Coming up with gift ideas for co-workers can be surprisingly difficult, especially when you consider the fact that many of us spend more of our waking hours each day with the people in our office than with our actual family members. The best co-worker gifts are thoughtful, but don’t cost too much or accidentally offend — because you are in a professional workplace, at the end of the day — and that can be a tricky balance to find.
That’s why we did the thinking for you and hunted down the 29 best gifts under $30 for every type of co-worker, from your work spouse to your department’s intern to the HR representative who patiently explained your company’s retirement options to you. Don’t miss all of the Strategist’s holiday gift coverage right here, too.
For the boss who has everything
For the co-worker who always needs to borrow your phone charger
Intelligencer’s Madison Malone Kircher describes a ten-foot-long iPhone charging cord as “one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.”
For the co-worker who asks, “Is it cold in here, or is just me?” at least once a day
The best desk blanket, according to our colleagues at the Cut, is one that isn’t too heavy, is relatively inexpensive, and looks more like a shawl than a duvet. This cotton number definitely fits that bill, and for less than $20. (It would also look great draped over your own wall ladder at home, for what it’s worth).
For the co-worker who thinks the office air is “too dry”
For the intern who went above and beyond this semester
Give them a handsome notebook that’ll help them impress at their next job, complete with a slot for the cult-y Blackwing pencil.
… and a slick backup pen to go with it
The classic 4-color BIC pen ranked 12th in our roundup of the 100 best pens. Associate editor Katy Schneider loves it for to-do lists: “You can make the list with blue or black ink, then put little stars next to the urgent items in red ink. Do I sound crazy?”
For the co-worker who always wants to get an afternoon coffee
This well-reviewed, stylish travel mug keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours on end — something a health-conscious, well-hydrated co-worker who makes their own smoothies before work every morning will be sure to appreciate.
For the co-worker who’s worried about sitting down at their desk for too long
This under-desk exercise machine is also great for fidgeters.
For the co-worker who’s always good about bringing his lunch
For the co-worker who loves to snack
Strategist contributor Alison Freer swears by these reusable food storage bags that can be used for anything from nuts to apple slices to cookies. They even stand, making sharing snacks across desks a breeze.
For the co-worker who works out during lunch
For the co-worker who thinks the office coffee tastes like mud
This little coffee dripper will let them make a single serving of pour-over coffee at their desk.
For the office manager who leaves notes reminding everyone to clean up after themselves in the kitchen
For the co-worker you sit next to but don’t know that well
For the co-worker who gets all of the swag
For the co-worker who organizes the office happy hours
For the co-worker who never checks the weather before leaving the house
For the co-worker with whom you email daily, but have never actually met in person
For the co-worker who wants to make their desk feel more cozy
Recommended by Strategist writer Lori Keong, who describes this vibrant mug with a tea infuser as “the perfect color to make my fluorescent cubicle feel more homey.”
For the co-worker whose desk is in a closet
For the co-worker who’s always working remotely
Get them an external battery pack, so they can stay plugged in no matter where in the world they may be, even if it’s, say, on a houseboat in Amsterdam.
For the person in HR who answers all of your questions about health insurance
For the co-worker who feels like she’s living in The Office
For the co-worker who’s analog
Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson prefers notebooks by Delfonics for a couple of reasons: “I love that the hard, cardboard cover doesn’t bend or crease, and that the elastic band keeps the notebook closed in my bag. The light lines on the paper are good for guidance but not obtrusive if you need to sketch or outline outside of them.”
For the co-worker who always shares their skin-care tips
For the co-worker climbing the ladder
This book was recommended by three executive coaches in our roundup of the best career books for those looking to get a raise or a promotion (and the author Brené Brown is also a favorite of Kristen Bell’s). It shows how being a little vulnerable can help your career, and life, in the long run.
For the co-worker who’s always listening to productivity podcasts at their desk
For the co-worker who can’t stop tweeting
Strategist writer Maxine Builder swears by this plastic timer when it comes to getting things done in a timely manner: “The only tool that’s kept me reliably distraction-free has been this little plastic gadget called the Miracle TimeCube.”
For the person in the mail room who’s been accepting all these Amazon packages for you
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
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