Top Performing Chapter Award

The New CMP
Considering getting a CMP designation? Read more to learn about it from a supplier and planner perspective.
Read More

MPI Ottawa Upcoming Events
Check out all the exciting events taking place in 2019 and 2020
Learn More

Top Performing Chapter Award



Swag Bag Ideas – Think Outside the Box


By: Meg LaPlante | Jan 14, 2020

We have all been to that event or conference where you sign in at registration and are handed a swag bag. The initial feeling is excitement! You go to open the bag and that excitement starts to wear off. You find a small notepad, pens, a USB stick and promotional materials. The same old stuff you have received at every other conference you have attended.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to swag bag ideas can elevate the experience of your attendees. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Is my attendee going to need or want this?”.

Another key piece to think about is how the individual is going to transport it home. I recently read a story about a sponsor who handed out little souvenir bottles of hot sauce. They were a huge hit and flew off the shelves at their exhibit booth! However, the next day at the airport hundreds of them were being thrown away because they were all two ounces over the limit for carry-on fluids.

It’s important to think about the little details like the story above. You also don’t want to be stuck giving away things people really don’t want, such as key chains, USB sticks and pens. These items aren’t creative and are handed out at numerous events.

Here are a few unique swag bag ideas that people will get excited about and will not want to throw away!

Reusable straws

Reusable Straws

Going “green” has been a big trend for a while, especially with the pressing need to save our planet and ecosystem. One easy way to do this is by handing out “green” products. A fan favourite has been reusable straws. They are easy to pack into a purse or carry-on and come in a variety of colours and sizes. There are bamboo straws, glass straws, stainless steel straws and silicone straws.

Other green friendly swag items could be tumblers, bamboo cutlery and reusable zip-lock bags.

Adult Colouring Books

Adult Colouring Book

What used to be a quiet activity for children has become a popular craze for grown adults. Colouring has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve motor skills and vision. There are a range of themes available and you could have them branded to fit your event’s theme or message.

You could also throw in some markers so you attendees have the perfect activity to help relax and calm their minds. They can also bring this with them as an activity while waiting for their plane home.

Gourmet Popcorn

gourmet popcorn

Have you ever been sitting in a breakout session and hear your stomach start to growl? Providing little snacks is a great way to keep people’s energy levels high. Try sourcing a local supplier to showcase what the city has to offer.

Popcorn is a crowd pleaser and is easy to snack on the go. There are also a ton of gourmet flavours to please anyone’s palette. Other great snack options, that are not granola bars, are homemade kettle chips or gourmet gummies.

Survival Kit

Survival Kit

A little survival kit can go a long way. Whether you spilled some food on your top, ate a garlicy lunch and need to freshen your breath, or are in desperate need to get the fuzzies off your blazer, providing a little survival kit is a small gesture to show you have your attendee’s back.

Some items to include could be a Tide-to-go pen, gum, mints, Emegen-C, lip balm, a lint roller or Band-Aids. Anything small that someone might have forgotten in their room and could easily throw into a purse or laptop bag.

Pop sockets


A strong selfie game is key when you are attending events. People want to be able to capture a moment with friends or colleagues to post on social media. A great way to help them out is by giving them a pop socket. Pop sockets provide great support when holding your phone, especially for taking selfies, and is great for brand awareness. Throw your company or conference logo on it and people will then carry it around with them even after the event is done. 

Cord tacos

Cord Tacos

Have you ever pulled out your laptop bag and are trying to swim through a sea of tangled cords? You can’t tell one from the other and are struggling to find your phone charger before it dies?

A cord taco is the perfect tool to keep all your chords separated. They come in a variety of sizes and themes, such as little watermelon or lemon wedges, and are perfect for traveling.

Playing cards or table games

Playing Cards

Who doesn’t love games? Whether it’s a game of cards or playing your favourite board game, games are a great way to get your attendees to engage. They can also travel the globe with people as they go on vacation or head to their next corporate event. This is a great way to spread brand awareness since games are rarely played alone.

Some examples of games to hand out are playing cards, mini wooden Jenga blocks or dominos.

Remember to think outside the box and try to have fun when sourcing gifts for your next conference swag bag!

If you have any questions about this article, student membership or have topics you would like to see in future “Coaching Corner” articles, please don’t hesitate to send a message to

Headshot_LaPlante Article written by Meg LaPlante, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

Article edited by Rozanne Lyons, CMP, Intertask Conferences



Meg LaPlante

Load more comments
New code




Connect with Us

Chapter Advertisement