Silent Auction Basket Ideas
Give your silent auction baskets and online auction packages a 2021 update. Most of us have spent more time at home in the past year than we have our entire lives. This has changed the way folks think of their home spaces (in essence, less “crash pad”, more “busy nest”). So let’s also change the way YOU look at your online and in-person silent auction offerings! Folks are hungry for easy-to-procure and DIY tips. With that in mind, here are some silent auction basket ideas for a (hopefully soon-to-be) post-pandemic world.
Food + Drink
1. Master Chef’s Must-Have
In the early stages of the pandemic, it seemed like a lot of folks took to their kitchens to hone their cooking and baking skills. Many were surprised by how much they enjoyed it! So create a basket with special tools for the SERIOUS chef. Include an air fryer or pressure cooker, a high-end blender or food processor (or both!), maybe a Dutch oven. A microplane. A salad spinner – did you know, you can use these for more than just drying your greens? Throw in some spices and maybe a bottle of top shelf organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Bon appetit!
2. In the Kitchen with Kids
Turns out, there ARE benefits to having kids in the kitchen! A basket full of curated baking supplies has consistently sold well in silent and online auctions. Tailor it towards the kiddos (especially if it’s a school auction) with colorful measuring cups and other utensils. Cooking and/or baking with kids is a great family activity. It gets them interested in making their own food, which might just pay off big time for YOU in the not-too-distant future! Include a kid-friendly cookbook (or two) along with those colorful utensils, oven mitts, maybe a bag of flour and sugar and you’re ready to sell!
3. Chocolate City
“I don’t like chocolate,” said no one ever. Make it your gift basket theme and go crazy for chocolate. Put together a variety of gourmet chocolates, chocolate-covered fruits and nuts, some fancy hot chocolate mix, those delicious chocolate-covered coffee beans. Include milk, white and dark varieties. Because we all know, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants! It’s practically a health food. If you want to spend a little more on this basket, include a chocolate fondue set. Or even better, a chocolate fountain! You can build a party around a chocolate fountain! No kidding. Your guests will be like moths to its flame. You can also raise the value of this basket by adding a certificate for a chocolate factory tour, with all the sweet treats. Chocolate is awesome so let’s have a chocolate celebration.
4. Gourmet Happy Hour
Since we’re thinking with our taste buds, how about pulling together a gourmet happy hour? Start with a couple of nice bottles, then include a variety of delicious amuse-bouches that pair well with wine. Lavish cheeses like camembert, gouda, aged cheddar.. Is your mouth watering yet? (Fun fact: Ever wonder why wine and cheese go together as well as peanut butter and jelly? It’s because the fat from the cheese coats your mouth, making white wine less citric and red wine less astringent.) Include some smoked salmon, fancy nuts and dry salami and your happy hour will be fit for a queen! If you like, round out your happy hour silent auction basket with high quality olive oils and vinegars and display it all in a lovely, reusable serving tray. Irresistible!
5. Homebrew or Homemade Wine
A basket full of delicious craft beer is sure to sell well, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where we are passionate about quality brewskis! Take it to the next level by adding a few bottles of high-end beer to a beer-making kit. Ever brewed your own beer? It’s not that hard! It’s a bit of a process, but it’s also a lot of fun, especially with a friend or two on hand. Best of all, a few weeks later (after the fermenting process), you can toast yourself and your helpful friends with your very own creation! Homebrewing kits are not super expensive, and often you can find recipes, too. So see if you can re-create your own Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Or if you prefer darker brews, try your hand at a stout. Bonus: You WILL save money on beer!
You can also try this with wine. Make-your-own-wine kits are generally about $60-$100 dollars and are good for producing around 30 bottles of wine. Again, another fun activity with friends, and you can invite them back over when it’s ready. Then everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Pun intended.
6. Vintner’s Deligh
Maybe your guests would prefer to leave the winemaking to the experts. In that case (another pun intended), if you know you have a lot of guests who appreciate wine in your crowd, go with the tried-and-true wine basket. There are so many ways to do this – it’s primarily dependent on how much your guests will spend. Keep it simple, with a few bottles, a unique opener and maybe a wine rack. You can make it a higher-end basket by including some custom-labeled bottles, a wine fridge, and maybe some nice wine reference books. Or if you REALLY want to go for it, send your guests to wine country! Offer airfare, lodging and a winery tour/tasting experience. Wine not?
7. Karaoke Night
Chances are even as restaurants and bars open up, no one will be eager to take the mic that someone else has just had VEEERY close to their mouth for several minutes. Singing your heart out in a crowded bar might have to wait, but you can bring the party to you with a karaoke machine. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, regardless of how skilled your singers are. Consider including donated voice lessons to sweeten this online silent auction basket. Voice lessons can be fun for both the songbirds AND those who are, shall we say, musically challenged.
8. Concertgoer’s Dream
Perhaps you’d rather leave the singing to the pros? Then let’s put together a fun music-themed silent auction gift basket! Concerts were obviously out in 2020, but they’re making a comeback in 2021. Great news for those of us live music fans! If you can procure tickets to a local concert, you can build your silent auction basket around them. Include earbuds or headphones, add an iTunes gift card and maybe a gift card to Ticketmaster.
