Swag - Team Giveaways
Swag? The word sounds rather strange and, I have to admit, that I had no idea what that term was until our third year in FIRST LEGO League. Informally, swag refers to “products given away free, typically for promotional purposes.” For a FIRST team, this means something small that represents your team.
Is SWAG required?
No. Giving away swag is an added expense for your team. If you do not have the resources to do so, don’t. You also don’t have to spend a lot. Get creative.
Team giveaways are not required at events, but can be fun to give and collect for kids. Though not required, they are often given out by FIRST teams at all levels.
What are common SWAG items?
- Buttons/Pins. These range in size from small to large (depending upon your budget). Teams custom print their team’s logo or their project topic on them. I have seen buttons of all kinds: with an LED imbedded in them, made of wood, homemade, professionally printed, etc.
- Wrist Bands. These are silicone wristbands that have the team’s name or motto on them.
- Pencils/Pens: These usually have a team name printed on them.
- Chocolate: Most teams give out popular chocolate brands, but others have made their own LEGO-shaped chocolates.
Uncommon SWAG items
At international tournaments you often see a team give away something that represents their country. Project Bucephalus and The Knights that Say Ni gave out small koala bears because they are from Australia. NXT Generation from the Netherlands gave out small wooden shoes. Teams from Japan often give out a small craft item (e.g. origami). Some teams will have a few special items (like a team shirt) to give to a team that have a bond with. The Droids treasure these special gifts and wear them proudly!
Contact your local government. Often they will have brochures or small pins that they will let you have for free. I have seen teams come with state (or regional) pins. Associations often have giveaways they may be willing to give your team. For example, when my team was researching milk six years ago, the Diary Association not only sent them educational videos, but also “Got Milk” stickers, bracelets and key chains.
Where do you get giveaways from?
You can get them as donations to your team. You can make many items (including buttons) yourself if you own the equipment. There are many companies that will print custom silicone bands, buttons, stickers, etc. (e.g. Oriental Trading)
How many should we get?
Look at the number of teams attending and multiply by about 6-8 kids per team. In addition, all FIRST events are also open to the public. You will get people (especially siblings) wandering through your pit area all day collecting trinkets from all the booths.
Comments captured from FLL: Share & Learn
Ruth Ann Francis:I’ve never really like the hand outs. Unless it’s something edible, my team usually just hands whatever they were given to me with a look of confusion on their face. Often there’s a link to the other team’s project information. Which is nice, but none of my team have smart phones and by the time they leave the tournament, they’ve forgotten all about it and the sites don’t get visited. With food/candy, that’s nice but there’s never enough for everyone on the team to get a piece and multiple of my kids have food allergies/sensitivities and can’t have various types of candy. (Which usually means that I end up with it…not that I mind. :) ). Plus it’s almost always given out in the pits where we’re not supposed to have food or drinks. If the handout is something else, some little toy or something, it’s often a distraction to the team and I have to tell my team members to put the things away multiple times or take them up until after our tournament activities are done. It’s a nice idea but usually ends up with just something else for me as a coach to keep track of.
For my own team, we only do team t-shirts which are worn for competitions and any other times the team does something out in the community. The kids get to keep the shirts and I see them wear old team t-shirts from time to time (I often wear mine to do yard work).
Stephanie Ozenne: Probably skip stickers - they make a mess if kids start putting them on tables etc at the venue. Utah tournaments van then specifically.
Crystall Dalton: Stickers are also banned at many Texas event hosts. We give out buttons and 3d printed lightening bolts with our team number.
Shelby Davis: We usually use the LEGO minifig and 2x4 brick molds to make chocolate for hand outs.
Kelly Higgins Ludlam: We have done kid drawn color sheets, LEGO shaped crayons, stickers, candy, stuffed toys. Check oriental trader.
Amy Strobel-Brandemuehl: We have been doing glow stick bracelets the last couple of years
Gwen Hunter Valentino: We do the buttons every year, we also get the blox candy on Amazon and have a bowl at the table. (We go through 5 pounds easy) we also give pens/pencils from the city. The last tournament we gave mini rubic cubes.
Joseph Gillen: As a coach/judge/tournament director/whatever…I love pins/buttons more than anything else. If I’m not coaching my own team, I rotate through the huge collecting I have and wear those to events on my lanyard. One of the big hits last year was when one team brought Twister. That for all the teams involved and was memorable. Make sure in advance the tournament director is ok with it, though.
Asha Seshan: There are different opinions on the subject. And that is okay. Some believe it’s all junk/end up in the trash. Others believe that it is a system in which only teams that can afford another $100-$200 of giveaways can participate and, therefore, should not be allowed. Yet others feel it is a gesture/ice-breaker and is okay. Check with your tournament director to see if they have rules (especially about food). Giveaways are not expected, but many kids like to collect them as tournament souvenirs.. Alternatives to swag are some interactive displays (building MindCuber or some other cool EV3 model or some kind of game) in the pit as a way to invite conversations with teams).
Susan Lepsis Lynch: Our giveaways were fortune cookies with custom sayings inside and buttons.
Connie Rooke: Candy is always a big hit … Smarties or lollypops are our favorites and you can get them at dollar store
Carrie Koepke: We have seen a range of items. My kids like the buttons most, although there have been a few exceptions. We have seen creative tie-ins to projects (flower seeded paper, a tiny hourglass for the shower, informational brochures). At international events, country specific items (including sand in a little jar from a beach) are adored. At our local event last year, someone gave each team a baggie with emergency robot batterires. While batteries would be expensive, our team has decided to create a small baggie of mico dice for each team (we are sponsered by a gaming store).
Christy Stone: Our team last year was the Total Geeks. For the state tournament they printed out little “business cards” with inspirational sayings from various shows such as Star Wars, Back to the Future, Dr. Who, etc. They had this big storm trooper that they got super cheap on clearance from Target so they built a robot out of a second EV3 brick that fed the cards into the storm trooper’s hand for the kids walking by to take. It was super fun for them and we loved that it motivated a lot of kids to come by their table so our kids had more opportunities to share about their project and meet other kids.
Celina McGinnis: We’ve done buttons, candy, bookmarks with directions for a game. The bookmarks were the best, I still see them popping up in books around our school district. The best swag I’ve ever gotten was from Virginia team 168, a glow in the dark gear bookmark. They were printing them at the booth at the World Festival, on a 3D printer they had made out of PCV piping. Great design, super useful.
Scott Wootten I think we have had the most success with buttons or candy. The kids like collecting the buttons, and the candy is always popular.
Catherine Sarisky: We did wristbands from 24hourwristbands.com
Tina Žličar: We organized a prize game and those who answered correctly won a pair of earings, made by our sponsor #barbarela. They were a real hit.