What is tombola
The traditional form of Tombola came from Italy in the eighteenth century, but has since evolved into various forms. In essence it is a type of raffle where prizes are pre-assigned to certain numbers, and players draw a number (in the form of a numbered ball or ticket) to determine if they have won a prize.
In the context of fundraising, tombola has evolved to prizes being contained in numbered bottles or jars, and players draw a number and win the corresponding jar.
Forms of tombola
A wine tombola will have various bottles of wine (which can be wrapped in brown paper so people don’t know what they are, or left bare to everyone can see the labels), with a few high-end expensive wines as the draw-card. Players might pay $10 for a ticket, in the hope they win a $50 bottle of wine.
A bottle tombola will have a variety of bottled goods – from shampoo to passata to pickles to jams – usually all pantry items, and the price for a ticket might be $2-$5.
Most commonly, tombola prizes are jars filled with assorted items. Part of the fun of tombola is the huge range of items that the jars can contain, and I have provided a list below of more than 75 things you can put in a tombola jar, including some very special prizes for school kids that will cause a lot of excitement.
How to run a tombola
Tombola can almost be 100% profit if you get families within your school or community to provide the pre-filled jars. As long as they are filled with non-perishable items, you can start preparing the jars months in advance of your fundraising event, leaving minimal work for the day.
Jars can be second-hand as long as they are clean and have no label. They can be a range of sizes and shapes, and while you can leave them bare, they look extra nice when all the lids are covered with a matching cloth cover.
A great way of getting tombola donations is to ask students to bring a filled tombola jar in lieu of a gold coin donation for a free-dress/mufti day. People often have items around the house they can fill their jars with – there is no requirement for them to buy items specifically.
Once all the jars have been received, each must be numbered. You can simply stick a raffle ticket on each, or make special stickers with you school or fete logo which you hand number. Either way, you need to have the corresponding raffle ticket (or numbered ball) in a barrel or bucket for players to draw from.
You can decide if every ticket drawn wins a prize or if some of the numbers have a consolation prize (a lollypop) or no prize at all. Some recommendations suggest that 1 in 4 tickets win a prize, but I personally believe that all players should win a prize.
The cost to play (ie draw a number from the barrel) is a set price (ie $2 or $5) but it is fine for the value of the prizes to vary wildly – as it is the ‘valuable’ jars that act as a draw card. Make sure you promote the more unusual and valuable tombola prizes in advance to build excitement.
On the day of your event, all you need are tables to display your jars and a barrel or bucket full of tickets/numbers for players to draw from.
Hint: make sure you put your jars out in numerical order (not random). If the stall gets busy, you don’t want to be looking through 250 jars to find the correct one.
Suggestions for tombola jars
Barbie doll clothes
Toy soldiers/dinosaurs/farm animals
Ping pong balls or tiny bouncy balls
Assorted goodies you get in party bags
DIY (include recipe/instructions in a small snap-lock bag folded at the top of the jar)
Non-perishable Ingredients for slime
Ingredients for cookies and brownie
Ingredients for playdough
Items to make pet rocks (smooth pebbles, paint, googly eyes etc)
Gardening gloves, seed packets etc
Pencils, erasers, sharpener, tiny notebook, paper clips etc
Sewing kit: threads, tiny scissors, pins, needles, tape measure, thimble etc
Pamper kit: emery board, nail polish, face mask, bath bomb
Emergency kit: mini torch, mini screwdrivers, safety pins, tape etc
First aid kit – bandaids, eye wash, anti-bacterial cream etc
Make fresh just prior to event
Home-made sugar scrubs
Lollies or lolly pops (very popular and easy to make)
Home-made chutneys and jams
Fete related prizes
Vouchers for free rides
Meal/ice cream vouchers
Extra raffle tickets for the raffle
‘Fete dollars’ to spend at any stall at the fete
Extra special school prizes (if a non-school person win these, you can always let them pick again)
Win your entire class a pizza party
Win your entire class a free icecream from the canteen
Win your entire class a movie afternoon
Win your school a free-dress day (you get to pick the theme)
Win your teachers a dress-up day (you get to pick the theme)
Win your class an extra-long recess
Elastic bands, tiny bulldog clips or paperclips
Hair elastics, scrunchies or hair clips (new)
Tiny novelty erasers
5 cent pieces or $2 coins
A rolled $20 or $50 note
Beach sand with beautiful shell hidden inside
Bath gel balls
Lip gloss or balm
Tubes of glitter
New pencils or crayons
What is your favourite tombola idea?
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