There is nothing more frustrating than attending a silent auction fundraiser where auction items have been haphazardly displayed. Visually pleasing auction tables are a high priority! You want bidders to get excited about the auction items displayed at your fundraising event. Your goal is to encourage people to bid on silent auction items – not pass them by.
How you set up auction tables depends on the ideas for silent auction actual number of auction items and the amount of space you have to work with. Go out to your venue and physically pre-determine where you are going to set up silent auction tables. Do a configuration of how you want to place the tables and make sure you allow plenty of “elbow room.”
It is wise to set up “mock” tables before the day of the fundraising event to show how you want the auction items arranged. When arranging mock tables, remember to place a bid sheet beside or in front of each item. Bid sheets are printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper and take up a fair chunk of space on the table.
Collect or cut out 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of cardboard in case you need to “mount” a bid sheet, e.g., when displaying a picture on a wall, hang the bid sheet with a cardboard backing from the picture itself. The cardboard backing gives bidders a hard surface to write on. Use ribbon, raffia, or twine to attach the bid sheet to auction items. (Use a foldback clip to attach the bid sheet to the cardboard.)
Tables are normally 6 or 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. You can use both sides of a 4-foot-wide table to display items, as long as the tables are not pushed up against a wall. Use tulle, painted cardboard scenes, fabric, stars, shapes, etc., as dividers down the center of tables, to utilize both sides of the length of the tables.
If tables are pushed up against a wall, use easels, stands, etc., behind the tables or use the wall itself to display items, e.g., pictures and sculptures.
Depending on the number of items you have collected, you can either place items sporadically or sort them into specific categories such as food/dining, jewelry, spa/health/fitness, sports, travel, children, etc.
Drape fabric over your auction tables to make them look more appealing. Fabric stores will often lend you a bolt or two of material in exchange for a mention in your evening’s program.
“Skirting” the silent auction tables is an alternative to using fabric. Hotels, restaurants, and golf clubs normally have an abundance of skirting and table linens on hand. Make sure you pre-arrange skirting and linens with the venue coordinator.