Top 12 Swag Bag Ideas for Events, Conferences & Trade Shows

Looking to thrill each guest at your next special event? Wanting to be sure everyone at the trade show has your logo top of mind and on display? We have swag bag ideas for every occasion, budget, and business goal—from visibility to retention to conversions. Read on to discover the best swag bags for events, and the 12 best swag bag items to fill them with!  

What Is a Swag Bag?

A swag bag is a bag, tote, or drawstring backpack (usually branded) that’s given out at an event or special occasion. Swag bags are also used to welcome new employees, students, and clients. The best swag bag items are unique, useful, and allow maximum visibility for your branding.  

What Is the Meaning of Swag Bag?

The word swag has Scandinavian roots attached to the word for “bag”. It’s also used to indicate confidence or showing off, as in, “swaggering around like they owned the place.” (If what’s in your swag bag is super fancy, perhaps some swaggering by your recipients will follow suit.) Swag has also been used to refer to stolen goods, stashed in a bag as the culprits fled. Since the 1960s, the word swag, and the term swag bag, are mostly used in reference to branded goods given to people who attend an event. An easy way to remember the term swag is with the acronym, “Stuff We All Get.” Some claim that’s the meaning of the word but it’s just a fun way to remember it! The best swag bag ideas for events and special occasions will appeal to and be useful to a broad range of recipients.  

What’s the Difference Between a Swag Bag and a Goodie Bag?

A swag bag is essentially an adult goodie bag, and the goal is to make the contents as appealing to grownups as a goodie bag is to eager birthday party participants whose ages still hover in the single digits. Whether the intended recipient is a kid or an adult, the goals are similar: 

  • Good Vibes: Swag bags and goodies bags incentivize guests and participants to show up, stay the whole time, and feel good about the host or sponsor.
  • Behind the Red Rope: Swag bags and goodie bags are part of exclusive or invitation-only events.
  • Designed to Impress: Look for swag bag ideas that will generate the same adrenaline hit as you felt leaving your friend’s birthday party in the third grade, laden with a bag of treats and toys that your mom feared was worth more than the gift you brought. That’s the goal!

What Should I Put in a Swag Bag?

Pick your swag bag items based upon your recipient and event. A few ideas to get your brainstorm going:  

  • Employees: Pens, notebooks, power banks, drinkware, baseball caps
  • Customers: Pen sets, high-end tumblers, Bluetooth speakers
  • Students: Rally towels, beach towels, baseball caps, alarm clocks, waterproof Bluetooth speakers, snacks
  • Guests: Hand sanitizer, toiletry kits, travel tumblers, snacks, plush toys to bring home for the kids

Following are swag bag ideas for events. Fill your swag bag (or tote) with a few of these proven crowd-pleasers and your recipients are sure to swagger around with your brand on display. 

Bags and Totes:

  1. Full Color Everyday Commuter Drawstring Backpack: Make it easy for your guests to carry their swag, along with incidentals like car keys or an extra layer of clothing.
  1. Full Color Galina Tote Bag: Present your swag in a bag worthy of your brand. This natural cotton tote is designed for years of use and brand visibility well beyond your event.

Tip: For single-use options, check out our collection of promotional paper bags.  

Plush Toys and Fidget Spinners:

  1. 8 1/2″ Ole’ Time Rag Bear with Shirt: For guests of all ages, this traditional rag bear, wearing your logo on their t-shirt, gives guests a reason to smile—and a gift on hand to bring home to their kids. Win-win!
  1. Circular Fidget Push-Pop Stress Relief Toy: When your event attendees a full day of events, seminars, and break-out sessions ahead, a fidget toy comes in handy. Recipients are sure to appreciate the helping hand when lectures are long and lunch can’t come fast enough.

Drinkware:

  1. 12 oz. Kappa Tumbler: Swag bag bling doesn’t have to be pricey to impress! This high quality, budget-friendly tumbler makes the perfect addition to a swag bag for event attendees and new employees on the go.
  1. 14 oz. Stainless Steel Noe Camp Mug with Lid: Welcome new students and new customers with a swag bag that includes a travel mug they’ll use for daily commutes and weekend getaways.

Tech Accessories:

  1. Cylinder Bluetooth Speaker: New students? New employees? Make them feel excited about good times ahead with a bluetooth speaker in their swag bag.
  1. Span 1200 mAh Power Bank – 5v: Out of town guests and travelers of all kinds will be thrilled to find this tech treasure in their swag bag!

Pens and Stationery:

  1. Parker® Jotter Pen: The kind of pen your recipients will be pleasantly surprised to pull out of their swag bag. Your logo on the barrel reminds them of you daily.
  1. 5×7 Journal Notebook: A great addition to any trade show swag bag, this notebook is just the right size to tuck into a purse or computer bag for notetaking on the road and on the go.

Caps:

  1. Good Value™ Front Runner Cap: This traditional 6-Panel unstructured cap features brushed 100% cotton twill. Customize with your logo and add it to your swag bag for outdoor events.

All In One:

  1. Essential 5-Piece Gift Set: Make it easy on yourself with a ready-to-go swag bag, complete with gifts and customized with your ad message inside and out!

The Best Swag Bag Items Make Your Logo the Main Event

Now that you’ve got some swag bag ideas on the table, have fun customizing your bag and filling it with fun giveaways brandishing your name. Then sit back and watch your logo pop up all around your event, campus, or office! 

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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