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Venice seems to be one of the most popular charity auction themes. Something about the city’s canals, its Carnival, and its rich Italian culture seem to capture our imaginations. Venice-themed benefit galas often use masks as decorations and sale items. If you’re planning a Venice-themed event, here are some ideas on how to use your masks to create a colorful Italian escape for your auction guests.
Consider using the masks in your centerpieces. Some masks are “half-masks” and cover only the eyes. These look attractive when balanced on top of a round, tall glass vase filled halfway with water, and a single flower floating in the vase. You might want to arrange a fresh floral ring around the base of the vase to add width. Each centerpiece may showcase a different mask with varied colors and flowers, adding a unique flare to each table.
To accompany your centerpieces, you can affix masks to handles and leave them at each place setting. Fun-loving guests will appreciate having a lovely piece of Venice to play with during the night… and take home after the auction.
Elsewhere, you might use full-face masks. Strategically place these more elaborate masks throughout your venue to enhance your theme.
For instance, you might add a decoration in the bathroom at your venue. Artfully display a mask or more in the corner of the restroom. Taking the time to extend your theme into the restroom is a creative and interesting way to keep your guests “at the auction” even when they briefly step away from the conversation.
If your benefit auction venue has a grand staircase, consider using the masks to decorate the banister or stairwell posts. Tie them to posts and it will add to the grand ambiance, providing a beautiful entrance into your Venice-themed evening. Using the same tactic, you can also affix these pieces on columns in your venue. Each column can display a unique mask, giving your guests a feast for their eyes as they make their way from one side of the site to another.
Finally, if your gala auction has valet parking, you can take advantage of this service by leaving a thoughtful gift in each guest’s vehicle. A small mini-mask, or a gift with a mini-mask tied into the bow could be left on the dashboard. This considerate souvenir will be a fond remembrance of the evening – a little piece of Venice to make them smile as they drive home.
Your most elaborate displays – the centerpieces, the floral displays on the stairwell and columns, etc. – can drum up dollars for your cause, as well. Some groups will offer the masks for a flat fee (usually the price tag is affixed to each mask) or auction one or two of the more extravagant masks during the live auction. If the masks are of good quality and (ideally) from Venice, guests often leap at the opportunity to purchase them.
Award-winning benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS teaches volunteer auction chairpersons how to have more financial successful auction fundraisers. She offers a free Auction Item Guide on her Website which gives fresh and unusual procurement ideas to auction committee members who need to know \”what sells best\” at the auction. Sign up for the Guide on her website.