Benefit Auction Ideas: Use Non-Floral Centerpieces

Published: 08th April 2010
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Copyright (c) 2010 Red Apple Auctions LLC

Many of the benefit auctions I work use a floral centerpiece on the table. I certainly enjoy the freshness they bring to a table, but I've also seen some creative non-floral centerpieces at my auction fundraisers.

Most often an organization will opt for a non-floral centerpiece due to cost. As attractive as they are, flowers can be expensive. Flowers are a "nice to have," not a "need to have," so they can be quickly cut from a budget. A beautiful table is still the benchmark for the benefit event.

Kids can be tapped into as the manpower to create many non-floral centerpieces. This is useful if you are running a school auction or a non-profit which benefits children.

At the "Night at the Museum" benefit auction each table had a creative centerpiece showcasing a different museum around the United States. A popular table hosted the National Baseball Hall of Fame museum.

Often times, a benefit auction will opt for a cornucopia when they go with non-floral centerpieces. What I am calling cornucopia is the tablescapes that are created with a collection of items and those might not be consistent across all the tables.

If you have volunteers managing the centerpieces, each member might be assigned a table and have a list of supply options that can be sourced from a personal collection or home. While not consistent across tables, the centerpieces will still carry out the theme. It will be easier for volunteers to pull items from their homes, like blue bottles and shells, to coordinate tables. The tables won't be exact matches, but the cost of a professional florist is eliminated and the theme can still be carried out.

A star example of cornucopia

Last fall, my team and I worked an event in southern Virginia which was one of the most attractive events I've ever attended. It wasn't a large audience — the crowd only numbered around 225 — but the decor and atmosphere was exquisite! It was one of the more magical auctions I've attended.

The theme was Treasures of the Deep. All-things-of-underwater-intrigue could be found here. The dark, mysterious, quiet of the ocean seemed to come alive in this benefit auction.

One of the elements that made this event so eye catching was the centerpieces. I couldn't help but admire how creative the florist had been to create such elegant focal points for the tables.

Every centerpiece was different. Some were more traditional centerpieces, whereas other tables had collections of items one might imagine to be found on a sunken ship, like unusually shaped and dark-colored bottles. Collections of shells, starfish, and stones were scattered about the table.

For those tables with a "living" element, the predominant vegetation looked like sea grasses. Other centerpieces consisted of arrangements of unusual plants that were reminiscent of an underwater garden.


Award-winning fundraising auctioneer Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS runs Red Apple Auctions, a firm specializing in teaching non-profits the techniques proven to grow auction profitability. She offers a number of FREE auction ideas on her website, including the popular Auction Item Guide, a meaty compilation of best-selling auction items . Sign-up for the Guide at Red Apple Auctions.

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