How to Create a Gift Basket For a Silent Auction
My Toastmasters club is having an auction fundraiser/membership drive later this month. As a member of the club – and especially as a club officer – I’ve been tasked with coming up with at least one gift basket we can use for our silent auction. Because it’s close to Halloween, we’re using that as our overall theme, along with a “Taste of Toastmasters,” a truncated Toastmasters meeting to give guests an idea what Toastmasters is all about.
Silent auctions are very popular ways to raise money. If you aren’t familiar with this fundraising method, it’s easy and fun.
Rather than have each basket be a hodge-podge of items, pick a theme to make it easier to collect items and assemble. For instance, if your theme is “movie night” your basket could be a cute popcorn bowl you found at a thrift store, new or used DVDs, coupons to a video store, microwave popcorn and soda pop. Or a “home spa” basket could have aroma therapy candles and oils, a loofah, a pumice stone, facial mask and scrub and a CD with soothing music.
Be creative. You don’t have to use a basket to hold the items. You could use a fancy wine bag to hold a bottle of wine or a plastic trick-or-treat bucket to hold Halloween items. Also, we asked members not to spend a lot of money but rather to find gently used items around their home or to “regift” items they received and didn’t want.
For my Halloween basket, I purchased the bucket and pumpkin carving tools for $3 at a dollar store. I already had the black, white and orange filler from a previous project. Because my kids are grown up and I don’t have little ones around any more to decorate for, I donated the hanging skeleton and haunted house luminaire.
As I started to assemble my basket, I realized the bucket was pretty deep. If I put enough filler in it to get the luminaire to sit high enough to be seen, I would end up using it all. I didn’t want to do that. So I found a piece of cardboard, cut it to fit inside the bucket, folded it down and set the haunted house on top. I stuffed filler all around it, stuck in the tools, and arranged the skeleton so it was propped up, taping its hanger to the back of the package.
Later, I’ll cover it with transparent packaging wrap. I’ll also make a list of the items in each of the baskets I assemble and include an approximate value of the basket. This is to give people an idea what the starting bid should be. You don’t want to have a basket filled with items worth $50 to have a starting bid of $1 and end up being sold for $15. The point is to make some money, right?
Another basket I’ll be donating is one centered around meditation. I asked the yoga center I frequent if they would be willing to donate a candle. I had lots of unopened packages of incense at home and a meditation tape I no longer listened to.
Tips on assembling your auction basket
- Have a theme – it makes it easier to come up with items and lends continuity to them instead of being a mishmash of ‘stuff’
- Think beyond baskets. For a garden theme, use a large flowerpot. Or if it’s for Halloween, try a trick-or-treat bucket
- Use cardboard to raise items up instead of using up all your filler
- Put taller items in the back, shorter things in front
- To keep items from spilling out of the basket, wrap it in transparent wrap
- Make a list of items in the basket with an approximate value to help determine starting bids
You're limited only by your imagination when it comes to creating a gift basket. Have fun with it!