Throw a Thanksgiving Auction

Thanksgiving is a wonderful North American celebration.   Our Canadian friends celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, while the US observes it on the fourth Thursday of November.   However, in both countries, it is a time to give thanks for all God has done and a great time to be festive with family and friends. And a fun addition to this holiday is to host A WILD THANKSGIVING AUCTION right after Thanksgiving dinner.

                                           A  Flash Back in Time

When my husband, Michael, and I lived in Belgium in the 1990s,  we hosted an American Thanksgiving for folks from Italy, Germany, Belgium,  England, and the US.   It was an eye-opening event for both of us about not only how much food we Americans would pile on our plates but also about watching those new global friends enjoy our sixty-year-old family tradition of  A WILD THANKSGIVING AUCTION.  Here is how.

                                          An Auction History

As with most things dear to us, ‘the auction’ was begun by my ancestors–my maternal grandmother Mabel.  Mabel and her husband Henry lost everything in The Great Depression, including their son.  Yet Mabel’s constant saying was, “It could be worse.”  She lived to be 101.  Thus, every holiday arrived with an upbeat attitude, and Thanksgiving was no different.  But at the end of the meal, she would uncover the coffee table upon which would be many treasures: A clear plastic box with a silver dollar in it; some small toiletries which she picked up from her stay at a hotel; or some other purchased treasure from the Five and Dime Store that she knew one of us four WILD children would want.

                                              How to Do an Auction

Thus, when my offspring began to grow, we’d gather in the living room after the Thanksgiving meal, and I’d unveil the treasures I’d found from The Dollar Store or Good Will.  Everyone would be given 30 pennies in a paper cup, and I’d start the bidding.  The only rules for A WILD THANKSGIVING AUCTION were and still are:


#1.  Everyone, adults and children (except the auctioneer), should bid because you can’t keep the pennies.

#2.  No sharing of pennies (adults cannot hand children monies).

#3.  After one wins the item, the winner must put the correct amount of pennies in the passed basket. (That basket pass accomplishes two things: The children learn to count out their pennies, and it employs the ‘honor system.’)

                                                 Why Is It Fun?

So if you’d like to do something NON-ELECTRICALLY different this year after that Thanksgiving feast or for any celebration (this activity was great for kids' birthdays),  try throwing A WILD THANKSGIVING AUCTION. Watching those Europeans bid for the first time was so delightful because the adults got into it as much as the children did.  And if you want to make the auction inexpensive to host, ask your guests to bring something special they would like to release. Your pile of goods will cost you nothing because folks will let their past treasures be transferred to the highest penny bidder. So no matter whether you purchase auction goods or use the guest's donations, this tradition won't cost much; just a little Thanksgiving forethought, and your guests and family will thank you.


2 Maccabees 10:38 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)  When they had accomplished these things, with hymns and thanksgiving, they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory.  

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Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.