Are you in charge of a trade show, or hosting a fundraiser? Either way, the people who come to your event want to go home with free swag bags! Whether you’re planning the first in-person trade show after the COVID-19 pandemic or you need virtual swag bags, you will find a ton of great ideas right here!

Swag bags are the best part of trade shows and other events, which means you should put together something epic that everyone will love. This magic formula can be boiled down to the right bags with a cool design printed on the front and a ton of good, lightweight freebies waiting inside.

What Does Swag Mean?


Swag can be thought of as an acronym for “stuff we all get.” This is confirmed by Michael Scott in the hit TV show “The Office.” In an episode titled “The Convention,” he goes to a trade show and gets a ton of swag including a foam finger, tote bag, baseball hat, and lanyard with a badge holder and Sharpie on the end.

In the world of trade shows, swag is the best part. It’s the free stuff you get to go home with at the end of the day. You sift through all of your freebies and are then able to recall the companies and brands you were introduced to at the expo.

What is a Swag Bag?

A “swag bag” is a bag that’s filled with small gifts and handed out for free at trade shows, 5K runs, movie premieres, fundraisers, award ceremonies, and many other events. The bags are either passed out as a “welcome” to the attendees at the beginning of the event, or they are carried home at the end as favors.

The sky is the limit when it comes to making the best swag bags. You can fill up plastic bags or tote bags, or even use other containers that aren’t bags like baskets, bowls, or crates. The point is to offer a ton of freebies and branded items at one time!

How to Put Together Swag Bags

Be mindful and realistic when putting together your swag bags. You’re not going to be able to give everyone a new iPhone, and now’s not a good time to stuff each bag with 10-pound dumbbells! Think about what is most affordable and will be the easiest for your guests to lug around.

Keep the following tips in mind when filling up swag bags:

#1: Figure Out Your Budget

Before you do anything, figure out how much you want to spend on your swag bags. You can think of it in terms of price per person, or a grand total for the bags and all of the favors and freeebies you’re putting inside.

#2: Choose a Good Bag

Once you have a price range in mind, your next step should be picking out a bag. There are a ton of wonderful custom bags out there, and most of them are under $2 each.

#3: Print a Design in 1 Ink Color

Stay in your budget by printing the design on the bag in only 1 ink color. Afraid your swag bags will look boring? Be sure to choose colorful bags, or ones that are already printed with a bold pattern.

#4: Keep It Lightweight

Your attendees aren’t looking for an arm and back workout. Do everyone a favor and keep your swag bags less than 1 pound each! Heavy bags can be a literal burden to carry.

Choose Your Favorite Bag & Just Add Swag!

You’re ready to get started! When it’s time to put together the swag bags, recruit a few member of your team to help you out. After all, many hands make light work!

What to Put in a Swag Bag

You should aim to put lightweight, trendy, and relevant items inside of the swag bags for your event. Fill them up with important paperwork, ID badges if they’re necessary for entry, and maybe a few promotional coupons. It doesn’t hurt to also throw in some cool freebies and gifts.

You don’t have to go overboard! Here are the best promotional giveaway items to throw into each swag bag!

  • Pens
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cheap sunglasses
  • USB flash drives
  • Lanyards
  • Socks or other offbeat gifts
  • Mini notebooks
  • Candy
  • Stickers
  • Phone wallets

Cheap Custom Pens

Bulk Hand Sanitizer

Cheap Sunglasses

USB Flash Drives

Bulk Lanyards

Custom Socks

Mini Notebooks

Bulk Candy

Promotional Stickers

Custom Phone Wallets

These swag bag ideas are excellent for trade shows, conventions, fundraisers, and other big events. They’re not crazy expensive, so you can easily get them in bulk for everyone on your guest list!

Why Should You Give Out Swag Bags?

You should give out swag bags because everyone loves receiving free gifts. If that’s not enough, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) found that 85% of people remember the advertiser when they receive their promotional products.

Swag bags are the best for in-person events! You can get your company name and logo printed on the bag itself, as well as on all the items that are housed inside. Everyone loves receiving goodie bags, and you get a branding boost at the same time. It’s really a win-win!

Final Thoughts

Feel free to mix-and-match these swag bag ideas to your heart’s content. If your guest list is large, maybe only include a few of the items in the bags. If it’s small, you might be able to get away with splurging on your swag. It just depends on your budget and the event you’re hosting.

No matter what, it’s definitely worth putting together awesome swag bags for your attendees. They’ll go home with a ton of cool gifts, a big smile on their faces, and nothing but fond memories of your event!


Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Global Ad Impressions Study: 2020 Edition. Retrieved from,

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.