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Updated Jan 30, 2024

30 Inexpensive Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Co-Workers

Shopping for co-workers isn't easy. Our guide will help you find gifts they'll like.

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Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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A Secret Santa gift exchange is a fun way to get your employees excited for the holiday season. However, finding the right gift for your co-worker is not always easy, especially when you’re likely trying to save money for other seasonal purchases. Thankfully, you can choose from many unique yet affordable gift ideas this season.

30 affordable gift ideas for co-workers

Whether you’re participating in a Secret Santa arrangement, hosting an office holiday party gift exchange or looking for stocking stuffers to spread some holiday cheer, here are 30 gift ideas suitable for co-workers. All items are priced at $35 or less.

1. Fun socks + a donation ($12)

Sky Footwear socks

Sky Footwear was created after the founders learned that the No. 1 request from homeless shelters is socks. For every pair of socks purchased, the company donates a pair to a homeless shelter. Besides being a socially responsible business, Sky Footwear has many whimsical socks to choose from.

2. Wireless charger and stand ($18.99)

Anker charger

Help your deskmate declutter a messy desk with this clever charger-and-stand combo from Anker. The stand supports your phone in landscape and portrait mode, is case-friendly, and is compatible with multiple Android and iPhone models.

3. WoodWick candle ($16.87)

Woodwick candle

Everyone loves a good candle, and they’re especially cozy during the cold winter months. This WoodWick candle makes a crackling noise just like you’re sitting next to a fire. There are multiple candle sizes and fragrances to choose from (e.g., fireside, redwood, spice, sand and driftwood); some scents, like trilogy warm woods, even change while the candle burns.

4. Productivity planner ($27)

productivity planner

There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re not organized. Help your co-workers stay on task with this planner, which is designed to help users stay focused and increase productivity.

If you want to improve your organizational skills digitally, consider organization apps like LivePlan, CamScanner and TripIt.

5. Tea by Mood gift set ($24.97)

Numi tea set

If your co-worker drinks tea, they’ll love this collection from Numi. This set comes with eight flavors – breakfast blend, aged Earl Grey, emperor’s Puerh, jasmine green, mate lemon, rooibos chai, Moroccan mint and chamomile lemon.

6. Letters for a Year of Gratitude ($19.82)

Gratitude letters

With emails, text messages and FaceTime, handwritten letters are a rarity. When you receive one, it’s special. Give your co-worker this book, which will inspire them to send thoughtful, handwritten notes. All they have to do is tear out a letter, write a message and add a postage stamp.

7. The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small ($19.89)

The Bucket List book

Do your co-workers love to travel? Are they always dreaming of far-away places? Inspire them with this book full of exciting things to do. In addition to unique activities and destinations – like swimming with dolphins in New Zealand – the book offers advice on how to achieve popular goals, such as learning a new language, naming a star and trying a new cuisine.

8. Succulents ($12.99)

Succulent plants

Offices or cubicles can feel dull and lifeless. Spruce them up by giving your work colleague a variety pack of succulent plants. Besides being nice to look at, indoor plants can improve your co-worker’s concentration and boost their mood.

Did You Know?Did you know
Plants and greenery can significantly enhance an office environment and help create a workspace that boosts productivity.

9. French press coffee maker ($26.99)

Bodum French press

Help your co-worker’s day get started right with this French press coffee maker from Bodum. These elegant coffee makers create a rich cup of coffee, perfect for taking on the workweek. Also, since the coffee maker is dishwasher safe, cleanup is a breeze.

10. Tile Mate ($18.95)

Tile Mate

Early mornings are stressful enough, but misplaced keys can ruin someone’s day. Help your co-worker keep track of their keys with this key finder. You can sync the Tile with your smartphone. When you can’t find your phone, double-press the button to make your phone ring (even if it’s in silent mode).

11. Sweet Quatuor box ($25.90)

Sweet Quatuor Box

Give a gift straight from France. The Sweet Quatuor box provides four mini jars of delicious lemon curd spread, mini pistachio spread, lavender honey spread and fig melon spread. These spreads are perfect for wine tastings, charcuterie boards, freshly baked goods and warm brioche bread. 

12. Funny novelty mug ($7.99)

Novelty mug

Mornings are hard. Give your co-workers a chuckle to start their day. If you want to give something practical but still fun, gift this funny mug. Any coffee or tea drinker will appreciate this dishwasher- and microwave-safe mug.

13. Ninja throwing star magnets ($25)

Ninja star magnet

Introduce excitement into your office by giving your co-worker these ninja star magnets. These magnets come in a pack of five and are great for holding up memos and reminding co-workers of important events.

14. Insulated travel mug ($31.99)

Insulated water bottle

This water bottle is famous for keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. It’s perfect for any co-worker who sips beverages at their desk. It comes in various colors, so you’re sure to find the perfect bottle for your colleague.

15. Fred the Daily Mood Desk Flipchart ($11.60)

Giddy Flipchart

It can be hard to gauge your co-worker’s mood. Sometimes, it would be easier if everyone knew what kind of day they were having. Insert Fred the Daily Mood Desk Flipchart. With this chart, co-workers can express a range of emotions, such as fabulous, giddy and neglected.

16. Tequila Mockingbird recipe book ($16.97)

Tequila Mockingbird

Whether your co-worker loves books or drinks, this quirky recipe book is sure to impress. Tequila Mockingbird (Running Press, 2013) includes 65 cocktail recipes with literary pun-filled names like “Gin Eyre,” “Gone with the Wine” and “Moby Drink.”

17. Assorted holiday chocolates ($20)

Godiva chocolate

Everyone can appreciate a good piece of chocolate. The nine-piece Limited Edition Assorted Chocolate Holiday Gift Box from Godiva features chocolates in various flavors, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate, with fillings like velvety ganaches, creamy pralinés, silky caramels, delicious fruits and nuts.

