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In theory, Secret Santa is a great idea. In practice, it can be a little underwhelming. You could end up with that cosy scarf your best friend knew you wanted – or, you could end up with lacklustre socks from your neighbour that will definitely end up in your re-gift pile.
Whether you’re responsible for getting a gift for someone you know really well or someone you barely do, get them a gift they won’t relegate to the storage closet. If you’re spending money, make it count with something they will actually want.
Don’t worry, we already did the grunge work and found 50 gifts that your secret Santa recipient will love. We’ve got everything from the more generically-appealing, like a pretty candle for your sweet coworker, to the more personal, like a portable cheese melter for your cheese-obsessed friend. Plus, they’re all $US25 or less, so scroll with abandon.
Most of these items are available with expedited shipping, and some should arrive within a few days’ time, so don’t stress too hard about your last-minute shopping – just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks’ holiday gift guides for 2018 here.
A scratch-off bucket list to spur their next adventure
This bucket list suggests 100 unique activities from little things like “take a cooking class” to big ones like “see the Northern Lights.” They can scratch each box off after they complete it to reveal a colourful image. It’s a cool poster to have hanging and a definite conversation starter.
A set of cool coasters that’s worthy of Instagram
Let’s be real – nobody wants water stains and rings on their nice tables, but admittedly, telling guests to put down coasters first isn’t the coolest move. These agate-style coasters are practical, but also add a nice aesthetic, so you’ll actually want to leave them out to be used.
A plant they can grow themselves
Anyone with a green thumb will love the chance to grow, nourish, and care for their own plant. Not only do they look cute, but studies say having plants makes you happier too.
A small speaker they can fit in their pocket
This speaker isn’t the best in the world audio-wise (for that you’ll have to spend a bit more), but for less than $US20 it’s a great choice. Give it the friend that values convenience, since this thing is so small they fit it in their pocket and can literally take it anywhere.
A monogrammed candle that will look good anywhere
A candle is always a safe bet when it comes to holiday gifting. This soy wax option has a simple scent to appeal to many and the monogram adds an air of personalisation.
A reusable bag that’s cute and sustainable
If they hate single-use plastic, they will love this cute, reusable bag. It comes in a variety of fun colours and patterns and the simple style makes it a go-to choice for bringing to the gym, grocery shopping, or even to use like a purse.
A cosy pompom beanie for impending chilly days
It’s that time of year when everyone needs a cosy hat. With a cable knit and fuzzy pompom on top, this one is as stylish as it is comfortable.
A unique condiment for beer lovers
Some things just work together. You don’t necessarily expect it, but they do – like these mustards, for example. Beer and hot dogs go together seamlessly, and a hot dog is nothing without a drizzle of mustard, so it only makes sense that the two go great together. This trio has three unique flavours that add intrigue to any dish.
A sophisticated luggage tag and passport holder set
Staying organised makes travelling a much more pleasant experience. Gift your favourite frequent traveller this matching set that will help them identify their luggage and keep track of their passport and other important documents.
An adult card game that will make parties a lot more interesting
If they don’t already own Cards Against Humanity, you owe it to them. It’s a fun party game that always leaves everyone cackling, and I’m not the only one that thinks this – the game has over 29,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.
A carry-on cocktail kit to make flights a little more bearable
This kit fits right in their carry-on bag and has all of the fixings for two Old Fashioned cocktails. All they need to do is add whiskey or rye. This cocktail kit can be enjoyed at any altitude, but it will most definitely make for a fun flight activity.
A catch-all inspired by their favourite pet
Everyone could use a catch-all to collect the small odds and ends around the house. Dog lovers and cat lovers alike will love these trinket dishes modelled after their favourite pets.
A cheese-making kit for chefs and foodies
The only thing better than cheese is cheese that you made with your own two hands. Cheese fiends will love the chance to make their own favourite Italian cheeses. Plus, once they learn they will be armed with cheesemaking knowledge to last a lifetime – now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
A skincare gift set for some nighttime TLC
Everyone deserves to pamper themselves now and then. This gift set is complete with all the goodies like eye cream, a creamy face mask, and a sleeping mask, for a little extra TLC before bedtime.
