Here are ideas for presents that are artful, amusing, and office appropriate.
When it’s Secret Santa time at your office, are you excited or apprehensive? If you’re a natural-born shopper, you may have a bag full of Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers. If not, let’s take a look at some ideas and guidelines for your office Secret Santa party that will keep you on Santa’s good list.
Getting Ready for Secret Santa
Your comfort level with Secret Santa can depend on how the office planner organizes your gift exchange. Giving one large gift at a holiday party can make you nervous. Secret Santa weeks that require a gift every day can be intimidating! Organizers can make giving coworker Secret Santa gifts easier by having each person make a list of likes and dislikes. Include things like:
• Favorite snack food
• Favorite color
• Favorite sports team(s)
• Favorite candy or chocolate
• Things I collect
• Things I am allergic to, have too much of, or just don’t want
When choosing gifts, be aware that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Avoid traditional Christian items or imagery, including wrapping paper with Christmas scenes. For example, if you know someone is Jewish, wrapping their gift in a Hanukkah-themed paper can be very thoughtful.
20 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Coworkers
Here are some gift ideas that won’t break the bank and will brighten your coworker’s day.
1. Desk Plant
Look for a desk plant in a 4-inch pot that’s low maintenance, like a succulent. Plants are good Secret Santa gifts for coworkers with a green thumb and a clean desk. Otherwise, the plant may get lost in stacks of paperwork. Check home DIY store for plants from $5 to $10.
Make sure your giftee drinks coffee or tea, or they can use the mug as a pencil holder. You can find a simple mug with the initials of their first or last name or a clever saying like, “I survived another meeting that should have been an email” for less than $2 at a dollar store. One with a picture of their child or dog takes a bit of sleuthing, but you can find them for $10 to $15 anywhere that duplicates photos.
Page-a-Day calendars are perfect for an office desk. You can find calendars for hobbies or pet breeds, interactive calendars that make paper airplanes, or even a Mullet-a-Day calendar. Expect to spend between $15 and $20.
4. Everything Bacon
You can find anything from bacon-flavored chewing gum to a throw blanket that looks like a slice of bacon. Bacon-themed gifts are not good secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers who are vegetarian! And a pound of actual bacon is probably not a good idea either, even if your office has a fridge. A tin of bacon-flavored toothpicks is $6. A bacon blanket will run you about $15. Be sure your giftee likes bacon, so this isn’t a gag gift.
5. Holiday Socks
Who doesn’t love a pair of socks with reindeer or menorahs? Novelty socks will cost you about $6. Socks personalized with your giftee’s photo are about $15.
6. Holiday Ornament
Ornaments one of the easiest Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers, but they can have special meaning if you find something that represents your giftee’s passion. You’ll find ornaments of every dog or cat breed imaginable, sports teams, cartoon characters, and more. You’ll also find ornaments at every price point.
7. Edible Advent Calendar
You can find advent calendars filled with everything from gourmet chocolates to bottles of hot sauce. Some are an entire month, and some are the “12 days of…” This is a yummy gift for someone who is a connoisseur of whatever is in the calendar. Prices for advent calendars start around $15.
8. Stress Clay
Stress clay helps you relax, strengthens your hands, and even comes scented for aromatherapy. You know which coworker needs it! This may also be called therapy dough and is priced from $10 to $15.
9. Gourmet Tea
You’ll know if your giftee is a tea drinker—just look for the tea bag string hanging from the side of their cup. You can find gift sets of tea, unusual herbal tea blends, and tea bags in unconventional shapes like triangles. You can find most tea sets priced around $20.
10. Personalized Post-its
Among the most usable Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers are the little sticky notes we all use. Post-its come in all kinds of formats. You can get them personalized with initials or names, and they even come in different shapes and dispensers. For a sticky note fanatic, a big box of Post-its from the office supply store is a great gift from $3 to $36.
11. Desk Zen Garden
If your coworker fidgets or doodles during meetings or while on the phone, a miniature Zen garden might be the perfect gift. Zen gardens are round or square shallow boxes filled with sand that comes with a rake for simple designs. You can also find ones with sets of landscaping pebbles, plants, and beach chairs. The simple desk Zen setup is about $12.
Beyond the three-wick candle in a jar, you can find other creative takes on candle gifts. Beeswax and soy candles are perfect for Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers who are nature lovers. Candles in rocks and pretty glass or ceramic containers can be used after they burn down. Some candles even have crystals or jewelry hidden in the wax. For a lighter gift (get it?), if you have a white elephant exchange, you can get a prayer candle with Snoop Dog or your giftee’s image for $25.
13. Snack Box
You can put a customized snack box together for under $10 or look for theme boxes with delights from exotic countries or old-timey treats. Pre-made boxes are priced from $20 and up.
14. Heat Pillow
You can find heat pillows filled with beans, dried corn kernels, or cherry pits covered in quilted fabric, plush, or shaped like frogs or manatees. Heat pillows fit around your neck or on your forehead to soothe aches. Pop one in the microwave for a minute, and it stays warm for an hour. Your stressed-out coworker or the one who's always cold will appreciate this gift, from $6 to $60.
15. Desktop Games
You can find miniature cornhole, Skee-Ball, and darts (with Velcro tips) made for desk tournaments. Some of these are 6-inch squares that fit on any work surface. Great for that coworker that stays at their desk at lunch. You can spend $10 to $20 or more on desk games.
Puzzles are great Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers that are fidgety or for those creative types that needs to take breaks to clear their minds. You can find many small hand brainteaser puzzles made of wood and metal. They usually involve releasing a hidden door or untangling pieces of metal. They also look good as desk art. You can find them in sets of five or more for $10 or find ones that are more artistic for $25 or more.
