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8 Best Swag Bag Ideas For New Hires

By Di Doherty - May. 2, 2023
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Summary. Swag bags are a good way to welcome new employees to the organization. Gifts can make them feel welcome, allow them to treat themselves, and enforce your branding and culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Swag bags are collections of free items that are usually emblazoned with a corporate logo. They’re often used for advertising or promoting a brand.

  • When picking out swag bags for employees, it’s important to consider the company culture and how useful the item will be.

  • There are various types of swag bags you can hand out, including apparel, office accessories, snacks, or something more specialized, like eco-friendly goods or items especially for pet parents.

What Is a Swag Bag?

Swag is a colloquial term for items, be they apparel, coffee mugs, writing utensils, or something else – that have a company logo on them and are given for free. A swag bag is a collection of swag given out – generally for free – either at an event or to commemorate something. Swag is often handed out at trade shows, events, and for advertising purposes.

However, swag isn’t limited to just customers and potential customers – it can be a way to make employees feel welcome.

Putting Together a Swag Bag

There are many different companies that will customize swag and package it for you. If you want each employee to receive the same items in the same presentation, then going with a company like that is an excellent idea. Swag can also be put together yourself, particularly if you aren’t concerned about everything having the company logo on it.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Budget. This is arguably the most important. You need to decide how much money you’re willing to spend on new hire swag altogether, and that will allow you to figure out how much per bag.

  • Company culture. When putting together a swag bag, it’s important to consider your company culture and your employees. Everyone likes receiving free stuff, but if it’s useless or related to a hobby they aren’t interested in, it isn’t going to have the same effect at all.

  • Equal value. In the interest of fairness and not showing favoritism, it’s important to make sure that the swag bags have the same monetary value. Many companies solve this problem by giving every employee the same items, though that doesn’t have to be the case.

  • Usefulness. Have you ever received a gift that served no purpose? It’s not useful; it’s not attractive; it’s not… anything? You don’t want to be the person giving out those gifts. As a rule, employees are going to appreciate items they can use, not to mention the fact that they’ll then be using items with the company logo on them.

  • Inclusivity. Try to avoid heavily gendered items or ones that will appeal only to a particular age bracket or niche. If you give those to people who aren’t interested in traditionally feminine or masculine hobbies – never mind if they’re non-binary or otherwise gender nonconforming – they’ll immediately feel stereotyped and unwelcome.

  • Branding. It’s important to consider your company’s brand when handing out swag. If you’re an exercise equipment company, then putting unhealthy snacks in the welcome gifts seems incongruous. Make sure that the items you hand out to employees fit your brand and reinforce your core values and company culture.

  • Packaging. The presentation of the swag bag matters. It’s not the most important aspect, but if it’s attractively packaged and has your company logo on it, it makes it clear what it is and makes the whole process more appealing. It also makes it seem like something that was planned instead of thrown together slapdash.

  • Personalization. It can be difficult to personalize gifts for a new employee, as you don’t know them well. But attempting to cater to their interests can make a huge difference in how they receive the gift. Even just taking the time to put their name on some of the items shows that you put a little extra effort into it.

    Some companies will even write out personalized notes to welcome new hires to a company. How much you personalize it will be up to you and your budget, but you can also personalize items by department or job title.

Swag Bag Ideas

As a rule, swag bags tend to include a similar grouping of items instead of just random useful things. Depending on your organization and the employee, you can put together several different groupings of swag to welcome them to their new job. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Apparel. Giving employees clothes with the company logo on them is a good way to welcome them to the company, as well as assure that they’ll think of the company at other times – and make others think about it as well. This may require finding out clothing sizes, though you can be creative. You can include:

    • Shirt. This is some of the most popular swag. Everyone wears tee–shirts now and then. Depending on how formal your dress code is, you could also make it a polo or dress shirt.

    • Backpack. Backpacks are universally useful. Depending on the nature of your business, you get them anything from a hiking backpack to a messenger bag to a drawstring bag.

    • Hat. Be it a baseball cap, beanie, flat-brimmed hat, or some other kind, hats are some of the most popular because they’re largely one size fits all. They’re also extremely useful.

