Whatever you call them, loot bags, gift bags or swag bags, these bundles of goodies can add a touch of fun to just about any event and help event planners convey their themes. The best news is that they can also be scaled up or down, to fit just about any budget.
Swag bags can be distributed at the beginning of an event with items that attendees will use during the event or handed out as a take-away when an event is over. They can also be used for marketing or as thank-you gifts for clients or employees.
Here are a few ideas for loot bags and what to put in them.
With the trend towards green events, cloth loot bags are the perfect way to reduce an event's carbon footprint. The key is to provide an attractive and practical bag that attendees will want to re-use.
Traci Claussen, owner of New Orleans based REpurposing Nola, recycled material from the tarp houses used after Katrina to create fashionable and affordable swag bags for Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation gala.
REpurposing Nola has also recycled the Poly Mesh banners that wrapped the Mercedes-Benz Super-Dome during the Super Bowl in 2008 to create make-up cases and purses. These were filled with goodies for the All-State Sugar Bowl sponsors and VIP gala.
Depending on the season and your event theme, think shoe bags, beach bags, lunch bags, gym bags, cosmetics bags, and even cloth purses for the ladies.
This video shows versatile Flip and Tumble bags. The perfect solution when event budgets are tight.
Loot bags don't always have to come in an actual bag. Depending on your budget, experiment with an ice bucket, a small picnic basket, hamper, a knapsack, toiletry bag, shaving kit bag, bucket or an iPad case.
How to Fill a Swag Bag
Outdoor Team Building Retreats
Fill your container with items delegates will love and find useful. For example, for desert and mountain excursions in the Middle East, some of my clients have provided logoed backpacks with golf shirts, track jackets and caps to wear for the outdoor activities. The knapsacks also included sun screen, moisturizer, tissues, hand sanitizer and snacks. Other clients have provided gym bags and beach bags with similar supplies.
I once attended an equestrian gala at which spectators sat in box seats around the arena. The dinner, which consisted of a hors d'oeuvres, cold chicken dinner, salad and dessert, was served in a picnic hamper. There were 2 hampers for each box. After dinner, the plates were cleaned and the hampers re-packed. At the end of the evening, two guests per box were able to take home the stocked hampers.
Business Meetings and Conferences
For conferences and business meetings, include a pen, notebook, USB drive, the agenda, handouts, colorful post it notes, scented markers, energizing "toys" like stress balls and Slinkies and other items to be used during the meeting. If the conference is at a foreign destination, add some spa items like facial masques, bubble bath, and a CD with relaxing music to help delegates unwind.
To design the perfect swag bag, sometimes all you have to do is think "out of the bag."
For more swag bag tips, also read SWAG: Smart Strategies for Promotional Products at Events, 10-Year Cvent Clients Get Some Cool Swag, Green Your Gifting with Give Bags and Go Paperless With Greener Gift Bags.