I like to give speakers something to say thank you beyond the standard speaker shirt. It doesn’t have to be big, fancy, or expensive. I’ve always appreciated a hand written thank you card. Here in Orlando we’ve given speakers business card holders, a very nice $25 coffee cup, beach towels, chef hats, and a lot more. Much as I wrote about speaker shirts, gifts aren’t required. They take time and energy and money, some years you have all three, some years you don’t!
This year we were able to provide two small gifts. One was a cookie from a local baker with SQLSaturday written on the cookie and the other was the custom print I mentioned that we used on the speaker shirts. We were able to trade being listed as a sponsor in both cases (no, that’s not always possible, but worth asking!) in return for the 50 items we needed.
We attempted hand written cards this year but waited too long and just didn’t have time. 50 cards is a lot. Also, my hand writing is legible to me, possibly not to anyone else. Still, next year I think we’ll try that again. I know I liked spending a minute to write something to a speaker that was specific to them.
Katie organized all that and she added to that by having a paper gift bag for each speaker with their name on it and in the bag was their shirt, the cookie, the print, a lanyard, and their printed speedpasses. It’s a little harder to move 50 bags versus a couple boxes of stuff, but it feels good to give someone their bag and it’s easy to keep track of who has their stuff and who doesn’t. Even if you’re just giving them a shirt, putting it in an inexpensive gift bag is worth doing.
For what its worth, I always budget $10 per speaker for this. Some years we spend less, some years a little more. That’s not a rule, spend more, less, or provide no gift at all – it comes back to the time, energy, and money factors.
I’ll admit to being curious what other events do for gifts, yet I think I’m content to mostly not know. I’d rather try to do something different each year (or most years, we still get requests for towels and coffee cups!) and enjoy giving the gift.