9. Hooray for Holidays!
Is it summer yet?? Get in the spirit by putting together an online silent auction basket with an Independence Day theme. Red, white and blue napkins, candles, placemats, tablecloths. Maybe a few sparklers. If you can procure a barbecue, the price on this package will shoot up like fireworks! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) How about tickets to a local fireworks display, with parking included?
10. Let’s Get Wild
When it comes to observing wild animals and aquatic life, we have some catching up to do. Zoos, animal parks and aquariums were closed for much of 2020. So the time is right for a silent auction gift basket offering a variety of animal activities – Oregon Zoo passes, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon – think of it as an all-access pass to Go Wild! The animal lovers in your crowd will fall all over each other to snag this one.
11. Camping Upgrade
Doesn’t it seem like serious campers are always eager to upgrade their gear? Take advantage of this attitude with a camping-themed package. Now before you start the procurement process, first and foremost – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! Are they car campers, or do they like to hike in and out with huge backpacks on their backs? Are they glampers? Glamping is becoming more and more popular and there are a ton of products tailored to this crowd. For example, a shower system that heats up your source water, so you can take a HOT SHOWER when camping. Yes, please! So whether it’s for the big items (the aforementioned shower system, a super sweet camping mattress that’s as comfortable as your home mattress, a roll-top kitchen), or the small items (those ubiquitous blue cups, headlamps, binoculars), it’s pretty easy to build a camping-themed silent auction basket. And have fun with a display that’ll work for both high end items and modest ones. Set up a small tent or cooler and fill it with camping gear. Summer is coming. Let’s get out and enjoy the great outdoors!
12. Hot Air Balloon
Here’s an idea for a silent auction basket that will have ALL your guests talking, and a lot of them bidding! Offer up vouchers for an unforgettable hot air balloon ride. You can make your own paper mache model of a hot air balloon to display this item. Or find a model of a hot air balloon at a craft store. Spice it up with some wine and cheese and you’re sure to generate lots of buzz AND revenue!
13. Date Night
Date night packages have always been big hits in silent auctions. Now that more and more people are getting comfortable with going out again, date night packages will be even MORE valuable. A nice dinner and a movie (Remember movies? We remember.) will be very popular in the current climate! Throw in an Uber or Lyft gift certificate or maybe even a limo, if you think that would be suitable for the folks in your crowd. You can also be a little unconventional and include an activity in your date night package, like a gift certificate for a rock climbing adventure. You know what they say about the couples that play together.
14. Get in the Garden
Garden-themed baskets sell consistently well. They’re even hotter now, since people are spending more time at home and in the backyard. Whether it’s for flowers OR food, encourage folks to get their hands dirty with a garden-themed online silent auction basket. Gloves. Seeds and/or starts. Potting soil. Gardening gloves and clogs. Get creative with your display and setup, too – keep in mind, people will most likely be looking at a picture of your basket for an online silent auction. So think of how it will look and make it pretty! Maybe display the items in a watering can? Or wrap a coil of hose at the bottom, serving as a makeshift “basket” to display the gardening gifts. What can you come up with that will look irresistible to your online silent auction shoppers?
Your supporters will REALLY want to get in the garden if it’s in the midst of a lovely new landscape! This is a service that exploded in 2020, bringing forth trends like pollinator gardens and other eco-conscious elements. People want their home spaces spiffed up, and with nicer weather on the way (hallelujah!!!), outdoor living areas are a top priority. So a gift card for landscaping services will sell very well right now. Put it in a small planter or anything, really, as long as it follows the outdoorsy theme.
16. Outdoor Living Spaces
Spring is typically a time to think about sprucing up our outdoor living spaces. And with all the indoor time we’ve spent between four walls, we’re seeing increased interest in things like gazebos, new decks and/or patios, covered porches and firepits. Whether it’s just a minor improvement or a major overhaul, outdoor living areas are getting a lot of love and attention!
17. Home Office Away From Home
For some, working from home was temporary. But others may never go back to the traditional office, so that makeshift home office setup doesn’t look quite so appealing when viewed through a long-term lens. Enter stand alone office builds. Whether it’s a prefab setup for the backyard or garage, or a permanent home add-on, home office setups are HOT sellers right now. How to display it? Assuming you don’t have an architect on speed-dial waiting to build you a model, you can always put together an assortment of generic office supplies with a nice picture of the stand alone office build. Potential bidders will be more likely to bid if they can envision it in their own backyards.
18. Handyperson Package
Keeping with the theme of improving home spaces, see if you can procure a handyperson package, where all of those little projects you haven’t found the time or energy to complete finally get done! Dripping faucets, running toilets, that garbage disposal that’s not working… Pretty much everything having to do with home improvement, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, will likely sell very well.
