Best Promotional Items for Kids

  1. Coloring books & crayons
  2. Stuffed animals
  3. BPA-free water bottles
  4. Fidget spinners
  5. Puzzles
  6. Cookies & candy
  7. Stickers
  8. Stress balls
  9. Lunch bags & boxes
  10. Sippy cups
  11. Novelty pens
  12. Youth t-shirts
  13. Drawstring bags
  14. Balloons
  15. Light up toys
  16. Kites & gliders
  17. Frisbees
  18. Socks
  19. Bandanas
  20. Ice cream bowls

Do you remember being a kid on Christmas morning? It was pure joy to see all those presents under the tree. You couldn’t wait to rip off that wrapping paper and see what was inside!

Kids of all ages love gifts, which is exactly why you should make sure they get some! Whether you’re advertising your business or hosting an event for your school, try to come through with promotional products that the kiddos will go nuts over.

Here is a list of the best promotional items for kids. You may not be Santa Claus, but the smile will still light up their faces when you hand these items out as gifts!

#1: Coloring Books & Crayons

Shop: Coloring Materials

According to Scholastic Magazine,“coloring helps kids train the brain to focus.” You don’t want them running around when they’re bored at your wedding, banquet, or award ceremony, so these favors are a no-brainer. Choose a themed coloring book, lay out a few crayons or colored pencils, and the children will be entertained for hours!

Pro Tip: Markers are great, but they can also be really messy and will dry out if the kids forget to replace the caps. Stick with crayons or colored pencils instead.

#2: Stuffed Animals

Shop: Custom Stuffed Animals

It’s time to make a new friend! The kids will want to give a big hug to these cute plush toys, and they may even hold onto them for years. In fact, 44% of adults still have their childhood teddies and dolls. Match the stuffed animals to your school mascot, or model them after the signature dish at your restaurant (like pigs for a BBQ place). When in doubt, you also can’t go wrong with classic teddy bears!

Pro Tip: For most stuffed animals, the custom design is printed on a t-shirt that the plushie will wear. Choose a color that matches your company logo, or go with a neutral color that boys and girls will enjoy. 

#3: BPA-Free Water Bottles

Shop: BPA-Free Water Bottles

Parents want their kids to eat and drink in a healthy way and that includes having enough water. Medical experts recommend that toddlers drink at least 2 cups every day, while teenagers 14 and older should have 8 to 11 cups. BPA-free water bottles are a great choice for community centers, sports leagues, and campgrounds.

Pro Tip: Choose water bottles in a color that looks pulled right out of the crayon box. An easy-to-sip-from straw also doesn’t hurt!

#4: Fidget Spinners

Shop: Custom Fidget Spinners

Not only is it fun to try new tricks with fidget spinners, but you may even be able to help out children with disabilities or coordination issues. In fact, the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that “fidget spinners may better fine motor control to a certain extent.” Have these toys on hand at your physical therapy center for young patients, or put them in the goodie bags at the end of a dental visit.

Pro Tip: Fidget spinners are best for kids who are 7 or older since they’re often made from hard plastic or metal.

#5: Puzzles

Shop: Custom Puzzles

Okay, so kids may be obsessed with YouTube videos and Fortnite in this day and age. Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy brainteasers and puzzles. The COVID-19 pandemic saw as much as a 300% increase in jigsaw puzzles in 2020, proving just how fun the classics can be for family time.

Pro Tip: The best promotional items are useful and don’t get boring. Try to find puzzles that have multiple solutions, or can be used in other ways.

#6: Cookies & Candy

Shop: Cookies & Candy

Doesn’t it seem like kids are obsessed with ice cream, cookies, and candy? There’s a biological reason! Science shows that kids have a stronger preference for sugar than adults. It’s hardwired in their brains to love sweet treats. With that in mind, you can’t go wrong with chocolate, lollipops, jelly beans, and other goodies.

Pro Tip: Some kids have dietary restrictions, so make sure to have backup giveaways to hand out as well.

#7: Stickers

Shop: Personalized Stickers

Stickers may be small, but they also stick around forever! You can order rolls of them for cheap, making them some of the best promotional items on a budget. An occupational therapist in an interview with Romper reported that kids are obsessed with stickers because they “have that sensory component and are available in an endless variety of children’s interests.”  Cashiers at grocery stores can hand them out, arcades can keep them as prizes, and zoos can have them in their gift shops.

Pro Tip: If you need giveaways for a kid-friendly event, you might want to pair the stickers with something else. Put them in a favor bag with other affordable freebies like plastic sunglasses and keychains.