    • Socks. Giving out socks that are company-branded can be a way to showcase a more casual culture – especially if they’re brightly colored or otherwise eye-catching. They’re also more limited in sizing and gender-neutral.

    • Jacket or hoodie. Including a jacket or hoodie can also communicate a less formal culture, depending on the nature of it. In addition, they’re common swag and something that’s likely to be useful to the employee in their day-to-day life.

  2. Office accessories. If it’s an office job, then giving them accessories to make their workday more comfortable is a good way to start. They can include:

    • Coffee mug. Most everyone drinks coffee or tea, and even if they don’t, a mug has a lot of uses. It also makes the office feel more comfortable and lived in if there are mugs and other personal items around.

    • Water bottle. A high-quality water bottle can be extremely useful, especially in the warmer months. It helps limit plastic usage, so it’s also eco-friendly, and it allows them to bring water with them easily.

    • Nameplate. Having a nameplate on your desk can make you feel official and truly a part of the team. It also requires personalization, so employees can see you put in more than the minimum.

    • Lunch bag. This encourages employees to bring their own lunch and makes it easier for them. It’s even better if it’s a nice, insulated one. If it’s a high enough quality one, they may not even need to clutter up the break room fridge with their lunch every day.

    • Decorations. Different types of decorations to put on their desk can communicate your company culture. Common ones like perpetual motion machines, a small plant, or picture frames are sure to be well received.

      If you want to showcase a quirkier culture, you can get something like a desk punching bag, a personal chalkboard, or a mini zen garden.

    • Pencil holder. A cup to hold pencils or pens is often useful and can be a way to help them organize their desk.

  3. Snack box. Very few people will turn down free food. Including a variety of snacks in your welcome box can be an excellent way to welcome a new employee. You can vary it in numerous different ways, depending on your company culture.

    • Healthy snacks. Depending on your business, it may be best to prioritize healthier snacks, such as nuts, dried fruit, or yogurt.

    • Tea or coffee. Most everyone likes either tea or coffee, if not both. Including some tea or coffee in a goodie box is likely to be well received. And even if they don’t like it, it’s guaranteed they’ll know someone who does.

    • Candy. It’s rare that people are disappointed by candy. Especially if you have a very casual environment, it can be a hit.

  4. Outdoors kit. Not everyone will be thrilled to receive a camping kit, but those who enjoy camping or want to try it will be pleased. This is better suited to a business that makes outdoor equipment or otherwise promotes outdoorsmanship. Additionally, it can be an option that newcomers can choose. Kits can include:

    • Water bottle. If you spring for a stainless steel bottle, that’ll be even better.

    • Flashlight. Even if you aren’t a camper, flashlights are still useful. It’s even something that you can put your company logo on.

    • Foldable tent. This will be dependent on how much you want to spend, but a tent is one of the primary items you need for camping.

    • Portable radio. Radios can be extremely useful, even when not camping. For most people, they aren’t going to be an everyday item, but they can also be useful in emergencies – or to teach their kids about them.

    • Insect repellent. Many people will use insect repellent even if they aren’t campers. Especially if you live in a place that has an aggressive bug season, this can come in handy.

    • S’mores kit. Embrace your inner kid. Include a kit with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. That’s sure to be a hit with anyone.

  5. Preparedness. Depending on your company, gifting people items useful in an emergency, or even just for everyday problems, isn’t a bad idea. A swag bag of this sort can include all sorts of items, but here are some suggestions:

    • First aid kit. These are handy to have in all sorts of situations. Employees may end up keeping them at their desks so that they have band-aids handy, or they may keep them in their car.

    • Flashlight. Having a flashlight can be a lifesaver. While almost everyone’s phone has a flashlight function on it now, it’s not quite the same as the real deal. There are even multi-purpose flashlights that include seat belt cutters and window breakers if you get in a car accident. Some can even charge your phone.

    • Sewing kit. A starter sewing kit can allow you to fix minor problems, such as a button falling off. Even if some of your employees have sewing supplies at home, they likely won’t carry them with them.

    • Mini toolbox. You can give them some basic handy tools like a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers. Even if they already have them, it’s never a bad idea to have extras – or to keep some in your car.

    • Batteries. Batteries are always useful.

