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Dessert Dash

Add excitement, and maybe a little exercise, to your live auction with a dessert dash. Desserts can be donated by local bakeries or volunteers with a magic touch in the kitchen. Then auction guests will get to enjoy these tasty treats while supporting their favorite charity. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

Here's a step-by-step guide for how to conduct a dessert dash.




Bakers wanted. Contact members of your community to find out if anyone has baking talents that they would like to contribute to the auction. Local bakeries or groceries can be good sources for dessert donations as well. Two important keys to remember: assortment and presentation.

Assortment. Hard to believe that not everyone likes chocolate but it's true. Get a good mix of flavors and types: pies, tortes, cheesecake, cupcakes, cookies, rolls, fudge, brownies, donuts, even individual servings of creme brulee or flan. Maybe even include a gluten-free dessert - flourless chocolate torte is a nice option for that.

Presentation. Desserts must look as mouthwateringly gorgeous as possible. That can make a lot of difference in how much people are willing to bid. For example, a regular Yule Log can very tempting. But add a few meringue "mushrooms" and colorful, edible flowers, now it's an amazing one of a kind treat.


Set up

Dessert Table. The table for all these lovely desserts should be strategically placed somewhere that all the guests will need to walk by, such as the entrance to the dining room. That way they have time to peruse and consider their options for later.

Name Cards. Cards with the dessert name and/or description printed on them are very helpful for the guests. Even better if you can have this included in the catalog too, as it helps promote the Dessert Dash and entice guests.

Dessert Bid Cards and Collection Envelope. A "dessert bid card" should be placed on or above each person's plate so that they see it when they sit down for dinner. The card will have a space for the guest to record bidder number and bid amount. Also, a dessert dash envelope, preferably in a bright color and labeled with the table number, should be placed at each table. The alternative to this is to have one sign-up sheet that can be passed around the table, again, preferably in a bright color so it is easy to identify.



Bid Now. When the guests sit down for dinner, each will fill out their bid amount and bid number, then put the cards in the envelope in the middle of the table. The announcer or auctioneer can guide them through this. The bright cards and envelopes make it easier for guests to spot and follow the directions. For example: "If you would like one of those fabulous desserts later tonight, now is the time to fill out the yello bid card at your place setting and place them in the yellow envelope at the center of the table..." 

Collection. Once all the bid cards are put into the envelope, the announcer or auctioneer should ask someone from the table to hold the envelope in the air to make it easy for the volunteers to spot. Then volunteers will collect the envelopes and tally up the bids see the total amount contributed by each table. It's important to have the collection earlier in the night so there is time for the tally.



Runner selection. A little later in the night, after dinner, the auctioneer will have each table select a runner who will dash to select a dessert when their table number is called. Preferably this is someone with good shoes who knows the dessert preference for the table. They must be ready to race as soon as their table number is called.

Ready set dash! The auctioneer will read in order which table has the highest collective bid. The runner for that table will dash and select a dessert. Then the next table is called, the runner runs, etc. The space between each table number being called will start at about 1 minute, then go down to about every 20 seconds at the end. The whole dashing should take about 10 minutes for 20 tables. A good auctioneer will give little play-by-play of what is selected and what's left, to add to the excitement.

dessert dash selection



Self-service vs. special delivery. Depending on what works best for your auction, the runner may either bring the dessert back to the table or else put a flag with the table number in the dessert. In the first case, dessert plates and something to cut any cakes must be brought to each table so the guests can enjoy their treat. In the case of the flag, the servers can remove the dessert as it is marked and take it to the prep area for it to be divided up for the guests at that table. Then it will be served on plates to the guests at that table.


Need other auction ideas?

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