Quick easy and really cheap prizes/swag to spice up my guest lecture?
March 25, 2008 8:43 PM   Subscribe

Help me be generous, but not too generous. I'm doing a guest lecture tomorrow evening with a bunch of masters-level students that incorporates a simulation exercise in groups. On a whim, I'm thinking it would be fun to spice things up and award prizes to participants/groups based on various criteria...but of course, I'm (a) not willing to break the bank on it; and (b) not prepared to give up a lot of time (nor do I want to look like I'm trying too hard to be liked, because I'm not - I just think the experience will be more fun for everyone, and chiefly myself, if the students have a sense that there's an ante). What can I give away that's no more than $1-2 per student out of pocket, but not totally lame?

I was originally thinking something like song credits from itunes, or maybe micro-sized gift certificates from Starbucks (hey, even 1 or 2 bucks towards coffee is still free coffee!) but all the gift certificate options seem to be in the $10-15 on up range. Is there a reputable website that enables purchase of credits of this size? Any other ideas for something I can arrange either on line or with minimal hassle that would be appealing? Dollar stores make me bonkers, and I'd rather not contribute to filling landfills with cheap plastic crap. Thanks for any suggestions!!!
posted by shelbaroo to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I vote that you give them candy. Reduced price post-Easter GIANT chocolate bunny would totally fit the bill.
posted by SassHat at 8:46 PM on March 25, 2008

Totally vote for candy...yes, we're all grownups (ok, supposed to be grownups) but nothing is more fun than a teacher pitching candy bars at you like you are back in 5th grade :)
posted by legotech at 8:57 PM on March 25, 2008

How's about some 1-2 dollar scratch and win tickets from the regional lottery organization?
posted by birdsquared at 8:58 PM on March 25, 2008

Thirding candy. They gave some out as prizes to my mixed class of undergrads and grad students a few weeks ago, and everyone loved it.
posted by vytae at 9:08 PM on March 25, 2008

1 or 2 songs from iTunes.
posted by extrabox at 9:13 PM on March 25, 2008

Nthing candy. Especially those Ferrero Rocher chocolates - you can get smallish packs for $2-3 in CVS/RiteAid stores and they go down a real bundle with my grad students! They look a lot pricier and posher than they are (and taste good).It's amazing how bright and engaged students become when we have chocolate prizes ... :-)
posted by sgmax at 9:14 PM on March 25, 2008

Candy open and shut. Other ideas:

>pizza doled out by slice to winners (bring napkins)
>Students need pens /pencils and notebooks. To fend off the lameness maybe getting sport/comic themed ones from office max (dirt cheap) and using the quirky theme as an analogy somewhere the presentation?
posted by oblio_one at 10:24 PM on March 25, 2008

Various exotic fruits. Blood oranges, star fruits, kiwis, and what not.
posted by ignignokt at 10:42 PM on March 25, 2008

heh... before I started reading the answers.. I immediately thought of an episode of The Office where Ryan brings Michael to his business school class... and Michael tosses out various candy bars to the class as part of his inspiring talk..
posted by mhh5 at 2:12 AM on March 26, 2008

oh. and given the time constraints of obtaining stuff to hand out.. definitely candy.

If you had more time, or if this were a more regular thing.. I remember once.. I had a class where the teacher handed out copies of USNews magazines, USAToday newspapers, etc.. Apparently, some of those kinds of publications offer free sample issues to students (with the hope that students will subscribe later)...
posted by mhh5 at 2:15 AM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: Candy is dandy, do it all the time in my classes, but you've got to guss up the pitch somewhat.

I've usually got a wad of cash in my pocket, and will (dramatically) wave it about in the air, mentioning that the prize for a correct answer is either this large amount of cash or a mystery prize of my choice.

As bankers have a reputation for being cheap I don't think anyone is surprised when I give them chocolate rather than three or four hundred pounds, but it does keep atmosphere light, students interested and engaged.

Uni is tough enough what with lectures and labs and assignments and - gulp! - the final. The least I can do is maintain a positive and fun environment.
posted by Mutant at 3:36 AM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: I do this stuff too, and it could be a bag of fingernail clippings---doesn't matter--- people love to compete!
But yes, candy is much nicer, and cheap to boot.
posted by Dizzy at 4:29 AM on March 26, 2008

I'll waste some bandwidth to further the cause of CANDY! I'd love an instructor underhanding a huge chunk of post-Easter chocolate at me, like a grade-schooler but with higher stakes.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:29 AM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: whoah!!! okay, so lemmee see if I get it. I'm thinking that the consensus here is....candy? Frankly, y'all make it seem so obvious that I'm kicking myself for wasting a question! Thanks to everyone who responded - I'm marking SassHat as best answer simply for being lightning-fast, Mutant for the inspiration to take it up a notch without any additional outlay (too fun!) and Dizzy for making me laugh -- but many thanks to everyone who also bolstered my confidence that doling out some fun is, indeed, a Good Idea.
posted by shelbaroo at 5:48 AM on March 26, 2008

posted by stuboo at 7:10 AM on March 26, 2008

I always give my students stickers. (Of course, they are 4 years old.) However, I would not discount stickers as incentive.
posted by nax at 7:48 AM on March 26, 2008

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