Perhaps swag bags don’t mean anything to those who watch award shows like the Oscars. But to those who attend, it’s become an expected tradition.
The Oscar versions go back almost 20 years — to 2001, to be exact — when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) decided to gift all nominees with gift bags containing luxury items. When the bags first began, the worth of the items varied, though eventually reached close to a quarter of a million dollars in value by the mid-2000s.
The IRS stepped in to investigate this and soon determined celebrities would have to pay taxes when gifted a swag bag. As a result, it’s led to some nominees refusing the bags because of the tax liability, or just giving them away to charity.
Not that many don’t still accept them. The gifts in the swag bags have only become more specialized, including this year’s bag of goodies. The 2020 Oscars, which took place Sunday, February 9, contains everything from a trip on the world’s first ultra-luxury expedition yacht to cosmetic procedures.
Who gives out the swag bags each year?
After the IRS issues were worked out, another legal problem got in the way. The Academy stopped doing them officially in 2005 because of the tax issues.
Later, entertainment marketing company Distinctive Assets started assembling unique swag bags and gave them out to Oscar attendees. The company is unaffiliated with The Oscars.
As for who reives them, the bags are given to the nominees in the following categories: best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, and best director.
The 2020 Oscar swag bag contains a $78K trip to Antarctica
Recipients of the 2020 Oscar swag bag will get a 12-day trip for two to Antarctica. The trip will be on the world’s first ultra-luxury expedition yacht: the Scenic Eclipse.
The yacht accommodates 200 guests and has eight restaurants, a submarine, two helicopters, and a “spa sanctuary.” While on the trip, guests can kayak, snowshoe and encounter penguins. The experience is estimated to be valued at $78,190.
There are other trips included in the swag bag. Nominees get a getaway for eight guests in an active Spanish lighthouse — the Faro Cumplida lighthouse. They also get a five-night stay at a new lifestyle hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii: the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger.
Another experiential freebie is dinner for two at Flora’s Field Kitchen in Cabo, Mexico. The restaurant gets food from its 150-acre ranch and serves handmade, fresh food.
And for those looking for a little help, they can a private phone call with life coach Jessica McGregor Johnson and a copy of Johnson’s book: “The Right T-Shirt, Write Your Own Rules and Live the Life You Want.”
The 2020 Oscar swag bag contains meaningful jewelry and clothes
Recipients will get a Lapis Lazuli necklace from the TAPS for Hope jewelry collection from non-profit TAPS (the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). The collection gathers gems from Afghanistan and uses its proceed to help American and Afghan military widows.
The 2020 “Everyone Wins” nominee gift bag includes a custom 18k gold-plated lariat necklace from “Blush & Whimsy.” The necklace is made by disabled veterans.
“Happiest Tees” are also available, giving a T-shirt message of “Happiest in L.A./NYC.” Sunglasses custom-made by PETA are additionally in the bag, including an automatic donation to the organization when acquiring the eyewear.
Hand-crafted earrings from Spokane, WA-based jewelry manufacturer Millianna are in there. Plus, there’s a Soma silk robe inside, proving comfortable living is the goal in every gift item.
The 2020 Oscar swag bag has lots of skincare
Skincare and wellness products are having a moment and the 2020 Oscar swag bag is spotlighting how strong the trend is.
This year’s bag contains a 24 karat gold Royal Chakra Bath Bomb — each bath bomb is made of organic hyaluronic acid, purple Brazilian clay, and vegan coconut milk — from Hotsy Totsy Haus.
Nominees will receive a trip to the destination spa Golden Door, which is located in San Diego, Calif. It was voted the No. 1 destination spa in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.
The gift bag also contains up to $25,000 of treatments and cosmetic procedures (e.g. Botox, laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, and injectables/fillers) from New York City-based cosmetologist Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich.
The freebie bag contains a DNA-based personalized medicine kit from Pharmazam, a 5-day dietary program from Prolon, and a “spa kit for your mouth” from Closys Oral Care. It also has a Sleep Essentials gift set from Essence One, a skincare gift box from Instytutum, a hydration product from My Flight Pack, meal kits from Nutrition for Longevity, and a year of a full-body performance evaluation package from New York Endocrinology’s Dr. Salas-Whalen.
Everything will reportedly cost about $215,000, down from $232,000 last year.