5 alternatives to event freebies brands can give this holiday season

Kara Santos

Posted at Nov 24 2018 05:10 PM

MANILA -- At the risk of being taken off the guest list to events this holiday season, I think this has to be said: We have too much useless stuff.

It’s customary for brands to give out goodie bags filled with event swag during conferences and gatherings. More often than not, these items are not really that useful. Seriously, how much do you really want or need another oversized t-shirt emblazoned with an event name or logo, mugs, tumblers, USBs, and cheap power banks?

Imagine the resources spent to print and have these customized items made, which are often disposed of as clutter once a photo of said items has been posted on social media.

It may take years to change the mentality of the whole industry behind this, but maybe it’s about time brands become more eco-conscious and practical in their choices.

Here are five alternatives event organizers and brands can consider investing resources in instead of tokens.


Really, is your time attending events worth the combined cost of an umbrella, foldable pamaypay, tumbler, calendar, or bag tag?

Notebooks, Post-its and pens are probably the most useful of the generic items commonly given as giveaways. Aim for quality instead of quantity.

One might argue that t-shirts are useful. Yes, but not if the sizes are wrong and fabric quality and design is poor. News flash to brand managers: You can make shirts that don’t put a large logo front and center. Minimalist shirts that are well-designed, tie in with a theme or lifestyle, or just use subtle branding are much better for long-term use rather than one that just states the name and date of an event.

Brands tend to think, the bigger, the better. Giving out large boxes of goodies or bulky giveaways may look good in photos compared to smaller items. But if you’re in charge of your marketing materials, you might want to keep giveaways to a manageable size. It can be a bit of a hassle for guests commuting on the MRT carrying a large basket filled with stuff.

Brands can’t go wrong with food or consumable products. I think food is something everyone would love to receive. Unique food items with a long shelf life or local and seasonal items really gets people's attention. Think coffee packs, tea, jars of specialty spreads or craft beer. Did you know that you could have customized beer labels for craft beer done for your brand or event?

Food may not be related to your brand necessarily, but for branding purposes, you could always put your company logo on a removable sticker over the original container or packaging. Chances are if the food or drink is good, the recall value will be higher and your guests will remember your event or product launch fondly.


I’ve noticed how brands have really stepped up event styling to ensure the backdrops and flatlay tables are Instagram-worthy enough to ensure people post about it.

Beyond that, make the event itself memorable. Offer experiences that the guests can enjoy and use the products. Whether it’s a demo cooking class where they can participate hands-on for an appliance launch, those trendy 360 selfie or glam shot booths, or an on-the-spot photo contest using a new gadget, guests will feel more invested if they actually get to experience using the product or brand.

Offer to give or lend the items to encourage actual product reviews instead of just displaying it behind a glass case for photo ops.


As an alternative to actual items, consider giving vouchers for products or destinations for future use. This way, the recipient gets to pick out something they really want or will use from a brand’s store, or pass it on to someone else who might appreciate it more.

Gift certificates to museums, spas, restaurants, and cafes are also great, because you have a reason to go back to the place with friends and family.

For the brand, this ensures that the exposure is not limited to a one-time event thing.