When you’re planning a school auction, the most important aspect of the auction items is that they appeal to the guests. Anyone with money to offer should be motivated to bid on at least one item. As you begin to brainstorm ideas, remember to consider the attendees’ interests, the theme of the auction, and the price range appropriate for the socioeconomic statuses of those in your community. Ask yourself these questions:


Who’s attending, and what are their interests?

It’s likely there will be at least four types of attendees at the auction: students, parents, teachers, and staff. While many of the items should be catered towards the students, it’s important to also include items that attract the adults.


For students, especially children, you can offer a wide range of special experiences to be had with teachers and staff, such as an off-campus lunch with a teacher or a “Secretary for a Day” prize where a student spends the day, or part of the day, doing small tasks and errands for the staff. Items for students could also be a class pizza party, tutoring sessions with a favorite teacher, and, for high schoolers especially, VIP season passes to an amusement park or a designated parking spot for the rest of the year.


While parents are likely bidding on behalf of their children, it’s also effective to include auction items that appeal to the adults, like student art pieces, front row seats at graduation or a special speaker event, a yoga lesson, a month of free child care, or a family photo shoot.


Staff can also be enticed by items that offer convenience or luxury: a summer getaway, gas for a year, a kindle/nook, or a handy appliance.


And, of course, themed baskets can be exciting for anyone. Try to strike a balance between baskets filled with fun, new toys, and baskets with spa items or gift cards.


Does your auction have a theme?

If your auction has a theme, stick to it with coordinating items. For example, if it’s an entertainment theme, seek out items like signed albums or posters, movie or concert tickets, music lessons, instruments, or movie-related collectibles. If it’s fairy-tale themed, include a trip to Disney World, movie tickets, a custom-made costume by a local designer, or a gift certificate to a bookstore. Take advantage of the theme you’ve already set up.


What are appropriate minimum bids?

Lastly, consider the socioeconomic statuses in the community of your school. There should always be at least a few major items, but make sure there are also smaller items available to bid on, too. Your auction will be most successful when your guests have fun and are motivated, and comfortable, to make bids.


Holding a school auction takes forethought, so keep your guests in mind when making choices for which items to include. Remember that balance is key to having an exciting and appealing array of items.