17. Minimergency Kit
Minimergency kits come in all sizes for all kinds of emergencies. There are handy tool kits for him and her. Examples are one for binge-watching and a tradeshow survival kit—$9 to $20.
18. Keyboard Cleaning Gel
A great alternative to canned air or a brush for cleaning your keyboard is cleaning gel. It’s not one of the prettiest secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers, but it is helpful! The gel comes in a nice jar and removes all the dust, dirt, and debris between the keys. Toss it when it turns dark. Under $10.
Don’t you hate when your chilled beverage leaves a water ring on your desk? Your coworker could use a coaster. Coasters usually come in sets, but a desk coaster is larger and comes solo. They come in cork, silicone, or absorbent stone. Novelty options look like vinyl records and old floppy disks. You can find desk coasters for $5 to $12.
20. Prank Pack
Need Secret Santa gifts for coworkers who have a good sense of humor? Prank boxes look like a regular box that a small appliance or gift might come in, but when you look closer, you see it’s a phony. You can find versions like “Toe Tunes Slipper Speakers” and “Bathe & Brew Shower Coffee Maker.” Single boxes are $10, or you can get a pack of four designs for $25.
9 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Remote Employees
While finding Secret Santa gifts might be a little more complicated for remote employees, it’s a great way to help them feel connected. You’ll want to pick items that you can easily mail or can be delivered to your coworker right from the retailer.1.
1. Gift Certificate
Gift certificates are probably the most convenient gifts since you can email them directly to coworkers. They’re also easy to slip into an envelope. You can find gift certificates for any amount of money and nearly any service or retailer.
2. Throw Blanket
Need Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers who are always cold? Try a throw blanket. A cozy fleece blanket keeps shoulders warm at the desk or can be an after-work wrapping for binge-watching. You can borrow some laughter from the list above, find a bacon slice blanket, or go for something more mainstream. Again, think of the person’s sense of humor and style. Dollar stores have inexpensive throw blankets for $3, or you can get fancy for up to $60 at a department store.
3. Mouse Pad
Personalized mousepads can be customized with initials, names, and photos. Memory foam and gel wrist support pads are thoughtful gifts. Whimsical mouse pads have conference call bingo and cartoons. These start at $6 for a simple mouse pad and up to $15 for something personalized.
4. Stay Hot/Cold Tumbler
Like a travel mug without a lid, Thermos or Yeti tumblers keep drinks hot or cold when you’re not leaving the house. Some come with stainless steel reusable straws and lids. You can find these from $13 to $25.
5. Laptop Stand
You’ll find laptop stands that are foldable, adjustable, and in dozens of colors and materials. If your coworker’s home office doesn’t have a dedicated space for a desk, this is a great gadget that can move where they go to work for $12 to $30.
Available in all shapes and sizes, phone chargers are handy Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers who are remote. Phone-charging pads can be functional or decorative and run under $20. Charging stations for multiple devices are $30 to $40.
Your remote coworker is on electronic devices all day. For a change of pace, note-taking or journaling, there’s nothing like a fresh new notebook. Reusable versions let you take notes (great for brainstorming) and then take a pic of the page or erase it forever. You'll find paper journals with leather covers for under $10.
8. Nice Bookmark
Beyond a regular bookmark, you can find fancy ways for your coworker to keep their place with metal, leather, and wood versions. Some are magnetic and include a booklight. You can find bookmarks from $10 to $20.
9. Ice Cream Pint Hugger
Those pints of ice cream seem to have gotten smaller, right? So you might be tempted to eat the whole carton in one sitting. Don’t let your coworker’s hand get cold and wet. An ice cream cozy works much like the version made for beverage cans. But this version comes with a spoon and a pocket to hold it. Ice cream huggers start under $10.
5 Cringeworthy Coworker Secret Santa Gifts to Avoid
Secret Santa is supposed to be a fun office activity. This isn’t a place to let standard office rules and guidelines slide. If you have several Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers and hesitate because you’re not sure they’re appropriate, it’s better to err on the side of caution and give them a pass.
Here are five gifts that are on Santa’s naughty list:
Fruitcake: Put fruitcake on the list of coworker secret Santa gifts that are not giftable to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Not even as a joke.
Fragrance: Unless someone tells you they have a particular cologne or perfume they like, avoid smelly Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers. Scent is a highly personal preference, and many people don’t want to wear or be around scents at all.
Personal Grooming Gifts: Don't make your giftee think you're giving a hint they might need more grooming. It's called "personal" for a reason.
Alcohol: Unless alcohol is culturally acceptable in your organization (ask if you don’t know) and you know the recipient likes a particular wine or bourbon, just say no. People can have a variety of reasons for avoiding alcohol.
Clothing: Again, clothing is highly personal. If you give a coworker a clothing item they don’t like, will they feel obligated to wear it to the office? Socks are the one exception to this rule.
How Much Should You Spend on Secret Santa Gifts for Coworkers?
Hopefully, your office will set the price range for Secret Santa gifts, and you won’t have decide how much to spend yourself. You’ll find retailers split gift categories from $25 to $50. That’s quite a spread! The important thing is to follow whatever guidelines your workplace sets. If the limit is $25, try to get as close to that number as possible. Spending less can be embarrassing for the recipient and could damage your relationship. Spending more can be equally embarrassing for both of you.
The same rules apply if you are a Secret Santa to your boss. Don’t overspend just because they’re over your head.
Get Ready for the New Year With Monster by Your Side
Join Monster today to go into the new year with a new job. While making your list of secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers, take a moment to fill out your Monster profile and upload your resume to tell us what you’re looking for. Recruiters and hiring managers will see you while they’re shopping for candidates. You might get a call before you ever see the job listing! In the meantime, we’ll fill your stocking—or inbox—with relevant job postings and career advice.
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