Ordering Swag & Prizes

Adding a physical touch to your events!

When it comes to prizes and swag, you should do what your budget allows. While swag is great for marketing/branding, you do not want to sacrifice quality of the other aspects of your event.


Prizes are a great way to reward hackers for their hard work. When selecting them, it’s important to consider why you are giving a prize, what sort of behaviors that prize rewards, and how you can go about motivating those behaviors. No one wants to be seen as stingy, but prizes say a lot about who you are as a community, why you are there in the first place, and they influence the vibe of your event — big time. Check out this article for a larger discussion on hackathon prizes.

While cash prizes are easy for events, we do not recommend them. The perceived value of a cash prize is much lower than traditional prizes.

Save the receipts for any prizes. If a winning team has 3 members instead of 4 you can return the prize to add to the next year's budget. You could also raffle the extra prizes or do social media challenges.

Many cool items will be backordered. Order prizes early to have them in time.

Prize Ideas

Gear – Cool Items To Use With Future Hacks

Novelty – Things Hackers Love, But Might Not Buy For Themselves

  • Retro Video Games

  • Limited Edition Swag

  • Personalized action figures

  • Polaroid Camera

  • Audible Subscription

  • Geeky posters

  • Office Warfare gear (ping pong ball launcher, nerf guns, etc.)

Experiences – A Memorable, One-time Adventure With Friends

  • Movie Tickets

  • Trip to Medieval Times or an amusement park

  • A trip somewhere (may cost $1000/person, but still less overall than many cash prizes)

  • Lunch with your hero

  • Laser tag tournament

  • Conference tickets

  • Company trip – visit and hang out with your favorite companies for a day

Budget Conscious Prizes

Numbers may vary, but when collected these options were approximately these ranges.


Wireless Earbuds

Yubikey Security Key

Drawing tablet

128 GB USB Drive

Anker PowerBank

Hardware / Development Kit

USB Converter

Echo Show 5

Bluetooth Speaker

128GB SD Card

TB External

Fire 8 Tablet

Anker Wireless Charger Bundle

Gaming Mouse

Blue Yeti Nano USB mic

Anker USB-C Hub

Anker Wireless Power Bank

Mini Projector

Soldering kit

LG XBoom Speaker

LED Desklamp with Wireless Charging

Belkin Face Tracking Phone Mount

Reusable Notepad by Rocketbook

Blue Snowball Mic

Anker Wireless Charger Bundle

Apple AirTag


Lanyards/Wristbands are an easy piece of swag to help make it easier to identify who has checked in and is supposed to be in your venue space. We recommend doing lanyards or wristbands at the very least. If you are making lanyards, include a space for

  • Name

  • Pronouns

  • Role (hacker, sponsor, mentor, organizer) - Potentially get different color versions so even easier to identify

  • Make sure double sided so if flips around still has name visible.

  • Also include your event Discord/Slack and who to contact in case of emergency.

  • A fun alternative for pronouns is to have a sponsor print pins to add to the lanyards that hackers can pick up at check-in. Check out an example from WEHack, where they had a sponsor co-design with their event theme as a special branding perk.

If you have a significant budget surplus, consider making swag bags for everyone, this can be as low cost as $5 per participant.

If you have multiple types of swag, consider distributing the swag throughout the event at different workshops/mini-events to keep hackers engaged.

If you plan to get t-shirts, remember to collect t-shirt sizes so you know the approximate % distribution you want of each size. You can also use the % below that we use here at MLH.


Women's XS


Women's S


Women's M


Women's L


Women's XL


Unisex XS


Unisex S


Unisex M


Unisex L


Unisex XL


Article: Are Hackathon Prizes the Worst Thing Since Moldy Sliced Bread?

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