A no-spill travel mug
Students, commuters, or anyone who enjoys hot beverages on the go will love this travel mug. As its name suggests, this mug automatically seals to stops leaks and spills, even if it’s rolling around in a backpack. Its durability and affordability make it a team favourite.
A calendar that will make them laugh everyday
There’s no better way to start the day than with a good old-fashioned puns. Equip them with this calendar for an arsenal of enough silly word play to last all year.
A mini waffle maker for the cutest breakfast ever
This miniature waffle maker is adorably small and will look super cute in their kitchen. Plus, it makes for a delicious, easy breakfast.
A hilarious coffee table book
“F in Exams”, $US8.50, available at Uncommon Goods or Amazon
This is a great gift for the person who can laugh at the little things in life, or for anyone who works as a teacher. It’s a collection of hilarious wrong test answers that is sure to keep them laughing.
A little backpack that can actually hold their things
Mini things are all the rage these days, and this mini backpack is right on trend. Although it’s small, it’s actually big enough to fit a good amount of their everyday belongings.
A unique hot sauce blend for an adventurous eater
Give them a gift to take their hot-sauce habit to the next level. The blend of Thai sriracha and Korean gochujang is sweet, spicy, and unlike anything they have ever tasted before.
A limited-edition pair of socks inspired by an artist
Art is all around us, but there’s probably one place you never thought it would be – socks. Friends with a more funky fashion sense will love this colourful pair inspired by Andy Warhol’s art work.
A set of reusable straws
For those trying to make a positive impact on the planet, give them these reusable straws so they never have to rely on the wasteful plastic ones again. These come with a brush so they’re easy to clean and ready to be reused.
A meme-worthy T-shirt
The national treasure of all T-shirts. That is all.
A healing Himalayan salt lamp
Himalayan salt lamps have recently become a big trend in home decor, but they’re also said to have healing properties as they purify the air around them. Whether they believe in the health benefits or not, anyone can enjoy the warm glow and aesthetic appeal this lamp offers.
A motivating water bottle that reminds them to stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is important. If you happen to need a gift for someone who never gets their recommended daily dose of H2O, this water bottle can lend some much-needed motivation.
A set of Hasbro-inspired glasses for game night
Game night wouldn’t be complete without some drinks. This set of four glasses is inspired by your favourite Hasbro games, making them the perfect addition.
A five-year journal that asks the big questions — and little ones, too
A gift for your ambitious friend who’s always asking where you see yourself in five years. Help them answer this question for themselves, with a daily journal that poses a new question each day for five years.
A face mask that calms red and irritated skin
This light, refreshing face mask is made with botanical ingredients that calm irritated skin. It’s delicate on skin and will leave it looking more hydrated, even, and refreshed.
A letter board they can leave fun messages on
This is a fun message board and a great piece of home decor all in one. They will love using this to display mantras, messages for roommates, or just to show off some random thoughts. It comes in plenty of colours, so you’re sure to find one that fits their space and aesthetic.
A mug inspired by “The Office”
Your boss or any fan of “The Office” will get a kick out of this one. Let them embrace their inner Michael Scott while sipping coffee at the office or at home watching Netflix… maybe even “The Office.”
A french press coffee maker for their morning brew
A French press makes it easy to enjoy delicious, rich coffee every morning. It’s not as quick as a Keurig (you have to let the grounds steep for a few minutes), but the results are worth the wait. Plus, they will love that they can fill it with their favourite beans.
The cutest, coziest slippers they will ever have
Homebodies will go crazy for these super cute, super cosy slippers. They’re a quirky pair they will want to slip on the minute they get home.
A cool baseball hat for sunny days
Give a practical gift they will look good wearing. Those that are more environmentally and socially conscious will appreciate the ability to track the supply chain and follow the footprint of this hat.
