Gift baskets make effective auction items because they can contain many different kinds of items. It's also easier to obtain appropriate items for a basket since you can fit many smaller items into it instead of having to search for one big-ticket item to auction off. To maximize interest in a basket you're planning on presenting at an auction, create a theme for it (e.g., gourmet foods, sports paraphernalia, day of beauty).
Pick a sport or even a specific sports team and put together a basket centered around that theme. For example, you could include tickets to a local sporting event, a high-profile player's jersey, and an autographed photo or piece of sports equipment.
To create a coffee-themed basket, include coffee beans from all over the world, flavoring syrups like the ones they use at coffee shops, and mugs of different sizes—you can include standard-sized coffee mugs along with demitasse cups. A stovetop espresso maker, called a macchinetta, is also a valuable, inexpensive inclusion.
International Food Basket
Include ingredients to make dishes from different world cuisines. For example, create a sushi gift basket with short-grain Japanese rice, seaweed wrapping, a makisu (a bamboo mat that aids in wrapping), a rice paddle known as a shamoji and other tools of the trade. For a paella gift basket, include serrano ham, short-grain rice, saffron, paprika and paella cookware, along with other paella-specific ingredients. Include a cuisine-specific cookbook with each basket.
Include items that the winner would want to include at a wine-and-cheese tasting party. Select your wines, then choose your cheeses according to the wines that you've included (see Resources). If you don't spring for premium wines, go for several types of wine to add variety to your basket.
Pet Gift Basket
Create a gift basket for dog and cat owners. Check out your local pet-supply store for chew toys, treats and food. If you can get a local pet-supply store to donate items, even better. Also consider including a pet store gift card. Pet clothing might make a nice addition, but beware: Purchasing a certain size of pet clothing will limit the number of people willing to bid on your basket.
Include all the items necessary to create a special home movie night, including candy you'd find at a movie theater; popcorn, popcorn oil, salt and flavorings; and a gift card to a movie rental facility or a subscription to a movie rental site (e.g., Netflix, Blockbuster).