Yes, they're candy, but Jelly Belly Sport Beans contain fruit juice, electrolytes and vitamins. They're marketed toward athletes, but attendees will enjoy them during breaks, especially on days when the meeting feels like a marathon. Sport beans retail for $1.29 per bag; discounts are available on large orders. (800) 323-9380; sportbeans.com
Doodles Destinations are cute and sturdy tchotchkes shaped like easily recognizable landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower. Use them as teasers to build excitement for the trip. Cost, $40 each; companies with a resale certificate can buy them wholesale for $20. (800) 426-6394; designideas.net
Handy for any office: Swingline's new Stack-and-Shred can cut up to 100 sheets into confetti at a time. It even shreds credit cards. Cost, $249. (800) 541-0094
Robbie Furman twists variously colored balloons to make surprisingly lifelike caricatures. At a special event, he can make about 10 balloon people, which he calls "Lootles," per hour. Pricing starts at $1,500 for five hours. (973) 325-9111; unirecgames.com
This nifty new gadget from Kensington combines a PowerPoint remote, laser pointer and Micro SD memory card. In other words, speakers can load all their presentations onto the remote, direct the show from up to 150 feet from the computer, and highlight important points with a powerful green laser. The Kensington Presenter Pro Remote with Green Laser Pointer and Memory costs $99.99 here. (800) 235-6708; us.kensington.com
The cloth napkin doesn't traditionally get much notice in a table setting. Surprise attendees and speed up table-setting with these Pocket Napkins: The silverware slips into a pocket inside the napkin. The type pictured costs $54 for 300 napkins. (877) 281-8969; mank-shop.com
For a brainstorming session that requires the group to come up with ideas, schedules and tasks, try making this interactive display board. Coat one side of a huge sheet of newspaper with spray adhesive and let it dry. Hang it on the wall to make a reverse sticky note. Attendees can stick pieces of paper to the wall and move them around as needed. Thanks to Justin L. Larson, administrative assistant at the department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Boise State University, for the idea.
Nutrition for All
A snack break is a great place to add a charity element to an event. For example, for every Two Degrees bar sold, a nutrition pack is given to a hungry child in Africa. The bars come in three flavors, and a nine-bar box costs $19.95. (877) 371-9368; twodegreesfood.com
At a meeting for a childrens'-products company, Dianne Davis, co-owner of TulNet Meetings and Events, let attendees know in advance to stuff their pockets with loose change. Attendees poured their change into jars representing their geographic regions; the region that collected the most change got to present the total (including a matching donation from the company) to a local children's charity. The activity raised thousands of dollars and brought a dose of healthy competition to the event.
Follow That Suitcase
Lugging luggage is one of the most miserable aspects of travel. Bags To Go, a service available in Las Vegas and South Florida, will claim bags from the airport and deliver them to cruise ships or hotels. The company also offers expedited flight check-in and baggage storing, and will deliver bags from hotels or convention centers in Las Vegas to McCarran International Airport. Services cost $6 to $10 per bag for individuals, with significant discounts for groups. For trips through other airports, a similar service through a different company might be available. 702-261-7700; www.bagstogo.net
Groups at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel can partake in a cook-off to make nachos... for dessert. Each team works to make the ultimate sweet nacho platter, using churros, mango, kiwi, sugar, Grand Marnier and more. Not only will you stimulate attendees' creativity, but you'll also save money on dessert. (305) 604-1601; loewshotels.com/miami
To build team spirit in a group, give each one a different mundane thing to rant about; for example, lint or tires. Once they've tried ranting about their topics all at once, a "conductor" begins a symphony of rants, bringing in some ranters while silencing others, or making some people rant loudly and quickly while others rant softly and slowly. A group will soon be in stitches. The idea comes courtesy of Jenise Fryatt, co-owner and director of marketing at Icon Presentations, and community manager for Engage365, an online group of event professionals. (engage365.org)