4 secrets to getting the best price for your event t-shirts

Event T Shirts

If you’re organizing an event, whether it’s a corporate, non-profit or school event, most times you’ll need to look into getting event t-shirts. Organizers are always aware of costs for each aspect of the event and they know doing things to reduce the costs of things will quickly add up.

A lot of the ways to reduce costs lands on good planning – planning well in advance to avoid rush fees, enhanced shipping charges, etc. But what about things that are out of your control?

Here are 4 things you should know to help you get the best price.


The design and art preparation of your shirt design will be one of the main factors when determining how much money you’ll pay to get your custom tee shirts. Here are a couple of things that can help reduce the art production costs.

Have a design in mind

To come to us and tell us to “just put something together” will definitely increase the costs of your shirt. Art fees are usually done by the hour, so the more time we spend designing, editing and refining your design, the more you’re going to pay.

You can streamline the process and dramatically bring the price down by having a clear, concise design in mind.

Sketches of your shirt design are a great way for us to see the direction you’re going. It doesn’t matter if it’s stick figures, sketch out a rough layout and be sure to include text and any fonts (or font characteristics) you’d like to include.

Design it yourself

If you know your way around a graphics program, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw and you have the time to do your own artwork, that could help you save money.

If you don’t have an art department, chances are one of your sponsors does. Ask them, as part of their sponsorship, if they would design the tshirt for you.

There are a couple things to keep in mind:

1) Not all graphic designers have experience with designing artwork for shirts. This can cause a lot of issues so it’s important to ask if they have experience designing graphics specifically for t shirts.
2) It’s best to connect us with whoever will be doing your artwork. We speak the same language so communicating with your artist will eliminate any “middle man” communication issues. This also saves you time from having to be the middle man so you can work on other aspects of your event.

Files in vector format

There are several different formats for graphics and to the person who’s not familiar with them, it can quickly become confusing.

The one format you need to remember is called vector. In easy and very general terms, vector format are basically solid lines. The good thing about vector is the scalability of the graphic. You can put it on a business card or blow it up to hang from a 10-story building and it will look exactly the same, ie. it will not lose its detail.

This is the format you’ll want your sponsors to provide their logos or graphics to you. Do not let them send you a low-resolution .jpg or .gif file.

Learn more about vector formats and extensions.

One of our favorite characters from the movie Despicable Me is Vector. While it’s funny to watch him disturb Gru while he’s waiting to speak to the banker, you’ll notice he’ll reference “direction and magnitude,” which perfectly describes the characteristics of a vector graphic. It’s a graphic you can stretch to great sizes and not have any distortion.

Be willing to compromise

Some of these topics are covered more in-depth in our shirt printing pricing tutorial but here are some of the top things that will affect the cost of your order.

Shirt color

Not all shirt colors are the priced the same. White shirts will be your cheapest option while black shirts are the most costly. Most other colors will fall somewhere in the middle in terms of price points.

Amount of colors in design

The amount of colors on your shirt will play a role on the overall cost. This is because each color is treated separately in the printing process. So, each additional color in your design requires more materials and labor.

There are several ways good designers can very subtly reduce the amount of colors without degrading the design. It’s important to work with your shirt printing company to get the best design possible with the least amount of colors.

Special placement

The garment is a piece of canvas and you can print pretty much anywhere you want. However, some places are considered more “standard” and these standard locations are generally easier to print on. However, sometimes you may want to print somewhere on the shirt that is not considered a standard printing area.

Before you place your order, it’s important to ensure that any part of your design does not fall under “special placement” pricing. Some companies may be charging you extra for this and not even tell you.

Have final quantity in mind (order in bulk, the more you order, the cheaper it will be)

Besides the color, design and type of garment you’re getting, the other major factor in determining price is quantity, ie. How many pieces you are ordering.

The more quantity you can get in one order, the cheaper (per piece) your order will be.

Before you start yelling at your computer, we know it’s very difficult to project a final number way before your event has even taken place.

Find out quantity price break levels

The best thing to do when you’re fluctuating between final quantities is to ask the company what their quantity price break levels are.

For example, if you’re thinking you need anywhere between 140-150 shirts, the company may tell you their price break level is 144 shirts. At that point, it may be worth ordering 144 pieces even if that may be 4 more than you think you may need to get that extra price break.

Why is it cheaper to order more at once?

We get this question asked to us quite often.

The reason why it’s more cost effective to order in bulk is because it takes us a set amount of time to set up the press to print your order. So, for us to set up the press for 1 shirt takes the same amount of time to set up the press for a 1,000 shirt run.

Ask your t-shirt printer

You may not lower your cost with any of these, but it doesn’t hurt to ask because you never know what the printing company may be interested in.

Inquire what discounts they offer

Don’t be afraid to ask the company what types of discounts they offer to clients. Many companies will have discounts in place but will not advertise them publicly.

Nonprofit discounts

If you are a registered 501(c)3 organization, then ask the company if they offer discounts for nonprofit organizations. Be sure to provide a copy of your 501(c)3 status to the company. This will also speed up the process if you order from them again.

School discounts

If this is a school or youth organization event, inquire about what type of discounts the company offers.

Also, when working with youth shirts, be sure to ask the company if they are equipped to handle printing on youth apparel. Companies who are not set up to print on these smaller shirts will end up stretching the shirts because they’re putting it on pallets that are designed for adult sizes.

Military discounts

If you’re active military, a veteran or doing a military-based event, then be sure to ask if they offer any types of discounts for military.

We proudly support our military and veterans and do offer these types of discounts.

Sponsorship opportunities

Like with any other business, we’re always looking for ways to get exposure, especially to businesses and organizations.

If you have sponsorship opportunities for your event, ask them if they’ll be willing to give you a discount if you make them a sponsor. Most times, sponsorships for events will come from businesses or corporations and this may be a perfect opportunity for the printing company to not only show good will through community support but to also increase their own visibility and exposure to your corporate and business sponsors. Don’t expect to get the job done for no cost, but receiving a discount for giving them a sponsor package means saving you money you can spend elsewhere.


This will be more of a long shot but ask if they’ll do a barter (trade for goods or services). If you have something they really want, ask if you can do a trade.

Again, don’t expect to receive any type of discount or trade and, if the company says no, do not press the issue. But, there’s no harm in asking.

Ask about reprints

One way to save money that may not be apparent when you first order but can definitely help in the long run is saving money on reprints (ie. Ordering the same shirts in the future).

Some companies treat reprints as a new order (and charge you accordingly). This is something you need to ask when you place your initial order. Even if you don’t plan on ordering reprints, it’s always a good idea to ask.

Reprints are easier because the artwork has already been approved and many of the steps necessary to print your job has already been done so it doesn’t need to be done again.

We do offer reprint discounts.

That’s it.

We hope you found this information helpful. Remember, custom shirts and apparel, in general, are great promotional and marketing tools. From using them to raise money for crowdfunding to events, corporate challenges and school fun runs, it’s important to not only get a good quality product at a good price but to ensure you capitalize on the marketing and branding power they possess.

Have any questions about designing or printing your event t-shirts? Contact us today to get started.