19. Car Detailing
Seriously. What driver WOULDN’T want this? Have you ever had your car professionally detailed? It’s like you’re driving a brand-new one. If you already keep your car tidy and have a “no eating inside” rule, you can give a car detailing service as a gift. (Trust us – your friends with children would LOVE to receive this one!) Procure a gift card for detailing services and surround it with the works! Car wash mitts and/or microfiber towels, car wash gift cards, wax, windshield wipes, air fresheners (or not. Some of those smell SO gross).
20. Spa or Self-Care Day
Pamper your guests by offering a spa day at home. Fill a basket with a soft bathrobe, cozy slippers, and an assortment of facial masks (the kind to pamper your skin, not the kind we’ve been wearing for 12+ months), cleansers, lotions and creams. Add some fancy shampoos, conditioners and bath bombs and you’re well on your way to creating a luxurious at-home spa day basket. To raise the bar and the package value, add a gift certificate or two for salon services of your choice.
21. Man Cave
Appeal to the cave dwellers in your crowd – AND their partners – with items for a man cave. Think cigars, whiskey, snacks. You might also include a dart game and a poker set, complete with cards and poker chips. Add some golf balls, tees and a gift certificate for a round of golf and you’re all set!
INDULGENCE is the name of this game. Calories don’t count on vacation, right? So don’t count them on staycation, either. Put together an assortment of delicious treats. Don’t forget the candles – lots of candles! They’re relaxing, special and add plenty of atmosphere. Maybe a couple of novels or magazines. You can also purchase a temporary subscription for a streaming service. Ramp this package up with gift cards to local eateries, museums, brew pubs, any tourist attraction. This is another one where it’s important to know your crowd, in order to put together the staycation-themed silent auction basket that will fetch the highest price possible for your demographic.
23. A Day’s Drive
For folks who are comfortable getting out but want to stay relatively close to home, vacations you can drive to might just be a perfect fit. Don’t want to stay in a hotel where housekeeping has been suspended because of covid? Check out Airbnb or VRBO and procure something within driving distance. Or reach out to your supporters who have vacation homes at the coast, Central or Eastern Oregon, or Ashland. See if they’d be willing to donate some nights. You’re on your way to building a silent auction basket around a regional adventure! Driveable vacations to private homes are akin to dipping your toe in the pool to see how cold it is before you jump in. If it goes well, you might just be ready to hop on a plane…
24. Ready to Fly Away?
“Fly, scatter through the country – go to the Great West,” wrote New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, way back in 1837. Flights to the west remain popular today in our PNW market. Hawaii, San Diego, Palm Springs, Scottsdale – we’re getting warmer, aren’t we?! If you think it’s right for your crowd, build a silent auction basket around a plane trip that’s not halfway across the country. Or maybe your guests DO want to fly halfway across the country (or farther). If so, there are oh so many fun destinations to choose from!
25. Ready to Fly FAR Away?
Now that we’re really getting out there, your guests have some tough decisions ahead of them. What part of the country is calling? New York City? Family vacation to Orlando, for a visit to the recently reopened Disney World? Maybe your guests would like to experience early American history through Boston’s Freedom Trail, followed by a tour of the Sam Adams brewery. A consignment vendor like our trusted partner, Auction Packages, can help with the details, planning – even concierge services. Start thinking about how you want to set up a travel-themed silent auction basket. Travel pillow, headphones, snacks, disinfectant wipes?
26. Ready to Fly FAR, FAR Away
Dust off that passport! National AND international trips will be super hot again soon. How does Bali sound? Or Tuscany? We work with some amazing consignment companies like Sojourn Ventures and Mitch Stuart. We can help you procure an incredible international adventure, if you think it’s something your crowd would go for. Let us know! The world is slowly opening and many of us are SO ready to see new places.
27. Raffle Basket Ideas
Raffle baskets have a place in your silent auction (assuming your local laws allow for them). They sell especially well when they meet these two benchmarks: Widespread appeal and high value. So if you can procure a consignment package for a special trip, your silent auction is a great place to sell it. Think family vacations to desirable destinations, whether they’re drivable (local faves: Sunriver, Black Butte, Great Wolf Lodge) or flyable (Scottsdale, Palm Springs, Hawaii). And as always, know your audience before you brainstorm raffle basket ideas for your silent auction. What did your donors go wild for in last year’s silent auction? Which items garnered the most attention and/or bids? Were they travel-related, service-related, hobby and/or activity related? Let data from past years guide your decisions regarding raffle baskets. We saw an org have great success raffling off a donated car. They sold one thousand tickets at $100 a pop – netting $100,000. Now THAT’S serious ROI!! Pro tip: Just don’t forget to get your hands on local code and a raffle license first.
It’s a different world now and it’s time for a different strategy when planning and procuring items for your silent and online auctions. The categories themselves probably won’t look dramatically different to you. Food/drink, activities, services and travel are still selling well and likely always will. But in order to adapt to this new world, try looking at your procurement process through an updated lens. The pandemic taught us there’s no place like home. (Well, technically Glinda the good witch of the North did, but we digress.) So do keep home in mind when you start putting together your packages. We hope you enjoy and are inspired by these silent auction basket ideas. Maybe you’re ready to come up with your own gift basket themes. Reach out – we’d love to start working on a successful silent auction (and online auction) with you!