#8: Stress Balls

Shop: Custom Stress Balls

A toy called “Squishies” took over toy aisles in 2018 and are still selling like crazy all over the country. Kids love them because they’re cute, cuddly, and shaped like things they love, whether it’s pizza or kittens. Stress balls are just as good, and like Squishies, come in a ton of fun, cool shapes that kids will adore!

Pro Tip: Be sure to only get stress balls for older kids. The polyurethane foam could be a choking hazard for children under 3-years-old.

#9: Lunch Bags & Boxes

Shop: Custom Lunch Bags

A healthy, well-balanced lunch is an important part of every kid’s day, but alarmingly they’re not eating as well as they should be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 33% of children and adolescents are consuming fast food on any given day. You can be part of the solution by handing out stylish lunch bags that kids will want to show off to their friends!

Pro Tip: Print the lunch boxes with popular characters, whether it’s Marvel superheroes or Disney princesses. You can also make a unique statement by choosing a unique shape or bold, metallic color.

#10: Sippy Cups

Shop: Custom Sippy Cups

Are you a daycare or preschool? Print your logo on sippy cups and hand them out to parents when they sign their toddlers up for your program. Families spend about $6,000 every year on child care, so a little freebie like this will help them feel more at ease about their spending. Plus, it will set you apart from any other programs they’re checking out.

Pro Tip: Sippy cups are designed for kids that are between 2 and 3-years-old. Older kids would love personalized plastic cups instead.

#11: Novelty Pens

Shop: Novelty Pens

Win over kids with adorable novelty pens! There are a ton of unique options out there, from mermaid tails to squishy hot dogs. Sales are on the rise for novelty gifts like these, especially with a younger crowd. Pens in particular are excellent souvenirs for live performances, amusement parks, and library book fairs.

Pro Tip: Children under 10 are probably going to not find pens very exciting. Preteens and teenagers will appreciate these promotional products way more! 

#12: Youth T-Shirts

Shop: Custom Youth T-Shirts

Every age group, from babies to teenagers, love t-shirts! They’re cozy, casual, and easy to run around in all day. The global market for custom t-shirts is projected to reach $3.1 billion by 2025. It’s no wonder why you see them at professional sports games, school bookstores, gift shops, and basically everywhere else!

Pro Tip: You should get a variety of sizes from small to extra-large, but order more large than anything else. Children are still growing!

#13: Drawstring Bags

Shop: Custom Drawstring Bags

Children aren’t quite carrying around purses or briefcases just yet. Drawstring bags are more their speed and can be used to advertise by hotels, sports programs, and other organizations. They may even encourage kids to travel lighter since up to 19% of kids miss out on school or sport activities every year due to pain caused by heavy backpacks.

Pro Tip: Drawstring bags should be handed out at the entrance at community fairs and outdoor concerts. That way kids can use them to hold other freebies and prizes!

#14: Balloons

Shop: Custom Balloons

Your logo is sure to “pop” if you use balloons as promotional items. Americans spent more than $130 million on balloons in 2019 alone, and it’s a market that keeps on rising (literally). Not only are they good giveaways, but you can also use them as décor if you’re hosting an event.

Pro Tip: Too many colors can be an eyesore! Stick with a scheme like silver, gold, and white, or red, yellow, and blue.

#15: Light Up Toys

Shop: Light Up Toys

Light up a nighttime event or a dark arena with light up toys. Shows like Disney on Ice and Medieval Times have sold flashing swords and crowns for years, and they pull in over 100 million fans every single year. You would do well to follow in their footsteps!

Pro Tip: It can be a real struggle to find new batteries for light-up toys. Go the extra mile by providing them free of charge!

#16: Kites & Gliders

Shop: Kites & Gliders

Kites and gliders are excellent for outdoor events like picnics and festivals. The kids can run around and play, while the adults chill out on the lawn or open area. Over 50 million kites are purchased in the United States every year. It just goes to show that there’s still a market for these classic toys, even in this digital world!

Pro Tip: Kites with streamers are a lot more mesmerizing than ones that don’t have anything trailing behind them. Look for that style when you’re shopping for these custom flying toys.

#17: Frisbees

Shop: Custom Frisbees

You can also send your brand soaring by hand out frisbees as promotional items. The history of these flying discs goes back all the way to Yale in the late 1800s. Even today, 90% of Americans have played with a frisbee at some point in their lives, whether it’s at a barbeque or an Ultimate Frisbee competition. These giveaways are fun for the entire family!

Pro Tip: There are all kinds of frisbees, from foldable ones that come in pouches to super speedy rings. Be creative and choose a style that will get the most attention!

#18: Socks

Shop: Custom Socks

On Christmas morning, a kid will be bummed to receive a pair of socks. If they get them from a brand they love, however, they’re going to be thrilled! Ice cream shops, TV shows, video game makers, and any other place kids gravitate towards should try out this promotional strategy, especially when you consider that the market is estimated to reach over $63 million by 2025.

