Sponsorship involves a mentor, with the help of the escort, procuring useful tools for the tributes from the Capitol, their family and friends in their district through donations from sponsors. Tributes are sponsored based on their first impression at the Tribute parade, training scores, impression in the interviews, performance in the arena, as well as a numerous amount of other factors.
Donations from sponsors range from medicines to food to weapons and more are sent into the arena via silver silk parachutes. The longer the Hunger Games go on, the more expensive gifts become. However, any gift that is sent costs an exorbitant amount, which is why it was surprising when Katniss Everdeen received a number of gifts in The Hunger Games and when the tributes got several dozen bread rolls spread throughout the Games in Catching Fire. Sponsors give their donations to the mentors, and the money is spent on necessary tools for the tributes.
Haymitch Abernathy and Katniss communicated indirectly through her actions in the arena and the gifts that that she received. Also, Haymitch sent Katniss notes of advice with her gifts, like when she received burn cream, she received a note saying 'Apply generously and stay alive - H' and when she and Peeta Mellark received soup from Haymitch, the note that came with it said 'You call that a kiss? - H' referring to the kiss Katniss and Peeta shared minutes before receiving the gift. Katniss realized that if she keeps up the "Star-crossed lovers" act, then she and Peeta will receive more gifts from the sponsors.
Mentors can also withhold gifts when they feel that it's necessary. Districts also can send gifts to their tributes or another one if they so choose: when Rue dies in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss receives a gift of bread from District 11 which she believes was originally meant for Rue but authorized to be sent to her as a thank-you gift for what she did for her. In this case, Katniss believes that the entire district pooled their money together for the gift and notes that its the first time a district sent a gift to a tribute not part of their district. During the 75th Hunger Games, District 3 repeatedly sends gifts of bread rolls to Katniss' alliance of tributes, both because the District 3 tributes are part of it and as a signal for when the breakout from the arena is to take place.
In the 10th Hunger Games, the gifts a sponsor could give were limited to only a selection of food (apple, bread, cheese) and water. They were delivered by drones. Unlike in future Games, sponsor gifts came very often and were the tributes' only method of obtaining food and water besides stealing other tributes' sponsor gifts. The program was still in an early phase and thus a more complicated system of sponsor prizes had yet to be invented. Furthermore, the drone technology used to deliver the sponsor gifts had not been perfected. As such, the first gift of water had to be re-sent and Teslee and Circ, from District 3, the technology district, were able to rewire the drones for their own purposes. Gifts were ordered directly by the tributes' mentors from their communicuffs, based on the funds that they had available. As there was no means of tracking the tributes in these early games, the mentors only ordered gifts to be sent if their tributes came out of hiding, as they would otherwise likely be scavenged by other tributes. Unlike in later Games, there was no system in which relative value was assigned based on the needs of the tributes. Towards the end of the Games, Snow received a barrage of donations based on a passionate speech, but noted mentally that they were of little use, as he could keep her in food and water for weeks based on what he had already received.
In the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss received burn medicine, broth, and crescent bread from Rue's district, alongside sleep serum and a container of the rich lamb dish she enjoyed during her time in the Capitol.
In the 75th Hunger Games, the alliance of Beetee, Mags, Katniss, Peeta, Johanna, Wiress, and Finnick received bread from various districts several times, always able to divide it equally between them. They also received a spile which helped them get water from the trees, and a tube of ointment to help their skin recover from the poisonous fog.
Examples of items that can be sent to tributes
- Tools (spiles, coils of wire, etc....)
Differences between the book and movie
- The gifts do not come in a protective silver casing in the books.
- In the book, Katniss receives bread from District 11, sleep syrup, burn medicine, soup, and lamb stew. In the movie, she receives burn medicine and soup.
- In the movies, the parachutes emit a distinctive chime, while in the books they are silent.
- In the movies, the gifts Katniss received were accompanied with a small note from Haymitch to hint what she needs to do with the gift or how she needs to act to stay alive. However, in the book, there were no notes and Katniss was left to interpret what each gift meant.