Each year at the PASS Summit I have run a party on opening night. The last 4 or 5 years we've had a casino theme, with real dealers coming in and letting people try their luck at blackjack, poker, roulette, craps, etc. It's a good time, and we hand out lots of prizes. We try to give them out randomly so your skill level doesn't matter, but we also give a few away to the big money winners.
To make sure everyone gets something, I've also ordered copies of "The Best of SQLServerCentral" book and a bunch of polo shirts to hand out. We've wanted to make everyone feel like a winner, and the format has been popular. I usually rotate the shirt color so that people coming back from last year get a new shirt, and have some variety in their wardrobe.
The timing of the event, however, means that I'm never quite sure how many people will come. Typically about 60-70% of the people signing up with our code come to the party, but we try to ensure we have enough for everyone. And since there's a lead time with ordering books and shirts, that means that I have to place an order weeks, or even months, in advance of the Summit.
Which means guessing.
I usually guess a little high, and have ended up shipping back shirts and books to my house over the years. It worked out well when we sold shirts through the site, or gave them away as prizes, but we've done less of that over time, and I have more than a few extra shirts stored in my basement.
With the economy slow, and attendance to the Summit down, at least by my estimates based on the number of people using my code to date, I decided that I needed to cut my expenses a bit. After all, the other prizes are what matter, right? Everyone wants a Nintendo DS, a picture frame, or an Iron Man DVD . So I decided to reuse shirts from previous years. I'm sorry, but I have about 100 green, gray, and black shirts, and need to let them go.
I have a bunch of sizes, M, L, XL, but not at the extremes, so I've ordered some S, XXL, and XXXL to round out the bunch. I'm not sure what colors are coming since I told my supplier to pick from those colors or burgundy, just get them sewn up and shipped to Seatle FAST.
My apologies to those people that might get a color from a previous year, but times are tough now. Hopefully next year the Summit will grow larger and I'll have a bigger budget.
And get to pick a new shirt color :)