Budget Charity Auction Basket

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May 16, 2019 by kittynh

I’ve been putting together several vintage baskets, or collections, for a charity auction. People looking at this first basket have said “I couldn’t do that”. But of course they could. Anyone can. Best of all, anyone can do this on a budget!

So, how do you put together a BASKET for an auction?


Vintage recipe box starts the basket

*Start with one object

My inspiration for the cooking basket was the old wooden recipe box filled with recipes. The recipes in this box are both hand written and clipped from the local paper and magazines.

*Pick a theme

The theme inspired by the recipe box was vintage cooking.  I went to my favorite charity thrift store and started shopping.  Never expect to get all you need in one visit.  You want to build a grouping of items both big and small.  The King Arthur flour container is lovely and in perfect condition.  There is also a small, but perfect, depression glass bowl that can hold the vintage cookie cutters.


The little bowl holds the bridge card themed cookie cutters. Everything is CLEAN.

*Buy nice items in good condition

Buy as if you were going to resell these items.  That depression glass bowl goes for about $20 on Ebay.  I paid $2 and it has no chips or cracks.  Don’t include any items that you wouldn’t sell to a collector.  You may not be paying much, but you want the person that wins this basket to be very happy.  You want the winner to come back for next years auction, talking about the great deal they won last year!


The basket and the pretty hand woven placemat frame the items

*Find something to hold the collection

A basket or a tray, something that ties all the items together is important.  No one wants to see a bunch of items just thrown on a table.  If you have to buy something, buy it.  I was lucky to find a $3 basket that doesn’t quite close, but it holds all the things together and keeps to the theme.  This is the one exception to my “The items should be. in perfect condition” rule.  Buying a basket like this new and I’m way over my budget.  Speaking of which…


Nothing over $5 here.  But all in great shape and clean.

*Keep to a realistic budget

Don’t collect items and then be upset the winner paid less than you spend putting the collection together.  If you are going to over spend, just donate the money.  This is not a contest to see who can put together the nicest items.   Knowledge is key to getting a great collection, without spending a lot of money.  So think “What knowledge do I have?”  Use it to get some bargains.  If I bought all these items at true value, I would have spent well over $100.  I hope the basket does sell for around $100.  But I don’t have that kind of money to spend myself.


Why not a Bicentennial plate?

*Let others help

When I dropped off this basket at the Historical Society of Cheshire County, the wonderful staff there helped make the basket even better.  “We should have some local honey for the honey jar.” We should, and they know who to ask to donate some honey.  How about the King Arthur Flour container?  “Let’s see if they will donate a gift certificate?”  What other local resources do we have that could donate baking and cooking items to this basket?  Now the basket is becoming even more of an attractive auction item.


Some items may be worth a lot more than you paid.  The honey pot is from a pottery no longer in business, and the “tiki” wooden spoon and fork are actually from Switzerland.

*Tall in the back, short in the front

Gardeners know, you plant the tall flowers in the back and the short in front.  That’s decorating 101 also.  So if. you think “I can’t put that together”, yes you can.  Just keep remembering to make everything as visible as possible, even while they are gathered in a group.  Tall in the back, short in the front.


Everything is ready for use by a modern chef.


If you don’t want people to TOUCH, you can raise the items in the back with the use of small boxes, and cover the bottom with some cloth or covering. Use the special plastic used for covering gift baskets.  Tie a nice bow on top.  If the item is in the basket or collection, it should be SEEN.  Otherwise take it out.

I hope these few suggestions help those wishing to contribute to an auction, but not sure how to do it on a budget.  Almost anything can make a collection.

Good luck with your thrifting adventures!


Note, I’ve opened a small ETSY shop to help me save up for a painting by my favorite local painter.  I’d like to buy this for ME, though donations to my PayPal welcome!  So, check it out if you like, if nothing else the descriptions are worth reading.  One glass of wine does that to me.  lillydamita  is the shop.

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