Silent Auction Basket Ideas

by Pamela Martin

Silent auctions are worth the hard work involved, writes Joe Garecht, of The Fundraising Authority, because they can raise large amounts of money, provide engaging entertainment and attract new members for the sponsoring organization. Creative basket ideas add to the enjoyment and profitability of the events, as well.

Tips for Creating Baskets

Building a donation basket around a theme makes it easier to select the contents and to generate excitement in bidders, and they give you a broad canvas for creativity. Also, keep the value of the basket somewhere around $40 to $50, as people will be more likely to bid higher and on more than one item that way. Include a list of the items in the basket, and display the contents in an attractive way, including wrapping it in colorful cellophane and adding ribbons and bows. If you have gift cards or certificates to include, place them in CD jewel boxes to keep them from getting lost and to add color to the display.

Tips for Containers

A gift basket does not have to be in a basket. Use a container that reflects the theme of the contents, like a backpack for a camping-themed donation or a cake pan for a baking basket. Even a box that you’ve painted or covered with gift wrap or scrapbooking paper works well. If you want to stay with a basket, check garage sales and resale shops for inexpensive options. A little spray paint and some ribbon or beads will transform a container from faded to fabulous.

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Food-Related Themes

Coffee and tea lovers will enjoy a basket containing different flavors of the beverages, a mug or matching cup and saucer, flavored creamers, a small coffee or tea pot, a cozy and a strainer, along with biscotti, cookies or scones. Put together a baking stone, a pizza cookbook, an oven mitt, pizza cutter and herbs and spices for a pizza basket, or fill a slow-cooker with a pretty kitchen towel, a cookbook and the nonperishable ingredients for a particular recipe. Highlight summer sundaes with a basket of sundae dishes, a scoop and a variety of sprinkles and toppings, along with a grocery store or ice cream shop gift card. Appeal to the adult crowd with a happy hour basket with a drink shaker, mixers, drink umbrellas or swords, olives, glasses and cocktail napkins.

Family Themes

Movie night lends itself to an entertaining collection when you fill a popcorn bowl with microwave popcorn, movie theater candy and gift cards for movie rentals. Help bidders with a family game night by filling a storage tub with a regular deck of cards, a classic game like Monopoly or Clue and some specialty card games like Old Maid, Uno or Skip-bo. Encourage family fitness with a gym bag filled with towels, sweat bands, water bottles, hand weights, jump ropes and a trial gym membership. Or, focus on fun zones with family memberships to the zoo, a children’s museum or a local theme park, along with related items such as hats, sunscreen or cameras.

Hobby Themes

Fill a sturdy project tote with yarn, patterns, instructional books or videos and knitting needles or crochet hooks for needlework enthusiasts, or pack paper, specialty scissors, stamps and punches, markers, albums and a disposable camera into a storage container for scrapbookers. Start a young artist off with a basket filled with paints, brushes, papers, canvas, drawing and colored pencils, stencils and artists’ chalks. For the gardeners, add gloves, hand spades and shovels, potting soil, plant food and seeds or bulbs to a planter, or thrill the car buff with a bucket filled with a hose sprayer, wheel brush, body and tire cleaners, window spray, a sponge, an oil change gift card and a gas card.

Indulgence Themes

Give a head start on a romantic getaway with an overnight bag containing his and her bathrobes, wine glasses, a bottle of wine, some gourmet chocolates and a gift certificate for a bed-and-breakfast or a luxury hotel. Fill a waterproof container with items for a decadent spa treatment, including soaps, bubble bath, bath and massage oils, lotions, scented candles, a bath pillow, nail polish and nail files. Indulge Fido or Kitty with a new collar, a leash, food dish and mat, grooming tools, toys, gourmet food and treats such as bones or catnip.

About the Author

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.

Photo Credits

  • Kris Robertson/Demand Media
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