But those may not be criteria that work for you. So I've come up with a short list of holiday gifts for coworkers or office Secret Santas that they'll actually use.
6 Gift Ideas for Coworkers
- Nice Pen. Despite the prevalence of devices, everyone still needs a decent writing utensil. Plus, data show that note-taking by hand is actually more effective. Choose one that feels good in your hand. Bonus points if it has a stylus for use with mobile devices. I like this one, and not just because it's my favorite color.
- Small Notebook. In the same vein, a small notebook or hefty notepad is one of those practical presents that's sure to get used. I can never have enough of these bad boys. Look for one with a sturdy cover that adds heft and makes writing during a commute easier. Your local office supply has tons, but don't overlook gift and specialty stores (or Etsy) for hand-crafted versions.
- Light Sweater. Seems weird, but we all know how insanely unpredictable office climate is. You can usually find the recipient's size on a jacket or sweater hung in their workspace. Select a neutral color that goes with anything. Pro Tip: If you're cost-conscious, visit your local consignment, retail or thrift store. I'm always amazed at the high-quality, clean and good-condition sweaters (including cashmere) I find at the PTA Thrift Shop.
- Gift Card. Hang on! I know these feel impersonal, but you can make them special with a tiny bit of effort. Instead of a big chain store card, choose a small local business near the office or your coworker's home. Personally, I like giving cards from local restaurants (slightly pricey) and coffee places (less costly). For instance, at my local, Open Eye Cafe, coffee is $1.25, making a $15 gift card go a long way.
- Go-Cups & Mugs. I know. These are the low-hanging fruit of office holiday gifts, but hear me out. Only use this option if the recipient's current model needs an upgrade or if you can personalize it in a meaningful way. That may mean purchasing a branded mug from her favorite coffee place (or vacation coffee place), or snapping some pictures of the family/vacation photos in his cube and creating a picture mug or tumbler. There are tons of ways to do this, but we like Shutterfly. Pro Tip: They run specials all the time that make giving more affordable.
- Portable Power. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't need additional battery power. One of my favorite things is my Waka Waka Power+ solar charger. It's easy to charge (via USB or ambient/sunlight), and the small form factor means its easy to stash in the old backpack, briefcase or purse, or jacket pocket. I keep mine in a sandwich-sized zip bag. Related: I'm also a fan of the ChargeCords products that are longer, sturdier and faster charging that the cords that come with your device.
Use these suggestions to solve your office gift-giving problems, or as inspiration for your own coworker gift ideas.
P.S. Looking for gifts for writers? Our award-winning book, Be a Better Writer, gets rave reviews from writers young and old!
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