape! You’ll also need a till with dollar bills and coins to make change.
- Teach kids the importance of making eye contact, using their best manners and providing amazing customer service.
- Avoid the urge to “mom-manage” the process. If your kids are old enough, leave them for a bit. Independence is a huge part of this process.