Would you rather: spend five hours trapped in an elevator by yourself without a cell phone OR be responsible for buying everyone in your office a thoughtful gift? Your initial reaction might be, ‘of course buy the gifts!’ but then you start thinking it through…your friends in the office are easy, but what about your boss? And the more challenging and catty colleagues? How could you possibly think of something for each person? Maybe five hours of peace and quiet doesn’t sound so bad after all…
Occasionally, surprising your colleagues with presents can be a very kind and thoughtful gesture, but as we all know (proven by the exercise above), it isn’t always easy to think of a great gift for coworkers. Whether you're doing a white elephant gift exchange, picking up a holiday gift, retirement gift, sympathy gift or farewell gift, combining the surprise and delight factor with actual usefulness while not breaking the bank are the key elements to success. Here are eight gift ideas to win over even the toughest-to-please coworkers.
1. Sweets! Enough said.
A bento box from Sugarfina is sure to put a smile on literally anyone’s face — especially during the holiday season. You can choose between champagne gummy bears, rosé roses, PB&J caramels and an assortment of chocolate-covered treats to build your own personalized package.
2. The candle that pulls at heartstrings.
If your coworker has a special connection with any U.S. state, a Homesick Candle can bring those memories right to their desk. Can’t promise no tears for this one.
3. The gift that keeps on giving.
Headspace is an easy-to-use meditation app... and the perfect gift for coworkers. Gifting someone either one month or one year will unlock unlimited usage of a robust library of meditation sessions.
4. Compliments…in the form of pencils.
Ban.do makes a pack of 10 pencils with compliments ranging from “You’re so smart” to “You’re fresher than lemonade.”
5. Not your average deskside lotion.
Especially in colder weather, it is nice to keep a little lotion at your desk to ward off dry, chapped hands. Check out Treets for great-smelling lotions that utilize natural skincare traditions of the past.
6. Creativity in a box.
Everybody needs a little creativity nudge from time to time. Brit + Co. offers a variety of DIY classes including Calligraphy 101, Intro to Travel Photography, Flower Arranging and many more.
7. The eco-chic option.
Hot and cold beverage drinkers alike will love the Swell bottle for its ability to keep liquid — whether it's water or tea — the ideal temperature for long periods of time. The bottles come in fun designs and are perfect for commuting.
9. A day off.
Offer to cover your coworker on a work shift, no questions asked.
If your coworker drinks wine, and he or she is of age and it's appropriate in your office, you can gift your coworker wine.
11. Office supplies galore.
Everyone needs office supplies, and no one loves buying them. Buy your coworker personalized office supplies for a personal touch.
You can never go wrong with gifting your coworkers food like baked goods or cheese and crackers.
13. Tickets to a show.
If you know what kind of music your coworker likes, you can buy them tickets for a show.
14. Tickets to a game.
If you know your coworker's favorite sports team, you can gift them tickets to a game.
15. Home goods.
You can gift your coworker anything like ornaments, a wreath or home decor especially during the holidays.
16. Something funny.
Buy your coworker a mug or a t-shirt with something on it that refers to a personal joke of yours.
Everybody likes fresh flowers. This is a simple gift that lets your coworker know you were thinking of them without crossing any lines.
18. Just be their advocate.
Be your coworker's advocate if they're looking for a promotion or even a new job. Offer to help them however you might be able to, either with a reference letter, an introduction or something else.
19. A meal.
Take your coworker out for lunch one day.
Give your coworker a giftcard for their favorite coffee spot or, better yet, take them out for coffee.
21. Fear not, there’s always the Amazon giftcard.
The handy, dandy Amazon gift card is always a great last resort option! A gift card is the perfect gift for coworkers because it essentially allows them to choose for themselves. Purchasing one of these is a win-win situation; your coworker can't possibly be disappointed, and you don't have to worry about thinking of something creative that your colleague might not even want or use.
Caitlin Larwood Collins is a content and social media consultant and freelance writer based in Connecticut. After eight years of digital marketing experience at large corporations in Manhattan, she decided to found her own consulting business, CaLaCo, focused on helping niche brands use content to tell their story, expand reach and drive action.
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