Liven up your office with a good old raffle – for a worthy cause or just to tap into human beings' ability to gamble at the drop of a hat. More mundanely you can use raffle tickets as cloakroom tickets; or you can issue tickets to waiting customers as part of a queuing system. Raffle books contain duplicated, numbered tickets so that one set is distributed to individuals and the other set is used to identify the relevant corresponding ticket and hence the holder. In a raffle itself, this means drawing at random winners of prizes (in Australia and parts of the US, this is often plates of meat!). Paperstone sell books of raffle/cloakroom tickets numbered one to 500 and one to 1,000. There are six books per pack.
Raffles of old
Although the raffle is commonly connoted with small-scale fundraising acceptable in places like churches and community halls, it is basically a form of lottery, the practice of which is very old. In the Old Testament book of Numbers, the Lord instructs Moses to distribute land to the people of Israel by lot. The Roman emperors Nero and Augustus similarly gave away property (and slaves, bless 'em) in such a manner during Saturnalian feasts and other jollities. The earliest archaeological lottery-related finds are Chinese Han Dynasty Keno slips believed to have been used to raise money for major government works like the Great Wall between 205 and 187 B.C.
Jumping further a bit the first modern European lotteries date from 15th century Flanders and Burgundy where monies were raised for fortifications and poor relief. The Encyclopædia Britannica cites a possible first lottery with cash prizes taking place in the Italian city-state of Modena in 1476. England's first recorded official lottery was chartered by Elizabeth I in 1566 though by then private raffles were probably already being practiced.
But the earliest OED citations for the word raffle itself (from c.1386) refer to a dice game, albeit with similar randomness involved – from Middle French rafle, in turn possibly from Germanic raffel. The sense of lottery is denoted from 1734. Some trace a lineage to the raffle as it is commonly practised today from a lottery-type game popular in Southern Italy – hence tombola, a revolving drum from which tickets (or numbered balls) a picked. Redirect tombola and raffle are indeed used fairly synonymously. So-called 'meat raffles' are popular in pubs in Australia and Minnesota, prizes being trays of meats or seafood. Raffles in the UK are sometimes used to circumvent licensing laws – there aren't any licensing restrictions in this country on offering drinks as prizes.