Buy the Book
Welcome attendees to a new city with a universally valued keepsake: a book. The Book Company will print a logo and/or a page insert in any book in print, with a minimum order of 50 copies. Consider the highly popular (and convention-friendly) "Then and Now" series, which compares historic and contemporary photos of a choice of 72 cities around the world. Books cost $10.95 each. For customization, there’s a $40 set-up fee, plus an additional 75 cents per book for covers or, for inserts, an additional $1 per book fee. (800) 367-9388; thebookco.com
Song Division will facilitate groups large and small to write and record a song that relates to a company's core values, mission, training concepts or just about anything else. Even people without any musical talent can participate. With the help of Song Division's professional band, every tune -- and every team -- comes out sounding good. The service costs $5,700 for up to 30 people. (347) 264-5586; songdivision.com
For groups on a seriously tight budget, even custom T-shirts can break the bank -- but not these. The simple white shirts are printed with a single ink color and cost an affordable $1.95 each, plus a $30 setup charge. Minimum order is 150. (570) 344-8985; kevins.biz
Don't Hesitate to Ask
Facilitate conversations at a mixer with the "Ask Me" activity. First, write a variety of prompts on blank name tags; for example, "Ask me about the best course I ever took" or "Ask me about my role model." Attendees choose a tag to wear or write their own; when they get tired of answering that question, they can always take a new one or switch with someone else. This idea comes courtesy of Lynne Waymon speaker, trainer, coach and CEO of Contacts Count in Silver Spring, Md. (301) 589-8633; contactscount.com
For events with a year or more lead time, choosing a date isn't too difficult; attendees will find a way to work around it. But when planning just a few weeks out, it can be impossible to find a day when a large portion of attendees won't already be doing something else. For those gatherings, try WhichDateWorks.com. All the attendees get the chance to fill in dates that are good, bad and so-so, and the winner is picked democratically. It's a free service, and registration isn't required.
Glows With Anything
The new Luna collection from CORT Event Furnishings is a series of occasional tables, columns and even entire bars that light up in a range of bright colors. The LED lights use a rechargeable battery -- which means no unsightly cords. Rental prices range from $56 to $600, depending on item and quantity. (888) 267-8937; cortevents.com
With Groove Heads Entertainment, guests lip-sync along with a song of their choice, and their faces appear, in truly hilarious fashion, atop dancing bodies in the music video. The activity can be done as part of a party (everyone gets a DVD copy of their performance), or it can be used for an American Idol-like team-building event. Cost: $350 per hour. (602) 402-6306; grooveheads.com
At events, cupcakes have always been much easier to hand out and eat than cakes, but they often lack a certain majesty. Not anymore. Bella Cupcake Couture makes glamorous cupcake wrappers inspired by haute textiles and made of recycled white linen paper. Full-size cups cost $12 for 12; mini cups cost $48 for 100. Discounts are available for event planners, and custom labels can be created for an additional fee. (425) 260-3224; bellacupcakecouture.com
Stick It and Click It
When stuck to a wall, the magnetic -- and surprisingly powerful -- Happeez Clippers will hold at least 10 pieces of paper. The clips can be customized with corporate logos or convention reminders (minimum order: 500). Bulk cost, $3 per clip. (888) 408-4352; mayfairlane.com
These distinctive metallic votive candleholders add
a low-cost, low-rise sheen to tables. Cost: $32 for a set of four.
(800) 851-4509; moma.org
Picture This 2009
little Z33WP cameras from Fujifilm come in green, pink and black, and
even work in up to 10 feet of water. $199.99. (800) 869-8600; fujifilmusa.com
Take a cue from Grand Velas Resort Riviera Maya (866-314-9347; grandvelas.com) and bring a mobile cocktail cart around to diners before or during dinner. In the cart, the resort stocks a variety of tequilas and juices on ice, plus shakers, limes, and salt, either regular or chili-flavored.