If you're a boss, consider gifts your employees will love, including noise-isolating headphones, smart speakers and touch screen gloves.

18. Demotivational calendar ($14.95)

Demotivational calendar

This almost depressing but mostly hilarious calendar comes with 12 humorous demotivational posters. It also notes funny holidays such as Public Sleeping Day and Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day.

19. Dinosaur desk organizer ($15.82)

Dinosaur desk organizer

Your co-worker will never miss a memo again with this playful dinosaur desk organizer. Shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, this organizer features a spring-loaded mouth to hold memos. There’s even a space to hold pens. The organizer also comes with a notepad, which can be stowed away in the back of the organizer.

20. Unisex Minimergency Kit ($21)

Minimergency kit

Chapped lips, chipped nails and stains happen all the time, but few are prepared to handle these little emergencies. With this unisex “mini emergency” kit on their desk, your co-worker will be ready for anything. The pouch includes a mending kit, nail clipper, lint brush, breath drops, lip balm and more. There are also kits catered specifically to men or women. 

21. Wacky waving inflatable tube guy ($8.58)

Inflatable tube guy

If you’re looking for a humorous gift for your co-worker, look no further than the mini wacky waving inflatable tube guy. It is available in a small, desk-friendly size, so it will conveniently be there to cheer up your colleague when they need a smile.

22. Desktop golf/golf pens ($14.99)

Desktop golf pens

Just because your colleagues are stuck in the office doesn’t mean they can’t play a round of golf. This mini desktop golf set is perfect for colleagues who can’t stay away from the green for too long. The portable set includes three golf club pens, two tiny golf balls, one miniature golf course flagstick and one golf putting green.

23. Desktop cornhole ($8.45)

Desktop cornhole

This mini desktop cornhole game is perfect for those who want a little bit of outside entertainment while stuck indoors. The mini kit includes everything you need to play a game of bag toss in the office: two raised platforms, eight bean bags and a rule book.

24. Desktop bowling ($11.99)

Desktop bowling

If your co-worker isn’t big on cornhole, consider this mini bowling set. It includes a wooden bowling base, 10 mini bowling pins, one ramp and one mini stainless-steel bowling ball. You surely won’t roll a gutter ball if you give the gift of this mini-bowling game!

Desktop games are a great idea for fun and affordable gifts for your boss.

25. Gouda Ideas Notebook ($9.95)

Gouda ideas notebook

Do you work with a colleague who loves puns – and cheese? This cheesy notebook is the perfect dairy-free tool for your co-worker to take notes, and it serves as an excellent reminder that “it’s all gouda.”

26. Block daily calendar ($18)

Block daily calendar

Help your colleagues stay on track with this stylish yet functional daily calendar. At just a mere 2.2″ (H) x 4.75″ (W) x 1.75″(D), it is sized perfectly for any desk and will allow your co-worker to track the day, month and year all on one clean-cut stand.

27. 100 movies scratch-off poster ($15)

Movie scratch-off poster

Are you tasked with getting a gift for the movie buff of the office? Meet their interests with this fun movie poster of 100 iconic films. As they watch each movie throughout the year, they can scratch off the coordinating square. Uncommon Goods also has scratch-off posters for other topics, like traveling, date nights and national parks, so you are likely to find a poster that matches your co-worker’s hobbies!

28. Mini essential oil diffuser ($15.99)

oil diffuser

Essential oils have become popular due to their good smells and natural properties. If you know a co-worker is into aromatherapy, consider buying them this mini essential oil diffuser for their desk. This diffuser has eight colorful and calming changing lights but also supports a lights-off mode if desired.

29. USB mug warmer ($14.99)

mug warmer

Anyone who drinks hot coffee, tea or cocoa will appreciate the gift of a USB cup heater. This functional drink heater is 17 watts and 0.6 pounds, and measures 1.3″ x 5.2″ x 8.6.” The surface easily wipes clean and has a long power cord to extend to those hard-to-reach outlets. It’s perfect for home or office.

30. Amazon gift card (price TBD)

Amazon gift card

Online shopping’s popularity shows no signs of waning. When all else fails, a good Secret Santa fallback is a simple Amazon gift card (or a gift card to your co-worker’s favorite store). Although this gift may not be personalized, anyone would be grateful to receive it.

How to host office holiday celebrations virtually

Today, many businesses are managing remote workforces while trying to instill camaraderie and teamwork. Enjoy the festive season with your remote team by hosting virtual celebrations. Virtual celebrations are a great way to keep remote workers engaged and united. 

For example, use a free gift exchange website, like Elfster or Secret Santa Organizer, to anonymously draw gift exchange names. Some of these websites even allow participants to create wish lists that can help colleagues choose the right gifts. Participants can mail each other their presents and open them on a group video conference call.

Other easy-to-facilitate virtual games and holiday celebrations include team lunches (send each team member money for lunch), recipe swaps, photo contests (guess that kid, cookie decoration contests, holiday décor contests), ugly-sweater contests and best holiday-themed Zoom background contests. 

Ask your team what sounds fun to them, and be sure to offer prizes for contest winners.

Sammi Caramella and Saige Driver contributed to this article. All prices are accurate as of the publish date. 

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Kiely Kuligowski, Business Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Kiely Kuligowski is an expert in project management and business software. Her project management experience includes establishing project scopes and timelines and monitoring progress and delivery quality on behalf of various clients. Kuligowski also has experience in product marketing and contributing to business fundraising efforts. On the business software side, Kuligowski has evaluated a range of products and developed in-depth guides for making the most of various tools, such as email marketing services, text message marketing solutions and business phone systems. In recent years, she has focused on sustainability software and project management for IBM.
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