How to Craft DIY Gift Bags

Make receiving event souvenirs an interactive part of your meeting

Everyone loves freebies—and your attendees are no exception. Gift bags are a great perk for eventgoers, but they are also beneficial for you: They give you the opportunity to keep your meeting top of mind even after it’s over. 

Although giveaways are fun, it’s important to be mindful of the gifts you’re giving. The old joke that “swag” stands for “Stuff We All Get” started for a reason—the items in gift bags are often repetitive. And yet another notebook or water bottle isn’t going to be put to good use by your attendees. In fact, they might get rid of it completely—a sad, immemorable ending for the event you spent so much time planning for.

To combat gift bag waste and end your meeting on a high note, get creative with the items in your gift bag. More than that: Consider letting attendees create their own bags themselves. When you let guests choose their own meeting souvenirs, you give them an opportunity to personalize their experience. It lets them become active participants, rather than passive players, and can inspire new energy for the meeting and leave them feeling great about the event.

So, set up a table with a variety of giveaway items, and let them decide what “swag” suits them best. Here’s how to do it: 

Consider Your Meeting Purpose

For any gift bag to be great, you have to pick items that add value and resonate with your guests. Looking at the overall meeting purpose, as well as the breakdown of people who are there, will help you pick gift bag ideas tailored to your guests. Consider the industry attendees are in and opt for gifts that are relevant and would make their professional lives easier. For example, coffee mugs might be met with a lukewarm reception at an event for landscaping professionals—but a selection of branded, high-quality outdoor work gloves in a variety of sizes is likelier to get rave reviews. Or, for a networking event, think about gifts that will make connecting to other professionals easier. For example, using their smartphones to constantly send emails and reach out to people on LinkedIn can drain attendees’ phone batteries. Perhaps a branded portable charger over at the swag table can fix that.

Make It Part of the Meeting Experience 

Every meeting has its own agenda, and sometimes that means attendees don’t get to be actively involved throughout all elements of an event. Allowing guests to create their own gift bags is a great way to switch out passive involvement for active engagement. So instead of making giveaways a final thought, make them an interactive part of your meeting experience. Add it to your agenda and talk up the souvenirs attendees can choose from throughout the day. You’ll get guests excited about that part of their meeting, which will keep them talking about your event.

Don’t Forget the Setup

You’ve curated meeting mementos that lend value to your attendees, so don’t let the setup of the giveaway table detract from that. If the giveaway table is in the corner of your event space, away from the action of the event, it’s unlikely to get a lot of traction. Don’t just throw your giveaway items on a tablecloth and wait for the people to come, either. As with the rest of your meeting, you want to make the gift bag table attractive and inviting. Prop up the giveaway items with décor relevant to your meeting. When you position your meeting favors in a way that looks enticing, guests will be eager to see what you’re offering.

At the end of the day, your meeting isn’t about the gift bag. But these types of souvenirs are a great way to thank your attendees. Curating relevant items and making them worth talking about—that’s what makes your meeting memorable.