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Shopping for coworkers can become a never-ending parade of mild pine-scented candles, Hallmark cards, and candy that is destined for retirement in a desk drawer for most of January. It’s easier to buy thoughtful, impactful gifts for your closest loved ones, and it gets harder once you add in the subtleties and professionalism of the workplace.
However, there are hordes of fantastic gifts out there for coworkers. And they don’t have to be expensive – in fact, they probably shouldn’t be. The ideal colleague present is thoughtful, unique, and lands somewhere in the casual middle ground between re-gifting paperclips from the supply closet and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean.
Below, you’ll find 30 of the best coworker gifts for under $US50. You’ll also find 22 work-appropriate yet thoughtful gifts for your boss for under $US50 here.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks’ holiday gift guides for 2018 here.
A three-month subscription of freshly roasted whole bean, single-origin coffees from a cool startup
Driftaway Coffee Subscription, Three Months, available on Driftaway Coffee, from $US39
If they’re practically tethered to the coffee pot, they will probably love the fun and thoughtful gift of a three-month subscription to this cool Brooklyn startup’s beans. Driftaway sends freshly roasted, whole bean, single-origin coffees from around the world to their doorstep.
An Atlas Obscura calendar full of daily photos and tidbits about the world’s strangest and coolest places or festivals
Atlas Obscura Colour Page-A-Day Desk 2019 Calendar, available on Amazon, $US19.99
Add some fun to their day-to-day routine with the Atlas Obscura calendar. There are hundreds of photos that celebrate the world’s strangest and coolest places, festivals, and foods. Travellers and life-long learners are particularly good candidates for this one.
A funny mug that acknowledges the bond forged by people who have to fix the same defunct printer every week together
The This is Fine Mug, available on Etsy, from $US9.99
A “This is Fine” mug is the perfect gift for the only other people on earth who can truly relate to the particularities of your job: a defunct printer, last night’s too-fun team happy hour, and the occasional avalanche of meetings and high-priority emails. Here’s a $US13 nod to the fond shared stressors.
A convenient, reusable bag that folds up to the size of a business card
Baby Baggu, available at Baggu and Amazon, $US8
Grab a trendy, reusable shopping bag that’s perfect for packing lunch, extra shoes, or taking a last-minute trip to the grocery store. This one folds up to about the size of a business card, and its signature version can hold 50 pounds of stuff easily.
An air plant in a cute, handmade planter
Concrete Plant Pot, available at Etsy from $US17.83
If your desk mate doesn’t already have a plant, rest assured they would probably like one (fine print: if it requires next to no caregiving). Grab a handmade concrete planter from Etsy and fill it with an air plant they can forget about intermittently. According to science, it may make them happier just to see it every day.
Fun kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods
Wine Pairing Towel Set, available on Uncommon Goods, $US28
If you’ve got a wine lover on the team, grab these fun wine pairing towels and a bottle to go with them. They’re thoughtful, informal, and unique.
A candle that smells like their favourite state
Homesick Candles, available on Amazon and Uncommon Goods, starting at $US29.95
Homesick candles are a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life. They’re a nice acknowledgment of something important to someone else that you’re likely to know regardless of intimacy level. Plus, with a candle, they will get to enjoy it for weeks to come – and if your gift deals with nostalgia, scent is a great place to start.
A three-month subscription to the book club that put “Gone with the Wind” on the map
Book of the Month, Three Months, available at Book of the Month, $US44.99
If your team includes a bookworm, they will appreciate a gift subscription to Book of the Month. It’s been around since 1926, and it’s credited with the discovery of titles like “Gone with the Wind” and “Catcher in the Rye”. A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books – usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors – and send them to the subscriber’s doorstep. If they’re more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).
A charging stand for their desk to keep things organised
Twelve South HiRise 2 Charging Stand, available on Amazon, $US39.99
This charging stand works with iPhones, iPads, and most other Lightning-charged devices. It takes up minimal space for optimal convenience.
A miniature golf course they can escape to from the comfort of their desk
Desktop Golf, available on Uncommon Goods, $US35
Know somebody who’d rather be at the golf course, or who might appreciate the adult equivalent of doodling in class? Say no more.
A water bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours
Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, available on Amazon, $US21.95
It’s often the most practical coworker gifts that make the best and longest impression, and this is one stellar candidate. The Hydro Flask is double-wall vacuum insulated and will keep their cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, with hot drinks staying hot for up to six. We’re big fans.
The best portable battery you can buy
Portable Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh, available on Amazon, $US29.99
If you want to get them something they’re sure to love, save them from a dead phone on their next long commute or work trip. We ranked this one as the best battery pack you can buy because you can charge two devices at once, and because it has built-in lightning and micro-USB cables.