Pro Tip: Just like t-shirts, be sure to order a ton of different sizes. Some kids have big feet!

#19: Bandanas

Shop: Custom Bandanas

By playing dress up, kids are working on important life skills like creative thinking and problem solving. Bandanas will be part of any costume bin! The kids can wear them at your event and later pretend to be ninjas or from the Old West while playing at home. They’re great giveaways for auto shows, rodeos, and obstacle courses.

Pro Tip: The paisley pattern is the most traditional, but you can print other designs on the bandanas as well.

#20: Ice Cream Bowls

Shop: Ice Cream Gifts

87% of people have ice cream in their freezer at any given time. Kids grow up loving this frozen dessert, which is why you should make sure you have some at your event. Fill souvenir bowls with ice cream and hand them out at the end of a back-to-school picnic, or sell them in your restaurant.

Pro Tip: Color changing bowls are sure to be a huge hit with kids! They’ll want to use them for after-school snacks for years.  

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget about the kiddos! With about 73 million children in the United States, they’re a huge market for your brand.

An article in Entrepreneur reports that it’s important to “discover ways to market and monetize to kids ethically.” Freebies and gifts that are safe and appropriate are a step in the right direction!

References

Rhattigan, M. (2016, January 15). The Benefits of Coloring and Drawing. Retrieved from, https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/learning-toolkit-blog/benefits-coloring-and-drawing.html

Kale, S. (2020, January 5). ‘My Bears Are My Lifeline’: The Adults Who Sleep With Soft Toys. Retrieved from, https://www.theguardian.com/global/2020/jan/05/bears-lifeline-adults-who-sleep-with-soft-toys

Doubek, J. Silverman, A. (2020, April 13). With People Stuck at Home, Jigsaw Puzzle Sales Soar. Retrieved from, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/13/833346707/with-people-stuck-at-home-jigsaw-puzzle-sales-soar

Kroen, G. (2011, September 26). Kids’ Sugar Cravings Might Be Biological. Retrieved from, https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2011/09/26/140753048/kids-sugar-cravings-might-be-biological

Bowen, C. (2019, December 14). So Here’s Why Everything in Your House is Covered With Stickers. Retrieved from, https://www.romper.com/p/why-do-kids-love-stickers-theyre-more-than-just-a-reward-19437826

Ali, Y. (2020, July 3). Fast Food Consumption By U.S. Children. Retrieved from, https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-much-fast-food-do-us-children-eat-2509574

Leonhardt, M. (2020, January 27). Parents Are Spending $42 Billion on Early Child Care – That’s More Than Federal and State Spending Combined. Retrieved from, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/27/parents-spending-42-billion-on-early-child-care-each-year.html

Statista. (2020, April 27). Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Store Sales in the United States From 1992 to 2018. Retrieved from, https://www.statista.com/statistics/197723/annual-gift-and-souvenir-store-sales-in-the-us-since-1992/

Shahbandeh, M. (2020, November 23). Custom T-Shirt Printing Market Size Worldwide From 2016 to 2025. Retrieved from, https://www.statista.com/statistics/941685/custom-t-shirt-printing-market-size-worldwide/

Washington University in St. Louis. (2004, September 8). Heavy Backpacks Cause Thousands of Injuries to Children Each Year. Retrieved from, https://source.wustl.edu/2004/09/heavy-backpacks-cause-thousands-of-injuries-to-children-each-year/

Povich, E. (2019, September 12). Helium Balloons! So Festive. So Awful for the Environment. Retrieved from, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2019/09/12/helium-balloons-so-festive-so-awful-for-the-environment

South Florida Reporter. (2019, February 7). There Are Over 50 Million Kites Sold in the USA Every Year. Retrieved from, https://southfloridareporter.com/there-are-over-50-million-kites-sold-in-the-usa-every-year/

Grand View Research. (2019 July). Sock Market Size, Share, & Trends Analysis Report. Retrieved from, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/socks-market

PR Newswire. (2017, June 29). Here’s the Scoop – Americans REALLY Love Ice Cream. Retrieved from, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/heres-the-scoop–americans-really-love-ice-cream-300481398.html

Rock, A. (2019, September 17). Benefits of Playing Dress-Up for Kids. Retrieved from, https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-importance-of-dress-up-play-2765056

Duffin, E. (2020, September 28). Number of Children in the United States in 2019, By Age Group. Retrieved from, https://www.statista.com/statistics/457786/number-of-children-in-the-us-by-age/

Templeman, M. (2016, June 14). 3 Fundamentals of Ethically Marketing to Kids. Retrieved from, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276437

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.