If you’re hosting a trade show, 5K, or any other big event, it’s a good idea to offer people who attend some kind of goody bag. The things inside these bags serve as little souvenirs that help you and your event stay memorable. Plus, everyone loves going home with something cool.

The thing is, though, you want to be careful not to go overboard when it comes to putting these together. It turns out, there’s an art to filling up swag bags for a big event. The trick is to ensure it’s never too heavy or crowded. You shouldn’t stuff too much inside!

Here are a few other helpful tips to keep you on the right track!

#1:  Choose a Lightweight Material

First things first, choose a bag to fill that’s already lightweight. It should be comfortable to carry, yet durable and large enough for everything inside. Luckily, you have plenty of awesome options to choose from out there!

#2:  Keep Out Books, Catalogs, or Papers

Catalogs in a trade show bag can be up to 2.35 pounds!

When you’re moving to a new house, you don’t put a bunch of books in one box, right? The same goes for a swag bag.

A stack of paper or a bunch of catalogs gets heavy awfully fast. In fact, the catalogs I received at a recent trade show clocked in at 2.35 pounds. Imagine that on your shoulder, walking around all day in a crowd of people. Definitely not comfortable.

Save the trees and hand out small promotional items or redeemable coupons for the businesses present or sponsoring your event instead.

#3:  Put in a Few Small Keepsakes

People are not going to sweat the little things. They will sweat, though, if your swag bags are so full, even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would struggle to pick one up!  

These things are easy to carry and fun to receive:


PopSockets™ are all the rage in this digital age! The best part is this fun accessory only weighs about 0.48 ounces according to Amazon.

Lip Balm

Add a bit of flavor to your swag bag by throwing in some lip balm. Standard Chapstick tubes weigh 0.14 ounces, while a stylish container, like an EOS egg, weigh about 0.24 ounces.


You can find a pair of sunglasses that fits any personality. They’re great goody bag items as most styles, from aviators to round framed, weigh between 0.5 and 1 ounce.

Bottle Openers

Bottle openers come in a variety of materials and shapes. They will weigh about 0.10 ounces if they’re made from metal and 0.05 ounces if they’re made from plastic.   

Stress Balls

If you want an item in your bags that’s as light as a feather, you can’t go wrong with stress balls. A stress ball typically weighs somewhere between 0.05 and 0.30 ounces.

Plastic Water Bottles

The average weight of a typical half-liter water bottle is about 0.34 ounces. It won’t be any heavier unless your guests fill it up and carry it around in their bags.

Phone Chargers or USB Ports

A portable phone charger or power bank will weigh next to nothing in your swag bags. In fact, a small USB port weighs roughly 0.50 ounces.


The original ballpoint pen invented in 1888 weighed 0.20 ounces. Pen design hasn’t changed much since then, which means this is a weightless gift to add to your bags.

The good news is even if you go with all these favors, it still won’t be a burden to carry! In fact, if you average out the ranges and add everything together, you’re looking at about 2.7 ounces total in your bags.

Now compare that to the catalogs mentioned earlier. The total combined weight of all these items is about 1/12th the weight of just the catalogs. And all that paper will just end up in the trash anyways!

Your guests are much more likely to appreciate small promotional giveaways like pens and sunglasses. They can use them after the event and won’t have to deal with painfully carrying around their bags.

#4:  Allow Room for More

There was a ton of free swag at the 2019 ASI Trade Show!

You don’t want to overload the entry bags at your event with so much stuff that your guests are uncomfortable walking around all day. All of these things can add up really fast and be heavy to carry.

Keep that in mind when preparing for the event. Even after you fill your bags with promotional gifts, there should still be ample space for people to put in more and still not feel as though their arms are going to fall off.

This is especially true at community festivals and trade shows where a bunch of booths are present. However, it also holds true for events that don’t have displays.

There should at least be enough room in the bag for car keys and jackets!

Why is All This Important?

A heavy duty bag can cause serious damage to your shoulders, back, and neck. The last thing you want is for someone to associate your event with pain and discomfort.

The long term effects of carrying a heavy bag potentially include:

  • Strained neck and shoulders
  • Chronic headaches
  • Spinal damage
  • Reduced breathing capacity
  • Scoliosis
  • Back pain
  • Muscle spasms

Take precautions and make sure your goodie bags aren’t tipping the scales. It’s as easy as sticking with the tips and tricks above!

And remember a reusable bag is always a good idea, especially if it’s lightweight and easy to carry. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will be used time and time again at the grocery store, beach, and everywhere in between!


Scoli Smart. (2019). Backpack Impact: Statistics & Injury Prevention. Retrieved August 13, 2009 from, https://treatingscoliosis.com/

Ducharme, J. (2017, December 19). Your Purse is Too Heavy. Here’s Why You Should Care. Retrieved August 13, 2019, from https://time.com/5053206/heavy-purse-health-risks/

Recycle USA. (2019). How Many Aluminum Cans Equal 1 Pound? Retrieved August 13, 2019, from https://recycleusainc.com/how-many-aluminum-cans-equal-1-pound/

Petra PET Resin Association. (2019). Did You Know? Little-Known Facts About PET Plastic. Retrieved August 13, 2019, from http://www.petresin.org/news_didyouknow.asp

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