Top 8 Event & Conference Gifts that Matter

February 20, 2013

Shift the Gift: 8 Gift Ideas for Powerful Event Branding

This year over $17 billion will be spent on branded promotional gifts. Since coming across this statistic a few months ago, we still haven’t gotten over just how much stuff that is! To add to that, we also discovered that the event industry is one of the most unsustainable in terms of waste generation – second only to construction!

With so much stuff floating around at events and conferences, how can you ensure your conference/event gifts stand out instead of being thrown out?

The most effective event gifts and giveaways are functional, memorable and impactful. These “triple value” gifts not only get your message across, but also bring joy to your audience and support the community at the same time.

So instead of defaulting to mass-produced tote bags, mugs and pens, this year we encourage you to Shift the Gift to build a meaningful and authentic connection with your audience. Be creative in choosing gifts that align with your mission and values. A thoughtful and clever gift packed with social and environmental impact will be remembered and valued by your recipient, rather than carelessly left behind.

Here, we share 8 of the best event gifts that give back to the world AND strengthen your brand:

1 : Custom Candle Tins | Prosperity Candle

Starting at $5.25, variety of sizes and scents available
These beautiful candles empower women entrepreneurs locally and globally through sustainable candle-making businesses. Prosperity Candle offers a special product line perfect for brand customizations. As a universal symbol of peace, reflection and hope, candles can help your audience center their chi, spark their creativity, ignite their passions and burn the midnight oil.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: health & wellness, social entrepreneurship, social innovation, international development, women’s empowerment, economic opportunity, energy, education and technology

2 : Custom Printed Journals | Global Goods Partners

$10 each, available in a variety of colors and sizes
Global Goods Partners is a nonprofit that sells handmade, fair trade products that improve the economic status of women in marginalized communities around the world. These journals, covered in hand-loomed silk, can be branded with your logo and messaging. Purchasing these journals provides jobs and income for Cambodians, empowering them to feed and educate their children.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: social innovation, arts and creativity, economic opportunity

3 : Seed Paper Stationery | Botanical Paperworks

Prices vary by product
Botanical Paperworks boasts an huge assortment of colorful and fun paper products, all handmade from post-consumer materials. As the ultimate eco-kicker, these seed papers grow into a delightful bouquet of flowers when planted! A section of Botanical Paperworks’ website is devoted to promotional products, offering 100% customization of your gift. Product selections include calendars, business cards, bookmarks, stationery and more.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: environment, sustainability, social impact, gardening

4 : Water Bottles | Maji

Retails for $20 each
If you do want to keep your event attendees well-hydrated, these water bottles are sure to make a splash at your next event by adding a new twist on an event swag favorite. In partnership with charity:water, Maji donates $5 of every bottle purchased to water access projects in developing countries. With every four bottles sold, one person gets access to clean drinking water for life. Maji Bottles offers co-branding opportunities so you can add your logo and messaging to your gift.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: water, international development, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, sports and fitness

5 : Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate | Equal Exchange

Chocolate minis start at $35 for 150 minis; full bars retail for $3.75/each
Since 1986 Equal Exchange has been promoting fair trade food products that support small farmers and sustainable farming methods. Delicious options include high-quality organic coffees, teas, chocolate and more. Let’s be honest – who doesn’t like a little pick me up in their gift bag?

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: food, farming, sustainability, social impact, international development, any conference where a mid-afternoon chocolate snack could go a long way!

6: Custom Tagua Key Chain | Hope for Women

Prices vary, contact for quote
These fair trade, eco-friendly key chains are made from the Tagua nut, a sustainably harvested rainforest product from Colombia. This unique yet functional product is both beautiful and effective in highlighting your organization’s brand, while also providing much needed employment to economically disadvantaged women artisans. Key chains can be customized in color and shape, and your logo will be custom carved front and center.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: women’s empowerment, environment & sustainability

7 : Reusable Totes | Mercado Global

Prices vary by product options
While there is a seemingly overabundance of tote bags out there, their functionality at a conference does remain and there are incredible options to provide a bag that builds businesses. Mercado Global connects highly skilled women artisans in Guatemala to the U.S. consumer market. These beautiful conference totes are handcrafted, eco-friendly and responsibly sourced. By purchasing customized reusable totes from Mercado Global, you can showcase your support for sustainable business development and women’s entrepreneurship.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: social innovation, women’s empowerment, economic opportunity, international development

8 : Reusable Coffee Sleeves | Helping Hand Rewards

$3 each
These eco-friendly cotton coffee sleeves are custom screen-printed with your logo and messaging. Each sleeve is cut and sewn by hand, providing employment opportunities for Kenyan women. The purchase of these sleeves provides women with the opportunity to earn an income, provide education for their children and promote environmental sustainability. This may not fit in the traditional event gift category, but it sure will give your messaging an extra jolt of justice.

Conference & Event Theme Ideas: women’s empowerment, food and beverage, economic opportunity, environment & sustainability

Have other meaningful gift ideas? Tell us about them in the comments below. Do you like any of the items above and want to combine it with one of our products? Let us know, and we can work together to create a custom gift set.

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Fragrance Guide

Unique soy blend fair trade candles handcrafted by women artisans candles at Prosperity Candle

Amber & Bergamot

Warm and inviting, amber and bergamot combined with subtle notes of geranium, black cardamom, sandalwood and eucalyptus.

Blue Fir & Spice 

Wonderfully fragrant blue fir pine needles combined with cedarwood, bright citrus and a touch of spice evoke the spirit of the holidays.

Chai Tea

Green tea mixed with a cozy blend of cinnamon, clove, cardamom and peppermint reminds you of your favorite tea spot.

Chamomile & Sage

Deeply restful chamomile and fresh sage combine in this soothing herbal, creating an atmosphere of calm and well-being that everyone loves.

Clementine & Lavender

A bright, fresh citrus scent of clementine, tangerine, bergamot and lemon… nicely balanced with French lavender. If you love citrus with a subtle twist, this is for you.

Fig & Citrus

Clean and slightly sweet, fresh figs infused with grapefruit, a hint of orange, and lemon zest atop an earthy base of cedar and oakmoss. Wonderfully nuanced, it’s our favorite fig scent.

French Vanilla & Oak

Sweet, familiar and deeply comforting, French vanilla combined with oak, sandalwood, grapefruit and sea salt with a hint of clove. A unique take on a classic.

Ocean Breeze

There is nothing like a fresh ocean breeze… clean and buoyant ocean air with a joyful blend of freesia, water lilies, lotus and tuberose offers a truly uplifting ambiance.

Orange Blossom & Waterlily

Fragrant orange blossoms mingle with water lily, iris and clementine leaves above a base note of vetiver. This is a delightfully elegant, soft floral.

Peppermint Drop

Just slightly sweet, this blend of crisp peppermint leaves followed by notes of fresh mint leaves will radiate the season’s joy.

Sandalwood & Oakmoss

The warmth of sandalwood blended with Baltic oakmoss, a touch of amber, and hint of patchouli give rise to this gentle wood scent – a perennial favorite.


Completely fragrance-free.
Perfect for centerpieces, dinner candles and those who prefer no scent.

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