A self-betterment planner designed using the “best practices” of the most successful people in history
Best Self Co. Journal, available on Amazon and Uncommon Goods, $US32.85
If you work with someone especially ambitious or concerned with self-progress, they will love this daily planner. It was created by a group of “human performance junkies” after researching the most successful, high-performing humans in history, and it uses their common practices and psychology tips to break down a 10-year plan into doable, bite-sized pieces.
Fun, collection-worthy socks
The Beatles Socks Box Set, available at Happy Socks, $US42
Happy Socks makes some of the coolest and most elevator-small-talk-worthy socks in the industry. This gift set focuses on The Beatles, but there are more options to choose from, including some inspired by Andy Warhol.
A green herbal tea kit that lets them create custom blends
Green Herbal Tea Kit, available on Uncommon Goods, $US40
If they’re more into tea than coffee, they will love this thoughtful green herbal tea kit. It includes nine herbs and three varieties of green tea, so they can create their own custom blends.
Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organised
Shintop 6-Piece Cable Clips Set, available at Amazon, $US5.99
Pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy for a low-key, well-rounded gift that’s fun and practical.
A “binge-watching survival kit” for your office buddy with the same Netflix tastes
Pinch Provisions Binge-Watching Survival Kit, available at Barnes and Noble, from $US19.95
If their evening takeout is often served alongside a recap of their favourite shows, this “Binge-Watching Survival Kit” is a great light-hearted gift.
An extra-long charging cable, which is the closest you’ll get to gifting never-ending convenience
Anker 6 ft Charging Cable, available on Amazon, $US14.99
It’s something every one of us will feel grateful for a couple times per day, but always put off buying for ourselves: a serpentine, 6-foot long charging cable.
A pillow that immortalises their photogenic pet
Canvas Pop Custom Photo Pillows, available at Canvas Pop, from $US39
If your coworker is a pet parent, you may make the biggest impact by focusing here. Plus, in the days of dog and cat Instagrams, it’s not too hard to find your own mini album of options.
A fidget-friendly desk toy that’s actually really fun
Speks Original Magnetic Desk Toy, available on Amazon, $US24.95
These tiny magnets are one “office toy” we actually liked enough to dedicate a full article to – they’re fun, space-saving, and you can fidget without drawing attention to yourself.
A reusable Shark Tank notebook that can digitize handwritten notes
Rocketbook Reusable Notebook, available on Amazon, $US31.99
The $US30 Rocketbook notebook is full of 32 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth when the owner uses a Pilot FriXion pen (included), so they can keep using the same notebook indefinitely. They can also send hand-written notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, email, and more. I use my own a surprising amount.
A cheese and salami collection that looks put-together
Beehive Cheese & Creminelli Salami Collection, available at Williams-Sonoma, $US49.95
Everyone likes food, and most people enjoy gifting and receiving a good-looking food package that a) has great pairings, and b) they didn’t have to put together themselves.
An echo dot for the virtual assistant you can afford to give them
Echo Dot, 3rd Generation, available on Amazon, $US29.99
A Bob Ross chia pet
Bob Ross Chia Pet, available on Amazon, $US24
Do yourself, your coworker, and your section of the office a favour with a Bob Ross chia pet. It will be a great conversation piece for as long as it lives.
A DIY bitters kit for classic and newly invented cocktails
DIY Bitters Kit, available on Williams-Sonoma, $US49.95
The DIY Bitters Kit from Easy & Oskey in Minneapolis comes with the essential ingredients, tools, and recipes to create homemade infused bitters for vodka and other spirits, so they can make the classics or invent new drinks at home.
A stainless steel French press for convenient coffee always at the ideal temperature
Stainless-Steel French Press, available at Williams-Sonoma, $US49.95
The Williams-Sonoma double-walled stainless-steel press brews great coffee right at the table, then keeps it at the ideal drinking temperature.
Their own miniature chocolate tree farm — freshly cut
Tree Farm 6-Piece Chocolate Sampler Box, available at Nordstrom, $US25
A to-go sriracha sauce keychain for the hot sauce fiend of the office
Sriracha To-Go Bottle Keychain, available at Urban Outfitters, $US8
Perfect for the coworker best known for adding hot sauce to anything sweet, savoury, or edible.
Tools for a night off and the “Do Nothing” sloth card made by an independent artist
“Do Nothing” Three Sloth Stationery Cards, available at Society6, $US15.99
Pair the sloth “Do Nothing” card with a few relaxing accessories (like face masks) to gift a well-deserved night off to a coworker. Like all of Society6’s collection, it’s also made by an independent artist – making it a bit cooler than what you might pick up from CVS.
A tiny, convenient Bluetooth key tracker
Tile Mate Key Finder, available on Amazon, $US9.99
You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys that’s compact, thoughtful, and useful to pretty much everyone.
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