Tip #187: Favorite Give-Aways #4

Puzzles and paddles are unexpected prizes that keep participants occupied long after they are received.
There are all sorts of puzzles, but the ones that I like to hand out are apparently called puzzle balls. I just looked them up on Oriental Trading Company’s website and find their name a tad confusing, because only one of the colorful orange-sized puzzles in actually a round ball. That is the easiest one to put back together. Then there is one shaped like a star, which I never throw because it’s sharp edges can take an eye out. The third puzzle is round, with interlocking slices, so it isn’t solid like the other two. And the fourth puzzle has six interlocking gear-shaped pieces that often tantalize and frustrate folks. The most adept can put it together on their own, but I’ve actually watched two to four folks try to put it together, with little success. This is despite the fact that each puzzle does come with a re-assembly instruction sheet. In the interest of full disclosure, I should state for the record that I cannot put ANY of the puzzles back together!!!

Needless to say, when I hand out the puzzles, I ask participants how hard they would like their puzzle to be. A caution: Engineering types lose all sense of time and place working on them!!! An additional caution: The fourth and most difficult puzzle does NOT travel well. It often falls apart in transit and I end up throwing one or two of them out.

The paddles are really paddle ball games. So, if you were thinking that we use them to paddle participants, please change your focus! The paddles are made of wood, with a ball attached to the middle of the paddle with a rubber cord. There are all sorts of colorfully decorated paddles, including goofy smile faces, psychedelic, patriotic, neon, and two right now for Halloween: Halloween smile faces, and spider webs (which are on sale at the moment). The object of the game is to keep bouncing the ball on the paddle. This requires good hand eye coordination.

I usually give the paddle ball games out at the end of a training day, for obvious reasons! However, I gave them out earlier during a two day Technical Trainer’s Toolbox program in California two weeks ago- and had fun watching two participants compete against each other during a break to see who could bounce the ball longer! So I may give them out earlier in future programs.

Participants sometimes get frustrated and leave puzzle pieces, but they almost never leave the paddle ball games. The puzzles are light but bulky to pack. The wooden paddles make the packs of a dozen pretty dense and heavier, for those of you concerned about luggage weight restrictions on flights.

Next week, we’ll continue our discussion of my participants’ favorite give-aways and prizes, looking at bubbles and back scratchers.

If there are other great novelties, toys, prizes, or give-aways that your participants appreciate, please let us know about them!

I am really enjoying the fact that this topic stimulates so much enthusiasm! My dear friend Julie Almont from Delaware Park sent this message:

“Hi Deb!

I Attended Disney Institute recently! The facilitator began by explaining that she would be giving out what she referred to as PPRs (Positive Plastic Reinforcements). She went on to say that by the end of the day, we would be jumping over each other to receive one…I chuckled with the usual cynicism of a know-it-all!
It only took me one hour to turn from my reserved, professional demeanor, and step on my table partner’s foot to get a 2 inch molded statue of M-I-C-K-E-Y…!
He resides on the shelf between the little rubber ducky and Eeyore!”

Positive Plastic Reinforcements! Isn’t that wonderful? Thanks so much, Julie!!

If any of you have any other names for these give-aways, please let us know!

This week, we continue a discussion of my participants’ favorite give-aways and prizes, bubbles and back scratchers.

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