My first celebrity gifting suite experience — and all the free swag

Falisha McGee with former NBA player and talk show host John Sally.
Falisha McGee with former NBA player and talk show host John Sally.

Gifting celebrities with expensive items for award shows have been around since the 90’s, and in our age of social media, gifting them swag for promotion can be pivotal to a company’s success. When the pandemic hit, the swanky star-studded events came to a screeching halt, along with the freebies. Fast forward to 2022 and with award shows back in action, celebrity gifting suites have made a return.

As a blogger, the comeback for celebrity gifting suites gave me the absolute pleasure to be invited to my first celebrity gifting event held in honor the 2022 American Music Awards. Gifting suites are usually invitation only and closed to the public, which made me feel just as privileged and nervous at first to attend this event. Celebrities — and media such as myself, I learned — come to these events and leave hauling away loads of free swag such as jewelry, the most current electronics, latest tech gadgets, beauty, and hair products, and more.

Falisha McGee with actress Princess K. Mapp.
Falisha McGee with actress Princess K. Mapp.

I was invited as media for BLK News Now! to cover the event, which gave me a chance interview and survey this type of event for the first time. Upon arriving to the suites, we went through a screening process and list check. Once we were checked in, I entered the event and walked the red carpet where I was approached by John Sally, the famous talk show host and former NBA player, and who is absolutely taller in person than I would have imagined. He was also a pleasure to talk to. Surprisingly he mentioned that he knew of the work that BLK News Now! has done. We snapped a few photos on the red carpet, which hilariously highlighted our height differences. I later met Princess K Mapp (Nia Mapp) star of Apple TV’s “Ghostwriter.” Princess K Mapp had a personality that radiated with charisma. It was an absolute delight talking with her and her mother who chaperoned Princess K Mapp to the event. After speaking with her I was excited to watch her show. I also spoke with several other producers and celebrity influencers before entering the gifting suite.

Like many celebrities, I walked away with more than a handful of free swag. There were several brands that gifted for the event in honor of the 2022 American Music Awards. Gift bags included luxury gifts like full-size bottles of tequila, hair products, hair styling tools, hair accessories, luxury beauty products, a certificate for a tanning bed, and UV body treatment, pet toys, and even the now legal and trendy THC made an appearance.

The products that stood out to me at the event where Riot energy drinks, a 100% plant powered with no chemicals or sugar added, that tasted amazing. It is USDA organic and whole foods certified. For someone like me with a sensitive stomach and doesn’t drink energy drinks, the ingredients and the great taste made me think I wouldn’t mind drinking it again when I need that boost. Another all-natural product was Chips by IAmaranth. Made with simple clean ingredients, they offer chips and nuts of different variations that were yummy. The full-size candles by Blissful collection were beautiful, these handmade soy candles, and hemp wick. Each candle had different crystals accented on top based on the energy you are trying manifest. I also received the many full-size products by Wen with rice as its main ingredient, and hair products and accessories by chaz deen. Vodana also gifted a full-size curling wand, and Casamino gifted me a full-size tequila bottle. I re-gifted the THC Dry mist Canna-mizer spray by Entranced to a friend that partakes who gave me raving reviews about it. Entranced also gifted a transdermal topical cream for muscle pain relief.

I was delighted to see several Black-owned small businesses gifting the event, such as the pet business Pawplaytoystore offering pet toys for dogs, and cats in store and online. They also offer pet experiences like day care services, and pet party packages that can be shipped. Next was Bloom beauty that offered an assortment of products like nail, and skincare products. And lastly, Trifecta light gifting a gift card for a full body UV spa treatment. The list goes on of the many gifts I received and brands gifting at this year’s gifting suites.

This being my first event I did notice some things that I didn’t expect prior to arriving. One main things is I realized that majority of the celebrities did not get their gifts, instead they sent their assistant or proxy to get the gifts for them. This was saddening since I was unable to see some of the celebrities I hoped to. This also makes it hard on the brands who do not have that certainty of photo or promotion from the celebrity. Needless to say that those of attendance and the celebrities will later have lots of goodies to enjoy at a later time. This brings be to the next con. When first entering I was given a swag bag, but the bag was extremely small for the number of gifts given. Thankfully I had my own assistant that helped assist me with the products while I worked.

In the future, I won’t be as nervous. Prior to arriving my whole body felt wet with perspiration, but after I settled in my nerves calmed in part to the good vibes of those attending.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and memorable foray into celebrity gifting suites that I would do again — but with more astute knowledge on what to expect and prepare for in the future — hopefully with a bigger bag for all my swag.