A faux plant desk organiser for much needed greenery and tidiness
If they’re stuck inside an office all day, they could benefit from the sight of something green. This plastic plant isn’t as good as the real deal, but it adds some much needed colour and works as desk decor, plus it functions as a phone stand and organizational tool.
A spice set for rescuing bland pizzas
All pizza is not created equal. That’s why the pizza aficionado in your life deserves this pizza rescue kit. With the three flavorful spices, this set will transform even the most “meh” slices to. If you’re not sold, it was made by New Yorkers – and they know good pizza.
A mug that lets them play with their food
This mug is for the young at heart who refuse to stop playing with their food. With a basketball hoop handle, this could be the most fun way to eat cereal or dunk marshmallows into hot chocolate.
A microwave popcorn maker
Stovetop popcorn is delicious, but it’s so much easier to just pop a bag in the microwave. If they love the stovetop taste, but don’t love dealing with the stovetop hassle, gift them this fun gadget. All they have to do is load it up with their choice of kernels and microwave. It’s much more convenient, plus it doesn’t need oil so it’s healthier too – but there is a butter melter on top just in case.
A convenient phone grip for texting on the go
They might seem unnecessary at first, but PopSocket Grips are extremely useful. They can use them as a kickstand to prop up their tablet and to comfortably hold their phone while reading on the subway. It’s a very useful way to spend $US10 (or less.)
A portable cheese melter
Portable Cheese Melt Utensil, $US24.99, available at Uncommon Goods, or $US18.12 at Amazon
Melted cheese can make pretty much every meal better. If you don’t believe us, check out this video to see the gooey goodness in action.
A best-selling book for foodies
Home cooks will love honing in on their craft with this book. Don’t expect just a recipe book, though. The vivid illustrations in this one help explain how to master cooking techniques by looking at those four important elements that are in everything we cook and eat.
A shower beer holder for mid-rinse brews
Shower time might not seem like the most opportune moment to crack open a cold one – that is, until now. This silicone beer holder sticks to tile (or any other glossy surface), so they can always have their favourite brew by their side, whatever time it is.
A pair of fuzzy animal slippers for lounging at home
For those who love to lounge, go for these adorable animal slippers. They come in a variety of cute animals and will keep their feet extra toasty on cold winter days.
A history lesson with their cup of tea
Give tea lovers the chance to try something new every day with this tea leaf reading kit. It comes with a mug, loose leaf tea, and of course a lesson that explains how to read different symbols.
A diary for sports, music, or movie lovers
A great gift for anyone who is constantly attending shows, concerts, or sports games – and never throws away their tickets. Instead of keeping them hidden in a shoe box or desk drawer, they can use this diary, which has plastic sleeves to fit all different kinds of tickets as well as open margins on the sides where they can scribble notes to remind them of each event.
A tracker for keys, wallets, bags or any other important items they’re prone to lose
Tile Mate, $US19.99, available at Tile or Amazon
Your forgetful friends and family will be so thankful for this gift. They can place this tracker in their wallet, purse, or phone case to make sure they never lose their things, because if they do, the Tile app makes it easy to retrace.
A set of K-beauty sheet masks for an at-home spa night
You don’t need to spend a fortune to give the gift of a pampered evening. This face mask set will do the trick on a budget, with sheets aimed at different skin concerns such as purifying, vitalizing, and pore care. They’re fun to put on and will leave their skin feeling replenished, too.
A pair of cosy socks for wine lovers
These toasty socks pair best with a bottle of your favourite wine, a comfy couch, and some Netflix on a Sunday night.
A pair of touchscreen gloves
They don’t need to be a runner to appreciate a nice pair of touch-screen-friendly gloves. This pair will keep their hands warm while they type, scroll, and click away – plus it has reflective detailing for some added safety.
A refreshing post-shave gel for their morning routine
They’re gonna need a good shave after Movember. Help them treat their face right with this post-shave gel made with ingredients to soothe, replenish, and refresh skin.
A sequin pillow that changes colour
You can sleep easy knowing you gave them one of the most fun pillows they will ever own. With the help of reversible sequins, they can write on it and draw fun designs – even adults will be enamoured.