My job often calls for me to order branded items for external events, as well as internal employee giveaways.  Rather than just ordering the boring pen or t-shirt, I like to create an whole unique package that creates surprise and delight in the recipient.  And it’s always fun to get creative with any project!

Here is a recipe for a great swag bag that I made for our year-end employee holiday gift.

Theme It

Giveaways can create a larger impact if themed around the environment or type of event.  Examples of themed gift bags I’ve assembled include a “Hangover Kit” for our SXSW party, which included aspirin, earplugs with a branded case, Emergen-c, and breath mints, all inside a bag with our logo; and a “Keep Warm Kit” at an event held at Vail, Colorado, which had branded gloves, tea bags, and other warming accessories.

For our Year-End Celebration this year, I played off the latter example with a holiday gift that would be appropriate in the colder season, including treats and accessories that would keep someone cozy and were reminiscent of the holidays.  Tying it all together in this theme made our gift more impactful and connected it with a larger sentiment, making it a gift people really enjoyed.

Build It Around One Unique Piece

The centerpiece of the gift should be the starting point of the gift; it’s what the person will see first and be excited about upon receiving it.  Every item in the gift bag does not need to be expensive if there’s at least one special item that elevates the gift as a whole.  For this gift, I ordered two pieces of nice swag from one of my favorite suppliers: a spooner mug and a pair of touchscreen gloves.

Add Something Sweet

To build off the theme and include something relevant for the mug, I ordered individual packets of Ghirardelli Hot Cocoa to place in each mug.  It’s a premium brand, so still elevates the value of the gift, and is perfect to use with the mug and spoon.  I saw people making their hot cocoa the same day as receiving their gift!  It looks so delicious, it’s hard to save for later.

Bring in a “Wildcard”

I spiced up the gift with something fun – each person got a mini bottle of Kahlua in their mug.  It goes perfectly with chocolate or on it’s own!  There are many suppliers online where you can buy mini bottles of liquor wholesale, and even have them delivered with your own label or branding.  This part of the gift was a fun accent everyone could enjoy going into the holidays.

Add the Final Touches

Now it’s time to fill in the gaps with some inexpensive accents to complete the gift.  I included a few holiday-colored Hershey’s Kisses in each mug, as well as a hand warmer.  Filling the gift with smaller, relevant items brings the entire gift home with the theme you chose and makes the recipient feel like they have a whole package of gifts that didn’t cost you too much to assemble.

Fully assembled holiday gift that was placed on each desk.
Fully assembled holiday gift that was placed on each desk.

For the actual gifting, I made name cards that I slipped into the back of the mug and placed the full package on each person’s desk in the morning.  Throughout the day, I heard small cries of delight bubbling up around the office as people came and saw what was waiting for them.  It was a great way to send everyone into their holiday breaks with a smile on their face (and some Kahlua and hot cocoa to consume).