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Like the Christmas stocking and the Mars Bar, the humble goodie bag has been subjected to a super-sizing in recent years. In 2001, the take-home for Oscars performers and presenters was said to be worth $10,000 – now, Hollywood’s finest are lugging home $100,000-worth of goodies. Sponsors reckon that the thousands of dollars are well worth the outlay if even one of their products ends up on a red carpet. Goodie bags aren’t generosity, they’re business.
So before you blow your budget on high-end grooming products, ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve with your goodie bag. You’ve enticed guests to your event, you’ve delivered your key messages during the course of it, now what kind of impression do you want to leave them with?
The best bags contain a mixture of practical and luxury items. The treats are the easy bit. Everyone loves a good bottle of wine, a box of handmade chocolates, designer toiletries or accessories (careful not to be too male- or female-centric if you’re giving everyone the same bag), but a more unusual offering that’s relevant to your event will leave a lasting impression. For inspiration, check out the corporate gifts selection at squaremeal.co.uk/gifts as well as the gift sections of online shops like Oliver Bonas and Not On the High Street for quirkier ideas. As with any good gift, a bit of thought goes a long way, even if your budget doesn’t. We always appreciate a bottle of water, a light snack and some reading material for the schlep home.
The business end of your goodie bag is trickier to get right. The offering should be relevant and practical rather than branded and boring. Keyrings, stressballs and paperweights emblazoned with your company logo all fall into the latter category. So if you do want to give branded gifts, think about something that people will use in spite of the branding (let’s be realistic). A bottle opener, mini umbrella or travel adaptor is much more practical – and if you can find something that links with the theme of your event, all the better.
Chances are you’ll also want to send some information home with departing guests – a branded USB stick is a good way to do this. Not only is it more useful, eco-friendly and less likely to be jettisoned on the way home than wads of paper, your guests will also use it long after the event. Don’t just splurge down reams of information – think about what guests will want to know post-event. It’s a good move to make sure your suppliers are represented, even if it’s just a list of contact information.
Finally, there’s the bag itself. Canvas bags are the current fashion, and you’ll hear no complaints from us – they’re always useful to have around, especially if branding is subtle. Surprisingly, they’re not much more costly to produce than paper gift bags and have a far longer shelf life. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to meet the expectations of any red carpet regulars, you might be best advised to offer them a suitcase.
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events Guide 2013.