This is a guest post from Brianna Valleskey of Sendoso

Swag bags might be synonymous with events, but let’s be honest: Most of that stuff tends to end up in the trash.

Ultimately, the quality of your swag reflects your brand. Since attendees are inundated with free giveaways everywhere they go, you should choose items that they’ll actually enjoy and use in everyday life. The goal is, after all, to expose as many people to your brand as possible.

Forget cheap shirts and overly branded sunglasses. Here are 13 fun, useful, and unique giveaway ideas to thrill your attendees and keep your brand top of mind.

Swag idea #1: Event survival kits

Make sure your guests are ready to handle anything by putting a branded notebook, pen, packet of Advil, Tide to Go pen, gum/mints, and some Emergen-C in a small fanny pack.

“Send it to them before your event or hand it to them as they walk through the door,” says Sendoso Co-founder and CEO Kris Rudeegraap. “It’s a small gesture that shows event attendees that you’ve got their back.  

Swag idea #2: Decoder glasses

Want your event attendees to be more engaged at your event? Rudeegraap says you or your event sponsor should give away decoder glasses.

“Include a notecard with a hidden message that encourages them to find more hidden clues in the signage around your event that lead them to a sponsor’s booth,” he says. “They’ll have fun feeling like Sherlock Holmes and you’ll add more value to your sponsors.”

Swag idea #3: Scratch & win games

Let your event attendees or booth visitors try their luck with scratchcards offering special prizes. This is a great way to get people excited about the potential for high-end items without having to spend your entire swag budget on a single event. Be sure to advertise all the potential things they can win if you want to build anticipation and encourage participation.

Swag idea #4: A charitable gift

4 in 5 millennials (79%) report that attending live events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world. So why not let your attendees indulge in some giving? “You can either give them a card to fill out and let them choose the charity of their choice during the event or send them an eGift card to donate before or after,” says Rudeegraap.

Swag idea #5: Healthy event fuel  

Sugar-rich sweets might help your attendees get a boost of much-needed energy during your event. But the last thing you want is for them to crash when it wears off. That’s why you should drop a healthy snack in their swag bag. Think trail mix, protein bars, or dry fruit.  

“Food never goes out of style, but a snack with a purpose can go a long way,” Rudeegraap says. “So get creative here! Print custom wrappers or stickers with branded messages or compelling industry facts that resonate with conference-goers.”  

Swag idea #6: Fidget pens  

Rudeegraap recommends going for both functionality and fun when possible. “One of my personal favorites is fidget pens,” he says. “As opposed to a fidget spinner — which can be distracting and doesn’t have a functional purpose — fidget pens can be a subtle way to give people something to do with their hands while either at their desk or in a meeting.”

Swag idea #7: Books (yes, really)

This idea may seem old school, but people still love taking home books. Make sure the book is highly correlated with whatever event you’re hosting (otherwise, it will seem out of place).

“If you’re hosting a real estate conference, for example, you might include Former FBI Hostage Negotiator Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. Or if you’re hosting a meetup for developers or students in a coding school, consider offering copies of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson.”

Swag idea #8: Desk plants

If the worst event swag ends up in the trash, the best stuff ends up on your attendee’s desk — where your brand will get exposed to their coworkers. That’s why Valleskey recommends offering your guests a little greenery.

“Plants don’t just brighten up the office. They also lift your attendees’ spirits throughout the workday,” he says. “And, long after your event has ended, a variety of fun little desk succulents will ensure your event is top of mind throughout the year. Just be sure to offer plants that come in small boxes so that they can travel easily.”

Swag idea #9: Nanodots

Nanodots are another good knick knack for someone’s desk. These magnetic spheres can inspire creativity, give you something to do with your hands, or simply add an element of aesthetics. The best part? Any time someone ever asks about the Nanodots, your recipients will remember that they got them at your event.

Swag idea #10: YETI mugs

A branded mug might be a tried-and-true swag idea. But when you’re trying to differentiate your brand from the rest, consider giving attendees one they truly want.

“Unlike generic mugs, YETI’s Ramblers are designed to keep things hotter or cooler for longer,” says Rudeegraap. “And because they’re durable, your brand will stick around even longer.”

If you’re going to use this swag bag idea, order a lot. These are always popular at conferences and as “thank you” gifts. You can even include a little information about your product, service, or overall offering on a postcard inside of the cup. Wine tumblers are a great option, as well.

Swag idea #11: Electric mug warmer

Creative and novel swag items are great conversation starters. But sometimes purely functional is the best route to go. A mug warmer — a small circular warming plate for cups of liquid — can delight coffee and tea lovers, alike, while also making a good addition to one’s desk.

Swag idea #12: Carry-on cocktail kit

If you’re unfamiliar, the carry-on cocktail kit is a small tin container containing ingredients (like syrups or mixes) and tools (including jiggers and mixing spoons) needed to treat yourself to a single cocktail; all you need to add is the liquor. Choose from champagne cocktail, bloody mary, gin and tonic, margarita, Moscow Mule, and so many more.

“This can be especially enticing if many of your attendees need to travel by plane to your event,” Rudeegraap says. “And even if they don’t, this can still be a fun way to let them get ‘crafty’ after their event.” You can even through in a little bonus packet of hangover pills.

Swag idea #13: Branded self-care kits

In a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 59% said self-care is “very important to them.” So it’s no surprise that Rudeegraap recommends offering attendees a kit to pamper themselves.

“A branded pouch or bag filled with small containers of lotion, lip balm, or even candles is certain to be a big hit with your attendees,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to invest in quality either. Consider premium brands that people don’t often buy for themselves — and wouldn’t expect from an event.”

Bonus swag idea: Workout shirts

Sure, a T-shirt might be one of the most cliched pieces of swag, but it’s also one of the most popular items given away at events. So how can you entice attendees to wear yours out of the house?

By choosing an athletic shirt that people will wear to the gym — which is way better than the bottom of a pajama drawer! People love the free shirts they get from marathons and races, so why not from your event, too?

People love “vintage style” designs as well, so use your shirt as a chance to have fun with your brand logo.

Get ready to thrill your attendees

Need more swag ideas? Check out this idea book from Sendoso, the world’s first sending platform for sourcing, storing, shipping and measuring ROI for mail, gifts, swag, and more.

Finally, make sure all aspects of your event are ahead of the trends. Use the insights uncovered in The Pulse Report: 2019 Event Industry Trends to stay innovative and informed about event industry trends.

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