Tips for Giving Event Swag and the blunders to avoid

Are you familiar with the phrase, “never look a gift horse in the mouth”? It is an ancient proverb generally used to caution people against being ungrateful and impolite when receiving a gift.

Basically, a horse’s value is determined by an examination of his teeth because that is how you gauge how old it is.

If someone were to give you a horse, immediately checking its teeth would be very rude, similar to immediately checking the price tag or looking for the gift receipt, when you receive a gift.


In this season of giving and receiving, it is sound wisdom. Be grateful.

However, receiving fake gratitude is not the goal. I want to give gifts that matter.

Likewise, similar effort and forethought should be exerted when considering swag for tradeshow, conference, and event attendees.

There is a reason you are giving. It should therefore be apparent in the gift chosen. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Heidi Thorne, a promotional products expert and author of “SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business”, wrote an article a while back on the importance giveaways play in an events marketing mix and how it is often done incorrectly.

Thorne’s article shares the following 4 ways to avoid promotional product blunders:

1. Not knowing the audience

“Ask yourself how, when, and where would the recipient likely use the promotion? What are their expectations?

2. Low Budget, Low Impact

“If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on swag, sometimes it’s better to just skip buying it altogether.

3. Not relating item to your business

“you want to keep your name front and center on the desks of people who buy…

4. Giving something to everyone

“If you feel you have to give something to everyone, you’ll be tempted to scrimp on quality to cover the cost of the high quantity. Better to spend more on an impactful item for only your best prospects.”

Up on the Curata Blog, a content marketing software Company, is an infographic which nicely displays 7 attributes and 8 categories of tchotchkes. A great guide when brainstorming what items to give away at a Conference.

curata blog swag infographicIn a similar spirit is an article on EventMB by Andy Johnston , full of tips on how to fill Conference bags with things people won’t throw away. I love the infographic they share on how you can decide what is worth your time and money.

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Need some tangible gift ideas? Check out some of my favorite creative event swag on my Pinterest board.

my pinterest swag pageFor the next three weeks of December, inspired by this season of gift giving, I am going to post some of my favorite giveaways beyond the old faithful pen.

A list of some blow-your-mind Technology gifts is up first!! So stay tuned.

What is the BEST gift you have ever given or received at an event? Please share, I am always on the lookout for good ideas!

Eventfully, Angela

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A Chicago native, Angela is a self-proclaimed event-geek and celebrator of everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! She currently resides with her husband and 3 kids in the Atlanta, Georgia area and has been the Sr. Meeting and Event Planner for Ingersoll Rand, a global Industrial Company, since 2009. She recently debuted her blog, Eventfully Angela, writing about industry tips and the overall musings of her eventfully crazy life as an event planner and beyond. She can also be found sharing event industry awesomeness on Instagram @eventfullyangela. Thoughts and views shared are her own.

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