Trade show table throw (Image courtesy Nonstop Signs & Graphics)

Booth on a Budget: Creating a Trade Show Experience For Less Money

Kristen Klingensmith is the content manager for Nonstop Signs & Graphics, a printing and design company based out of San Diego, California. She holds a degree in entrepreneurship & venture management from the University of Oklahoma, and enjoys creating practical content for readers in the realm of business, marketing, and finance.

Budgeting for your trade show display can be extremely stressful if you’re running low on resources. Trade shows by nature inspire competition, with many booths trying to outdo the surrounding ones to get noticed. 

Try not to panic too much. Budget is not a bad word and spending less money on whirligigs, and flashing lights doesn’t mean that your booth won’t make an impact. You can still create a quality trade show display on a shoestring budget by adopting a few essential practices. Here are my favorite tips to do just that.


As with any display, if you focus attention on one central portion of your booth, you can cut corners on the rest of it. Invest in a stunning, textured, or unusual backdrop that the eye is drawn to feature your best products. You can also go minimalist-chic with plain surroundings and a vivid digital sign display.

If the main portion of your trade show display is eye-catching enough to draw visitors’ curiosity, they won’t pay attention to the far corners of your booth. As long as the focal point is well-planned and executed, that's how your booth will appear to both your clients and competition. 


One of the easiest ways to save your budget when it comes to booths and displays is to invest in quality materials. Sure, you may wince at the price of heavy fabric table covers emblazoned with your logo now. However, that same trusty table cover unfolding from your display supplies five years from now will be a welcome sight. The longer these materials last means you save money year over year. You can then funnel those savings into other parts of your display.

Invest in these must-haves to build your display around them:

  • durable table covers
  • a backdrop
  • high-quality print sign or banner

Chances are you’ll use these every time, no matter what the other components look like.


Another handy way to camouflage a shoestring budget is to dazzle your audience with high-quality graphics. The eye naturally draws to bright, vivid colors. By planning and printing quality foam core or mounted graphics around your trade show display, you’ll quickly make your booth one of the most memorable around. Consider incorporating your products into 3D graphics displays or telling a story around your space with printed characters.

One of my favorite trade show displays was a floor-to-ceiling graphic line drawing of a boy walking along the road. One of the products sold, a backpack with several keychains, was mounted directly on the boy's back, so it seemed to emerge from the booth. Incorporating graphics and a pinch of creativity can make something truly memorable come to life. The best part is, you don’t have to blow your entire budget on the latest tech or lighting rigs to collect leads!