There's nothing quite like stumbling out of a party with a bag of mystery goodies to rifle through, particularly when it's eons until your birthday. It's a fabulous way for brands to sample their wares, and without question I've become a loyal fan of many products after first encountering them in gift bags. It also leaves the recipient with a warm fuzzy glow and happy associations with the event and the brand gifting them.
The inspiration for this blog subject came from someone at lunch last week who mentioned that a girlfriend is obsessed with gift bags. OK...you say, aren't we all?, but this woman is married to a man worth $11 billion. Yes, that's with a b, not a meagre m. This is a woman who could probably buy every company represented within most gift bags, but she simply loves them.
I have to say I know how she feels. Well, not exactly...I doubt I will ever earn, marry or see $11b in my lifetime or the next thousand, but after 13 years in this industry I still get excited about what lies within these glorious mystery bags.
There's of course the story about the girl who loves them a little TOO much. Serial misbehaving Sydney socialite, let's call her Gloria Grabs-a-lot, once had a nasty case of the gimmees at an A-list function. She left early, ie, before the gift bags were displayed at the exit (which is usually always after the main proceedings) - and was caught most un-ladylike on her hands and knees underneath a tablecloth grabbing as many hidden bags for herself and her friends as she could. Not exactly behaviour becoming of a girl of her family background. Needless to say it ran in Sydney Confidential the following day and I suspect Gloria waits patiently in line for her goodies these days.
Another PR friend confessed to a re-gifting glitch...he passed on a luxe perfume to a girlfriend with the suggestion he bought it for her as a loving gift, but neglected to remove his seat allocation and media release from the bag. Whoopsies!
So clearly the humble goodie bag can evoke lust, greed and shame, but sometimes also disappointment, for there is an art to the creation of them. One can't help but compare the bag full of brochures and 10% discount vouchers to the one heaving with full-sized products.
Over the years I've compiled a set of golden rules for goodie bags:
* Give potential product suppliers PLENTY of notice, whether you're placing a Product Call on the Social Diary newsletter or you're approaching brands directly. You can't expect to receive 500 hairsprays 2 days before your event, most have a 4 week turnaround.
* Don't bother creating a goodie bag unless you have at least 4 decent items. Anything less just feels...light.
* You can ignore the above rule if you have one, single, fabulous full size product - eg a perfume - beautifully presented and wrapped in a bow. One of the most beautiful gifts Mark Cav & I gave was for the launch of Kables @ The Regent - a divine gold leaf Orson & Blake bowl & lid enclosing a rich chocolate panaforte. I love that 10 years later I still regularly spy these gorgeous bowls at people's homes.
* It's great to have items that are relevant to the event. At a singles party on Valentine's Day this year there were mini vibrators in the bag...taking relevance to a whole new level.
* The most popular items are of course beauty products. Full size preferably, or at least decent travel size. Sachets just don't really cut it - if you can get it out of a magazine it's not exactly special.
* A personal fave are snack items of ANY kind: chips, choccies, sweets etc. PERFECT for the cab ride home! And a magazine for bedtime :)
* A personal un-fave (let's pretend that's a word) are discount vouchers unless they are a minimum of 50% off. I mean, does anyone really use 10% off vouchers? I think they're a terrible waste of trees.
* Always get your photographer to take a great photo of the bag with the contents displayed around it and send it on to everyone who contributed. It means alot to them and will make it more likely you'll be offered product for your next event!
* Try not to reward people for leaving early (like our friend Gloria) and place them on display at the appropriate time, usually an hour and a half after start time or whenever you expect the first lot of guests to depart.
* Don't let people who stay until the bitter end miss out. I always keep a portion of bags aside to give to the true party people who rock on all night!
And who gives the best gifts ever? Social Diary members of course for the annual Xmas party! WOW have we had some seriously HEAVY bags over the years...a huge thankyou to everyone who has ever contributed. Keep on gifting on!