What are the best trade show giveaways today?

You first need to know why trade show visitors eagerly grab some branded giveaways and throw others in the trash. The answer: Product usefulness.

The trend today is to declutter and downsize. Millennials (ages 22 to 37) currently dominate trade show audiences. They are not keepers of “stuff.” If an item isn’t useful, it’s history.

Top trade show giveaways at Totally Promotional

Here are the top trade show giveaway items, according to our customers:

  1. Cheap custom T-shirts
  2. Logo water bottles
  3. Pens
  4. Custom candy
  5. Drawstring bags
  6. Custom cell phone chargers
  7. Branded hats
  8. Promotional keychains
  9. Can coolers and Koozies®
  10. Lip balm
  11. Hand sanitizer 

Vendors’ best trade show giveaways

As a former journalist, I like to get honest answers from the people closest to the story. So, to give you the best insight, I asked trade show vendors and visitors what their favorite giveaway items are and why.

You’ll notice several of their most popular promotional items are also favs of our customers! If you’re thinking about using trade show items in the future, you’ll want to read this:

Trade Show Cell Phone Chargers

John Z. Wetmore

“The most recent useful thing I picked up is a car accessory, a socket cell phone charger, complete with multiple types of cable connectors. It was something I could actually use. I keep it in the glove box and when I have a passenger whose phone is running low on power, they can pull it out and plug right in. I’ve cut way back on the swag I pick up at conferences and trade shows. A lot of it is just useless clutter that takes up space. If it doesn’t have some utility, it better be consumable. You can never go wrong giving out chocolate.” — John Z. Wetmore, Producer, Perils for Pedestrians TV

trade show lunch bags

JoAnn Yánez

“The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges gives away insulated lunch totes. The recipients range from prospective students and student advisors to leaders in the healthcare industry. The totes support the AANMC brand as it encourages people to pack healthy meals while on the go. Additionally, we will often provide handouts of recipes and ideas on incorporating good food choices. Recipients are drawn to the multi-purpose use and report back that they are thankful to have a bag to bring food to work, picnics or school.” — JoAnn Yánez, ND, MPH, CAE, Exec. Director, AANMC

trade show cell phone chargers

Jill Sullivan

“As an attendee, I have experienced everything from candy to vehicle giveaways. Because most venues do not have general WIFI, your smartphone battery is worn down very fast. Anything given away that supports the longevity of portable electronic devices is a favorite among attendees. My personal favorite is a backup cellphone charger branded with the company logo. With that branding, I remember to visit their booth every year to see what they are not only giving away but to see what they are doing inside the booth.” — Jill Sullivan, Account Executive, Plus-Studios

business card bookmarks

Reuben Swartz

“The one we liked the best and had the most success with is simple: bookmarks. They stand out a bit from business cards, they’re small and light to transport, both for us and for the attendees, and there’s a natural reason for people to look at them repeatedly.” — Reuben Swartz, Founder, Mimiran

trade show candy

Trineca Mccleod and Ta'Veca Collins

“We’ve been vendors at wedding shows in the past and we always give away Hershey’s Kisses, chocolate-covered strawberries or Oreos. Most recently we were vendors at a local networking event and we gave every guest that visited our table a mini organza bag that included a tin, scented candle with our logo, a few rose petals, and a few “kisses” with our business card. The feedback for candles was a big hit and was enjoyable!” — Trineca Mccleod and Ta’Veca Collins, Owners, Romance On The Go

trade show stress balls

Michael Chmura

“Squeeze items. Relax, relax, relax! I love stress-reducing items. They work.” — Michael Chmura, PR Director, Babson College

trade show tote bags

Ana Zuravliova

“My favorite trade show giveaway item is a canvas tote bag. With the current conversations around single-use plastics and plastic shopping bags, a reusable fabric tote bag is the perfect gift to prospective clients. From a marketing perspective, it’s also a great opportunity to boost brand awareness by including a website or logo in the design.” — Ana Zuravliova, Marketing/Purchasing, Blinds Direct

big ticket tech prizes

Dave Gregory

“We find that the best giveaways are either the big-ticket prizes, like the time we gave away three Google Home speakers that got hundreds of people to our stand and to sign up for our mailing list, or things that are genuinely useful. We give away lots of our own branded notebooks and people are constantly coming to the stand asking for them. We run out at every conference we exhibit at.” — Dave Gregory, Content Marketing Manager, SiteVisibility

trade show giveaway bottle openers

Jeff Maile

Bottle openers. They are something I hadn’t seen before at a trade show and are useful. Plus, due to its size, I don’t feel like a walking billboard for programmatic ad buying software, or whatever is being promoted.” — Jeff Maile, Managing Director, Riverworks Media

What trade show giveaways make sense for you?

I hope this information helps you choose promotional giveaway items or other supplies for your next trade show. Be sure the products you like are a good fit for your company or organization.

Browse our trade show giveaways and contact us if you need help! Our staff at Totally Promotional has more than 30 years of experience helping customers like you find the right items and appropriate designs for branding.


Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.


    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Sara! I’m so happy you enjoyed the blog. Let us know if our staff can help you in any way.

      Shelley Grieshop
      Totally Promotional

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