  6. Eco friendly. If your business is inclined towards being environmentally conscious, then giving your employees an eco-friendly kit can help with that image. Here are some suggestions for items to include:

    • Water bottle. A reusable water bottle can cut down on plastic consumption by a lot. If you’re going fully eco-friendly, metal or glass is likely better, but even a plastic bottle still limits plastic usage.

    • Recycled paper. This can either be printer paper, a journal, or even envelopes. Whatever the case, offering recycled paper can help cut down on logging.

    • Reusable bags. Reusable grocery bags or tote bags can be a way to help with the environment, though the barrier to entry is buying them. Some states charge a fee for plastic bags at stores as well, so this is another way to help your employees out.

    • Reusable straws. Plastic straws create a tremendous amount of waste. Offering employees metal, glass, or washable plastic straws can give them a foot in the door to using less plastic.

    • Wood bento box. Offering any kind of lunchbox can help limit using disposable items, but a wooden one is obviously biodegradable. And bento boxes are eye-catching as well.

    • Bamboo utensils. Having disposable bamboo utensils rather than plastic ones is better for the environment, as they biodegrade. Some people may not even be familiar with them, so this is a way to introduce your employees to new sustainability methods.

  7. Self-care kit. Encouraging employees to take care of themselves and relax is best for both the employees and the company they work for. In order to encourage this, you can include items that facilitate that.

    • Candles. If you want candles to facilitate relaxation, then most people prefer scented ones. However, you may want to consider allergies when making your choice.

    • Soap. Soaps, especially higher-quality ones that are gentle on the skin, can be a way to encourage self-care, relaxation, and health.

    • Lotion. Lotions are useful for all skin types. Especially if you live somewhere that tends to be dry, having lotion can help everyone take care of their skin.

    • Chapstick. A lot of people use chapstick, especially in drier areas. It’s a way to help care for yourself and maintain comfort.

    • Tea. A lot of people use tea as a way to relax, partially lavender or chamomile. Offering some to your employees can help start a new ritual.

    • Bath bombs. While luxurious, bath bombs can help with relaxation, skincare, and just general self-care.

  8. Pet parent. If your business is pet friendly, it may not be a bad idea to include a swag bag that accounts for your employees’ furry family members. Remember that not everyone will have a pet, and even those that do may not have a dog or a cat. You can either opt for some specialized pet swag bags or offer them another type.

    • Bandana. A bandana with the company logo on it is a way to include pets in the company team. Depending on the size of the dog – or cat – you may have to offer different sizes. Bandanas can also work on other types of pets, though you may need to have either very small or very large ones.

    • Collapsible bowl. Having a portable bowl can be hugely useful to dog parents. They can be useful for other situations as well, as they fold up small but can hold a fair amount when they’re open.

    • Treats. Giving a small bag of treats is hardly going to go amiss. They can be personalized for dogs, cats, or other types of pets.

    • Toys. Dogs are the most popular pet, so having tennis balls with your company logo on them is good. But you can have a variety of toys for a variety of pets.

    • Gift cards. These are going to be popular in any swag bag, not just for pet parents.

Swag Bag FAQ

  1. Should every employee get some kind of gift?

    Whether or not every employee should get some kind of gift will depend on the circumstances.

    Certainly, if you hand out swag bags to new hires, every new hire should get a comparable one. However, if the gifts are to commemorate a particular accomplishment or the like, that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to receive a reward – only those directly involved.

  2. How much is usually spent on new hire gifts?

    There’s no set amount to spend on new hire gifts, but the average is somewhere between 50 and 100 dollars per bag.

Di has been a writer for more than half her life. Most of her writing so far has been fiction, and she’s gotten short stories published in online magazines Kzine and Silver Blade, as well as a flash fiction piece in the Bookends review. Di graduated from Mary Baldwin College (now University) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology.


Di Doherty

Di has been a writer for more than half her life. Most of her writing so far has been fiction, and she’s gotten short stories published in online magazines Kzine and Silver Blade, as well as a flash fiction piece in the Bookends review. Di graduated from Mary Baldwin College (now University) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology.

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Topics: New Hire Engagement, Onboarding New Hires