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
Yes, you can order live plants on Amazon, and this expensive-looking orchid in a clean ceramic pot will liven up even the pickiest boss’s office.
For the co-worker who always needs to borrow your phone charger
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”
This charming mini-humidifier is powered via USB and is also shaped like a lemon.
For the intern who went above and beyond this semester
… 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
For the co-worker who’s always good about bringing his lunch
For the co-worker who loves to snack
For the co-worker who works out during lunch
This water bottle does double duty as a gym buddy and a desk-side reminder to stay hydrated.
For the co-worker who thinks the office coffee tastes like mud
For the office manager who leaves notes reminding everyone to clean up after themselves in the kitchen
This hand-crafted dustpan and brush set will at least help them keep their desks free of crumbs, even if the office cafeteria won’t be. (And though it’s just over our $30 budget, we’ll let it slide because it’s made with beechwood and horsehair.)
For the co-worker you sit next to but don’t know that well
Even if your office neighbor uses these cheap but expensive-looking bookends as paperweights, at least they’ll be nice to look at every day.
For the co-worker who gets all of the swag
This reusable shopping bag folds up, so it will fit into any desk drawer or purse while still being big enough to easily hold larger packages.
For the co-worker who organizes the office happy hours
If nothing else, every office needs someone with a bottle opener.
For the co-worker who never checks the weather before leaving the house
This umbrella folds up compactly enough to fit into any desk drawer and most bags or purses — and will keep your co-worker dry when they need it most.
For the co-worker with whom you email daily, but have never actually met in person
This perpetual calendar is well-designed enough to impress, and generic enough so as not to accidentally offend.
For the co-worker who wants to make their desk feel more cozy
For the co-worker whose desk is in a closet
This highly-rated desk lamp will make your co-worker’s work space feel a little less cavernous.
For the co-worker who’s always working remotely
For the person in HR who answers all of your questions about health insurance
A simple but cute donkey-shaped desk organizer is a thoughtful gift for the HR rep whose desk is always swamped with papers.
For the co-worker who feels like she’s living in The Office
She’ll never feel alone with Dilbert and his cohorts by her side.
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
These facial mists are perfect for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
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
This book delves into the everyday routines of 161 artists and writers, to better understand how they created their work.
For the co-worker who can’t stop tweeting
For the person in the mail room who’s been accepting all these Amazon packages for you
Giving a giant box of chocolates to the hardworking folks in the mail room and at your office’s reception desk is the least you can do this holiday season.
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