Swag Ideas

Custom Decoration Methods Explained

Customizing swag and gifts takes your gesture to the next level and gives recipients something great to remember you by. Once you choose the perfect item, the way you present your logo can express a lot about your company. 

Different products and materials allow different customization options — it can be confusing to decide which look you prefer for the final product. 

Here’s our guide to the most common decoration methods you’ll see when customizing your swag. Once you upload your design, you’ll see a digital mockup right away to make sure everything looks right. And don’t worry, your mockup is approved by a real person before it goes into production — we want your swag to be perfect, too!

Screen Print

Screen printing is one of the top decoration methods because of its versatility. It’s most commonly used to add flair to apparel (t-shirts, activewear, sweatshirts), drinkware, notebooks and more. Since screen printing is done by hand, it’s often used to apply designs to uneven surfaces. 

Your design is applied directly onto the product’s surface by pushing ink through a fine mesh screen. Each design requires a custom-made stencil or screen created by our printers, with a separate layer for each color. The layers are applied one at a time to create the final look. This is a great method to ensure your logo looks extra crisp, and for designs with vibrant colors.

When selecting screen print customization at Swag.com, you will receive a digital mockup with the option to receive a physical sample of your item with your design. Note that screen printed items should not be placed in the dishwasher or microwave.


Embroidered swag takes the look and feel of your logo to the next level. Customers love applying embroidery to branded hats, blankets, polos and jackets for a classic professional look.

Your design is sewn directly into the item using multicolored thread. To keep your swag looking pristine for years to come, each embroidered logo is sewn through a backing that keeps it intact. The backing is a small piece of fabric that holds the stitches together, and is only visible on the inside of the item.

For embroidered items, you will receive a digital mockup and/or a sewout — a physical sample of the logo embroidered on a small piece of fabric. Because your design is physically embroidered and has to be mailed to you, it may take a bit longer than a digital mockup (usually about a week). Don’t panic if the fabric your sewout is embroidered on doesn’t match your specifications! We try to repurpose leftover fabrics for samples, with sustainability in mind.

Laser Engrave

Sophisticated details can elevate your swag from an everyday item to a luxury gift. Laser engraving is great for decorating luxe items, including water bottles and tumblers, pens, various tech items and sometimes even blankets!

Your design is laser engraved by removing material from the surface of the item via laser technology. This exposes the underlayer of the item, which is typically stainless steel or leather, depending on the product you choose. Most products available to laser engrave at Swag.com contain a note about the underlayer color or material in the product specifications. 

Since laser engraving simply removes the outer layer of material to create your design, it does not allow for color print — meaning your Pantone color will not be used. This decoration method creates a subtle, tone-on-tone shadowy effect that’s sure to impress. Laser engraved designs are durable and cannot fade or rub off with excessive use. This method is microwave and dishwasher safe, if you select drinkware items with those capabilities.

Digital Print

Digital printing is ideal for highly detailed designs, including gradients and photos. It can be used on a variety of hard goods, including stickers, notebooks, tech items, office supplies and even the custom tape that is used to pack your swag box.

Your design is printed directly onto the item using the 4-Color Process (4CP), composed of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). This is the printing process used on most standard desktop inkjet printers. CMYK printing does not allow for exact Pantone color matching, but because these four colors can be combined in endless amounts, we will create the closest available color match for you. You won’t be able to tell the difference!

Because of the detailed process of perfectly mixing and matching colors, there is an 8 color maximum for logos. We’ll never print a product unless we know it will turn out perfectly, so you can feel confident we’ll get the details just right. 

Foil Print

Foil printing is a specialty decoration method that gives products a high class, unique look. It’s often used to embellish notebooks and drinkware for more formal gifts and VIP swag. With a foil printed logo, your swag is sure to stand out from the crowd!

Your design is applied using heat and pressure to add a metallic or pigmented foil to the surface. When customizing the foil print, you may have an option to choose between a gold, silver or white reflective finish. 

Items with foil printed designs are not suitable for microwave or dishwasher use. Although the foil printing process might require slightly longer production times, the results of the finished product are stunning and impactful. 


Debossing is more of a subtle decoration method that makes everyday swag items memorable. It’s a great way to draw attention to your brand without overdoing it – your logo stands out, but the item feels more luxurious. The most commonly debossed items are notebooks, coasters and wine holders.

Your design is “stamped” or indented into the surface of the product, using a specially cut metal die. Pressing the die into the surface causes depressions in the material, leaving a minimalistic imprint of your logo behind. Customers love giving high end gifts with debossed logos for a premium appearance that will impress!

Debossing does not allow for color print, as it does not involve ink. The color of the item you choose will be the same color that your logo is indented in. Please note that debossing is not the same as embossing, which is where your design is raised above the surface.

Pad Print

Pad printing is a versatile printing technique, similar to screen printing, except that it transfers the design to your item in a slightly different way. We recommend pad printing for hard goods that may be difficult to screen print, usually because they have a curved or uneven surface. This includes drinkware and tech items.

Your design is laser engraved into a printing plate (also called a cliché), and a silicon pad transfers the image in 2D from the cliché onto your item with ink. Depending on the intricacy of your design and the colors required, pad printing may be a great fit to customize your swag.

It’s important to note that although pad printing is commonly used to decorate drinkware, pad printed items should not be placed in the dishwasher or microwave.

Heat Transfer

Heat transfer, sometimes called digital transfer, is a newer method of adding your design to custom promotional products and gifts. Although it’s not as common as some of our other decoration methods, it is mainly used on outerware and bags.

Your design or logo is printed onto transfer paper, and the ink from the paper is thermally transferred onto the fabric of your item using heat and pressure. Designs applied this way are relatively durable and there are no gradient limitations.

Fully Customizable

At Swag.com, we have a variety of items that are fully customizable. You can build out your swag based entirely on your vision! From socks to beanies to lip balm, get in touch with our team to create your fully custom swag from scratch.