Putting together a parent group auction can take a lot of work and a lot of volunteers. But putting together an auction gift basket doesn’t have to! Make the most of your fun, social auction event (and maximize your profits) by offering baskets around a variety of themes to appeal to a wide range of parents and other members of your community. We’ll show you how.

Instructions for Making a Gift Basket

You will be able to do most of this process on your own, but ask a friend to help you with the cellophane and ribbon.

  1. Start by selecting a theme and go shopping for items. Your “basket” can be anything that goes with your theme. We went with an Italian theme, so we chose a pasta bowl as the basket. Note: Browse our list of 20 ideas for theme baskets to get started; they include suggested items and some creative presentation ideas. And see below for a roundup of clever names for auction gift baskets.

  2. Make sure to have scissors, ribbon, tissue paper, tape or glue, and cellophane sheets or a cellophane bag to give your basket its finishing touches.

  3. Set up your work area. We used a large folding table.

  4. Place all items on the table.

  5. Add a layer of tissue paper to the bottom of your basket to help prop up items. If you’re using a large container, you’ll need lots of tissue and may find it helpful to add newspaper or even a small cardboard box (which you can then cover in tissue paper).

  6. Begin by placing one of your sturdiest items in the center. Think of this as your centerpiece and you’ll build out around it.

  7. Add larger items and taller items behind the center item.

  8. Place smaller items toward the front.

  9. If you have an item that’s too bulky for the basket, try taking it out of the package or using just a portion of it. For example, we had a container of cookies that was too big. We opened it, selected a few smaller (individually wrapped) packs of cookies, and added those to the basket.

  10. Use softer items, like hand towels, to fill in gaps.

  11. As you add items, make sure labels are facing forward and no price tags are visible.

  12. Add tissue paper to any remaining gaps.

  13. Step back and make sure items stay in place. You can use glue dots or tape to secure items to each other.

  14. Eyeball it and feel free to rearrange a little if needed.

  15. Ask your friend to help you wrap the basket in cellophane or place it in a cellophane bag. We found the bag easier because we didn’t have to cut cellophane and shape it to the basket.

  16. Open the bag and roll down the sides down. Have one person hold the bag while the other carefully lifts the basket and lowers it into the bag.

  17. If you have any especially large items that didn’t fit in the basket, you can tuck them into the bag behind the basket.

  18. Carefully roll up the sides of the cellophane bag.

  19. Twist the top of the cellophane bag. Have one person hold the top while the other person ties the ribbon and creates a bow. Use wide, wired ribbon for the bow; it’s sturdy and can be shaped into place.

  20. Give the basket its final nip and tucks—you may want to fold and tape any cellophane flaps under the basket—and enjoy your creation!

More on Auctions

Ultimate Donation List for School Auctions

Manage Your Parent Group's Funds the Easy Way

Clever Auction Gift Basket Names

Clever names for your gift baskets can help with sales. Try using them in auction promotions to catch people’s attention and help build excitement. Here’s a roundup of basket names submitted by PTO Today community members.

Powder to the People (skiing)

Why So Tense? (massage)

Spectacular View (glasses, sunglasses, eye care)

Just What I’ve BEAN Wanting (coffee)

Through the Grapevine (wine, wine glasses)

Something To Flip Over (gymnastics)

Par for the Course (golf)

S’mores Galore (camping)

Dig It (gardening)

DELIcious (deli treats)

Rated Awesome (movies)

On Your Toes (ballet)

Dessert First (baking)

Hair’s to You (salon and styling products)

The Weight Is Over (gym membership and related items)

We Hope You Win a LOTTO (lottery tickets)

What’s the Scoop? (ice cream)

In my Spare Time (bowling)

Just for Kicks (karate)

Pain in the Neck (chiropractor)

One-Track Mind (trains, train set)

Let’s Make Up (cosmetics)

Sew What? (sewing, quilting)

Dive In (swimming)

Topping It Off (pizza)

The Dark Side (chocolate)

May the Force Be With You (Star Wars)

One Brick at a Time (Legos)

The Cat’s Meow/Dog’s Day (pets)

Taste of the Town (local restaurant gift cards)


Auction Basket Names Sheet